Utilities pump £2bn annually in the North

Utilities are pumping £2 billion worth of investment every year across the north of England.

That’s according to a new report launched by Northern Gas Networks, Northern Powergrid, Yorkshire Water and Northumbrian Water, which together make up Infrastructure North.

It revealed for every £1 the four companies invest, a ripple effect of 87p extra spending is created in the region.

That means they will generate additional investment worth £10 billion in the next five years, the report claims.

The four firms serve around 13% – or more than eight million people – of the UK population and contribute £2 billion per year in investment and expenditure as well as support 9,000 jobs.

Together, they cover the North East, Yorkshire and the Humber, Northern Cumbria and Northern Lincolnshire.

Mark Horsley, CEO of Gas Power Networks told ELN the companies have seen a shift of around 40% increase in the supply chain and around 1,000 jobs have been created in the last two years.

However, he said: “We’re the silent people because we’re just underground, nobody sees us. You turn your tap on you get water, you put your central heating on you get gas, you turn your light switch you get light. The only time when we get attention is when it isn’t there so we take a lot of things for granted in terms of what we do.

“What we really want from businesses is to talk to us to get more ahead of what they’re trying to do and what their aspirations are and then we can facilitate that with our networks because we have got an embedded network.”

One of the big challenges for utilities in the North is skills and retaining those skills is even more difficult, according to Mr Horsley.

He believes while the UK Government must do more to promote what companies do in the energy sector, businesses must also make the job roles attractive to get younger people to join the industry.

The four companies have however pledged to take on more than 700 apprentices in the next five years.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan, MP for Berwick-upon-Tweed, who organised the launch event at the House of Commons said the UK Government’s plans for a Northern Powerhouse is playing an important role in attracting investment in the region.

She told ELN: “The Northern Powerhouse is becoming a very key part of investment decisions, which businesses, the public sector and our big infrastructure companies can make together to make sure we can see the economy grow as fast, if not faster, in the North as we’ve seen in the South of the UK over many years.

“Our energy utilities are absolutely vital, they employ hundreds of thousands of people across the UK. They are the engine that makes the nation work.”

Mouchel consulting secures £40m win with North Yorkshire County Council

Mouchel Consulting, now part of the Kier Group, has secured a major new contract to deliver consultancy services for North Yorkshire County Council.  The sole provider framework, which starts in April 2016, spans a range of services including estates management, property projects and highways services, and is worth up to £40m over its duration of four years.

The framework is designed to enable the council to not only deliver improved services and value for money, but to also support the delivery of its vision, ‘2020 North Yorkshire’ – transforming the ways in which services are provided for people across the county.

The framework was tendered in three separate packages:

Lot 1 – Estates and Valuation – covering a full range of estates activities including acquisitions, disposal and valuations.

Lot 2 – Property Projects – covering major capital projects and complex planned maintenance in particular in relation to schools.

Lot 3 – Highways – providing technical support and professional and specialist engineering advice and guidance across a wide spectrum including: highways, bridges and structures, waste, planning, archaeology and other similar disciplines.

This is the sixth consecutive contract secured with local authority clients following wins with Norfolk County Council, Bournemouth and Poole Borough Councils, Islington Borough Council, Shropshire Council and Birmingham City Council.

David Virden, Mouchel Consulting managing director, commented: “This is an important win for Mouchel Consulting with a leading local authority like North Yorkshire County Council, and further demonstrates the value of the breadth and depth of our collaborative offering, at both a client and sector level.

“We are very much looking forward to working closely with North Yorkshire County Council to manage and improve the county’s critical infrastructure and assets as part of delivering their vision 2020 North Yorkshire.”

Most English roadworks ‘to be clear in time for Christmas getaway’

Christmas Comes to Lakeside !

This weekend Carrington West staff volunteered at Lakesides Annual Christmas Community Lunch for local individuals and families in crisis.

Peeling the Parsnips!

Peeling the Parsnips!


300 guests enjoyed a free four course Christmas meal in the Lakeside ‘Real Cooking Café’ and were treated to entertainment including a choir, a visit from Elsa and Santa’s Grotto!


Carrington West also sponsored the event, contributing the cost of 35 festive meals.

Government pledges £51m flood funding – but damage could rise to £500m

The Chancellor has announced an additional £51 million to support households and businesses affected by last weekend’s devastating floods in Cumbria and Lancashire – but experts are warning that the damage caused by Storm Desmond could rise to £500 million.

Commenting on the ongoing impact of Storm Desmond, Mohammad Khan, general insurance leader at consultants PwC UK, said:

“Our current estimate of the damage caused by Storm Desmond is £400m – £500m with the insurance industry paying out between £250m and £325m. This compares to an economic cost of £275m and insurer costs of £175m in the 2009 floods. Clearly these are initial estimates as there is still uncertainty as to the number of properties and businesses affected. If the storm continues, the damage – and therefore the costs – could be significantly worse.”

