VIDEO | Showing the work to create new M1 bridges

A timelapse video showing giant steel beams being lifted into place over the M1 near Dunstable as part of a £162 million road project to boost Bedfordshire’s economy, has been released by Highways England.

Some 38, 100-tonne beams were installed during March and April 2016 for a new junction 11A interchange bridge and new B579 Luton Road bridge as part of the A5-M1 Link scheme.

The award-winning project includes the building of a completely new dual carriageway linking the A5 to the M1, three new junctions including a new motorway junction, and six new bridges.

Delivering the scheme will unlock up to 40 hectares of land for businesses and provide the infrastructure for 7,000 homes to be built to the north of Houghton Regis. It will also provide better access to the M1 and reduce congestion in Dunstable.

Highways England project manager Karen Green said:

“The A5-M1 Link scheme is progressing well and to plan.

“Lifting the beams for these two bridges was an important milestone for the A5-M1 Link Road project, which will offer motorists better and safer journeys and help reduce congestion through Dunstable as well as unlock land for new homes and businesses.

“The two new bridges will be opened to traffic closer to the scheme completion in spring 2017.”

The A5-M1 Link project, a new, 2.8 mile dual carriageway to improve the east-west connection between the A5 and M1, north of Dunstable, will help reduce congestion through Dunstable town centre, offering motorists better journey time reliability and safer journeys.

Construction milestones achieved so far on the A5-M1 link include starting work on the layout for the new M1 junction 11A, with new roundabouts and bridges, as well as the rebuilding of the B579 Luton Road East and West to align it with junction 11A. Work on the link road itself has progressed well too, with drainage, fencing and some of the foundations and surfacing completed so far. And work on the new A5 roundabout has started too.

For the latest information and to register for updates about the A5-M1 Link scheme, visit and follow us on Twitter @HighwaysEAST or call the Highways England Customer Contact Centre on 0300 123 5000.

You can also watch a video simulation of the scheme at and for more videos, subscribe to Highways England’s YouTube channel at





VIDEO: UK overnight bridge demolition job

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Sadiq Khan warns ‘greedy’ developers as he outlines housing plan

London’s mayor criticises Boris Johnson and says he wants more than half of homes on some new developments to be affordable.

The London mayor, Sadiq Khan, has outlined plans to quadruple the proportion of “affordable” housing being built in the capital, warning he will target “greedy developers wishing to get maximum bang for their buck”.

Khan criticised his predecessor Boris Johnson for leaving “the cupboard bare” and said just 13% of new homes in the planning pipeline are currently classed as affordable.

At the start of his second week in office, the Labour mayor told the Guardian he wanted more than 50% of homes on some new housing developments to be affordable. He said that did not mean 80% of market rent, as affordable is defined by the government, but far lower social rents or “London living rent”, which is pitched at a third of average incomes.

Khan also announced he was considering making it a condition of planning permission that new homes were marketed locally for at least six months before they could go on sale to foreign investors.

“There is no point in building homes if they are bought by investors in the Middle East and Asia,” he said. “I don’t want homes being left empty. I don’t want us to be the world’s capital for money laundering. I want to give first dibs to Londoners.”

In 2013, 15% of new homes in London were sold to foreign buyers, according to research by the British Property Federation and Molior, a consultancy.

City hall officials have calculated that last year the lowest number of affordable homes was built in London since records began in 1991 – just 4,880. Khan said he wanted to build 50,000 of all types of housing a year.

The plan to dramatically increase the amount of affordable housing could set the mayor on course for a high-stakes haggle with private housebuilders who, after eight years Ken Livingstone demanding up to 50% affordable in the developments, enjoyed a more lenient regime under Johnson.

Some large property developers are willing to build more affordable homes, but they have also told Khan’s team they want certainty about what they are being asked to deliver. Tony Pidgley, the chief executive of Berkeley Homes, said in March that if authorities demanded 30% affordable housing, developers would respond by lowering land values to accommodate the lower profitability. But 30% would still not be enough for Khan.

“There are some pieces of land where we want 50% affordable if not more,” he said. “Globally, I want half of all new homes to be genuinely affordable.”

But the industry body the Home Builders Federation (HBF) says greatly increasing the affordable housing target in London could backfire and end up reducing the overall supply of new homes, as developers decide to scrap plans or sit on sites until a new administration came in with more modest goals.

“Levels on each site have to be realistic,” said a spokesman. “If he sets the target too high he will potentially see a reduction in overall housing supply at a time when we are only building half of what we need already.”

The HBF said it was “trying to open negotiations with the mayor” and urged the mayor to focus on releasing underused public land.

Khan also plans to settle rows between councils and housebuilders about how much affordable housing could be built before a scheme becomes unprofitable. His team is working on creating a single system of viability assessments and to make the previously secret calculations public.

