Steve Durdant-Hollamby, Managing Director Polypipe Civils is BMBI’s Expert for Civils & Green Infrastructure.
Having seen Covid restrictions ease and relatively consistent trading return to all civils sectors, we’re now moving a couple of steps back with limitations on personal movement. The key difference now is that we have experience of what this means commercially. Like most businesses in the supply chain, we have become familiar with all the necessary hygiene measures to maintain safe working environments. We also have clear, unequivocal guidance from government that construction should keep sites open.
Initial signs are that these new lockdown measures are having minimal impact – trading remains steady and order books relatively healthy. The knock-on of lack of availability of certain materials and skilled labour creates uncertainty and the potential for project delays. It is too early to tell quite what the impact on the civils market will be, but the last six months indicate that, weather aside, it should be minimal.
The widening of material options to include plastic in the sewer market, brought about by the recent changes to the codes governing adoptability, is beginning to see new opportunities. As with all such fundamental changes to regulations, it’s knowledge and expert advice that unlocks the full commercial potential. In our current situation, digital learning platforms are effective in delivering information tailored to the needs of the audience.
Green Urbanisation: As the pandemic continues, more research is being conducted into the monetary value of having access to green spaces. ‘Natural Capital Accounting’ allows changes to urban green ecosystems to be mapped in economic return. This allows green infrastructure to be added to regional balance sheets and, as a result, to shape planning policy and development requirements. In 2021 we expect an updated Environment bill will set targets of a minimum 10% biodiversity net gain on all new developments. This will be an important shift in planning regulation and will require new solutions centred on green urbanisation techniques and Natural Capital Accounting.
The need for enhanced environmental return on development is becoming fundamental to highways and rail infrastructure. Green corridors, created along these linear assets, will allow sustainable interconnections between urban centres, allowing species migration and enhancing resilience to the impacts of climate change and population expansion.