As part of the new funding announced by the government, BIS has committed £5 million for businesses, with funding equivalent to £2,500 per business provided to local authorities. It is estimated that 2,000 firms may have been impacted by the floods.

Minister for Small Business Anna Soubry said:

“We are providing £5 million of quick support for businesses forced to close their doors due to the floods. Our priority is to help these hard working business owners get back on their feet, so they can open their shop doors and be back in business for Christmas.”

This takes the total support pledged by the government to over £60 million.

The government has said it will take a streamlined approach to funding to help households and business access support as quickly as possible.

The money will:

Help the people directly affected by the floods – providing Local Authorities with over £500 for each household affected;

Support people as they protect their homes against future floods by providing grants of up to £5000, so they can install new flood barriers, replace doors and windows with water resistant alternatives, or move electricity sockets up to a safer level

Ensure flood affected businesses that have had their trading disrupted can get back on their feet, with funding equivalent to £2,500 provided to Local Authorities for each business affected and funding specifically provided for farmers to help restore their land

Help Cumbria and Lancashire assess the damage to the local highway network following the events over the weekend, to allow the government to understand what additional local transport infrastructure funding could be provided to help repair roads and bridges damaged

Bring the local flood defences back up to their target conditions, with an additional £10 million invested through the Environment Agency to repair the flood defences that were damaged over the weekend

To ensure the funding is delivered quickly and efficiently, the government is creating a new Community Recovery Scheme worth nearly £40 million. The Scheme will be run by local authorities and provide targeted support on the same basis as in the floods that affected the South West and other parts of the country in 2013 to 2014.

The government has also recognised the important work by local charities in helping respond to the floods and will match the money raised in by the Cumbria Foundation’s Flood Appeal up to £1 million.

The commitment builds on the support announced by the government earlier in this week:

The Environment Secretary announced that the government has opened the Bellwin scheme for local authorities affected by floods, and that 100% of eligible costs above the threshold will be met by the government. The Bellwin scheme is administered by the Department for Communities and Local Government.

The Communities and Local Government Secretary announced business rates and council tax relief for the affected communities.

The government will apply the Barnett formula to the funding so that Devolved Administrations will receive £7.5 million. It is up to them how the money is spent.

Click here for more information on the Environment Agency’s major three-day conference and exhibition Flood and Coast 2016 which takes place from 23rd to 25th February 2016 in Telford.

Highways England makes case to build world’s longest road tunnel

A tunnel under the Pennines to provide a new road link between Sheffield and Manchester is technically feasible and worth exploring further, according to Highways England engineers.

At between 20km and 30km, potentially, it could be the world’s longest road tunnel, but it could be done, and could potentially deliver economic benefits of up to £421m a year, initial studies suggest.

In July 2015, the Department for Transport and Transport for the North (TfN) jointly commissioned Highways England to assess the feasibility of a new strategic highway route connecting Manchester and Sheffield across the Pennines. The government and TfN believe that an improved transport corridor between Manchester and Sheffield could improve the economic prosperity of both cities and the wider Northern Powerhouse region.

Highways England’s interim report has now been published1. Among its conclusions it says:

  • objectives for the road scheme align with government policy and there is a case for change as part of developing ambitions for a Northern Powerhouse
  • constructing a new route between Manchester and Sheffield across the Pennines is technically feasible, although the most effective route options are yet to be considered
  • operating and maintaining the new road link — a considerable proportion of which could be in-tunnel — presents significant challenges, but is feasible in principle
  • while early findings are positive, further work needs to be carried out to develop the economic case.

The two longest road tunnels in the world are: Laerdal Tunnel (one bore of 24.5km) in Norway, which opened in November 2000; and Zhongnanshan Tunnel (two bores each 18km) in China, which opened in January 2007. The experiences and knowledge gained from constructing these long road tunnels are being applied to this study.

On the technical issues, the report says: “The construction of a new strategic road link involving a substantial length of tunnel is technically feasible. Modern tunnelling techniques can accommodate a dual carriageway tunnel and the geology of the Pennines is generally suitable for constructing large diameter ores. Various tunnelling methods are available, including the use of TBMs for diameters up to around 15 metres, drill-and-blast techniques and, potentially, cut-and-cover sections. We will consider the cost and environmental impacts of these tunnelling methods for each potential route option.

“The construction of overland sections at either end of the tunnel and on the fringes of the National Park to connect the new route with the strategic road network presents a number of technical challenges but is technically feasible.

“The tunnel is likely to be longer than most other road tunnels in Europe, and the psychological aspects of travelling through a tunnel of this length are broadly understood. However, it is appreciated that we will need to undertake further work to understand driver behaviour and to consider how advances in technology and appropriate tunnel design could help to mitigate this issue.”

