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£100m+ Welsh hydro scheme gets go-ahead for underground grid connection

Average speed cameras cut worst crashes by more than a third

The use of average speed cameras has been found, on average, to cut the number of crashes resulting in death or serious injury by more than a third.

Research for the RAC Foundation by Road Safety Analysis found that on average – having allowed for natural variation and overall trends – the number of fatal and serious collisions decreases by 36% after average speed cameras are introduced.

The average reduction in personal injury collisions of all severities was found to be 16%.*

By the end of 2015 there were at least 50 stretches of road in Great Britain permanently covered by average speed cameras keeping a total length of 255 miles (410 km) under observation.

The 50 stretches ranged in length from under half a mile in Nottingham to 99 miles (159 km) on the A9 between Dunblane and Inverness in Scotland.

Many of these stretches of road will be monitored by several sets of cameras.

The first stretch of road to become permanently managed by average speed cameras was part of the A6514 Ring Road in Nottingham back in 2000. At least 12 systems were installed last year alone.

A full list of those stretches of road in Great Britain with average speed cameras included in this study follows at the end of this press release.

One reason for the increase in usage has been the reduction in the installation costs of permanent average speed camera systems. The cost of permanent average speed cameras is now typically around £100,000 per mile, compared with around £1.5m per mile in the early 2000s.

Some of the older spot speed cameras – commonly known as Gatso cameras – have been around for 25 years and still use 35mm film. As they come to the end of their operating lives they are starting to be replaced, in some cases with average speed camera systems.

In August this year, for example, West Midlands Police turned on average speed camera systems on eight stretches of roads in Birmingham and Solihull. This was three years after the old-style, wet-film, Gatso cameras were turned off.

Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said:

“The indications are that compliance with average speed cameras is generally high; now this research reveals the sizeable impact they can have in reducing death and serious injuries.

“As the cost of technology continues to fall, more and more authorities are considering whether to install average speed cameras and so it will be important to ensure that casualty and compliance data is openly available so we can continue to assess and understand the road safety benefits they deliver.”

Richard Owen, operations director at Road Safety Analysis, said:

“Measuring the influence of speed cameras in isolation from other road safety improvements over time has previously never been undertaken on this scale.

“The statistical results clearly show good collision reductions on the stretches of road where average speed cameras are used; often covering much longer distances than other enforcement systems.

“The findings and methodology used should be of significant interest to those considering the use of this technology, as well as those wishing to evaluate their own road safety schemes.”


Scottish Water awards £13m modular and portable buildings contracts

Scottish Water has awarded two contracts for the hire of modular and portable accommodation worth an estimated £13.2 million to support its capital and operational delivery programmes.

The equipment covers all major items including static and modular offices, canteens, stores, welfare units, sleeping units, toilet units and shower units.

The framework agreements will run for an initial period of 6 years, with 6 further annual  extension options.

Peterborough-based firm Elliott and Lanarkshire company Wernick Hire have both won a place on the framework,  two of four companies in the bidding for the work.

Highways UK launches full event programme

Northumbrian Water launches community initiative to tackle flood risk

Primary school pupils have become the first to take part in a new proactive community initiative launched by Northumbrian Water which will address potential future flood risk and help build resilience to climate change.

The scheme will involve working more closely with communities across the Northumbrian region to reduce the amount of surface water that enters the sewer network. This will help to increase its capacity, which is particularly important during heavy rainfall.

The water company said the new initiative, which is part of the company’s wider surface water management programme, Rainwise, is industry-leading in progressing proactive community-led flood reduction solutions in locations that have not suffered flooding in the past, while providing additional benefit to those that have.

It also seeks to raise awareness about how people of the North East can get involved by managing surface water around their home and reduce the risk of flooding in their community as a whole.

Working in partnership with contractors Esh-MWH, Northumbrian Water has created a sustainable drainage system at Mickley First school near Prudhoe by installing planters and a water butt.

Rainwater from the roof will also be diverted via a swale (grassy ditch) into a wildlife pond. These measures will help to prevent surface water from entering the sewer network.

At the launch of the initiative, pupils learnt about the causes of flooding, how to manage surface water, and the differences and impact of permeable and impermeable surfaces.

Richard Warneford, Wastewater Director at Northumbrian Water, said:

“We need to be prepared for the future as population growth, an increase in the amount of impermeable surfaces and more rainfall means that our sewerage network is under increasing pressure.”

“By taking a proactive approach and working with communities, we hope to better understand local surface water issues and will work to identify the right solutions to minimise flood risk.”

“Partnership working is also vital to tackle flooding in a holistic and cost effective way and we will work with local authorities’ and organisations like the Environment Agency whenever we can.”

As well as installing new pipes to transfer surface water away from the sewer network and new tanks to store storm water, Northumbrian Water will use sustainable drainage solutions where possible.

These may include rainwater gardens, ponds or grassed-detention basins and have wider social and environmental benefits, including providing a green space in urban areas and creating valuable wildlife habitats.

Richard Warneford added:

“We are encouraging people to get involved with this initiative, accessing our online community portal and providing us with the local knowledge in the areas we’re working in.”

“The scheme will also help provide understanding of how small changes around the home can make a positive difference to managing surface water.”

Uber plans self-flying drone taxis to beat city traffic

If you summon an Uber in 10 years’ time, you will probably get a car that drives itself. But then again, you may not be travelling in a car at all.

