ICE Future of UK Aviation Industry
The Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) wanted to instigate a national debate about the long-term future development of UK airport infrastructure. They were interested in using future scenarios to help frame such a discussion. In 2009, they commissioned Arup’s Foresight team to design and lead a collaborative process to build a set of plausible scenarios for the future of UK aviation. In July we ran a day-long workshop bringing together industry experts and stakeholders including BAA, Transport for London, Birmingham International Airport, Mace, Scott Wilson and Halcrow. Delegates worked together to develop four plausible narratives for the UK’s aviation sector in 2040. These were then tested and refined in a second workshop in October.
Arup wrote a report, called “Aviation 2040”, which presented the scenarios and process we devised to generate them. The report was launched at a national press event in October 2009, and received significant media interest from broadsheets, tabloids, regional and trade publications.
The report was aimed at encouraging Government policymakers, professionals and industry experts to challenge their own beliefs about what the future of air transport and infrastructure holds, and to take a fresh approach to the long-term strategic development of the UK’s airports and their place within UK transportation more broadly. Following the publication of the scenarios, a formal consultation process followed. In March 2010, the ICE held a roundtable discussion involving senior industry figures and individuals from other related sectors to consider the scenarios report’s emerging views, the principal messages from our industry consultation, and to test the ICE’s final policy recommendations. The ICE’s policy recommendations were then refined and published in July 2010, in a paper entitled Rethinking Aviation.
The report singled out a number of themes and messages that surfaced during the scenario building exercise and are evident in the resulting narratives. The scenarios underscored the fact that international long-haul aviation, in particular, is highly valuable for the UK economy. It helps attract inward investment, enables access to an international labour force, and provides direct links to emerging economic and cultural centres around the world. One can conclude that aviation is therefore vital for maintaining the UK’s global competitiveness. However, unrestrained growth in aviation could lead to damaging long-term effects such as increased carbon emissions, higher noise levels and air pollution – as one of the scenarios illustrates. In addition, poor investment, planning and regulatory conditions are enduring barriers to the development of improved, low-carbon surface transport and the implementation of alternatives to domestic short-haul flights, such as high-speed rail. The ICE concluded that Government must take an active role in shaping transport policy, but if it resorts to a ‘big stick’ approach to domestic passenger migration in the future then, in their view, its policies will have failed.
The ICE’s policy paper can be downloaded from their website here.