ICE prioritises Flood Defence for additional capital spending

The Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) is calling for additional capital spending on flood defence infrastructure if additional funding is available in its budget submission to the government. They have long argued that there is a strong case for reallocating spending from revenue budgets into capital investment, giving immediate priority to flood defence infrastructure.

Although the Treasury has quite recently allocated an additional £120 million of funding to flood defence schemes, this does not make up for reductions following the 2010 Comprehensive Spending Review. ICE said that if government was able to release more of this funding now it may make it easier for Lead Local Flood Authorities to leverage in private finance, It has cited the Environment Agency report that for every £1 spent on flood projects £8 is saved by avoiding future damage.

The Institution also believes that there are also opportunities to combine flooding and coastal risk projects with regeneration projects that bring extra money to communities through activities such as tourism.

ICE is calling on the Government to produce a delivery timeline for the National Infrastructure Plan (NIP) “top 40” priority project list, clearly identifying its own actions and prioritising those which are critical to timely delivery.

Director Nick Baveystock, said:
“Some significant steps have been made to translate the NIP from a brochure into an action plan that allows infrastructure to deliver as the critical enabler to economic growth – from the creation of a NIP strategic engagement forum, right through to the launch of the Guarantees Scheme. But further steps are needed if we are to shift the infrastructure agenda from rhetoric to reality. There are a vast number of smaller scale infrastructure projects that are struggling to progress from planning to delivery. These projects, if unblocked, could rapidly translate into jobs and growth. The industry has a role to play in getting these projects off the ground, but it is vital that Government also plays its part”

ICE says that for the plan to be a success in the long term, a shortfall in project financing needs to be addressed and investment prioritised more effectively. The autumn statement reported that annual investment in infrastructure had risen to £33bn from 2010-2012, yet the NIP envisages an increase to £50bn per year over the coming decade.

The whole report can be read at Waterbriefing.

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