The Great Debate in partnership with the Living Laboratory,
new economics foundation,
RCE North East / NECTER,
Institution of Civil Engineers,
Northumbria University, and
Durham University present
The Great Infrastructure Debate
8:00 - 10:30am, Thursday, 26 April 2012
Devonshire Building, Newcastle University
Part of the
Sustained Engagement project funded by
Academy of Engineering.
Is the North East's infrastructure fit for purpose? The North East has a proud
industrial heritage which has shaped the infrastructure of the region, but does
it suits our needs now and will it in the future? Providing the right infrastructure
requires investment and vision and we need to think now about where the region is
going and which infrastucture we need to prioritise to get us where we want to go.
The Great Infrastructure Debate explored these issues with a group of five engineers
and a public audience. The
Crowd Wise process designed by new economics foundation was then used
to seek a consensus.
The event was introduced by ICE President, Richard Coackley
and facilitated by
and Stephanie Glendinning.
The options were introduced by five
Laura O’Toole, Jacobs;
National Renewable Energy Centre (Narec).
What infrastructure do we need to prioritise to develop the region's potential
over the next thirty years?
The initial vote in which options were ranked by the audience in order of
priority, and the opening presentations, were framed around the above question.
The initial options were:
Charging infrastructure for electric vehicles
Given our present dependence on fossil-fuel-powered vehicles for mobility and
distribution, the future will either hold a radical rearrangement of our transport
arrangements or else a non-fossil-fuel-based system – the Electric Vehicle is one
solution. To encourage the adoption of Electric Vehicles in a timely fashion, a
charging infrastructure should be created.
We need to be much more intelligent about our use and re-use of materials,
energy and other resources. Infrastructure can deliver efficiencies through
circulating resources across infrastructures and businesses, from introducing
district heating systems throughout cities through to using waste to generate
Flood risk management in the North East
The North East has seen significant flood events over recent years,
damaging homes, communities and infrastructure. Reducing flood risk
needs to be prioritised to ensure communities are sustainable and to
minimise the disruption caused.
Long term integrated transport strategy
The North East needs to focus its attention on the strategic transport
routes to and from the region in order to increase connectivity locally and
nationally, with schemes driven by the region with one clear message. We need to
invest in infrastructure which is vital to aid economic recovery.
Establish a new energy generation mix
The North East has a wonderful heritage in leading innovation in the field
of power generation. In a time of significant change and driving towards a
low carbon economy; we must take full advantage of our skills and capability
in shaping that future.
Outcome and Discussion
The result of the initial ballot (held before the presentations and discussions)
were as follows. Since there were five options (scoring 5 - 1 points if
all options ranked) the scores given are out of 15 (5+4+3+2+1). Each option
is also assigned a percentage of the potential maximum number of points that
could be achieved in this vote.
(100% if everyone who voted ranked that option first). There were 32 valid ballots.
Option E (Establish a new energy generation mix)
ranked highest with 4.0 points out of 15
(achieving 73% of its potential maximum), closely followed by
D (Long term integrated transport strategy) with
3.7 points and B (Resource efficiency)
with 3.4 points (68%, 64% of their potential maxima
Option C (Flood risk management) scored 2.4 points (44%) and
Option A (Charging infrastructure for electric vehicles)
was far behind scoring 1.4 points (25% of its potential points).
Looking solely at which options ranked highest in the ballot,
E came first with 31.3% of the top rankings, B and D both gained 28.1%,
while C and A came much lower with 9.4% and 3.1% respectively.
In the course of the event the groups discussing options A and D
decided to merge, and three new options emerged as worthy of prioritisation:
working together /
co-operation; housing: a place to live; and challenging the growth
model through localism. Thus there were seven options in the
final ballot, meaning that the final scores are given out of
28 (7+6+5+4+3+2+1). The results were as follows:
A + D
Long term integrated transport strategy incorporating
charging infrastructure for electric vehicles
scored 4.2 out of 28,
achieving 59% of its potential points in the final ranking.
scored 5.6 points (73% of potential),
making it the highest ranked option.
