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

A spectacular video shows footage a key bridge demolition job in the UK. The bridge crossing the busy A38 near Plymouth was demolished during a weekend possession on the 14th and 15th of May 2016. The footage has been released by Highways England and shows the old Merafield Bridge at Plympton being demolished overnight on Saturday 14th May, marking the final stage of a £6.3 million maintenance project on the A38.

A new bridge was built alongside the old structure and was opened two weeks ago. The project was completed as the Government delivers a £15 billion upgrade to motorways and major A-roads.

Approximately 50kgs of explosives were used, contained within 278 drilled locations concentrated around the supporting piers and the abutments at each end. The new concrete bridge is 80m long, 11.3m wide and made of 2,503tonnes of concrete and 401tonnes of steel.

The old bridge had to be removed as it was suffering from alkali silica reaction, commonly known as ‘concrete cancer’. In time, the structure would eventually become unsafe, and it needed replacing before that happened.

Parts of the old bridge were not fully broken up in the demolition, so work to break up and remove the bridge continued into the afternoon of Sunday 15th May. Throughout the project, timing of the work has been coordinated to avoid disruption during the South West’s busy holiday season.

The scheme will be fully completed by July. Remaining work will include clearing away the debris from the demolished structure, completing drainage on Merafield Road, finishing works on the new bridge and reinstating the road markings on the A38.


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The top 50 most sustainable cities for water management

The threat of a water crisis is looming for hundreds of millions of the world’s inhabitants, as climate change, water management challenges and demographic shifts are disrupting water’s ecosystem. As a result, many of the globes cities are currently scrambling to shore up resilience, improve efficiency and guarantee the quality of their water. When it comes to ramping up water sustainability, cities globally can learn from ‘leaders’ Rotterdam, Copenhagen and Amsterdam.

The social and economic implications of water to cities is key, providing, among others, an infrastructure to support residents and businesses, as well as providing an impetus toward improving the standard of living of inhabitants. In line with the rise of megacities, and the ever growing urbanisation trend, in particular in upcoming markets, addressing the management of water in and around cities in a sustainable manner is becoming an ever more pressing matter for city policy makers. This means efficiently providing safe, reliable, and easily accessible water to residents and businesses, as well as trustworthy access to sanitation and protecting waterways from pollution.

Three elements for a sustainable water future

Sustainable water index
To better understand how 50 of the world’s top cities are performing in terms of water sustainability, Arcadis recently partnered with the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) to gauge the management of city waterscapes across a range of factors. The researchers looked at three factors – the resiliency of the water system, the efficiency of water use and the quality of water use – with each of the dimensions broken down into a range of sub-indices.

The authors found that, among the cities taken into scrutiny, Rotterdam is the most sustainable city in the ranking. The city scores number one in the resilience category, offering strong performances in almost all major sub-indices. The Dutch city has taken a pro-active approach to water stewardship, including a resilience civil servant as well as a comprehensive set of packages aimed at improving and maintaining the cities’ relationship with its local water bodies. Danish capital Copenhagen takes the number two spot, on the back of a strong performance in water efficiency sub-indices and resilience, while Amsterdam, the capital city of the Netherlands, takes the number three spot. Berlin and Brussels complete the top five, with strong performances in resilience (2nd) and quality (4th) respectively.

The first Asia-Pacific city on the list is Sydney, with a strong performance in efficiency (4th) although its quality score (25th) is somewhat below par – while Melbourne, the number 11 on the list, has its quality placement at number 17. The first US city to make the list is Washington, which boasts good quality water (12th), while Los Angeles takes the number 2 efficiency spot and number 27 overall.

Top 50 most sustainable cities for water

Eight of the top ten spots are held by European cities, reflecting the continent’s strong geographic and demographic advantages surrounding water (temperate climate, low population densities), as well as a long history of dealing with water problems; many of these cities have mature water systems that have been built up over a long period of time, many times in response to challenges they have faced with water. Two outliers are included in the list however, with London 21st and Italian capital Rome 28th, suggesting that there is room for improvement.

Bottom 25
The remainder of the list contains two Indian cities, New Delhi and Mumbai – the cities constantly score in the bottom percentile of the three indices. African cities too are relatively lowly ranked on the index, including Nairobi, which manages a number 10 place in resilience at number 46 overall, and Johannesburg at number 45. The Latin American cities of Rio de Janeiro, Santiago and Buenos Aires hold the number 44, 35 and 34 spots respectively.

According to the researchers, Latin American cities perform poorly largely due to water quality, requiring improved wastewater treatment and sanitation. The African cities listed are held back by inefficiency and poorer water quality.

John Batten, Global Director of Water and Cities at Arcadis, says: “The World Economic Forum named water crises as one of the top three highest global risks to economies, environments and people, in terms of impact in 2016 [after climate change and the use of weapons of mass destruction]. Water demand issues and climate change risks are happening right here and right now. The cities that best understand this and act first will be the ones that not only help save the planet from an impending water crisis, but will also be the first to attract investment and improve their competitive position.”

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

More than 4,000 sacks of litter have been collected from Yorkshire’s motorways so far this year.

Highways England’s contractors, A-one+, collected 4,018 sacks of litter from the motorway network from the beginning of January to the end of April.

Some of the unusual items collected so far include money, push bikes, fridges, settees, and a bin full of rubbish collected from the A1(M).

