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Boom or bust in 2008? Experts disagree

Two reports published this week offer conflicting views on prospects for the UK the infrastructure market in 2008.
According to cost consultant EC Harris' Economics Survey, bulging order books and a shortage of project managers mean the UK will struggle to deliver infrastructure projects planned for 2008.The report says that pressure on resources will increase next year as the London 2012 Olympics vies with greater spending on water, rail and roads. Tender prices could rise by up to 5% as clients struggle to attract contractors' bids.EC Harris head of infrastructure Terry Povall said that while there might be the overall capacity to deliver work planned for 2008, contractors will struggle to find enough project managers to oversee large infrastructure schemes.'There just aren't enough project managers with the desired level of competency around, so they get juggled between schemes. In the water sector we will be heading into the fourth year of the current asset management plan, which is traditionally when spending ramps up, and a number of operators are already behind in their spending programmes,' he said.But the report's findings were challenged by the Construction Products Association (CPA) summer forecast. This predicted that infrastructure output next year would be slower than anticipated and would free up capacity in the market to deliver projects starting in 2008.'Infrastructure growth will be less than 1% next year, which is pretty weak,' said CPA economics director Allan Wilén. 'In the water sector there will be some growth, but nowhere near what was expected.In roads there will be falls in output in 2007 and 2008, and there's uncertainty surrounding the Highways Agency's spending ahead of the Comprehensive Spending Review.'

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