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Snow causes January construction activity to drop 8pc

The January cold snap caused construction activity to drop 8 per cent according to the latest Glenigan Index.

The Glenigan Index for January 2010 recorded an 8 per cent drop in the value of projects starting on site compared with January 2009.

The heavy snow at the beginning of the year was blamed as the main reason for the slump in construction activity.

Private housing projects were especially vulnerable to disruption from the poor weather, temporarily halting the pick-up in new private housing projects seen during the autumn of 2009.

The residential Index for January was 1 per cent down on a year ago, despite an increase in social housing projects.

The non-residential Index for January was 14 per cent down on a year ago due to the continued weakness of the private industrial and commercial sectors, combined with fewer government funded health and community projects.

The civil engineering Index slipped back during January and was only 2 per cent up on a year ago.

Last autumn’s surge in rail and national road projects has lost momentum in recent months. In contrast the flow of utilities projects has remained firm.

A weak private sector is expected to remain a drag on project starts over the next few months.

However, looking ahead the flow of private sector work is forecast to improve during the course of 2010.

A gradual recovery in new residential projects is forecast over the course of this year.

However weak household earnings and consumer confidence, combined with limited mortgage availability are expected to restrict the pace of recovery in new house sales during 2010.

A renewed strengthening in civil engineering project starts is expected as the sector benefits