Transport secures big wins in Chancellor’s spending review

Chancellor George Osborne made transport investment a major plank of his spending plans once again, with a range of local commitments including an eye-catching £250m local pothole fund.

Mr Osborne confirmed that more than £5bn would be spent on roads maintenance this parliament, as well as £250m towards a ‘permanent’ pothole fund over the next five years for local roads and £13.4bn on the Roads Investment Strategy for the trunk network.

A worse than expected 37% cut in the Department for Transport’s (DfT) operational budget was offset with a planned 50% increase in capital expenditure for the DfT – rising to a total of £61bn.

‘It means the construction of HS2 to link the Northern Powerhouse to the South can begin. The electrification of lines like the Trans-Pennine, Midland Main Line and Great Western can go ahead. We’ll fund our new Transport for the North to get it up and running and London will get an £11bn investment in its transport infrastructure,’ Mr Osborne said.

There will also a £300m commitment to cycling and a £250m cash pot has been earmarked for Kent to provide facilities to ease the burden of Operation Stack – the stacking of lorries on the M20 motorway when services across the English Channel are disrupted.

In a statement, Treasury officials said there would also be £475m over the parliament to fund large local transport projects, ‘enabling local areas to bid for funding for projects that would be too expensive for them to pay for by themselves, such as the Lowestoft Third River Crossing and the North Devon Link Road’.

There will also be £300m for a new Transport Development Fund, for potential future projects such as Crossrail 2 and proposals emerging from Transport for the North.

  • providing £150m to support the delivery of smart and integrated ticketing across local transport and rail services in the North. TfN will produce a regional implementation plan, working in partnership with the DfT, by Budget 2016.
  • extending the Summer Budget 2015 commitment to fund the operation of TfN, with a total of £50m now committed over this Parliament. This support TfN as it develops region-wide plans

Transport users will also benefit from new powers to claim compensation from their rail tickets if their train is more than 15 minutes late and the Government will make it harder for people to claim compensation ‘for exaggerated or fraudulent whiplash claims’ under plans to reduce annual insurance costs for drivers by between £40 to £50 a year.

Elsewhere in infrastructure investment £2.3bn will be spent on over 1,500 flood defence schemes across the country protecting 300,000 homes.


Welsh Water tenders £450 million electricity contract

Dwr Cymru Welsh Water has gone out to tender with a contract for the supply of electricity and metering services which could run for up to ten years with a potential value of £450 million.

Outlining the tender requirements, Welsh Water said that while it is an intensive energy user of electricity, further investment in on-site generation is expected to progressively reduce the proportion of imported electricity.

However, for the foreseeable future the water company will have an ongoing requirement to import/purchase electricity. Welsh Water uses 450 GWh of electricity per annum of which 400 GWh is imported electricity with the balance satisfied by on-site generation.

The current supply agreement with nPower for imported electricity expires on 31st March 2017. It is envisaged, the new agreement will be awarded a minimum of 6 months ahead of the start date, to ensure appropriate contract management and planning. There will also be a requirement to sleeve a forward hedged position to the new agreement.

DCC has an extensive portfolio of metered sites (4 000 MPAN’s) of which 466 are currently metered Half Hourly (HH) and the remainder are Non-Half Hourly (NHH).

The new agreement is expected to start on 1st April 2017 and last for up to an initial 5 years. A further 5 year extension will be offered, in the form of either 2 + 2 + 1 or in single 5 year term. Anticipated agreement value per annum is put at approximately £40 million to £45 million.

Time limit for receipt of requests for documents or for accessing documents is 18th December 2015. Click here to access the tender documentation.

Birmingham’s £2.7bn Amey highways deal is too centralised

Birmingham council leadership contender has vowed to break up the giant £2.7 billion city wide highways contract to give local councillors more of a say in road repairs and upgrades.

Coun John Clancy, who appears to be the front runner in the race to succeed Sir Albert Bore as leader of the Labour run city council, has announced that he will begin an immediate renegotiation of the council’s 25year Highways PFI contract with Amey – the largest PFI contract in local government.

