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20. November 2012     Print Print 

Cranes „disappearing“ from UK Skylines

The number of cranes on the UK's skyline has dropped to its lowest point in over two years and is „symbolic of the sharp falls in new commercial construction, deep cuts in capital spending being made by the public sector, and the current lack of positive UK infrastructure policy“, according to infrastructure experts at law firm Pinsent Masons.


Data obtained by the firm is the latest evidence of a slowdown in construction activity around the UK following the completion of various projects related to the Olympics, and is likely to cause further concern around the future of infrastructure spending ahead of next month's Autumn Statement.

Pinsent Masons says that the research demonstrates the most tangible evidence yet of a dearth of major infrastructure projects which it says is required to boost the construction industry, create jobs and alleviate youth unemployment.

Graham Robinson, Global Business Consultant in the Infrastructure Sector at Pinsent Masonsm, says: „People often look at the number of cranes as a barometer of the health of UK construction. If that is correct, then we should be concerned. The lack of cranes on UK skylines is symbolic of the sharp falls in new commercial and public-sector construction seen in the last year and the lack of positive UK infrastructure policy. It is also a sign that construction projects are getting smaller, forcing larger construction companies to compete for smaller projects.“

The data shows that:
• only 413 tower cranes were erected around the UK in the first six months of 2012 – almost half the figure for the same period in 2011

• the picture in London is particularly stark. Only 200 cranes appeared on the capital's skyline in the past six months compared to 366 for the same period in 2011, a fall of 45%

• the dearth of major construction projects in UK cities outside London is worse with an overall fall of over 50%. While 200 cranes have been erected in London in the first half of 2012, only 28 have been established across major UK cities including Aberdeen (2), Birmingham (7), Edinburgh (8), Glasgow (3), Manchester (8), and Leeds (0) over the same period

• of the cities surveyed, Glasgow has been subject to a steep drop-off in projects, with an 85% drop off in new cranes being erected

Graham Robinson say:, „The massive fall in the numbers of tower cranes across the sky lines of the UK’s major cities shows just how far workloads have fallen in the construction sector across the UK, driven by the sharp falls in commercial construction and the deep cuts we are seeing in new public sector construction.“

By analysing the number of Tower Crane Notifications received by the Health and Safety Executive over the past two years, Pinsent Masons says that it is able to provide a different perspective on construction across the UK.