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IPA forecasts £600bn of infrastructure investment

Aerial view of the A14 road bypass outline

The Infrastructure & Projects Authority (IPA) says that infrastructure spending will be worth £600bn over the next 10 years in its annual report released today.

The £600bn figure is the same as the forecast in its 2017 report.

The workload pipeline includes £28bn for national roads. Money will go into “flagship” projects like East West Rail, upgrading the M6 to a smart motorway and Hornsea Project One – the largest offshore wind farm in the world.

The report also details proposals to “harness” modern technologies to build infrastructure in the most effective way. This includes the use of off-site manufacturing using the latest digital technology. The government has committed to increase its use in public-funded projects.

But the IPA warned that the construction sector’s productivity was still weak compared to sectors such as manufacturing.

The report echoes comments from National Infrastructure Commission chair Sir John Armitt. He recently said the UK construction industry as the “laggard” of the engineering industry, saying it had to improve productivity to keep pace with other industries.

The new report used the A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon improvement road scheme as an example of where off-site manufacturing has been used successfully to build bridge parts which could be assembled on site to create structures more efficiently than if traditional construction methods had been used.

Alongside the report, the IPA said it was also publishing a proposal for a preferred approach to building infrastructure called a Platform Approach to Design for Manufacture and Assembly or “P-DfMA” – a modern method of construction which is a specific form of design for manufacture and assembly.

In response, Highways England chief executive Jim O’Sullivan said: “At Highways England we recognise the productivity and efficiency challenges that the UK construction industry is facing. In recent years we have encouraged more computer-led design, automation, and pre-assembly across all of our construction activities. As well as driving productivity and efficiency it improves worker safety and reduces delays and frustration for road users passing through our works.

“We will adopt ever increasing levels of automation and off-site construction in road improvement schemes and smart motorways in our next five year road investment programme.”

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