Close to half of the road and rail bridges in Germany will need to be demolished in the next 15 years, a former state minister has told the country’s major gathering of contractors.

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The German Demolition Association’s annual conference was the venue for Michael Groschek’s speech

In a keynote speech to the German Demolition Association’s annual conference in Berlin, Michael Groschek – leader of the Social Democratic Party in North-Rhine Westphalia – said the demolitions were an essential part of the nation’s wider construction programme.

“There are billions of euros available to pump into construction,” said Michael Groschek.

“We haven’t done enough in the past four years and we need to accelerate this process.

“Around 40% of large bridges have to be demolished in the next 10 to 15 years and have to be replaced. Can you imagine the impact of the construction programme on infrastructure? There are 1.5 million new apartments being built. There will be new public buildings, day centres, schools.

“It’s your industry that makes room for all this with dismantling and demolition, with special and modern equipment. Your association worked quickly to point out that staff need to be qualified and to have professional development to increase their skills.

“Demolition is going be good business for you.”

The presentation was the first of 17 across a full day event that together with an exhibition of equipment suppliers attracted more than 900 delegates.

It echoed the recent positive figures announced by German trade association the VDMA, with construction equipment turnover up 15% year-on-year and big increases in earthmoving and building equipment as well as road construction machinery.