Second NIP must be £200bn energy opportunity says ICE

Government must try to boost the economy by stimulating £200bn worth of investment in energy and transport, according to a civil engineering charity.

The Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) said today (September 8) the imminent second edition of the National Infrastructure Plan (NIP 2) must map out how to boost £200bn of private investment in infrastructure as a 'key strand' in Britain's strategy for growth.

In a new report Submission: National Infrastructure Plan 2011 (NIP2) the ICE says 'some important steps' have been made to encourage private investment.

It highlights the creation of the Green Investment Bank and a fast track planning approval process for nationally significant infrastructure projects as good steps forward.

But, says NIP 2 must be 'pivotal' in showing government's commitment to infrastructure being a 'core economic driver' and an opportunity 'not to be wasted',

The first NIP, published in October last year, conceded that a 'step change' is needed in the level of investment in UK infrastructure.

ICE director general, Tom Foulkes, said: "Government has rightly identified encouraging greater investment in infrastructure as a priority for the second phase of its growth review, but it is now time to put some weight behind that.

"NIP 2 must set out clear steps to attracting the huge volumes of investment required in infrastructure and map out how it will create a political, regulatory and commercial environment that is conducive to achieving that.

"It is vital we get this right NIP 2 must not be a long list of possible publicly funded infrastructure projects stretching into the far future or a cross Whitehall compendium of initiatives.

"It must be a tightly focussed plan of action, delivering the much needed clarity and direction to investors, asset owners and the infrastructure supply chain. NIP 2 presents an opportunity that cannot be missed."

In its report ICE calls for NIP 2 to be focussed on four overarching objectives:

1, creating a credible pipeline: It is vital NIP 2 meets the commitment in NIP 1 to produce and maintain a two year pipeline of approved public sector and regulated utility infrastructure projects.

2, maximising the social, economic and environmental benefits delivered by UK economic infrastructure.

3, improving fundability: NIP 1 argued that 70% or more of the £200bn investment required in the period to 2015 should come from the private sector - at a time when there is fierce global competition for such funds.

4, making NIP commitments credible in the medium to long term: NIP 2 should also set out how government intends to improve the credibility of these commitments. A major task is to reduce the political risk that has become far too closely associated with infrastructure development.

Luke Walsh


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