What are the UK’s top priority infrastructure projects?

Rebekah Valero-Lee Career Advice


In 2011, the government released their Top 40 priority infrastructure investments as part of the National Infrastructure Plan, which details the key construction projects planned in the UK. Chosen as top priority because they “make the most significant contribution towards achieving a particular objective or carry the most risk should they fail,” these schemes are some of the most important in the country.

For engineers in construction, the document highlights just how many opportunities there are in this industry, with many of the developments taking years to complete. To help you to further understand the future of UK infrastructure, we’re highlighting some of the most vital construction projects as featured in the Top 40, including new build motorways, rail projects, structural builds and water improvements, from both private and public investments.

Highway projects and new build motorways

A big government focus, improvement to the UK’s highways has seen substantial investment. In the Road Investment Strategy (RIS1), which highlights the long-term plans for the country’s major roads and motorways, the government aims to spend over £15 billion across five years on over 100 major schemes and new build motorways.

Smart motorways

Tackling congestion on the country’s most popular routes, many smart motorway projects have already been completed, and more announced. Currently, the RIS1 plans to add smart motorway lanes to connect London, Birmingham, Manchester and Yorkshire, while Manchester’s smart motorways are currently under construction, with M4 Junctions 3 to 12 to be confirmed.


Costing up to £1.5 billion, the A14 Cambridge to Huntington Improvement Scheme will provide a vital link to the Port of Felixstowe, as well as connect communities, drive growth and relieve congestion. The project includes widening parts of the A14 and demolishing the A14 viaduct. Interestingly, many proposed developments are already heavily relying on an enhanced A14, including a proposed development of 10,000 houses.

Construction projects in water and utilities

The AMP6 (Asset Management Programme 6) has put increased pressure on utility companies to focus on efficiency, innovation and better customer experience, which means heavy private investment. Over the course of five years, from 2015 to 2020, the UK can expect structural improvements across a number of areas to meet with the government’s long-term objectives.

Water supply and sewerage improvements

As a top priority, improvements to water supply and sewerage, in keeping with the AMP6, will bring plenty of opportunities to the construction industry. At a cost of £22 billion, the upgrades across technical, commercial and procurement will help to increase sustainability, while drafted plans to improve water and sewerage services will mean a 5% customer saving on their bills.

Thames Tideway Tunnel

Combatting 20 million tonnes of untreated sewage a year entering the River Thames, the Thames Tideway Tunnel, nicknamed the ‘Super Sewer’, is a highly significant project, valued at £4.2 billion. Work will be taking place across 24 different construction sites, with an expected finishing date of 2023. Built to intercept the sewage before it overflows into the river, the dirty water will be pumped into a sewage treatment centre and back into the Thames as clean water, helping the UK to meet EU environmental guidelines.

Structural and civil developments

Many structural and civil engineering projects are transforming local areas, helping to improve safety, efficiency and connect towns. One big focus has been on rail projects, flood defence schemes and civil structures.

Bristol Temple Meads

Following in the footsteps of Birmingham New Street and Manchester Victoria, a plan for Bristol Temple Meads railway station has been developed with the aim to “bring a world-class railway hub with outstanding station facilities and train connectivity to Bristol.” The project proposals include a new eastern station, increased capacity to ease congestion and an airy subway extension to enhance passenger experience. This redevelopment of various railway stations is valued at £734 million.

Mersey Gateway Bridge

To relieve the aging Silver Jubilee Bridge, the Mersey Gateway Project is constructing a six lane toll bridge between Runcorn and Widnes – a scheme which is expected to cost £600 million. Alongside improving capacity and offering support for Liverpool ports and Liverpool John Lennon Airport, this development will bring thousands of jobs to the city, alongside many apprenticeship opportunities.

As some of the most important UK infrastructure projects, these schemes provide a clear future for construction engineers and bring a whole host of opportunities across all levels and divisions.

If you would like to find out about the current opportunities out there in infrastructure, why not browse our current job listings?