ICE calls for new nuclear financing and climate change resilience are met

Rounding up the latest policy and political engagement activities from ICE.

ICE Policy and Public Affairs manages the institution
ICE Policy and Public Affairs manages the institution's relationship with politicians and civil servants. Image credit: ICE

What happened

… in Westminster

Who |National Infrastructure Commission; Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS)

Sir John Armitt and Kwasi Kwarteng
Sir John Armitt (left), chairman of the UK's National Infrastructure Commission​, and Kwasi Kwarteng MP (right), Secretary of State at the Department for BEIS

What did they say? | The independent UK National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) have recently met ICE policy calls – on the importance of curbing greenhouse gas emissions and making assets resilient to climate change and how we finance new nuclear, respectively.

When | BEIS on 26 October; NIC on 15 November

Why this matters?

Influencing the NIC’s new baseline assessment of the current state of UK infrastructure matters because the report kick-starts the process for the next National Infrastructure Assessment, expected in 2023. By helping to set the direction of travel now, ICE can help improve the environment for long-term infrastructure planning.

By setting out a new funding model to attract a wider range of investment into new nuclear - as supported by ICE - and avoiding scope creep, the UK government can help cut costs when it comes to financing projects, reducing the burden on the taxpayer and offering better value for money.

… at ICE

Who | Helen Whately, Exchequer Secretary, HM Treasury

Helen Whately
Helen Whately MP, UK minister for infrastructure.

What did they say? | The new UK minister for infrastructure outlined her priorities to industry leaders, following the Spending Review and COP26.

When | ICE Presidential Breakfast, 17 November 2021

Why this matters?

Helen Whately, the UK minister responsible for delivering key elements of infrastructure policy, spoke at an ICE event to hear directly from experts across the sector, in one of her first outings in the role since being appointed. This follows her predecessor Jesse Norman having spoken at ICE's Presidential Breakfast in July.

From the past 3 months

Who | HM Treasury, Transport Committee, and Housing, Communities and Local Government (HCLG) Committee

huw merriman and clive betts
Huw Merriman (left) and Clive Betts (right), chairs of the Transport and HCLG Committees, respectively.

What did they say? | The Treasury met ICE calls to include net-zero in the National Infrastructure Commission’s (NIC’s) remit.

Plus three separate Select Committee reports - two from the Transport Committee and one from the HCLG Committee – referenced ICE policy calls.

  • On net zero: 'Institution of Civil Engineers fellow Jonathan Spruce explained that as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, “priorities will change … it is how you might accelerate certain things, like active travel, to help achieve your net zero ambitions. Just because a strategy is set does not mean that the programme of delivery should be set”.'
  • On skills: 'Institution of Civil Engineers fellow Jonathan Spruce explained that because the UK did not have a long-term plan for electrification of the rail network, skills "disappeared from this country" and as a consequence "restarting that programme was really difficult". He added that an infrastructure "needs assessment" will be key to industry for "getting people of all shapes, sizes, genders and ethnicity ready to deliver the infrastructure we need to deliver a net carbon future".'
  • On smart motorways: 'Many informed witnesses agreed with the government that the part-time use of the hard shoulder is confusing and that a consistent environment would be beneficial.' 

When | Spending Review on 27 October; Transport Committee on 29 September and 2 November; HCLG Committee on 29 October

Why this matters?

Infrastructure has a key role in delivering net zero. In making it central to the NIC’s work - as recommended by ICE earlier this year – the government is taking an important step to reduce the gap between its own ambitious climate policies and the realistic actions needed to achieve them.

By endorsing ICE’s view that subnational leaders have a critical role to play in reaching net-zero, the HCLG Committee’s report will help to focus attention on what subnational authorities can do to help the UK achieve its 2050 net-zero target.

The Transport Committee agreed with ICE on the safety benefits of a more consistent environment for smart motorways, and the need to adapt to uncertainty caused by the pandemic. This support from policymakers on how we can make our transport networks fit for the future is important, given the vital role that transport plays in enabling prosperity.

Who | Rachel Maclean, former UK Transport Minister 

rachel maclean
Rachel Maclean, former Transport Minister

What did they say? | “I noted ICE’s discussion paper with interest, in particular its observations that high quality public transport has a key role to play in reducing emissions, improving air quality and tackling congestion.”

When | Written Parliamentary Question, 15 September 2021

Why this matters | The then-transport minister supported ICE’s calls for an urgent debate on public transport funding post-pandemic.