16 July 2013: Government policy-making must factor in the “interdependencies” between our transport, energy, water, waste and ICT networks if we are to have infrastructure that meets the challenges of the 21st century and avoid policy U-turns, according to Engineering the Future (EtF) – an alliance of leading engineering bodies.
A new EtF report published today - the Infrastructure Timelines - looks at the short, medium and long term Government policies within each of the infrastructure sectors and identifies where achieving Government’s aims are “interdependent” or reliant on policies in other sectors. It also looks at the impact of future challenges such as scarcity of resources and growth in population on our networks and calls for better planning and alignment of Government policies, to ensure infrastructure networks are fit for purpose.
It cites the energy sector as the most critical example of infrastructure interdependence due to the role it plays in ensuring all the other networks – water, waste, transport and ICT – function effectively and can meet the demands of the future. It says the impact on transport is of particular concern as the sector not only relies on energy for fuel, but is dependent on energy to achieve future goals set by Government such as the shift to fully electric vehicles which could sharply increase demand for electricity, and plans to electrify the whole rail network. Ofgem recently reported that spare electricity generation capacity could fall from 14 per cent to two per cent in 2015.
EtF says there is a “pressing need” for interdependency planning in this area to ensure energy policies do not impact on the resilience of other infrastructure sectors and compromise their ability to meet future demands. It also urges swift completion of the Energy Bill and the end to uncertainty around aspects of the Electricity Market Reform, which it claims is undermining the UK’s ability to confront the challenges around sustainability, security and affordability of energy supply and establish a stable policy environment for the future.
Chair of the steering group for Infrastructure Timelines and ICE Vice President, Professor Tim Broyd said: “Responsibility for Government policy over the five key areas of infrastructure is shared across a number of different Government departments. While there are examples of good cooperation and collaboration, policies are often developed in isolation. Considering the huge demands to be placed on all our infrastructure networks in the future in achieving a low carbon society and responding to pressures such as population growth – and their reliance on each other - it is vital that policy development is coordinated and that interdependencies are factored into plans. Government departments should also seek to improve communication among regulators and asset owners.
“Better coordination and alignment will enable potential problems to be identified and resolved early on, lessening any unintended consequences of isolated policy development and avoiding policy U-turns down the line. Importantly, it will also help Government in planning infrastructure policies that provide the framework for long term economic growth for the UK.” he added.
“We encourage Government to utilise the Timeline and also undertake further analysis of the potential consequences of interdependencies. We look forward to working with Government in future policy planning and development to ensure we are able to meet the increasing challenges of the 21st Century.”
The report was produced by the Institution of Civil Engineers with input from the Chartered Institution of Water & Environmental Management, the Institute of Water, the Institution of Chemical Engineers, the Institution of Engineering and Technology, the Nuclear Institute, the Chartered Institution for Highways and Transportation, the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and the Royal Academy of Engineering.
Notes for editors
View Infrastructure Timelines report: www.engineeringthefuture.co.uk/government
The Infrastructure Timelines report has been sent to Infrastructure UK.
For further information contact Margot Solomon, ICE Media Relations Officer - tel: 0207 665 2107; email: Margot Solomon
About Engineering the Future
Engineering the Future is a broad alliance of engineering institutions and bodies which represent the UK’s 450,000 professional engineers. We provide independent expert advice and promote understanding of the contribution that engineering makes to the economy, society and to the development and delivery of national policy: www.engineeringthefuture.co.uk
The Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) is a leading source of professional expertise in transport, water supply and treatment, flood management, waste and energy. Established in 1818, it has over 80,000 members throughout the world including over 60,000 in the UK. ICE’s vision is to place civil engineering the heart of society, delivering sustainable development through knowledge, skills and professional expertise. The ICE has long worked with the government of the day to help it to achieve its objectives, and has worked with industry to ensure that construction and civil engineering remain major contributors to the UK economy.