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Two years of growth marked by civil engineering firms

Civil engineering workloads have risen every three months for two years, research has revealed.

Data from the Civil Engineering Contractors Association showed that while almost a fifth of respondents to a poll were less busy in the second quarter of this year than they were in the same period last year, almost half had seen demand for their services rise.

The figures - published as part of a report into the broader construction industry by the Construction Products Association (CPA) - showed this was the eighth successive quarter where the balance of respondents had seen civil engineering workloads increase.

England saw the greatest increase in infrastructure workloads, then Scotland. In Wales, workloads fell.

The CPA’s Construction Trade Survey showed that across the construction industry, the second quarter of 2015 marked the ninth consecutive quarter of growth. However, large contractors reported a decline in new orders.

A drop in repair and maintenance (R&M) work in both the housing and non-housing sectors was blamed for the decline, along with the cancellation of the Green Deal announced by the government in July.

The report said that although cost rises had been muted by low global oil prices, difficulties with supply of labour had resulted in wage bills being reported as the most significant driver of construction cost inflation.

Civil engineers remained upbeat about the next 12 months. Activity continued to be led by the private housing, commercial and infrastructure sectors, increases in activity beyond the South East and the £411bn pipeline of work in the National Infrastructure Plan.

CPA economics director Dr Noble Francis said: “Firms across the whole construction supply chain, including building contractors, SMEs, specialist contractors, civil engineers and product manufacturers all reported rises in output during Q2.

“The £23bn R&M sector will undoubtedly be affected by this and the government’s decision to close the Green Deal last month.

“Contractors reported a broad fall in orders across all sectors in Q2, however, not just for R&M. This will be countered to some extent by the fact that civil engineers, specialist contractors and SMEs reported an increase in new enquiries or orders in the quarter, while product manufacturers were upbeat over the outlook for sales.”

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