The 2023 National Infrastructure & Construction Pipeline (NICP) was finally published on 2nd February 2024 – months behind schedule, like many of the projects listed.
The 2023 NICP is a spreadsheet of major infrastructure and construction projects representing planned investment between April 2023 and March 2025 along with projects that could begin during the next 10 years.
This is not a list of what will be built. Future spending plans by governments and regulated industries are not yet known. Rather, it is based on prediction and projection, much like a long-range weather forecast.
While there is a degree of certainty about the £164bn investment listed for current two-year period, the 10-year projection of £700-775bn is mere projection.
The NICP* is put together by the Infrastructure & Projects Authority (IPA), a division of the Cabinet Office. The IPA collates data from multiple sources to form the pipeline including the public sector, private sector and regulators. The pipeline is mainly related to England and does not include devolved spending in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and by local authorities. It does, however, include electricity transmission and rail projects in Scotland.
In the accompanying analysis the IPA says: “This year’s 10 year pipeline projection is a range estimate to reflect the scenarios that may materialise over the next decade, in terms of spending decisions, economic context and investment landscape.”
The rationale for the NICP is to provide “industry and investors with a consistent view of planned and predicted spending on infrastructure projects” to help them with their business planning.
IPA chief executive Nick Smallwood writes in the accompanying analysis: “This pipeline will support industry in making strategic and informed decisions about their long-term business and project planning.”
In the foreword to the analysis document, Cabinet Office minister Baroness Neville-Rolfe and Treasury minister Gareth Davies write: “By setting out our planned and projected spend to the market, we aim to build confidence in the construction industry at a time when we know it will be really valued under today’s challenging economic circumstances. Being transparent about what and where we are investing money means that we can deliver more widely and effectively.”
Commenting on the publication, Richard Robinson, UK & Ireland president of cnsuloting engineer AtkinsRéalis, said: “The long-awaited National Infrastructure & Construction Pipeline publication provides industry with a welcome view of planned investment in the short term but a rather uncertain picture of projected investment over the next decade.
“Whilst longer term uncertainty is somewhat inevitable, the known scale of infrastructure transformation required in the coming decades is not currently represented in the pipeline.
“Our industry now has a responsibility to demonstrate that we can deliver planned infrastructure programmes as efficiently as possible to increase productivity, boost investor confidence, and deliver growth across the UK’s regions, alongside the skills and jobs required to achieve this.
“This means working collaboratively across the supply chain, accelerating the rate of digital adoption and focusing on collective outcomes to deliver on sustainability targets and to reaffirm that UK infrastructure across all elements is an attractive option for the private sector investment that will bolster future iterations of this pipeline.”
* For the full pipeline and accompanying analysis, see www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-infrastructure-and-construction-pipeline-2023