Viability assessments on the 681 home development of the former Royal Mail sorting office at Mount Pleasant in central London varied considerably. Royal Mail said only 24% of the homes on the planned redevelopment of the site could be affordable while Islington and neighbouring Camden council complained that 42% was possible and at a lower rent than proposed by the developer.

“I am keen to make viability assessments transparent,” said Khan. “Some developers hire consultants and run rings round local authorities and we want to stop that happening.”

He also confirmed he was planning to create a city hall unit to plan, finance and build new homes. He said Homes for Londoners would use vacant Transport for London sites as well as other publicly owned land. He added that major employers could be asked to provide finance and in exchange they would get new homes for their workers.

“I have met many chief executives and those in multi-nationals who say we have problems with recruitment because of the housing crisis in London,” Khan said. “My point to them is this: join Homes for Londoners, you can provide some of the finance and we can guarantee some of the homes we build will be for your staff.”

All you need to know about smart meters

Our homes are filled with energy but a change is coming that will modernise how we measure and control how we use that energy

Which means no more worrying guesswork when it comes to our fuel bills. Because every time we turn on a light, boil the kettle, put on a load of washing, run a bath, watch something on TV or do any one of the perfectly ordinary little things that define modern life, we use a little more energy. And it costs us a little more money.

For most of us, there has been no way of knowing just how much power we consume, meaning that it’s near-impossible to keep a watch on what we spend. Until now.

What is a smart meter?

A smart meter shows you the amount of power you’re using in near real time, and exactly what you’re spending in pounds and pence. By measuring how much gas and electricity you’re getting through, and by monitoring your usage on a smart meter display, you can work out what’s costing you the most money, and so change your habits accordingly.

Smart meters also send automatic readings back to your energy supplier. The result? Not only bills that reflect actual rather than estimated usage, but also the ability to take full control of your energy habits. By changing them, you’re not only helping the environment, but saving yourself a few pounds in the process.

How can I get one?

The good news is that every household in the country is entitled to their own smart meter as part of the national roll-out. At no extra cost, your energy supplier will fit smart meters in your home that replace the traditional meters, as well as providing a smart meter display.

How do they work?

Smart meters not only take pinpoint-accurate readings of your energy use, they also update the display in near-real time – so you can see how much energy you’re using right now, as well as in the past hour, week and month.

With these new tools, you can accurately measure your energy consumption and what it costs you, so you know where to make changes to suit your budget. When it comes to energy management, it’s truly empowering.

And with an end to estimated bills, you’ll know what your monthly cost is likely to be – no more overpaying, as so often happens with estimated bills.

In addition, power-heavy home appliances can be pinpointed and any unnecessary energy offenders identified, meaning that your household will become more cost efficient.

Smart meters can also help energy system identify times of peak demand – and so better manage Britain’s electricity and gas supplies to match our needs. This will ultimately give us a more stable and efficient grid, and open the door to money-saving new tariffs, such as for off-peak times.

4,000 sacks of litter collected from Yorkshire’s motorways

A1 upgrade: Highways England reveal vision for multimillion pound Northumberland upgrade

AMP6/7 Anglian Water contract win for Flowline

Leading drainage contractor Flowline has been awarded a major new 6 year contract by Anglian Water following a successful competitive tendering process.

The company has been delivering liquid waste tankering services for Anglian Water since 2012.

The new contract, which starts this month, is for the provision of waste water network services including sewer jetting, wet well cleaning and CCTV surveying. A key quality promise made by Flowline was to deliver the sewer jetting services using recycler combination units – and the company has recently taken delivery of new Whale recyclers to complement their existing fleet.

The state of the art recycler vehicles further enhance the company’s environmental credentials and will ensure the associated benefits are accrued by Anglian Water’s customers.

Commenting on the win, Flowline’s business development director, Mark Ellerington, said:

“This sewer jetting contract with Anglian Water was identified as a key target in our 2015/16 business plan. We are delighted to have been successful in securing the contract and are excited about the opportunity to continue the development of our working relationship with Anglian Water. We have invested heavily in our people, systems and equipment over the last 2 years and look forward to providing an outstanding technology-led service to Anglian Water.”

Dozen firms bag £250m southern highways deals

A dozen contractors have secured places on a £250m civil engineering framework for highways infrastructure and civil engineering work across the South of England.

The southern area local authority framework will be used to deliver construction work on projects of £50,000 – £10m.

Up to 40 local authorities from Devon to Kent are expected to use the third generation framework.

Southern framework

The latest framework procurement by Hampshire County Council completes its contractor line-up for civils projects over the next four years.

At the start of the year procurement chiefs selected BAM Nuttall, Carillion and Skanska to deliver major projects of £8m-£20m across the whole southern region.


Highways England wins consideration award for work on M1 in Northamptonshire