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Engineers needed to meet £1.3tr London infrastructure bill

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There is a worrying lack of qualified civil engineers in a city that is hoping to retain its leading global status

More qualified civil engineers are needed in London in order to tackle climate change and population growth, thereby retaining the capital’s position as a leading global city, according to the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE).

In a report published on 2 February, the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) also said the next Mayor must be “radical and innovative” in finding ways to pay for the £1.3tr investment needed in the capital’s infrastructure by 2050.

The report sets out 10 recommendations for the future London Mayor. These include expanding Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) subjects in school curriculums. The ICE is concerned there are not enough qualified civil engineers in London and also wants the next mayor to launch a skills campaign.

Suzanne Moroney, ICE London Director, said: “Tackling the core challenges of population growth and climate change, and retaining London’s position as a leading global city, requires long term commitment to its infrastructure. But this comes at a cost and £1.3tr over the next 35 years is a significant and challenging target.”

The ICE says that the transport, energy, water and waste projects required come at a cost well beyond the government’s funding ability.

It is therefore recommending the creation of an “Infrastructure Trust”, similar to a model proving successful in Chicago, to establish a range of innovative methods to fund and finance infrastructure.

It also suggests that control over vehicle taxes is devolved to the GLA to be spent on road maintenance. And it is calling for a “complete review” of road user charges in London, to ascertain if and where further charging zones or tolls need to be implemented in the future.

From 2004-2014, £1.2bn in revenue was generated by the London Congestion Charge and invested back into the capital’s transport.

Congestion was also reduced by 30% a year after its introduction.

“Our industry, innovators and academics have a responsibility to help drive down costs through use of emerging technologies, but the next Mayor must also be innovative and radical when it comes to securing new funding sources,” said Moroney.

The Infrastructure Trust set up by the Mayor of Chicago, which issues bonds for the private sector to invest in, has already paid for a $12m energy retrofit scheme for 60 buildings.

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