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Interdependency planning crucial for critical infrastructure protection

Government policy-making must factor in the interdependencies between transport, energy, water, waste and ICT networks if the UK is to have infrastructure that meets the challenges of the 21st century, according to Engineering the Future (EtF) – an alliance of leading engineering bodies.

A new EtF report published this week, ‘The Infrastructure Timelines,’ looks at the short, medium and long term Government policies within each of the infrastructure sectors and identifies where achieving Government’s aims are interdependent or reliant on policies in other sectors. It also looks at the impact of future challenges such as scarcity of resources and growth in population on critical infrastructure networks and calls for better planning and alignment of Government policies, to ensure infrastructure networks are fit for purpose.

It cites the energy sector as the most critical example of infrastructure interdependence due to the role it plays in ensuring all the other networks – water, waste, transport and ICT – function effectively and can meet the demands of the future. It says the impact on transport is of particular concern as the sector not only relies on energy for fuel, but is dependent on energy to achieve future goals set by Government such as the shift to fully electric vehicles which could sharply increase demand for electricity, and plans to electrify the whole rail network. Ofgem recently reported that spare electricity generation capacity could fall from 14 per cent to two per cent in 2015.

EtF says there is a ‘pressing need’ for interdependency planning in this area to ensure energy policies do not impact on the resilience of other infrastructure sectors and compromise their ability to meet future demands. It also urges swift completion of the Energy Bill and the end to uncertainty around aspects of the Electricity Market Reform, which it claims is undermining the UK’s ability to confront the challenges around sustainability, security and affordability of energy supply and establish a stable policy environment for the future.

The report was produced by the Institution of Civil Engineers with input from the Chartered Institution of Water & Environmental Management, the Institute of Water, the Institution of Chemical Engineers, the Institution of Engineering and Technology, the Nuclear Institute, the Chartered Institution for Highways and Transportation, the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and the Royal Academy of Engineering.

Read the report (PDF)

•Date: 17th July 2013 • UK •Type: Article • Topic: Critical infrastructure protection

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