Only 413 cranes erected in the UK in first half of 2012 - half of last year’s figure

state of play

The number of tower cranes on the UK’s skyline has dropped to its lowest point in over two years according to government data.

Statistics obtained from the Health & Safety Executive by law firm Pinsent Masons shows that just 413 tower cranes were erected in the country in the first six months of this year – almost half the figure for the same period in 2011.

Even London – generally seen as construction’s most buoyant region – has seen a 45% drop in the numbers with only 200 appearing in the capital over the first two quarters of 2012.

Elsewhere only 28 were established across major UK cities during this period including seven in Birmingham, eight in Edinburgh, eight in Manchester, three in Glasgow and none at all in Leeds.

Of the cities surveyed, Glasgow was subject to the most steep drop-off in projects, with an 85% reduction in tower cranes being erected.

Pinsent Masons said the numbers are a wake-up call to the government ahead of the Autumn Statement.

Graham Robinson, global business consultant in the infrastructure division at Pinsent Masons, said: “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 stimulus of the Olympic Games is gone and we have to get clearer commitments from government on a whole raft of policy concerned with building the infrastructure that Britain needs.”

TABLE: Number of Tower Crane Notifications 2011-12

Location H1 2011 H2 2011 H1 2012
National 712 702 413
London 366 377 200
Aberdeen 0 2 2
Birmingham 12 14 7
Edinburgh 12 2 8
Glasgow 21 13 3
Leeds 1 0 0
Manchester 11 2 8

Source: Pinsent Masons / Health and Safety Executive