UK’s infrastructure feeling the strain – engineers

A comprehensive report from the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) concludes that some elements of the underlying infrastructure that keep Britain ticking over are creaking at the hinges and need an urgent overhaul to prevent further risks to the environment and the economy.

State of the Nation: Infrastructure 2010 grades a variety of key sectors and those that have a direct impact on the environment – like energy and local transport – fare particularly badly.

As well as highlighting problems with the generation of electricity and heat, the report flags up short-comings in the energy efficiency of the UK’s buildings.

“Most of our production of electricity is not sustainable,” it says.

“The UK relies on considerable imports of energy from other countries, and is heavily dependent on fossil fuels.

“Much of our housing and office stock is energy-inefficient.”

It adds that we must: “take urgent decisions on nuclear power, renewable energy and carbon capture and storage for coal fired power stations.”

Local transport also gets a grade ‘D’ – reflecting ICE’s assessment that it is an area at risk.

The report says our transport network is not up to scratch and we need to manage the demand for private car journeys and encourage a shift to more sustainable modes.

Water and wastewater treatment gets a pleasantly surprising grade ‘B’ while flood risk management and waste and resource management both get a grade ‘C’.

“[Infrastructure} It is vital to the environment. And it is vital to the very existence of a civilised society,” said Paul Jowitt, ICE president.

“If we don’t invest in critical infrastructure now, we will face severe consequences in the future. We must revive our infrastructure to make it fit for the 21st century, and not remain dependent on ageing assets.”

Sam Bond

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