Detailed planning approvals fell against both the previous three months and 2022 levels. In contrast, project-starts grew on the previous three months and detailed planning approvals received a boost compared with last year.
Totalling £3.032bn, civil engineering work starting on site during the three months to August fell 13 per cent against the preceding three months and declined 49 per cent against the previous year. Major projects (£100m or more), totalling £1.781bn, fell 2 per cent against the preceding three months and stood 58 per cent lower than last year. Underlying project-starts (less than £100m in value) increased 3 per cent against the preceding three months on a seasonally adjusted (SA) basis and were 19 per cent down compared with last year, totalling £1.251bn.
At £3.800bn, civil engineering main contract awards decreased 44 per cent during the period to stand 4 per cent down on the previous year. Major project contract awards, which at £2.501bn, experienced a 52 per cent decrease on the preceding three months, stood 16 per cent up against the previous year. Underlying contract awards, at £1.299bn remained flat against the preceding three months (SA) to stand 28 per cent down against the previous year.
Totalling £8.647bn, civil engineering detailed planning approvals were 27 per cent up on the previous three months and tripled on a year ago. Major project approvals, at £7.701bn, increased 35 per cent against the preceding three months, and increased 392 per cent against a year ago. Underlying approvals didn’t fare as well, having slipped back 5 per cent (SA) against the previous three months and were 24 per cent lower than a year ago, totalling £945m.
Types of projects started
At £738m, road projects accounted for 24 per cent of civil engineering starts during the three months to August despite a 14 per cent decrease on the previous year. Energy also performed poorly, with starts having fallen 88 per cent against the previous year to total £116m. The segment accounted for a 4 per cent share of starts.
Waste (£21m) and water industry (£35m) each accounted for a 1 per cent share of the sector and slipped back 99 per cent and 82 per cent respectively compared with a year ago. Rail decreased 98 per cent, with starts totalling £23m, accounting for 1 per cent of the sector. In contrast, airports increased four-digits against a year ago to total £96m, to accounting for a 3 per cent share of the total value.
Most regions experienced a decline in civil engineering starts during the three months to August. However, London bucked the trend with the value of projects commencing on site increasing almost 18 per cent against the previous year to total £1.742bn. As a result, the region accounted for 57 per cent of starts during the period, the highest of any area. This growth was almost exclusively driven by the £1.55bn DWP Estates Workplace Transformation Programme. Northern Ireland was the only area where civil engineering project-starts experienced triple-digit growth. Totalling £138m, the value of projects commencing in the region increased 286 per cent to account for 5 per cent of the sector.
The North West accounted for a 97 per cent share of the sector, making it the second most active region. The value of starts in the North West increased 37 per cent against the previous year to total £279m. Growth was accelerated by the £226m Carlisle Southern Link Road. The East Midlands (£44m) and the West Midlands (£73m) both had a weak period, with work commencing on site decreasing 94 per cent and 89 per cent compared to a year ago, accounting for a 1 per cent and 2 per cent share of sector starts, respectively.
Yorkshire & the Humber, at £3.800bn, was by far the most active region for civil engineering planning approvals, with a share of 44 per cent. The value increased more than four digits against the previous year, which accelerated due to the approval of the £2.688bn Hornsea Project Four offshore wind farm. The South West also experienced four-digit growth against the previous year to total £1.364bn, making it the second most active region with a 16 per cent share of the sector. This growth was driven by the approval of the £1.300bn A303 Stonehenge dual carriageway road tunnel.
The North West was also a relatively strong region, with the value of approvals increasing 443 per cent against last year’s figures to total £1.177bn, a 14 per cent share of the sector. At £466m, the East Midlands experienced four-digit growth on 2022 levels to account for 5 per cent of approvals. At £341m, the value of consents in the North East more than doubled against the previous year to account for 4 per cent of the sector.