The Government must ensure funds are ringfenced if it is to protect the UK’s critical infrastructure, according to a new report from the Institution of Civil Engineers.
The State of the Nation: Defending Critical Infrastructure, released this week, says infrastructure maintenance is currently funded by revenue budgets under pressure from financial cuts.
Leader of the ICE’s inquiry Alan Stilwell said: “Most maintenance spend is revenue funding. It’s an easy target when times are tight. What that inevitably results in is that infrastructure failing.”
According to the report, the country’s infrastructure is at risk not just from system failure but also from climate change and terrorism.
In order to reduce these risks, the report recommends that a single point of authority is created to coordinate all sectors and improve nationwide knowledge of infrastructure assets.
Although some sectors have regulatory bodies, such as Ofgem for energy, other have none and the report insists that all regulators are given more remit to prepare for emergencies by adding extra capacity.
Mr Stilwell added: “We need to recognise that the UK’s infrastructure assets form an interdependent network, in which a single failure can cascade across the network rendering otherwise unaffected sectors inoperable.
“Put simply – a water treatment plant cannot function without electricity and an electricity production plant cannot function without water.”
The report also urges the Government to ensure that the Planning Act and the newly established Infrastructure Planning Commission are as effective and easy to navigate as possible.