Summary: We recently attended the National Infrastructure Forum 2017, where a number of industry professionals gave us their views on the biggest threat currently facing the infrastructure sector. Here are our findings, and the key themes explored on the day.

Our Top Takeaways

  • Skills and industry capacity was perceived as the biggest threat as it is without an instant solution, and by far the most troublesome issue on the ground.
  • A number of respondents noted that skills and industry capacity was unique, in that for the other categories, those pressures will always be present, (such as the risk of changes in Government and changes in Government policy), hence these are viewed as simply part of the delivery landscape come what may.
  • Consenting and securing planning permissions was viewed as 'painful' but with the right team respondents felt confident they could get through the consenting process without too many scars.
  • Funding and financing were felt as being something that, whilst challenging, could always be worked around (again with the right team). Some respondents felt that these two topics could be split - as they saw financing as less of a concern, with funding presenting a much bigger obstacle. Others saw the two as inextricably linked.
  • The conversations surrounding this poll once again reaffirmed the extent to which each of the categories shown above are interlinked, and the necessity of having all in order (or at least not obstructing) to stand the best chance of delivery.
  • Technology and procurement were felt to be additional risks in their own rights, given how much time was taken on procurement and how quickly technological change was being embraced.
  • One issue that was raised, which pervades all projects, was the procurement of a team and consultants who work as one team, pulling together for the common good. This was felt by some to be the golden thread running through successful implementation - get the right consultant and contractor team and the challenges can become opportunities.
  • As a final thought, and common thread, our respondents felt that infrastructure is about tomorrow, and where there's pressure and a choice to be made, then today's problems will generally be addressed before tomorrow's, hence infrastructure often plays second fiddle. That said, the infrastructure sector has a clear goal - to deliver for the next generation.