The next few weeks will see endless debate about the nature of leadership and what is best for the UK. Inevitably some of the debate will be informed, some won’t. I am repeatedly asked what the ICE line is.
The answer is quite simple: ICE doesn’t have a view on who governs the UK. That is wholly a matter for the electorate. But ICE has a very clear view on the value of proper infrastructure in enabling economic prosperity. Bluntly, our economy is built on infrastructure. Without transport, energy and decent housing our economy just won’t function.
I have endless discussions in Westminster about the critical importance of the City to the UK. The City is vital but the infrastructure and construction sectors are bigger. And, more importantly, for every pound spent on infrastructure 92p is spent in the local region. We have to get the message across to policy makers and those who would govern us that we neglect infrastructure at our peril.
So what? You don’t need me to point out that infrastructure is a long-term game. Our children and grandchildren will have to use what we build today. Irrespective of who governs the country the need for long-term thinking and planning based on properly researched evidence and with clear economic and social outcomes remains paramount.
Sir John Armitt commissioned just such a piece of pan-industry work, drawing on his contacts across society, academia and visiting every part of the UK to test conclusions.
The National Needs Assessment is the result. The NNA highlights the importance of understanding how UK population demographics affects what we need, how the UK is at the very forefront of technology but that we must invest to stay there and how, despite what some say, UK infrastructure continues to be delivered on time, to budget and to quality.
As I travel extensively overseas the UK is held up as the exemplar for doing infrastructure well. If asked, the ICE’s manifesto calls are:
- implement the NNA
- protect ourselves from a Brexit skills own goal
- do everything possible to attract investors from the UK and overseas to back modern, innovative infrastructure
ICE is engaging with all major political parties, with the manifesto writers, with the media and with opinion formers to get over this simple message: effective, efficient and innovative infrastructure is at the heart of a thriving, successful and modern economy.
Every one of us, irrespective of political persuasion must continue to hammer home this simple message. Too often engineers complain they are not listened to, this is our chance.
Professionals owe policy-makers balanced dispassionate advice. You, our members, are perfectly placed to be the voice of infrastructure through the campaign. You are the experts in your field with up-to-date, relevant informed knowledge. There is no one better to make that case. Do not be shy.