Flood risk management
scored 3.8 (53% of potential)
Establish a new energy generation mix
scored 5.0 (71% of potential maximum), making it
the second highest in the final ranking.
Working together /co-operation
scored 3.7 points (53% of potential maximum).
Housing: a place to live
scored 2.2 points (31% of potential maximum).
Challenging the growth model through localism
scored 3.5 points (50% of potential maximum).
The percentage of people who ranked each option highest in the final ballot were
as follows: B and E came top, getting a top ranking on 25% of the ballot papers;
H followed with 18.8%; options A+D, C and F were joint third with 9.4%; and
G got 3.1%.
In summary, resource efficiency and the establishment of a new energy generation
mix clearly came highest on our participants' list of infrastructure priorities
according to a variety of different measures.
Challenging the growth model through localism scored very highly with a significant
percentage of participants, being ranked as highest priority by 19% of voters.
A long term integrated transport strategy incorporating charging infrastructure
for electric vehicles also did well, achieving a high ranking with many participants,
but was only ranked highest by 9% of voters.
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The following bullet points came out of the group discussions
during the event:
A Charging infrastructure for electric vehicles
battery technology needs improving
good idea in principle
lithium is scarce
B Resource efficiency
overarching to the other options
connectivity to improve efficiency
best use of what we have got
opportunity is the resource e.g. the empty seat on a train
rebalance between local, national and international
infrasturcture to connect the opportunities
change of philosophy
Resources are limited e.g. lithium
C Flood risk management
Flooding can be a risk to life
We need to invest as a nation as society will collapse without it -
The other infrastructural options being discussed are nice to have
but more medium to long term issues
Flooding causes immediate disruption of other infrastructures - time lost
Development is halted without FRM, planning - for example
in Morpeth no one will invest without flood defence implementation
Multiple benefits schemes
- catchment approaches
- prevention - opportunities for envirobment and economy
D Long term integrated transport strategy
Upgrades to existing network to ease economic growth
connections to HS Rail
cost of transport
other options are a 'by-product' of holistic local transport strategy
E Establish a new energy generation mix
but for the North east ...
long term sustainable jobs
innovation, knowledge and expertise globally marketable
NE cluster - R&D, design, manufacture
F Regional co-operation
Where does all the go go?
A new spirit?
H Reduced reliance on infrastucture
Do we need growth?
True sustainability requires us to use less of everything
We need to move towards Localism (food, transport)
resiliance (not relying on complex global supply network)
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Left to Right: Richard Coackley, Stephanie Henderson, Caspar Hewett,
Tony Quinn, Richard Dawson, Laura O'Toole, Edward Bentley
Edward Bentley is a researcher with the
Power Engineering group
at Northumbria University, and has been pursuing the question of the effects
of Electric Vehicle charging on the Power Grid for several years.
His research group recently completed a project for One North East
to create an Excel-based tool to assess the impact of Electric Vehicle
charging upon the low voltage distribution network.
He is currently involved in a European Union project to promote
Electric Vehicle usage in the countries surrounding the North Sea.
Edward says: "Given the finite nature of fossil fuel reserves, and
the exponential growth in the rate of consumption, it is clear that petrol
and oil will cease to be cheaply available at some point. Estimates
vary, but some sources suggest that oil will cease to flow freely within
30/40 years. Given our present dependence on fossil fuel powered vehicles
for mobility and distribution, the future will either hold a radical
rearrangement of our transport arrangements or else a non-fossil-fuel-based system
– the Electric Vehicle is one solution. To encourage the adoption of
Electric Vehicles in a timely fashion, and incidentally to support the new
Nissan battery plant in Sunderland, a charging infrastructure should be created
in the region."
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Richard Dawson is Reader in
School of Civil Engineering and Geosciences at
Newcastle University and is a Core Researcher in the Cities (now Resilience)
Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research.
