Infrastructure 2020 Ellis Fox Blog

What does 2020 hold for the infrastructure sector?

Despite lower output in 2019 and challenges of project delays, the infrastructure sector is the one that shows the greatest promise for 2020. Government has announced that major funding is to be made available for the development and improvement of infrastructure. Industry regulators such as Ofwat, too have released their strategic plan for ensuring more efficient infrastructure. In reality, what does this look like?

Delivering what the public wants

Surveys have shown that while most people are in favour of better infrastructure, they do not wish for it to happen at the cost of the environment or require pockets deeper than what was budgeted for. A greater awareness of the climate crisis has people supporting initiatives that reduce carbon emissions, reduce pollution or utilise recycled materials. People are also more conscious of the economic impact of infrastructure projects – will it create jobs, will it reduce commuting costs, will it create opportunities for local businesses?

The public have experienced the grand promises and dismal failure of major infrastructure projects like Crossrail to deliver on time or on budget, so they are weary of big announcements and skeptical about infrastructure actually being the solutions they promise to be. Government and main contractors can expect to come under close scrutiny when it comes to delivering on the promises made.

Delivering what the country needs

A major challenge to the industry is having to deal with the damage caused to infrastructure by extreme weather. And this is made worse by the knowledge that damage it likely to continue. It’s challenge because while crews are involved with mop up and rescue operations, civil contractors and engineers have their work cut out for them in terms of making repairs that can withstand future extreme weather conditions.

Additionally, burgeoning urban populations are placing infrastructure under strain, increasing congestion and delays. While digital signaling programmes promise to alleviate some of the problems, implementation is not widespread enough to make a significant impact. There’s talk of rolling out more smart motorways and railways and perhaps this will provide an interim solution, but still it will take time.

The South West region is seeing the implementation of a significant number of infrastructure projects at present, from housing, roads and rail, to energy and waterworks. There’s opportunity in this current construction hub within the UK, so if you’re looking, this is the place to be.