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Foot and mouth restrictions hit contractors

CONTRACTORS THIS week expressed fears that they could be forced to pay for delays to projects held up by restrictions imposed on sites during the escalating foot and mouth crisis.

The Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA) said contractors involved in power line maintenance or pipeline work were being denied access to sites, delaying work.

Contractors' fears surfaced as the Government launched a probe into the impact of the foot and mouth epidemic on the construction industry.

The move comes as the industry has started to feel widening impact of the crisis.

CECA is meeting contracts experts at the ICE today to work out how the financial effects of delays caused by the foot and mouth epidemic are dealt with under ICE 5th and 6th Edition contracts and under the Engineering Construction Contract.

Their conclusions will eventually be fed back to the Department of the Environment Transport and the Regions.

However ICE contracts expert Drick Vernon said of the crisis: 'It's hardly an act of God.'

He said that this was proved by the fact that the Government had contingency plans for such crises. He said that if the crisis continued for very long contractors and clients could possibly be forced out of business.

Meanwhile DETR construction director John Hobson has asked construction trade associations to feed information on the impact of the outbreak into the Government's Rural Task Force.

This was set up earlier this month by environment minister Michael Meacher to assess the impact of the outbreak across all industries.

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