With general electioneering arriving with the start of 2015, one of the nation’s top engineering bodies was not to be outdone and has launched its own General Election campaign to keep infrastructure front and centre over the next parliament.
The Institution of Civil Engineers’ Commit to Infrastructure project was launched this week, with a paper of the same title sent to MPs calling for ‘less bureaucratic inertia and political meddling’ in the sector.
One of the key points in a five-step challenge to politicians included in the document was a call for reforms to the local compensation process around infrastructure projects in order help build community engagement.
In a five-year period from 2015 that will see the start of construction of the controversial HS2 line from London to Birmingham as well as a £15bn investment to the strategic road network, this may be a key issue for both local and national politicians.
The ICE states: ‘[Politicians need to] Be smarter at engaging the public: Establish a proactive programme of engagement with the public to better make the case for infrastructure as well as improving the process for compensation - building increased trust, confidence and credibility into the decision making process and reducing the impacts of nimbyism and excessive bureaucracy.’
Other calls include giving infrastructure ‘the front row seat it deserves’ with the ICE highlighting previous research by the Civil Engineering Contractor’s Association that argued infrastructure offers a 30% boost per £1 spent as soon as the investment works its way into the wider economy and that in the long-term £1 of infrastructure construction raises economic activity by £2.84.
It also calls for a ‘long term, evidence based strategic vision and importantly a framework for achieving political consensus on that vision’. Allied to this is the ICE’s support for Labour Party proposals to create an Independent Infrastructure Body to help achieve consensus on the UK’s infrastructure needs.
The plan – put forward by Sir John Armitt in his review for the Labour Party – ‘could be achieved by building on the existing structure rather than creating an entirely new entity’ the ICE advises.