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MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development

global challenges, engineering solutions

Studying at Cambridge

James Holloway

Towards Sustainable Regional Infrastructure Strategies in the UK

This research project has investigated the implications of developing cross-sectoral regional
infrastructure strategies in England, and examines their potential scope, institutional context
and consequences for sustainability. This was achieved by examining current approaches to
infrastructure strategy development and studying the physical and institutional characteristics
of infrastructure.

Possible scopes were proposed and the potential capabilities and institutional changes
required for their realisation were explored through a backcasting exercise. In the process, a
novel role was envisaged that sits between the current economically driven regional policy
approach and the previous policy framework of regional spatial planning.
The scope presented could fulfil a potentially valuable role by rationalising and facilitating
the exchange of complex information between the multitude of infrastructure stakeholders,
thus enabling improved strategy formulation by others.

The concept would require the reintroduction of regional spatial modelling and would
facilitate identification of opportunities to rationalise and better plan infrastructure services
cross-sectorally, to monitor and appraise sustainability performance and promote
improvement in local practices.

The platform could be used to study and assess how infrastructure networks might be
transitioned to more sustainable modes of service delivery over time. If realised, it could
enable a proactive, systems-oriented approach that would go beyond the current compliance
and project-centric driven institutional framework for sustainability in infrastructure.