CIVIL ENGINEERING will be the second fastest growing construction market over the next two years. Only public housing will be more active.
Analysis by New Civil Engineer magazine of three main industry forecasts from the Construction Products Association, Construction Forecasting & Research and Hewes & Associates indicates that civil engineering work will grow by 11.8% during 2001-2002.
The infrastructure sector is on course for steady growth for the first time since the Channel Tunnel and downgrading of the Conservative Government's road building programme.
Infrastructure orders have increased over the first two quarters of the year, driven by the road and rail markets. Road orders have risen by 46% since the first quarter of 1999. CPA predicts double-digit growth in the sector over the next two years, although Hewes is slightly more cautious, suggesting 7.8% next year and 8.2% in 2002.
Rail looks set for a surge in 2001 with a onethird increase predicted. The losers are water and sewerage - while the fall in orders has stabilised, outlook is not positive.
UK construction output is expected to rise by 6.3% in the three years 2000 to 2002, with the economy forecast to outstrip it slightly by growing 8%. In the preceding three years (1997-1999) growth was 5.4%.
Most of the growth will be in the repair and maintenance market, predicted to rise by 11.9%. Growth in new build will be 1.6%, the first slow-down since 1995.
Analysts warn that an 'unusually high' political risk is attached to reliance on public sector work - any switch of funding could have a big impact.