An industry research paper on the future of UK infrastructure has highlighted a need for clear government support and policy direction after the General Election, to ensure that projects are delivered.
Management consultancy company Boxwood, which produced the study, said the UK infrastructure sector was “on the brink of huge change” at a time of political uncertainty.
The Boxwood paper, which examined core themes that are driving growth, said that strong leadership from government was required to provide clarity, commitment and certainty over the pipeline and funding models for infrastructure.
According to the research paper, there was also a need for industry leaders to engage with key infrastructure issues. It said this would require an increased level of collaboration in an industry that was “traditionally fragmented and adversarial”.
Boxwood’s research paper, which was carried out in consultation with companies operating in the sector including Balfour Beatty, Costain, Serco and Network Rail, said that there were three key areas of infrastructure opportunity emerging.
This included potential for developing data and communications technologies to transform how infrastructure is designed, built and managed, as well as building capabilities in key core skills to service project demands. The research also said there were opportunities for delivering better overall engagement and communication, to transform the relationship with customers of infrastructure.
Toby Ashong, head of infrastructure at Boxwood, said there had been recognition of an urgent need for investment in UK energy and transport schemes.
He said that major rail projects such as HS2 – linking London with the Midlands and North of England – and Crossrail’s improvement of rail services within the capital, could drive further investment in skills, technology and innovation.
Ashong said that the UK infrastructure market was seen as being attractive, with a stable regulatory framework. But he added that despite the uncertainty over the outcome of next month’s General Election, there should be no complacency in developing infrastructure plans.
He said, “Only by working together, with a strong backing from government, can the infrastructure industry capitalise on a potentially golden new era to make an even bigger contribution to the growth of the UK economy."
He added, “We simply cannot afford to let politics or the upcoming election jeopardise this by creating further uncertainty or delay.”