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Olympics will avert construction slowdown

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BUILDING LONDON'S Olympic Park will save construction in the south east from a downturn in 2007/8, contractors said this week.

The Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA) dismissed concerns over the industry's capacity to deliver the Olympic venues.

It insisted that the work would revive the industry at a time of slowing workload.

Several major projects are expected to reach the end of their civils phases between 2007 and 2009, when the Olympics programme is now expected to peak.

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

CECA is also expecting a considerable slowdown in commercial building.

This means that as a result the Olympic programme will be easy to soak up, said CECA economic advisor Jim Turner.

The total capital budget for the Olympics stands at £8.8bn, but £6.4bn of this is already committed to transport spending.

Construction of the Olympic Park and venues will cost £2.4bn.

'Some of the figures sound very big but when you put them in a broader context it is not colossal, ' said Turner.

'People still think of £1bn as a very large sum indeed but annual construction output is now £57bn.

'So spread £2.4bn over seven years and it all begins to come down a bit at a time - when the construction industry could be going through a flatter patch, ' said Turner.

Construction Products Association economics director Allan Wilen agreed: 'The industry does have the capacity if we plan ahead.

'Our forecasts for the next three years show only moderate growth in the sector. We don't see that the Olympics will have a large impact.'

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