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UK outlines £500bn infrastructure plans

The pipeline includes planned mega investments such as Thames Tideway, Hinkley and the recently announced £23bn National Productivity Investment Fund.

The UK government has released an updated National Infrastructure and Construction Pipeline which it says will reach £500 billion ($635.6 billion; €596.8 billion).

The pipeline refers to over 729 projects to be implemented between the current Parliament up to 2020 and beyond. Some £300 billion of the planned investment will be spent by 2021.

The projects range across the transport, digital, energy and social infrastructure sectors and the pipeline serves as a follow-up to plans published in March, with the government saying the updated schedule is its largest ever. An additional 20 new projects have been added to the pipeline since March, including aspects of the £23 billion National Productivity Investment Fund announced in the Autumn Statement two weeks ago.

“This record infrastructure pipeline is set to make a real difference to people’s lives from quicker and easier journeys, to better broadband access, and building more homes for people who need them in high demand areas,” Chief Secretary to the Treasury David Gauke said.

The transport sector is set for a boost with at least 251 projects planned over the period, more than any other sector. However, the £138 billion planned investment in this area is dwarfed by the £206 billion set to be spent on 114 energy projects. Investments in grid infrastructure and other utilities-based projects such as smart meters and sewage programmes total £75 billion across 96 investments.

The delivery of the Hinkley nuclear plant is included in the pipeline, although the £16 billion cost attributed to it is £2 billion less than the government said it would cost when it was approved in September. A Treasury spokeswoman said this was due to differences in its cost from the base year of the project. Also, the £17.6 billion figure touted for the third runway development at Heathrow Airport is not included in the pipeline, with the decision to approve the project subject to a parliamentary vote in 2017 or 2018.

In a “funding and finance” supplement to the published pipeline, the government advised investors that the energy generation sector has the widest scope for greenfield projects. Included in the pipeline was £60 billion reserved for the energy sector, both conventional and renewables, post-2020 without further elaboration. Investors warned the government earlier this year the sector faced a “policy cliff-edge” in 2020 due to uncertainty surrounding funding.

The plan reiterated Chancellor Philip Hammond’s Autumn Statement pledge to unveil a new pipeline of projects for the PF2 scheme early next year.