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UK revival must wait


THE REVIVAL in UK civil engineering will not take place this year, according to the latest predictions from Construction Forecasting & Research.

CFR's summer 1999 forecast had civil engineering output ending three years of decline and increasing by 1% this year.

But a fall off in water spending and the failure of rail investment to live up to expectations has led the forecaster to predict a 2% decline in output in 2000.

A strong, 5% recovery is forecast in 2001 as road and rail spending increases, but this will only leave civil engineering output at 1998 levels.

According to CFR 'the level of construction work for the water industry has already passed the peak to which it has been driven by the requirements of the EU Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive.'

As a result CFR predicts 'a sharp fall in construction work over the coming year, principally in water rather than sewerage works'. It adds: 'We expect the decline to be halted in 2001.'

Rail spending continues to lag behind that implied in Railtrack's Network Management Statement. Despite the grand plans detailed in the NMS, output is growing relatively slowly.

Civil engineers can draw some comfort from the fact that road spending continues to crawl upwards. Order levels are higher than for the last three years, and CFR claims that 'there are good prospects that the pick- up in orders will be sustained'.

Output from the commercial, industrial and public building sectors is predicted to grow by 0.5% this year. However, a 3% drop off in the commercial sector during 2001 could see the new building market drop 1.4%, the first fall since 1993.

Overall construction output is expected to grow by 2% this year and 2.2% in 2001, mainly from refurbishment and maintenance.

CFR tel (020) 7488 2232,e-mail:

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