He says the contract would become part of his devolution plans offering local councillors a greater say in how funding and resources for roads and pavements are allocated in their areas.

“Instead of being seen as a city-wide contract, it actually becomes part of the devolution process. One where councillors, in particular, have a real say in how these services are delivered and, as importantly, how they involve local people, businesses and other providers,” he said.

The council has been locked in legal disputes with Amey over the quality of maintenance on the city’s streets and the quality of the highways estate handed to Amey at the start of the contract in 2010. Despite this both sides say they remain committed to the deal.

Coun Clancy’s latest set of proposals also appear to create more decision making roles for the wider Labour group of councillors – possibly as a way of attracting more support with the promise of responsible jobs, but also dealing with the criticism that the current Cabinet model leaves all but ten senior councillors out of the loop.

He wants to create four local devolution leaders to oversee the move away from centralised services as well create a series of deputy cabinet members to support the top ten councillors.

And he plans to strike a blow for plain English with job titles which are clear and recognisable to the public at large, unlike he says the current roles like cabinet member for social cohesion and community safety.


Operation Christmas Child

Carrington West have been helping spread Christmas cheer by joining ‘Operation Christmas Child’ 2015 and providing gift-filled shoe boxes to some of the worlds poorest children this festive season.

The boxes filled with toys, stationary supplies, games and hygiene items will be shipped to the victims of war, poverty, famine, disease and natural disaster to brighten up lives of children all over the world this Christmas.

Read more and donate:

Scottish Water tenders £9m solar photovoltaic contract

Scottish Water tenders £9m solar photovoltaic contract

Scottish Water has gone out to tender with a contract for the supply and installation of solar photovoltaic equipment worth up to £9 million.

Scottish Water is looking to appoint up to three suppliers to the framework agreement, which will run for up to three years – an initial period of 1 year with two further 1 year extension options.

Estimated total value of purchases for the entire duration of the framework agreement is put at between £3 million to £9 million.

Scottish Water, one of the largest consumers of electricity in Scotland, currently generates around 7 % of the energy it consumes. The company believes that through further innovative use of its assets it is capable of significantly increasing its self-generation potential.

Via wholly owned subsidiary Scottish Water Horizons which is charged with developing renewables and leveraging commercial value from its assets, Scottish Water is now looking for suitable companies for delivery of its PV generation potential through the following preferred model:

  • Framework partners are expected to be involved throughout the development, consent, design and operating stages of the project lifecycle;
  • Potential sites for PV array installs will be identified across the SW asset base by SWH Project Manager(s) on an ongoing basis and offered to the Framework partners through a mini competition.

Among the outcomes required are:

  • Energy generated by the delivered projects can offset on-site asset consumption (where applicable), and export direct to the grid where this is not possible/appropriate;
  • The PV arrays must have the capability of safe and secure integration into existing asset infrastructure;
  • Energy storage solutions should be promoted to Scottish Water Horizons in scheme designs where suitable.

Time limit for receipt of tenders or requests to participate is 10th December 2015. Click here to access the tender documentation.

Race for 10-year Devon and Somerset highways up-keep

Three councils in the West Country are on the look out for contractors to take over highways maintenance for the next 10-years.

Devon and Somerset County Councils have teamed up with Plymouth City Council to run a joint procurement exercise, although each council has its own lot for contractors to chase.

The largest spend over the period will be delivered by Devon County Council, with the highway term maintenance contract expected to be worth £656m. Somerset aims to spend £394m, while Plymouth highways upkeep is expected to cost £169m over 10 years.

Selected firms will take over maintenance regimes in April 2017, after a prior six-month contract mobilisation programme to allow for a smooth transition to a contractor.

For further information contact Alan Palmer at Devon County Council

Storm Barney set to increase UK flood risk

Storm Barney set to increase UK flood risk

Barney, the second storm to be named by the Met Office this season, is set to bring additional rain and damaging winds to the United Kingdom on Tuesday.

