After months of downturn, optimism is returning to civil engineering companies in England and Scotland as orders improved slightly.

The Civil Engineering Contractors Association Workload Trends Survey showed that future orders had edged up for the first three months of the year, leading organisations to have cause for optimism. However, it was a different story in Wales where sharp declines in workloads had significantly dampened any positivity, which detracted from the performance of the rest of the country as a whole.

Officials noted that the driving force behind the upturn in figures was electricity, water and sewerage, and rail works, which continued their strong performance during the opening part of the year. However, roads, communications and gas pipelines operations all experienced a decline, but the optimism was sparked by a boost in new development orders.

The latest data revealed this held a positive balance of 12 per cent across the entire nation, with England and Scotland benefiting from increases of 39 per cent and seven per cent respectively. It was a much different story in Wales though with growth being hampered with 69 per cent of companies reporting expectation of lower new work orders.

Speaking about the latest figures, Alasdair Reisner, CECA director of external affairs, warned of over confidence: "While growth in the sector is welcome, it is too early to say that the infrastructure sector has entered into a sustained recovery.

“Since the onset of the financial crisis, we have seen such false dawns before. Our members continue to report increased costs and challenging trading conditions."

The construction sector has been through some tough times of late thanks to the difficult economic climate the UK has found itself in. Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) noted that between November and January the industry had experienced a 10.2 per cent decline in output. The government department also noted that new work had slumped by 12.7 per cent during the same time frame,highlighting the challenges that the sector is continuing to face.  

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