Construction work across the country was hit by the severe weather as sub-zero temperatures forced many sites to close, writes Michael Glackin

Sites in north-east England and the Midlands were the most badly affected but a number of high-profile schemes in London could also be hit as the cold weather moves south.
The freezing conditions are the latest blow to the industry following the sharp cuts in public sector spending.

In Scotland the severe weather had already hit construction work in the north-east last week before the cold front began to affect sites across the country this week.

David Lonsdale, assistant director of CBI Scotland, said a number of its construction members reported staff had been unable to travel to sites, while those that were on site were unable to work because of the freezing conditions and cancellation of materials deliveries.

Lonsdale said: “The mini boom in Scottish construction seen in the second and third quarter of this year was mainly due to the delay in starting schemes caused by last winter’s bad weather. Things will be tough for the industry again now. The current severe weather is worrying because it has started so early and in Scotland we may well have another three months of it.”

He added: “Even if this weather lasts for only a few days, it could end up costing the Scottish economy millions.”

Scottish construction expanded 10.4% during the second quarter, outstripping growth in other sectors of the economy, but has shrunk more than 3% over the 12 months to end of June 2010.

The Scottish Government recently outlined an ambitious programme of infrastructure investment worth £2.5bn in health, education and transport projects. But such projects are unlikely to be “spade ready” until the middle of 2012.