The taxi-hailing app is working on technology that would allow airborne passenger drones to fly its users short distances around cities, it has emerged, raising the prospect of a future in which skylines are dotted with Uber aircraft shuttling commuters back and forth.

Jeff Holden, Uber’s head of product, told technology website Recode that the company is researching “vertical take off and landing” (VTOL) technology. Instead of the helicopter-style rotor blade drones, VTOL aircraft have fixed wings like planes, enabling them to fly silently, while taking off and landing vertically.

Amazon’s delivery drones, currently being tested in Cambridgeshire, use a similar technology to cut down on noise and extend their range.

Holden said Uber wanted to “offer our customers as many options as possible to move around” and that the technology could be available within a decade.

“It could change cities and how we work and live,” Holden said, pointing out that moving traffic from the road to the air could dramatically cut down on congestion and the time it takes to cross cities. He said he envisages aircraft taking off from and landing on the roofs of buildings.

While the idea may seem far-fetched, Uber is not the only one researching passenger drones. Earlier this year Ehang, a Chinese company, unveiled the 184, an autonomous quadcopter drone designed to carry a single passenger, with a battery life of 23 minutes. The 184, which has been slated for release as early as this year, is expected to cost up to $300,000 (£232,000).

Google founder Larry Page is one of the major believers in flying cars,putting $100m of his own money into startups developing the technology.

However, filling our skies with passenger drones within 10 years is an ambitious undertaking, and would require hundreds of pages of new regulations, not to mention consumers who would be willing to put their life in the hands of a small self-flying aircraft. It would also, presumably, be incredibly costly to develop.

But Uber is already at the forefront of developing self-driving technology. Earlier this month it began testing a driverless car service in Pittsburgh.



United Utilities continues to accelerate AMP6 investment programme

United Utilities is continuing to accelerate its AMP6 investment programme, according to its latest trading update published this morning.

Current trading is in line with the group’s expectations for the six months ending 30 September 2016 the water company is also continuing to deliver improvements in operational performance and customer service.

In July, United Utilities attained ‘industry leading company’ status, as measured through the Environment Agency’s annual assessment, and earlier this month, also retained its Dow Jones Sustainability Index ‘World Class’ rating for the ninth consecutive year.

The firm said it is also encouraged by Ofwat’s 2016/17 first wave service incentive mechanism (SIM) qualitative score, which shows further improvement in customer satisfaction compared with last year.

The utility delivered a small net reward for 2015/16 on its outcome delivery incentives (ODIs), which it described as representing  “a tough set of performance targets.”

Acceleration of the AMP6 investment programme is continuing this year to deliver early customer service and operational benefits, enhance asset resilience and optimise performance under the ODIs.

The trading statement says United Utilities has seen continued strong performance in the areas of private sewers and pollution incidents and that the modernisation programme at its largest wastewater treatment works, Davyhulme, is also progressing well.

Total regulatory capital investment for 2016/17, including infrastructure renewals expenditure, is expected to be around £800 million, similar to last year.

Group revenue impacted by Water Plus business retail joint venture

Group revenue is expected to be slightly lower than the first half of last year, reflecting the accounting impact of our Water Plus business retail joint venture, which completed on 1 June 2016, partly offset by allowed regulatory revenue changes.

Underlying operating profit for the first half of 2016/17 is expected to be marginally higher than the first half of 2015/16. It is anticipated that infrastructure renewals expenditure (IRE) in the first half of 2016/17 will be slightly lower than the first half of last year. In line with planned capital investment phasing,  the utility expects an increase in IRE in the second half of 2016/17, compared with the first half of the year.

United Utilities said it is also continuing to invest in its ‘systems thinking’ approach, which integrates the use of assets, leverages data intelligence and employs new work processes and technology to support operational performance enhancement. The water company will roll out additional new capability this year, supporting a drive for further improvement.

As the company continues to invest in its asset base, group net debt at 30 September 2016 is expected to be slightly higher than the position at 31 March 2016. This is principally attributed to regulatory capital expenditure, payment of the 2015/16 final dividend and payments in relation to interest and tax, largely offset by operational cash flows.

Gearing “remains comfortably” within the target range of 55% to 65% net debt to regulatory capital value, supporting a solid A3 credit rating for United Utilities Water. The group has financing headroom into 2018.

The water company will announce its half year results on 23 November 2016.


A281 in Bramley could see traffic lights replace roundabout

Portsmouth City Council tenders £10.5m coastal flood defence contract

Portsmouth City Council has gone out to tender with a contract for Phase 3 of the North Portsea Island Coastal Flood Defence Scheme worth an estimated £10.5 million.

The  Council is embarking upon a major programme of coastal defence construction as part of the North Portsea Island Coastal Flood Defence Scheme which aims to reduce the risk of coastal flooding and erosion to the area over the next 100 years.. The implementation of the programme has been split into 6 phases of works over the next 5-6 years.

£58m for complete programme of works

The Eastern Solent Coastal Partnership who are managing the works on behalf of the Authority — have successfully gained Flood Defence Grant funding to the value of £58.5 million to deliver the programme of works.

Phases 1 (£5m) and 2 (£3m) are already underway with completion due by the end of September 2016. Portsmouth Council is now looking to appoint a contractor to deliver Phase 3 of the programme which will cover flood defence works at Tipner Lake.

Target construction commencement date is April 2017 with a completion date of October 2018, excluding landscaping works which must be completed by February 2019. The estimated value for the construction works is approximately £10,500,000.