Sign of the times - no cranes

Published:  13 November, 2012

LONDON: The falling number of cranes on the UK skyline is the "most tangible evidence yet" of a death of the major construction projects needed to kick-start the country's economic recovery.

Data obtained by Pinsent Masons shows that the number of tower cranes registered with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in the first six months of this year dropped to 413. This is just over half of the number of tower cranes erected over the same period in 2011.

Infrastructure law expert Graham Robinson of Pinsent Masons said that the lack of cranes was "symbolic of the sharp galls in new commercial and public sector construction", as well as being an indication of the UK's lack of a positive infrastructure policy.

"People often look at the number of cranes as a barometer of the health of UK construction," he said. "If that is correct, then we should be concerned. Tower cranes are generally only required for major projects so their absence from the skylines of cities around the UK tells its own story. This is forcing larger construction companies to compete for smaller projects."

The figures show a particular drop in major projects in cities outside London, with an overall fall of over 50% to only 28 tower cranes erected in regional cities. Of the cities surveyed, Glasgow has seen the steepest drop in major projects with the number of new cranes erected falling by 85%.

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