The North West scooped the highest value of infrastructure contract awards in 2019 of all UK regions, thanks mainly to the £1.5bn Sellafield decommissioning project, according to data analyst Barbour ABI.
Contracts awarded for projects in the North West totalled £2.5bn in 2019, up 17% compared to the previous year. The figure also accounts for a quarter of all contracts awarded in the UK last year, which totalled £10.4bn.
This is a significant increase on 2018, when the North West ranked sixth in terms of the total value of contract awards at £840m, with Scotland, at £2.9bn, topping the charts that year.
The East of England came second this year, accounting for 11.8 per cent, or £1.2bn, of the total value of contracts awarded in the UK. The figure remained flat from 2018.
In total, the value of infrastructure contracts awarded in the UK in 2019 was down 10% compared to the previous year, and represented the second consecutive annual decline.
Overall, the value of infrastructure awards decreased by 50% between 2017 and 2019.
Despite this, the report said the outlook for infrastructure in 2020 looks positive, with a “strong pipeline” due to projects such as HS2, the Transpennine route upgrade and Hinckley Point C, which will contribute to growth in the sector.
However, the report also warned that uncertainty surrounding the future of HS2 could have a detrimental impact on infrastructure investment.
Tom Hall, chief economist at Barbour ABI, said: “While the pipeline may appear positive, the risk of major projects in the planning system being delayed, de-scoped or cancelled remains.
“This week, Boris Johnson and senior ministers will meet to decide the fate of HS2. The sector’s short-term momentum remains dependent on previously promised projects, while the chancellor’s budget in March will give an indication of [direction] over the medium term.”
The North West could be set for a strong 2020 with a number of high value infrastructure projects in the pipeline, including an £800m contract for the construction of a gas turbine power station on a 22-acre site in Carrington, Manchester.
The scheme has a projected start date of the fourth quarter of 2020 and is expected to take three years to complete. A contractor has yet to be appointed but an announcement is expected in March.
Barbour ABI analysed contracts awarded for infrastructure projects in both the private and public sector when compiling its research.