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Olympic projects 'will save London from construction downturn'

LONDON'S HOSTING of the 2012 Olympics will save construction in south east England from a downturn in 2007/8, contractors say.

The Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA) dismissed concerns over the industry's capacity to deliver the Olympic venues. It said work would revive the industry at a time of slowing workload.

Several big projects are expected to fi nish their civils phases between 2007 and 2009, when the Olympics programme is expected to peak.

These include the £5.2bn Channel Tunnel Rail Link Section 2, the £7.8bn West Coast Main Line upgrade, the £4.2bn Heathrow Terminal 5 project and the £900M East London Line extension.

CECA expects a slowdown in commercial building too. As a result the Olympics programme will be easy to soak up, said CECA economic adviser Jim Turner.

The total capital budget for the Olympics is £8.8bn, but £6.4bn of this is committed to transport spending. Construction of the Olympic Park and venues will cost £2.4bn.

'Some of the fi gures sound very big, but when you put them in them in a broader context they are not colossal, ' Turner said. 'People think of £1bn as a very large sum indeed but annual [UK] construction output is now £57bn.

'Spread £2.4bn over seven years and it begins to come down a bit at a time when the industry could be going through a flatter patch.'

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