Policy update

19 March 2014
IET Communications team
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Richard Millar, Barry Brooks, and Jonathan Wallace

( L to R) Prof Richard Millar, IET president Barry Brooks, and Prof Jonathan Wallace.

The IET’s recent work with Government.

The IET is a regular and well-respected source of advice for the UK Government on important engineering-related topics. 


Inquiries and consultations

Recently the IET has contributed to:

A Government consultation on measures to support the uptake of ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEVs): The IET submitted expertise to the Department for Transport in cooperation with the Engineering the Future alliance. In the submission the IET highlighted the importance of looking at the lifetime CO2 emissions per km of ULEVs when considering grants. The Institution also encouraged the development of a Government procurement cost-benefit analysis when looking at ULEVs for fleets. The submission noted that high current inductive charging was an emerging technology with the greatest promise, but that it was important at this stage for research to keep a technology neutral stance rather than anticipating certain technology 'winners'. The IET also recommended giving consideration to the second hand market for ULEVs, especially regarding the key issue of battery condition.  

An inquiry from the Transport Select Committee on national transport networks: The IET, led by Professor Phil Blythe, chair of the Transport Policy Panel, acknowledged the National Policy Statement (NPS), which highlighted the Government’s policy for addressing need in the context of user satisfaction, inter-city capacity and connectivity, as a step in the right direction - but advised the Select Committee to also give proper consideration to the capacity of local transport networks. The IET welcomed the fact that the NPS took appropriate account of the impact of new technologies, but recommended that investment in new technologies across the national transport networks was crucial to improving efficiency, reducing congestion and reducing the emissions associated with the transport sectors.

An inquiry from the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) on privacy and security: The IET’s submission expressed concerns that certain software vulnerabilities were allegedly not brought to the attention of other Government departments by the Security and Intelligence Agencies (SIA), in order that those vulnerabilities could be utilised to ease surveillance. In the submission, the IET stressed that these vulnerabilities, if left unchecked, could be used by other organisations or individuals for illegal activities against individuals or the state. The Institution warned that the continuing rapid expansion of use of the internet has made it part of the world's critical infrastructure and asked the ISC to consider whether the SIA oversight regime is adequate to protect such a vital asset and, if not, how it should be improved.


Scottish Policy Panel Parliamentary Briefing

The IET’s Engineering Policy Group Scotland held a parliamentary briefing in Holyrood on 'Exploiting Scotland’s Shale Gas Opportunities'. This was the first briefing on shale gas to be held in the Scottish Parliament, and therefore put the IET in a significant position of authority on the subject.

Murdo Fraser MSP, who the Institution has worked with many times before, hosted the event, which was attended by a number of MSPs and their staff, along with industrialists and academics. The opening presentation by Professor Rebecca Lunn from the University of Strathclyde, and the subsequent discussion session, were well received, with the Q&A session overrunning by 20 minutes.


Media coverage

The IET’s policy work and campaigns also feature regularly in the national, regional and trade media. Some examples include:

Principal policy advisor for innovation and education, Stephanie Fernandes, was interviewed on the 'Voice of Russia' on the topic of encouraging girls into science and engineering.

The IET's Bioeffects Policy Panel’s comments on the findings of the Childhood Cancer Research Group at the University of Oxford regarding power lines and leukaemia were reported in the Sunday People.

Jeremy Acklam from the Transport Policy Panel appeared on BBC One’s Breakfast television programme, talking about the need to make the rail network more resilient to extreme weather. He was also quoted in the Sunday Express, The Guardian, City AM and Yahoo.

Jeremy told the BBC: “We can’t change the weather, but what we can do is use technology to be more prepared. We can use technology, black boxes for instance, that we can put in embankments, or in bridges, that can listen out for the likelihood of a landslide.”

For more on the IET’s media coverage, please see our most recent update.


EPGNI chair lecture

Chair of the IET’s Engineering Policy Group Northern Ireland (EPGNI), Professor Jonathan Wallace, gave his inaugural lecture at the University of Ulster in February, entitled 'Innovate This! – The Challenges of Knowledge and Technology Transfer'.

The event was attended by over 200 colleagues, friends and family and set out Professor Wallace’s impressive career and his philosophy on collaborative research and development, and knowledge and technology transfer engagements.

In his vote of thanks, IET president Barry Brooks drew supportive innovation analogies with his own career experience, and emphasised the need to inspire young people of both genders about the opportunities and rewards of a science and engineering career. He concluded that Professor Jonathan Wallace was clearly a formidable engineer and leader, most certainly not a follower or bystander, and that the EPGNI was fortunate to be able to benefit from his chairmanship.