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

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie