Private sector ‘must collaborate on NIP2'

The Treasury has called on the private sector to hold it to account over its proposals set out in the second National Infrastructure Plan (NIP).

Speaking at Partnerships Bulletin’s UK Infrastructure Forum 2011, Infrastructure UK’s Keith Waller said the publication of the plan represented a starting point for the industry.

“The attitude in the Treasury is not ‘job done’, but ‘job just started’,” he said. “Please try to hold us to account; don’t give us an easy ride on this,” he added.

Waller insisted that the public and private sectors need to work alongside each other to ensure the 500-project pipeline published alongside the NIP can be delivered.

“Just publishing the pipeline is not enough; just working on procurement is not enough,” he continued. “All this has to be done together.”

Waller said the fact the NIP has established a Cabinet committee, to be chaired by Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander, demonstrates the level of commitment being put behind the plan by ministers.

Industry professionals also welcomed the committee’s creation and were broadly supportive of the NIP’s aims.

“Scepticism is a wholly appropriate response to any announcement from government,” said keynote speaker Tom Foulkes, director general of the Institution of Civil Engineers.

“But if one asks should the NIP2 make us more optimistic about the ability to make the UK more competitive in the 21st Century, then I would say ‘yes’ without hesitation.”

Deloitte’s Nick Prior, who chaired the conference, agreed that the latest plan offers some positive direction.

Referring to the 40 projects prioritised in the NIP, he said the announcement would “hopefully provide some real acceleration”.