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Defence

This year will see the publication of the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review, setting out government’s ambition for the sector to 2020.

This much-anticipated update to the 2010 SDSR is likely to provide more clarity on opportunities for the construction industry. 

The UK faces an ever more diverse range of security risks, and a fresh assessment of threats to the country’s interests is essential.

Britain’s ability to meet these threats will depend on funding, and in 2015 defence is unlikely to be protected from further cuts.

Budget constraints will necessitate private sector engagement, bringing opportunities for the construction industry to help increase efficiencies, reduce running costs and deliver value for money to taxpayers.

Private sector input

The Ministry of Defence is already establishing closer relationships with the private sector.

Both the Defence Infrastructure Organisation and Defence Equipment & Support (DE&S) have turned to the private sector to aid delivery.

The private sector provides defence with vital expertise, resources, scale and innovation — all of which will assume even greater importance if the MoD is required to respond positively to likely budget cuts.

One example is building information modelling, where the industry is providing skillsets to help the MoD play its part in achieving the objective of deploying BIM Level 2 on all government-funded projects by 2016.

The MoD’s transformation agenda will continue to bring opportunities for the construction industry.

“The MoD’s transformation agenda will continue to bring opportunities for the construction industry”

A key DIO priority is to further rationalise the defence estate by accelerating the sale of surplus land and buildings to secure funds for reinvestment in defence priorities. This creates significant opportunities for developers and contractors.

Crest Nicholson was recently appointed as an MoD development partner to redevelop Wyton airfield in Cambridgeshire into a £1bn, 4,500-home community.

We anticipate similar development agreements next year as the DIO continues to seek ways to optimise an estate that currently stands at 228,000 ha of land.

Ongoing schemes

Construction of major projects, such as the redevelopment of RAF Lyneham, continues apace.

The former airbase is being transformed into a centralised training facility for all three armed forces and is part of the MoD’s strategy to make efficiency savings by creating fewer, but larger, sites.

The Army Basing Programme is also high on the MoD’s agenda, as it plans for the return of 15,000 military personnel to the UK from Germany by 2019. The construction industry will benefit significantly from the associated infrastructure required to meet that objective.

While we wait for more detail on spending priorities in the 2015 SDSR, what remains clear is that security will be a key issue for whoever wins next year’s general election.

Defence and security is any government’s first responsibility and the private sector - and the construction industry in particular - has an important role to play.

John Tubman is managing director of management services and defence, UK&I and Europe, at Aecom

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