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Construction rises for third quarter running

Total construction output in Northern Ireland rose by £30m over the first three months of 2012 thanks to a series of large infrastructure projects, according to a new report.

The latest Northern Ireland Construction Bulletin said that the total volume of construction output in Northern Ireland in the first quarter of 2012 rose by 6.3% compared to the last three months of 2011.

It was also 1.3% higher compared to the same period in 2011.

The bulletin is produced by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency.

This is the third consecutive quarter in which the total volume of construction output has increased. However housing output decreased by 3.2% over the quarter.

The results are said to be influenced by a number of large scale infrastructure projects in the first three months of 2012, with a massive 33.4% increase in infrastructure output in the first quarter of 2012.

Whilst the increases in overall output over the previous two quarters were relatively small, this latest increase is much larger with total output being approximately £30m more than the previous quarter, the report said.

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The total volume of new work in from January to March increased by 6.7% over the quarter whilst repair and maintenance increased by 2.1%.

There was a 6.1% quarter on quarter volume growth in industrial and commercial output.

The report has brought some good cheer a day after another document indicated that Northern Ireland's construction continued to lag behind other regions over the past quarter.

The latest RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) Construction Market Survey reveals that Northern Ireland continued to significantly lag other UK regions over April, May and June, with a net balance of -42% of chartered surveyors reporting declining workloads.

RICS said that all construction sub-sectors in Northern Ireland experienced a fall in activity during the three-month period.

The organisation said that expectations for the construction sector in Northern Ireland also remain negative, with further falls in workloads, employment and profits expected.

Earlier this week it also emerged that house prices had slumped in Northern Ireland by 10.3% year-on-year to reach £132,000, according to the Office for National Statistics.