“Barney will be a fast-moving storm, bringing locally strong winds to southern Ireland and the southern U.K. beginning midday Tuesday and continuing into Tuesday night,” AccuWeather Meteorologist Eric Leister said.

Winds will gust to 75 mph (120 km/h) in the areas hit hardest, including Cardiff, Plymouth and Bristol through Tuesday night.

Winds to this speed can down tree branches, cause power outages and result in minor to moderate coastal flooding, especially at high tide. In the Greater London area, winds will be weaker but could still gust in excess of 50 mph (80 km/h) at times.

In addition to wind, Barney will also cause heavy rain in Northern Ireland into Wales and Northwest England which will worsen flooding from ex-Hurricane Kate over the weekend.

Between Saturday and Monday morning, Gwynedd and Powys counties in Wales received the heaviest rain, totaling over 106.0 mm (4.1 inches) and over 82 mm (3.2 inches), respectively, according to the Met Office.

High river levels in at Machynlleth resulted in the cancellation of train services between Aberystwyth and Shrewsbury over the weekend, according to the BBC. Other routes were delayed due to speed restrictions.

Heavy rain also fell widely across the North West of England, with the heaviest being over the higher ground of Cumbria, according to the Met Office, with rivers overflowing their banks in the county.

AccuWeather said the additional rain from Storm Barney will make flooding problems worse in the regions that were worst-hit over the weekend.

Rainfall from Barney will generally total around 25 mm (1 inch), but as much as 50 mm (2 inches) can fall in some areas.

The Environment Agency has issued a yellow low-risk flood warning for Wales and the North East and North West of England on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Work about to start on next stage of £80m project to relieve congestion on M25 in Essex

The next stage of an £80m scheme to relieve congestion on the M25 in Essex starts this week.

The work is being carried out around the A13 junction of the motorway near Thurrock.

It is part of a major project to increase capacity at the junction and help unlock the multi-billion pound regeneration of the Lower Thames Valley.

The A13 through the junction is being widened from three lanes to four in each direction and the junction itself is being upgraded by adding segregated left turns to and from the M25, and improvements to the other slip roads.

Safety barriers, drainage and lighting are also being upgraded and it is estimated that the project will help to reduce accidents by 18 per cent. Work is scheduled to be completed by summer 2016.

Highways England announced that work on the upgrade would be completed earlier than planned – bringing it forward from autumn next year to the summer – and that this would be achieved by rescheduling the start of roadworks on the M25.

Work will transfer to the M25 with traffic management being installed and construction work starting on Tuesday (November 17).


Drivers left confused by Highland road sign written in Polish and German… But not English

Drivers in the Highlands have been left bemused by signs near the region’s busiest road outlining instructions in two languages – neither of which are English.

Gaelic road signs have caused controversy in recent years, but now some eagle-eyed motorists have spotted a notice near the A9 on the outskirts of Inverness which is written only in Polish and German.

The sign at the entry to the access road to Moy windfarm displays the phrases “Brak Wejscia” and “Kein Eintrag”, which translate “No Entry” in English.

The developer behind the windfarm project at Moy – which is unlikely to become fully operational until May next year – is a Dutch-based sustainable energy company called Eneco, which also has offices in the UK.

Yesterday, a spokeswoman for the firm said: “The only reason why they have put the signs there is for deliveries. It is not for the people who work on the construction site itself.

“German company Nordex is the turbine supplier and most of the drivers are German. There are some Polish drivers too.

“There are certain access points into the site and the signs are there to make sure there was less disruption.

“A lot of the deliveries have been and gone because the construction is already complete.”

The pictures of the Polish and German road signs have emerged amid ongoing debate over the investment in Gaelic road signs in Scotland.

The police faced questions last month over plans to consult on using their Gaelic name and logo on officers’ uniforms and cars.

The proposal was unveiled last month as Police Scotland and the Scottish Police Authority launched a joint public consultation on their respective draft Gaelic Language Plans.

The force insisted that any rebranding would be carried out on a rolling basis to reduce costs.

But critics claimed the move would “take money away from areas where it is needed”.



