The National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) has called for “a new approach to resilience” – one which reflects the increasing interdependency of the UK’s transport, energy, digital and water infrastructure – “to sustain the systems on which the country relies and minimise the impacts on daily life when they fail”.
The commission has reflected on “disruption highlights” this summer, notably evacuation of areas at risk from the Toddbrook Reservoir; significant disruption to road and rail networks from extreme weather events; and the UK’s worst power cut for a decade. It called for “a concerted effort from government and infrastructure operators to develop a much clearer ‘system-wide’ approach to the resilience of increasingly inter-connected infrastructure”.
The NIC has published a scoping report on resilience, which identifies significant areas where current thinking about reliance needs to be developed. To inform recommendations to be made in the final report, it has issued a five week call for evidence on, in particular:
• system-wide thinking – what makes UK infrastructure vulnerable to shocks and future changes, and how they can be addressed;
• public perspectives – how should the public’s expectations of infrastructure services be considered within decisions about resilience; and
• governance and management – what changes are needed at a system level to ensure separate systems can operate effectively as a whole.
NIC chair, Sir John Armitt (pictured) said: “This summer’s disruption showed that when infrastructure fails, we can still be knocked for six. It is too easy for issues in one sector to negatively impact other on others and – like toppling dominos – bring daily life to a standstill…We are building our knowledge, but these initial findings show that the solutions are not straightforward. We need a wide a range of evidence to help us develop an approach that works for everyone and safeguards our future as best we can.”