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A strong stream of civil engineering work is coming up in the year ahead as projects delayed during 2023 belatedly come on stream.

The sector suffered a 12% drop in the value of underlying work (projects valued up to £100 million) starting on-site this year, but this ground will be more than made up in 2024 with Glenigan forecasting a 17% rise in starts.

Glenigan’s economics director Allan Wilén explains: “This rebound will be driven by a strengthening in utilities work and the progression of rescheduled infrastructure projects to site.

“Utilities starts are also expected to strengthen during 2024 as the water industry invests according to its regulator-agreed plans, and as investment in electricity generation and distribution, and broadband connectivity increases.”

Major utilities agreements due to begin in 2024 include a £4.5 billion framework for Northumbrian Water (Project ID: 23130903) and a £6 billion water treatment and pipeline agreement for United Utilities (Project ID: 23280222).

This work will filter down to an underlying level and Glenigan is forecasting that £7.4 billion worth of overall civil engineering projects due to begin construction in 2024.

Electric boost

Electricity generation work will boost workloads in 2024 as National Grid pushes ahead with major programmes.

The Great Grid Upgrade Partnership will be a collaborative delivery model with National Grid appointing two enterprise partners for spending of £9.3 billion up to 2026 (Project ID: 23169893).

Elsewhere, National Grid’s £1 billion Eastern Green Link 2 scheme will provide two high-voltage direct current links from North Yorkshire to Scotland and is due to start next summer (Project ID: 20421858).

Broadband roll-out

Broadband roll-out is continuing apace and work is getting underway on parcels from the Project Gigabit.

Construction on the £86 million Cornish section begins early in the New Year (Project ID: 22410166), as does work on the £104 million programme for Hampshire (Project ID: 23209697).

The roll-out in Suffolk will begin at a similar time and cost even more with a £174 million price tag (Project ID: 23209715).

Riding the rails

Image of civil engineering work on a railway in the UK.

Network Rail remains among the construction industry’s leading clients with a number of major work programmes due to commence in 2024.

The Eastern Routes Partnership Framework will begin in April and is expected to produce spending of £3.5 billion in the east of England over the next six years (Project ID: 21447871).

A £3 billion programme of line electrification on the Pennine Route should start in November (Project ID: 11380308).

Further north, a Network Rail framework covering Scotland will also begin in April and generate spending of £1.3 billion up to 2029 (Project ID: 23213005).

Workload moderation

The growth in civil engineering workload will slow after next year’s bumper rise.

Mr Wilén said: “The growth in project starts is forecast to moderate to 5% in 2025, as public sector investment plans are reviewed by the new post-election administration and the water industry’s current five-year investment programme draws to a close.”

However, with two successive years of growth the civil engineering sector looks set to provide a host of opportunities.

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