Arup raises key issues for global water challenges

Arup raises key issues for global water challenges

Arup has updated its Drivers of Change Water cards, first published in 2009, to reflect the key trends and issues now shaping the future of water globally.

The Drivers of Change Water cards for 2015 explore a wide-ranging number of key issues and sets out the immense challenges the world is now facing in terms of global water resources.

According to The Times of India, 22 out of 32 major Indian cities already deal with daily water shortages, while 748 million people globally still have no access to clean, safe water. At the same time agricultural water use alone is expected to increase by at least 19% by 2050.

Introducing the updated Drivers, Arup said that issues around water are likely to impact the future shape of societies, cities, businesses and markets for decades to come.

Drivers of Change Water is intended to help groups and individuals explore and prioritise trends and issues, to discuss possible challenges and solutions, and to get a broader perspective on the current and future state of water globally.

The drivers have been organised into five categories based on their main area of impact: Social, Technological, Economic, Environmental, and Political, collectively referred to as STEEP.

Key issues flagged up by Arup include:

  • Population growth – how much water will 9 billion people need? Arup says that as populations expand, demand for water will increase dramatically, be driven primarily by a growing demand for food.  This is expected to increase by 70% by 2050 with associated agricultural water use, expected to increase by at least 19% by 2050.
  • Urbanisation – are cities too thirsty? With the percentage of the global population living in urban areas expected to reach 66% by 2050, Arup says major concerns include over-exploitation and pollution of water sources. In addition to a shortage of reliable water supplies, the street surfaces of many cities continue to be highly impermeable to water
  • Water consciousness – how much water is wasted? Growing water scarcity increases the need for more efficient water consumption, starting with consciousness at the individual and community level. Water use efficiency can be achieved through better education, behaviour change and technical efficiency.
  • Novel water sources – are there untapped sources of freshwater?  Highlighting the fact that between 2001 and 2011, industrial desalination capacity expanded by 276%, Arup says that while the practice is highly energy intensive, with salt water is seen as a limitless resource and with many urban centres facing water shortfalls located on coastlines,  the technology is continuing to gain traction.
  • Smart infrastructure – how smart are water networks? New smart systems aim to improve the efficiency and function of water infrastructure through increased automation, distributed sensor networks and geo-spatial information systems
  • Waterless design – can systems function without water? Arup says companies are looking to minimise water use in their design and production processes to limit their dependency and exposure to water-based financial risks.
  • Ecosystem services – how much is a local ecosystem worth? According to the Drivers, aquatic ecosystems provide immense value, including transportation, resilience, stormwater management and water filtration.
  • Energy supply how much water is needed to run a power plant? Water is a critical input in the production and transmission of energy – in 2010, roughly 15% of the world’s total water withdrawals were directed to energy generation.
  • Ageing infrastructure – The Drivers say that on a macro scale, the OECD estimates that by 2025, water infrastructure will be the largest recipient of infrastructure investment globally, with developed countries requiring upgrades or replacement of failing critical assets.
  • Flood risk – Arup highlights a report by the World Resources Institute, the number of people affected by river flooding alone could triple between 2015-2030, affecting nearly 50M and costing the world economy roughly US$500bn.
  • Groundwater depletion  – depletion of groundwater reserves can lead to long-term food and water insecurity and geo-structural instability.
  • Ownership models – who owns the water supply?
  • Water stress – Water stress and competing interests for limited resources often lead to political turmoil at regional, national or even international levels.

Drivers of Change was conceived by Arup in the early 2000s – over the last 15 years, Arup has identified more than 250 “drivers” or topics that prompt change, with input from a wide variety of stakeholders.

The issues chosen for inclusion in the latest set of cards, which each depict a single driver, are the result of knowledge gained by the Arup from research, interviews, workshops and interaction with its global network, as well as consultation with the consultancy’s broad spectrum of specialists.

Drivers of Change Water was the first theme to be updated – the detailed 56 page set of Cards also includes invaluable information and links to an extensive range of related publications and reports.