Infrastructure policy rethink must lead economy rebuild, says engineering body
The best opportunity to stimulate the economy and aid post-Covid recovery is to focus on the nation’s multi-billion pound infrastructure, the Institution of Civil Engineers in Scotland (ICE Scotland) has said.
The engineering body has called on the newly-elected Scottish Government to ensure infrastructure takes its place at the heart of strategic decision making.
The organisation has over 8500 members in Scotland, drawn from public, private and academic sectors, who design, build and maintain Scotland’s vital transport, water, flooding, energy and waste infrastructure.
Its newly published priorities document contains an appeal to ministers to focus on four areas of action:
- Resiliency: auditing Scotland’s infrastructure to ensure it is fit for purpose, now and in the future.
- Procurement: changing procurement policy so smaller contractors are not disadvantaged and the supply chain is supported, particularly at a local level.
- Strategy: developing policies on infrastructure planning, investment and prioritisation must be for the long-term, not short-term political cycles.
- Professionalism: utilising the expertise of ICE Scotland members in planning, designing, building, maintaining and managing our infrastructure needs to be recognised in policy development, delivery and procurement.
ICE Scotland director Hannah Smith said: “Scotland’s infrastructure is worth billions of pounds, but historic under-investment means portions of it are deteriorating and failing to realise their full benefit to the economy. From the water we drink and the power we use, to the roads and railways we travel on and the buildings we occupy – infrastructure underpins every aspect of our lives.
“Good infrastructure can improve places, productivity, health and wellbeing – poor or inefficient infrastructure can lead to economic and societal disruption, as well as, in extreme cases, risks to health and safety.”
Ms Smith added: “If the new Scottish Government is to successfully rebuild the economy, it must re-think infrastructure policy. The priority areas of resiliency, procurement, strategic thinking and utilising professional expertise are where action must start.”