Engineers propose single central infrastructure commission

Engineers propose single central infrastructure commission

22 April 2016 at 12:47
Infrastructure planning is the key to enabling innovation and long-term growth, and should be divorced from the electoral cycle, Engineers Ireland president Bill Grimson has said at the Engineers Ireland Annual Conference in Kilkenny.
 
Grimson said that current planning in Ireland was inadequate and based on short-termism, with a new approach required to ensure the country had a platform that would sustain the recent economic recovery.
 
“We know that investing sensibly in infrastructure always gives a positive return on expenditure. However, at 2 per cent of GDP, we know that current and planned infrastructural spending is far too low and must be in the order of 4 per cent to meet our infrastructural needs,” he said.
 
“We also know that a long-term mindset, in the order of 20 years, is required to make this kind of commitment possible – and so well beyond the periods associated with our current electoral cycles.  A single central infrastructure body or commission charged with prioritising and driving critical initiatives, as now exists in the UK for example, is essential.  With national finances still over-stretched by a national debt of around 204 billion euros, wise investment should be the over-riding requirement and this is the framework required to facilitate that.”
 
“Now is the time to lay a new foundation for Ireland’s prosperity and for us to find a way to engineer sustainable long-term growth.  Engineering is transforming how people work, live and experience the world.  In energy, transport, health, water, the digital economy and more, engineers are at the heart of an endeavour to improve lives and living standards,” said Caroline Spillane, Engineers Ireland Director General.
 
The conference, titled ‘Engineering Long Term Growth’, was also attended by President Michael D. Higgins who gave the opening address at the event and highlighted how the knowledge, expertise and ingenuity of the engineer is deeply woven into society and into the daily lives of all Irish citizens.
 
The Engineers Ireland conference took place in the Hotel Kilkenny and also featured contributions from an array of other eminent national and international speakers.
 
Hans van der Loo, a Dutch global resource security expert and advisor to the European Commission, discussed Earth’s paradigm shift for an exponential era, ‘The Anthropocene’, which began with the first atomic bomb test during the Manhattan project in New Mexico in 1945.
 
Stephen C Armstrong, Professor of Innovation at the University of Toronto and an expert in large-scale business transformation in technologically complex environments, discussed the role of the engineer in modern society as an enabler of innovation.
 
Plans on how to tackle Ireland’s water infrastructure problems were outlined by Jerry Grant, acting managing director of Irish Water, at the conference.  Brian Cody, Kilkenny hurling manager, also gave his insights on effective leadership and how to build communities and team spirit, with Dara Lynott, deputy director general of the EPA, speaking about the critical importance of safeguarding Ireland’s green infrastructure.  Anne-Marie Tierney-Le Roux, South East regional manager, IDA Ireland, concluded the conference with a presentation on sustaining economic growth and investment locally.