UK construction workers will be busily putting on their thermal work socks and other warm clothes ready for a busy January, after the sector defied gloomy forecasts with a surge of new orders.
The pandemic and Brexit might have been expected to cut new orders, but instead December saw £12.2 billion of new contracts and awards, with HS2 leading the way with £8 billion worth of work, Building Products reports.
Among the HS2 deals are a £6 billion contract awarded to a joint venture of Balfour Beatty and Vinci. This will involve the construction of the section of the line between Long Itchington in Warwickshire and Handsacre in Staffordshire, along with the spur of the line into the centre of Birmingham.
This section covers 80 km of track, of which 30 km will be in cuttings. Other elements will include 42 viaducts and 66 overbridges.
The net largest HS2 contract was a £2.5 billion award to EKFB, a joint venture involving Eiffage, Genie Civil, Kier, BAM Nuttall and Ferrovial. This will deliver two tunnels through the Chilterns as part of the link either side of Brackley.
While some environmentalists – including the Green Party – oppose HS2, those looking for eco-friendly construction headlines may be pleased by news of the £300 million contract awarded to ISG to build a lithium-ion battery plant on the former Blyth Power Station site in Northumberland.
The factory will run on renewable energy, potentially including hydro-electric power transmitted under the North Sea from Norway.
Costain was another major project winner, securing a £482 million deal with Highways England to repair and upgrade roads in and around Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
Although the latest lockdown will mean some people working from home, the government has stated this would not apply to those who cannot work at their place of residence.
This being the case, construction workers will be very busy in the coming months, with PPE and warm clothing in demand as they start 2021 in very active fashion.