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Civils hit by 20 per cent public works fall

LATEST Government figures have further stoked the fears of civil engineers over falling levels of infrastructure work.

The Department of Trade and Industry's provisional data for construction output in 2004 shows a second successive year-onyear reduction in civils work.

The current price value of total infrastructure new work is down to just under £6.5 billion, nearly 12 per cent less than in 2003.Electricity, which accounts for only 7.5 per cent of the total infrastructure market, is the only area not to show a fall.

The most worrying aspect for civil engineers is the massive drop in public sector work. While the value of private sector output has dropped by 6 per cent yearon-year, the public sector has fallen 20 per cent - worth more than £600 million.

Peter Heathershaw, chairman of the Civil Engineering Contractors Association and national bid co-ordination director for Morrison, said: 'The position our industry finds itself in is a very long way removed from what we had expected after the Government launched its July 2000 10 Year Plan for transport.

'Past experience had taught us not to become over-optimistic when we saw the figures in that plan. However, I don't think any of us anticipated so large a shortfall.'