Balfour Beatty warns major infrastructure projects under threat

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Construction firm Balfour Beatty has warned major infrastructure projects could face significant challenges in the wake of the vote to leave the EU

A new paper published by Balfour Beatty has underlined how the vote to leave the EU could put major infrastructure projects on the backburner. The firm said “uncertainty around the free movement of labour… may increase costs where demand for labour outstrips supply, with the subsequent risk of project delays”.

It added: “This will be particularly relevant for mega projects such as HS2 and the nuclear new build programme.

“In our view, this requires an early and integrated policy response to both retain the skills of those who have migrated here and to ensure that the UK remains an attractive place for talented people to move to. The country must maintain its skills base.”

The report warned limited access to labour and finance could be a significant problem going forward.

Balfour Beatty said there was a need for companies to adapt in order to prevent challenges from arising and to ensure current problems facing the sector already such as the shortage of skilled workers continues to be addressed.

The paper, ‘Infrastructure 2050: Future Infrastructure Need’, focuses on six key areas:

  • Roads
  • Rail
  • Aviation
  • Energy
  • Nuclear decommissioning
  • Flooding

It provides recommendations on how the UK’s infrastructure can continue to develop, while growing the skilled workforce.

The report said one area that could be seriously affected by the process of withdrawing from the EU was private investment

“Longer term, the impact on private investment in infrastructure projects is unclear, but some investors are likely to postpone decisions to make investments until the UK-EU relationship is renegotiated.

“Given the long lead times for major infrastructure projects, this risks delaying some of the key planned projects.”

However, it also said Brexit could be an opportunity to create a diverse economy.

The report said: “This could be an opportunity for the much talked about diversification of the economy away from financial services and back towards industries such as engineering, construction and manufacturing, as the UK may no longer be bound by single market rules which restrict a more active industrial policy. This, in turn, would support the rebalancing of the economy more evenly across the regions.”

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