The economic case is less certain: “We have carried out a very high level illustrative scenario modelling of productivity effects on business from better links between Sheffield and Manchester. These scenarios show productivity benefits of between £171m and £421m per annum, with further potential gains of productivity arising from increased competition across markets. However these are just scenarios and benefits maybe higher or lower when actual data has been analysed.”

It also says: “Based on the work carried out so far there is a good case for further work but more modelling will need to be done before we are in a position to reach a conclusion about the full case for investment in a tunnel.”

The case for a trans-Pennine road runnel will now be examined by the new National Infrastructure Commission (NIC)2, whose chairman, Lord Adonis, said: “The NIC will assess all the evidence and provide independent advice to government on the future priorities to improve connectivity amongst the great cities of the North, and this report will form an important part of that review.

“For too long, the British people have had to suffer from the delays, congestion and excessive journey times caused by successive governments failing to plan long term on big infrastructure projects. It’s time for a new approach, building broad consensus behind a long term plan backed up with serious and sustained investment. That is what the National Infrastructure Commission will help create.”

Source: http://www.theconstructionindex.co.uk/news/view/highways-england-makes-case-to-build-worlds-longest-road-tunnel

Work to start on £32m road project to improve links between Daventry and Northampton

Govt awards £8.2m to Cranfield to shape future of UK water treatment and infrastructure

The government has announced an investment of £8.2 million to support advances in water treatment and infrastructure research through Cranfield University’s Water Science Institute.

The investment comes through the UK Collaboratorium for Research in Infrastructure & Cities (UKCRIC) which involves 14 UK universities engaged in cutting-edge national infrastructure research.

The investment at Cranfield will enhance the University’s existing industrial-scale test facilities, providing extended access to on-site wastewater, water, and stormwater treatment and conveyance systems. Several new facilities including a pilot hall and infrastructure monitoring & control suite will complete the investment portfolio.

Research at the enhanced facility will focus on treatment and distribution processes; future technologies like low energy treatment and nutrient and energy recovery; condition monitoring and performance assessment including development of repair techniques which are less disruptive to supply; system-wide operation and control and integrated data systems.

Professor Paul Jeffrey, Professor of Water Management at Cranfield, said:

“The new facilities at Cranfield will enhance our research into the future of our most fundamental utility. Our expertise in water science is already well-established and these facilities will allow us to advance our understanding of water infrastructure further.”

The investment forms a part of a wider UKCRIC package of £138 million from the government with 100% matched funding from other sources. Outside national security and medicine, this will be one of the largest collaborative research projects in the UK. UKCRIC will work to provide a knowledge base to ensure the long-term functioning of the UK’s transport systems, energy systems, clean water supplies, waste management, flood defences and the development of SMART infrastructures.

Professor Brian Collins, chairman of the UKCRIC Coordination Node from University College London, described UKCRIC as “the first step to creating long-term partnerships between the people who build our infrastructure, the people who regulate and fund it, the people who own and operate it and those of us who study how it works and is used.”

Major works planned for M6 Northbound until 2017

A major repair scheme set to last until 2017 will begin on the M6 on Friday December 4.

The Highways England scheme, costing £14.5 million will result in five miles of roadworks, a 50mph speed limit and narrowed lanes between junction 19 at Knutsford and junction 20 at Lymm services.

The work will also coincide for a time with the Smart Motorway roadworks from junction 16 to 19 of the M6.

Highways England will be carrying out a combination of bridge repairs and support strengthening, a new concrete central reservation barrier, new steel verge barriers, drainage improvements and resurfacing.

Andy Withington, Highways England senior manager, said: “This important investment in maintenance, wear and tear repairs and safety improvements is about delivering a safer and more reliable M6 for drivers. “This work will complement the huge investment we’re making in the area with the smart motorway upgrade between junctions 16 and 19 and new A556 bypass.

“We’ve thought long and hard about the timing of the work given the proximity of the smart motorway project, but the bridge repairs are essential and by adding the other improvements we won’t need to go back this stretch of the motorway for several years.”

As well as some overnight carriageway closures to alter the temporary road layout at the start and end of construction and repair phases, there will be regular overnight lane closures.

Drivers can get more information about the project and or sign up for regular email updates by visiting the dedicated project webpage at:http://www.highways.gov.uk/roads/road-projects/M6-junctions-19-20-vehicle-restraint-system-works-and-bridge-strengthening-works

More information on that project is available at: http://www.highways.gov.uk/roads/road-projects/m6-junctions-16-19-smart-motorway/?latest

Source: http://www.knutsfordguardian.co.uk/news/14109322.Major_works_planned_for_M6_Northbound_until_2017/