Issue 7: Nov 2013

TRANSPORT INVESTMENT: A KEY PART OF ECONOMIC RECOVERY

By Sara Thiam, Director for the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) Scotland

You’d expect the people who design, build and maintain Scotland’s road, railways, ports and harbours to advocate that the government continue to invest in transport but civil engineers are not alone in understanding transport’s importance to the economic success. The LSE Growth Commission’s Investing for Prosperity is the latest in a series of reports which identifies inadequate investment in infrastructure as one of the causes for the UK’s slow economic recovery.

the latest in a series of reports which identifies inadequate investment in infrastructure as one of the causes for the UK’s slow economic recovery.

ICE’s recent State of the Nation report delivers a ‘room for improvement’ verdict in relation to Scotland’s transport networks and infrastructure but we shouldn’t underplay the positives. Scotland has achieved much since devolution, and the presence of a clearly defined national strategy has helped to deliver significant improvements. The new Airdrie-Bathgate railway line has enhanced access to Glasgow and Edinburgh and is the envy of other parts of the UK as the longest railway and stations project in the UK for over 100 years. Some stations have even achieved projected 10-year growth figures in the first year.

As for the ‘could do betters’ our report highlights Scotland’s omission from the £50bn high speed rail plans maintaining that the case for HS2 is strongest when Scotland is included as part of a wider UK network. It calls for plans for the extension of the high speed line to Scotland.

The increasing vulnerability of the transport budget is identified as a threat which can lead to a piecemeal approach to the funding of major projects, driving up costs and creating inefficiencies in delivery.

The increasing vulnerability of the transport budget is identified as a threat which can lead to a piecemeal approach to the funding of major projects, driving up costs and creating inefficiencies in delivery. Over complicated decision-making and unclear lines of accountability are also cited with complex governance structures to blame.

The report sets out a number of proposals aimed at maximising transport’s contribution to achieving sustainable economic growth for Scotland. These include:

Improving Scotland’s access to external markets, including an urgent review of the impact of Air Passenger Duty (APD)

Exploring new funding models to support infrastructure investment, encouraging a debate around more contentious measures such as road user charging which have the potential to maximise this investment and speed up the delivery process

There are signs that the civil engineering industry is slowly beginning to recover from recession with new graduates finding placements...

Reforming and streamlining the decision making processes, which would simplify the mechanisms for investing in transport infrastructure, improve project delivery and increase investor confidence. Smarter working together and pooling resources between local authorities could be the key to improving the condition of Scotland's roads.

The importance of a skilled workforce cannot be underestimated in delivering major transport projects. There are signs that the civil engineering industry is slowly beginning to recover from recession with new graduates finding placements and much needed help for technicians through modern apprenticeship funding. We lost a lot of capacity during the lean years and so a renewed focus on addressing this skills gap is required to ensure successful delivery of future projects.

NOTES

ICE’s State of the Nation reports are compiled by panels of experts drawn from across the public and private sectors. They provide a commentary on the condition and performance of our nation’s infrastructure, and are intended to stimulate debate and influence policy makers. Past reports have covered issues including water, waste and an overall ‘scorecard’ grading the overall condition of Scotland’s infrastructure assets.

For further information, please visit www.ice.org.uk/scotland.

ABOUT ICE
The Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) is a global membership organisation which qualifies civil engineers, exchanges knowledge and best practice, and provides expert advice to government.
Our Royal Charter binds us to act in the public interest, and our 8,000 Scottish members design, build and maintain our nation’s infrastructure.  ICE Scotland is a registered charity

By Sara Thiam, Director for the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) Scotland

Issue 7: Nov 2013

Issue 7: Nov 2013

HEALTH, WELL BEING AND AGEING: SCOTLAND 2020

Re-energising the move towards integrated care

Scotland's move to integrated care can learn from elsewhere by focussing on two key differentiators between successful partnerships and those paying lip service to integrated working: Shared outcomes and common language is one, the other is demonstrating mutual investments and mutual benefits.

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