New video interviews from Infrastructure Intelligence

Lord Deighton, Lord Heseltine and Isabel Dedring head list. Join Infrastructure Intelligence and ACO On-Air for interviews with the industry’s big names.

Infrastructure Intelligence has teamed up with ACO On-Air to bring you a regular series of video interviews with some of the biggest names in infrastructure and the built environment.

We kicked of the project at the recent ACE annual conference and Engineering Excellence Awards in
May with short interviews with key speakers and winners to set the scene for the challenges facing the industry going forward.

And, for those unable to make the conference on the day recordings of the key sessions are avaialble to help you to catch up on what was said and discussed.

Lord Deighton, Infrastructure minister

Future growth in the UK depends on a well balanced economy that is about both consumption and investment and that is where infrastructure fits in Lord Deighton told the ACE annual Conference. 

He explained that the economic conditions were now right for infrastructure investment to be made. 

“The things that are really making a difference are getting the deficit under control; convincing the markets that the UK is a good credit; creating the room to be able to contribute a bigger proportion of spending to public infrastructure. To be able to do that on a consistent and long term basis is an absolutely critical part of getting this right.”

Deighton explained that he takes “every opportunity” to make the case for investment by focussing on two objectives: that building the right infrastructure and systems will improve the long term rate of economic growth. 

And secondly that “getting the infrastructure plan right has an enormous impact on jobs and growth,” he said outlining that the case for infrastructure should not be politically contentious.

Lord Heseltine, chair, Regional Growth Fund advisory panel

Long awaited announcement in July of Government’s £2bn cash allocation to England’s 39 local enterprise partnerships (LEPs) will be “transformational” for local government, Lord Heseltine, chair of the body advising ministers, predicted.

The annual £2bn Local Growth Fund will be allotted for the first time in July this year and is being competed for by LEPs through Local Growth Deal applications.

“The announcement of the results of the bidding process will be the big story [this year],” he said. “There is billions available, it is transformational stuff. It is not as much as I asked for but no one has got this much before.”

Isabel Dedring, London’s deputy mayor for transport

London’s deputy mayor for transport Isabel Dedring wants suggestions from industry professionals as to what the capital’s agenda should be in terms of infrastructure projects beyond the current mayorality, she said during the ACE annual conference.

“I am genuinely keen to get your views and interested in people dropping me a line,” she said. “Our overall objective is to protect London’s big city status…. There are big questions as to how the city will look in the future, how its brand proposition of ‘quality of life’ can be maintained.”

The issues the capital faces result from substantial population growth – double what was expected, from 10M in the 2030s to 11M in the 2050s. This requires a big increase in public transport, another 1.6M homes, 500 new primary schools, 160 new secondary schools and so on, she explained. “Our view is that population growth can’t be stopped so how do we accommodate it.”

Alison Munro, chief executive, High Speed 2

High Speed 2 chief executive Alison Munro talks to Infrastructure Intelligence editor Antony Oliver
about progress toward Royal Assent
for phase 1 of the project and building the right team to take this £42bn project forward.

“Parliament has established very clearly that they want High Speed 2 to happen,” she explained. “It is an incredibly positive place for the project to be. What we are now debating is the detail.”

Speed of progress, she said, depends on how many petitions are received but also will determine how the parliamentary committee goes about
its work.

“We hope that this process will go smoothly and in which case we still hope to gain Royal Assent in 2016,” she said.

John Dowie, roads director, Department for Transport

The Bill containing legislation to turn the Highways Agency into an arms length government company passed its first reading last month. Department for Transport director John Dowie explains the challenges as it begins the process of become more private sector in its thinking.

With a tripling of investment and new five year funding horizon planned for the Highways Agency it is a “transformational moment” for the road industry, said Dowie.

Road investment strategies that are key to the Agency establishing its forward work programme and funding requirement over a five year, regulated investment period are expected to be released imminently.

Jon Kirkpatrick, head of sustainability, Lend Lease

Don’t talk about sustainability, talk about innovation, says Jon Kirkpatrick in this interview.

“You talk about sustainability but you stop talking about the outcomes. For me the issue is what you are trying to achieve through sustainability.”

People are becoming over saturated with the word “sustainability”. It is time instead, he says, for the industry to focus on innovation and creating positive social and business benefits

“It is very easy for the word to generate visions of environmentalism and people then either engage because they understand it or the switch off because they don’t want to understand it,” he adds

Darren Caplan, chief executive, Airport Operators Association

The ongoing debate over whether to develop new airport hub capacity at Heathrow, Gatwick or in the Thames Estuary often overlooks the fact that the UK also needs vibrant point to point capacity across the regions, says Airport Operators Association chief executive Darren Caplan.

However he accepted that as part of the wider aviation policy for the UK, a decision on expanding hub capacity following the Davies review was vital.

“The most important thing is that we do get new runway capacity and to get action,” he added. “For years the decision has been delayed. We are saying that when recommendations are made politicians have got to back and make it happen.”

Roma Agrawal, WSP, Diamond Award winner

Having won the top prize at this year’s ACE Engineering Excellence Awards Roma Agrawal of WSP tells Channel 4’s Cathy Newman that engineers need to stand up and be noticed adding that encouraging more women into the industry is vital.

“We really should have more women in the industry,” she said. “It is a great industry and I love it so why shouldn’t other women be in the industry – we need to work much harder at that.” 

Newman describe Agrawal as a “brilliant role-model” and judges noted her passion to promote her profession as widely and as much as possible. As one of the judges on the night said: “Roma cares – she genuinely wants to make a difference for the good of engineering.”

Also available

Mike Putnam, chief executive, Skanska UK and co-chair of Green Construction Board.

Nelson Ogunshakin, chief executive, ACE.

Andrew Boagey, director, Systra.

If you would like to contact Antony Oliver about this, or any other story, please email