He has developed an urban integrated assessment system facility that
couples economic projections, land use change, climate impacts and emissions
accounting tools. These tools were built by Richard and other researchers
in the team. Richard is also the Partner Representative for the
Tyndall Centre at the University of Newcastle.
Richard's research focuses on sustainable cities; work which started with his role
as a researcher in the
Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research Cities Programme.
Prior to this he was appointed as a researcher at Newcastle University in 2004,
having previously worked at Bristol University where he also did his PhD.
His research has focused on the analysis and management of risks in
civil engineering and environmental systems. It is a cross-disciplinary endeavour,
involving collaboration with leading researchers, consultants and government agencies
nationally and internationally. A remarkable feature of his work has been
its application at broad scales - recognition that engineering systems have a
much wider influence than their physical form and need to be considered within
their broader environmental and social context. This engineering philosophy has
become known as Earth Systems Engineering and he is a founder member of the
Centre for Earth Systems Engineering Research (CESER) at Newcastle University.
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Stephanie Henderson is a civil engineer in
Flood and Coastal Risk Management at the
joining in 2007 for a placement and returning in 2008 after completing
her M.Eng in Civil Engineering at Durham University and is currently working
towards Chartered Status. Her role in includes hydraulic and flood forecast
modelling, project management and design of embankments, flood walls and trash
screens. Recent projects have included writing a flood forecast for Morpeth
and flood modelling projects in Durham and Darlington.
She joined the graduates and Students committee in 2007 while still at
university and is now the Honorary Secretary of the committee and joined
the ICE North East Flood Expert Panel in 2011. She has worked as the
Schools and Colleges Liaison Rep for the committee, organising the
Creative Construction Competitions in 2009 and 2010.
Stephanie also volunteers in schools as an ICE Ambassador and is a
CREST assessor for the British Science Association.
In her spare time, Stephanie is on the Board of Directors for the
Star and Shadow Cinema, working as their Bar Steward and on their
money team doing Companies House returns.
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Laura O’Toole is a member of the the Traffic and Transport team at
She joined Jacobs in 2005 after completing a Masters degree in
Civil Engineering at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, and is
currently working towards gaining Chartered status. Her role in the
Traffic and Transport team includes traffic signal design, signing and
lining schemes, junction design, traffic modelling, and transport assessments
and travel planning. She has been seconded into client offices, and assists
in a MEng/MSc module with Newcastle University. Recent projects include the
junction design and route modelling for the New Wear Crossing in Sunderland,
and Manchester Metrolink Airport extension.
Laura joined the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) North East
Graduates and Students Committee in 2006, holding the position of
Chairman from 2008 to early 2010. She joined the ICE NE Transport Panel in 2009,
contributing to the National Transport Panel, local events and press releases.
Laura presents at schools events both for Jacobs and for the ICE, and is keen to
encourage young people into the profession.
Outside of work, Laura is an avid Scuba Diver and holds a
PADI Advanced Open Water certificate, passing her exams in the North Sea in 2008.
She has dived in several countries around the world, on reefs, in wrecks and in
caves. She has dived with sharks, manta rays and turtles, and would love to dive
with a whale shark in the future.
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Tony Quinn joined National Renewable Energy Centre (narec)
in March 2010 as
Director of Major Projects and Assets and has responsibility for delivering
Narec’s £90m investment programme in both onshore and offshore test facilities.
He is also responsible for business delivery within the existing blade test,
marine and electrical test facilities.
Tony has held senior positions within Nexus (owner operator of Tyne and Wear
Metro system) and PB Power as Asset Management Director and Project Director
respectively. He has fulfilled the roles of client, consultant and contractor
and has over 20 years of experience in all aspects of power generation from
large fossil fuelled; gas fired combined cycle through to energy from
waste plants. Tony specialises in project development and project delivery.
Tony is a Chartered Engineer and a Fellow of the Institute of Mechanical
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