Borders Railway to lift troubled civil engineering

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The number of civil engineering projects starting in Scotland hit a historic low in the three months to the end of January, new data has shown.

But an industry body claims the amount of work on infrastructure has “stabilised” and will pick up as work begins on the Borders Railway.

The data from Glenigan, which publishes a three-monthly index of projects started in each quarter, shows the number of major infrastructure developments dropped 80 per cent to their lowest level since 2006 when the research firm started compiling the figures.

The data underlines the decline in projects, including those in utilities, bridges and rail, caused by the recession, which has seen turnover and employment drop in the Scottish civil engineering sector by 15 per cent since 2009.

The plunge was comparable to the south-east of England, where figures suffered as a result of being compared with the same quarter last year when major developments were starting ahead of the Olympics.

Alan Watt, chief executive of the Civil Engineering Contractors Association Scotland, said the sector was likely to have reached its nadir.

“The civils figure is probably about to stabilise because the Borders Railway is now in construction and the first of the ‘shovel ready’ roads projects was awarded on Tuesday, with three other awards imminent. Similarly, the additional funding for trunk road maintenance should kick in shortly, although it seems to be proceeding slightly slower than anticipated.”