For Britain’s big civil engineering contractors on the precipice of economic collapse, notice to proceed for HS2 could not have come at a better time.
They have been working on the project design for several years with no absolute certainty, until a statement from the prime minister in February, that it would ever actually go ahead.
Even then, the coronavirus pandemic might have had the potential to scupper government spending plans. As it is, current chancellor of the exchequer Rishi Sunak seems to recognise the value of public spending on capital works as an economic stimulus.
The total value of civil engineering work released today amounts to just over £12bn, of which £8.5bn is in the hands of foreign or foreign-owned companies.
Of the 12 main contractors involved, only Sir Robert McAlpine is a private British company, while Kier, Balfour Beatty and Costain are British listed, with multi-national shareholders. The other eight have parents registered in mainland Europe.
Source: Construction Index