A1(M) before the clean up

In total, workers collected 13,780 sacks of litter last year – a 55% increase on 2014. This is the equivalent of 53 sacks of litter every weekday of the year and, if laid side by side, would be enough to cover the pitch at Wembley Stadium.

And as the warmer weather starts to arrive, Highways England is urging motorists to tackle the problem by bagging and binning their rubbish.

Litter thrown onto the road can cause a safety hazard to other vehicles, while the task of clearing roadside rubbish puts workers at risk. It can cost around £40 to collect each sack of rubbish from a motorway – roughly what it costs to fix a pothole.

A1(M) after the clean up

Highways England service delivery team leader for Yorkshire and the Humber Roger Wantling said:

Our contractors collect vast amounts of litter from motorways every year, but we’d much rather they spend their time carrying out other essential maintenance work.

The litter on our roads can cause a hazard to drivers, our workers and wildlife, so I’d urge everyone to keep a bag in their car which they can use for rubbish, and then put it in the bin when they get home.

We are always targeting known litter hotspots and it would be great if these hotspots remained free of litter in the weeks and months ahead.

The amount of litter collected so far this year does not include the sacks of rubbish collected by local councils who are responsible for picking up litter on dual carriageways and local roads.

Highways England supports councils by letting them know if roadworks are planned, or by putting out cones and barriers so litter can be collected safely.

Highways England has also released a time-lapse video showing the build-up of litter at junction 2 of the M606 near Bradford – a known litter hotspot.

The video features ‘grab-cam’ footage where a camera was secured to a litter grabber to show a few of the thousands of individual pieces of litter collected every year from Yorkshire’s roads.

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

Highways England want to dual the A1 between Morpeth and Ellingham in Northumberland to help cut journey times

Plans to upgrade a busy 13-mile section of the A1 in Northumberland have been revealed to the public.

Highways England is planning to dual the existing single carriageway between Morpeth and Ellingham in a bid to improve journey times and speed up traffic flow.

The £290m proposals went on display to the public for the first time at Morpeth Town Hall on Tuesday.

Officers have identified three possible options for upgrading the routes from Morpeth to Felton, and from Alnwick to Ellingham, and want motorists’ opinions on which they prefer.

Junction upgrades, overtaking lanes and improvements to pedestrian crossings north of Ellingham are also being considered.

Highways England Project Manager Nanette Hoyle said: “These proposals aim to add capacity to the road and address driver frustration about not being able to overtake slow moving traffic such as farm vehicles and HGVs.

“This is an opportunity to drive economic growth and unlock a key route in the North East.

“We’re very keen to hear concerns from people who live, work and travel in the area, and make sure our proposals address local issues.”

Ms Hoyle said the plans were in the “very early” stages of development and it was not possible to say which of the options was more likely to happen.

The following options have been identified for upgrading the routes:

Morpeth to Felton:


Orange route

Upgrade the existing road to dual carriageway, either widening to the east, or the west, depending on the local features that need to considered or avoided.

Green route

Build a new carriageway to the west of the existing road. This is similar to the preferred route announced in 2005.

Blue route

Upgrade the majority of the existing road to dual carriageway, with approximately 1.2 miles of new carriageway built to the east of the existing route near Earsdon.


Alnwick to Ellingham:


Orange route

Upgrade the existing road to dual carriageway, either widening to the east or the west.

Green route

Upgrade approximately 1.2miles of the existing road to dual carriageway, and build a new carriageway to the east of the existing road at Heckley Fence, before crossing over to the west of the existing road at Ellsnook Plantation and continuing until Shipperton Burn.

Blue route

Upgrade the majority of the existing road to dual carriageway, with approximately 2.2 miles of new carriageway built to the west of the existing route between Elsnook Plantation and Shipperton Burn.

It is expected that all of these options will include construction of a new junction, and limit access on and off the A1 to left turns only at some locations.

Smaller scale improvements are also being considered north of Ellingham, including an overtaking lane between Fenwick Stead junction and Fisher’s Back Road junction, and an additional lane northbound between Cragmill junction and Low Middleton.


Once the three options have been assessed to see which are feasible, a public consultation will launch in autumn with a preferred route will be announced in summer 2017.

Highways England plan to start work on some of the improvements north of Ellingham in 2018.

Construction of the Morpeth to Felton and Alnwick to Ellingham dualling improvement schemes is expected to start in 2020, with all works set to completed by 2023.

Ms Hoyle said: “There will need to be some closures and diversions as the works take place but these will be well publicised at the time.”

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

Highways England has won a national award recognising “highest levels of consideration and care” during roadworks on the M1 in Northamptonshire.

The Considerate Constructors Scheme National Site Awards gave Highways England praise for a number of schemes, include the work to construct the smart motorway scheme on the M1.

As the Chronicle & Echo reported on at the time, the work was plagued by criticism from drivers after delays caused by accidents in the roadworks. It led to a number of high-profile campaigns, including Northampton North MP Michael Ellis, which resulted in a change to the width of the lanes in the roadworks section.

Gold awards were presented to Skanska UK plc for the M1 Junction 19 improvement schene and to MMJV (Bam Nuttall/Morgan Sindall Joint Venture) for the M1 Junction 19 to 16 smart motorways.

Jeremy Bloom, Highways England’s regional investment programme director, said:“We and our suppliers are committed to making sure that all of the schemes we deliver improve not only provide a safe and smooth journey for drivers that use them every day but also improve the quality of life for local communities who interact or live near them as well.”