Terms of Reference
Purpose of the panel
The purpose of the advisory panel is to listen to and incorporate the perspectives of key public interest stakeholders, including social and environmental groups, in the development of good practice and ethical approaches in the use of new techniques, such as algorithms and advanced software tools, to linear infrastructure planning (e.g. electricity transmission lines or water or sewerage pipelines).
Through publication and dissemination of its work, the panel will inform the development of such techniques and processes by interested parties in the following areas:
How such techniques and processes can best support communities, local stakeholders and those working to further economic opportunities, developers and utilities, and decision-makers, in their interactions on linear infrastructure planning;
The social, environmental and economic metrics that should shape the assessments used in new approaches to linear infrastructure planning and how these align with evolving infrastructure planning frameworks; and
How to build, earn and sustain public confidence through the responsible use of new techniques and approaches to linear infrastructure planning.
Best Practice Formulation
The panel will use real examples and lessons from a range of sectors, across the UK nations and other countries as case studies, along with hypothetical examples, to generate good practice principles and standards which will be of general application in a wide variety of linear infrastructure planning contexts, including the consideration
of alternatives, but will not be involved in decisions relating to current or future individual infrastructure projects.
The independent advisory panel is being formed and supported by Continuum Industries. Continuum’s aim is to help improve the planning process by ensuring new techniques and processes enable and facilitate a focus on social, environmental and economic factors earlier on in the decision-making process. The goal is for the
panel to be dynamic and have its own life so that it can develop good practice that addresses community, environmental, economic, government, regulatory and utility/developer needs together.
No duty of care is owed by the panel members to Continuum Industries.
Continuum Industries shall take responsibility for its own linear infrastructure planning techniques.
The panel has no separate legal personality.
The panel and its members shall have no authority to bind or represent Continuum Industries or act as its agent.
The panel will have an independent chair who will be appointed by Continuum Industries for an initial term of 12 months.
During this period, the chair will report to the Chief Executive of Continuum Industries in terms of practicalities, logistics and communications.
Notwithstanding that the panel is being formed by Continuum Industries, the chair and the panel members' overarching duty will be to advance the purpose of the panel as set out in these terms of reference, rather than to advance Continuum Industries’ or any other commercial organisations’ interests.
Members of the panel will be drawn from a range of social, environmental and economic NGOs, civil society groups, professional bodies and associations and the chair will seek to ensure it is as diverse as possible (including, but not limited to, representation from the different UK nations and in terms of gender).
Members will be selected by the chair, in consultation with the CEO of Continuum Industries, and will be appointed for an initial term of 12 months.
Government (national and local) and regulatory bodies will be invited to observe such panel meetings as the chair may consider appropriate.
Continuum Industries will also observe panel meetings and provide secretarial support.
Conflicts of interests, liabilities and risk management
As the panel will not be making decisions about specific projects, it is not anticipated that any material conflicts of interest will arise. However, in the event that a panel member considers themselves or is considered by the other panel members to have a conflict of interest in relation to a particular matter, they will declare the interest and recuse themselves from any decision in relation to the relevant matter.
The chair and members of the panel will not be responsible or liable for any activities undertaken or decisions made by Continuum Industries or by any other organisation that applies any of the guidance or best practice standards published by the panel.
Audience, transparency and communications
The audience for the panel’s work is the public at large and especially those groups with an interest in linear infrastructure planning, including, but not limited to, NGOs, community groups, professional associations, government planners and departments (local and national), regulators, utilities and
The panel will conduct its work as openly as possible. Meetings will be Chatham House and non-attributed summary meeting notes, meeting briefing papers and a brief annual report will be published on the panel’s website and disseminated widely.
The annual report will be shared at an event for panel members and external stakeholders, including public interest stakeholders and utilities and developers.
The chair of the panel will seek to disseminate the panel’s work in wider external meetings, conferences etc and in the newsletters and communications of interested stakeholders and in the wider media.
Frequency of meetings and duration of panel
It is envisaged that the panel will meet on a quarterly basis throughout 2023.
Meetings of the panel will be called by the chair of the panel by not less than 28 days’ notice to all of the members of the panel. The chair will have the right to change or cancel a meeting if situations arise to limit members attending.
All decisions of the panel shall be made by majority. In the event of a tied vote, the chair of the panel shall have a casting vote.
After approximately 12 months of activity, the chair will work with the panel, Continuum Industries and other interested parties to consider, and write a short public report on, whether it should continue in its current form or whether other options should be pursued (eg nesting the panel within a public body/public interest group, bringing its work to a close etc).
The chair of the panel will be paid a per diem fee for fulfilling this role.
Members of the panel who are not supported by their organisations to take part in this work will be able to claim an attendance fee for attending panel meetings, to be agreed in advance with the chair.
The panel will have access to a small budget to commission expert advice (eg on legal, social impact issues etc) to support panel activities.
The above costs will in the first year be met by Continuum Industries but as the panel is developed, and if it's work is seen to be of wider and ongoing public value, the chair will explore a range of funding mechanisms including with other parties.
A draft copy of the terms of reference was discussed at the first meeting of the panel on 10th March 2023; this final version incorporates panel comments and feedback.