Environment Agency proposes to transfer selected flood management work to other authorities

The Environment Agency is proposing to transfer flood risk management activities on a number of stretches of watercourses to internal drainage boards (IDBs), lead local flood authorities (LLFAs) and district councils.

The Agency said the plans would mean that IDBs, LLFAs and district councils can take on more responsibility for their local flood risk where appropriate. The Environment Agency has been working with a number of IDBs, LLFAs and district councils to consider proposals to re-designate sections of watercourses in a number of locations. The watercourses will be re-designated from main river to ordinary watercourse – known as de-maining.

The Environment Agency proposes to transfer flood risk management activities on the following sections of river and assets from the Environment Agency to the IDBs, LLFAs and district councils listed below.

Suffolk Rivers, Suffolk – 3 stretches of low risk watercourse (approximately 22.4 km) are proposed for de-maining to East Suffolk Internal Drainage Board and Suffolk County Council (some flood risk management activities will transfer to Suffolk Coastal District Council and Waveney District Council)

South Forty Foot, South Lincolnshire – 5 stretches of low risk watercourse, all tributaries of South Forty Foot Drain (approximately 16.8 km) are proposed for de-maining to Black Sluice Internal Drainage Board

Stour Marshes, East Kent – 10 stretches of low risk watercourse across Stour Marshes, (approximately 36.7km) are proposed for de-maining to the River Stour (Kent) Internal Drainage Board

The Agency said it will only implement the proposals where the organisations concerned have the appropriate skills and governance arrangements in place to do so and the local community supports the change.

The consultation, which will open on 15th January 2018 and close on 12th February 2018, will set out the Agency’s proposals, in detail, including information about how the proposed sections of watercourses are currently managed and funded. The consultation also provides details on future management and funding if de-maining goes ahead.


Extra £136m cost and delay for M4 route proposal

Controversial plans for a new stretch of motorway around Newport has taken a step further today.

The Welsh Government today unveiled it had reached an agreement with the port owner and operator Associated British Ports over the plans around Newport Docks.

The new plan is expected to come at an extra cost of £136m and open much later than anticipated.

ABP had previously objected to the scheme which would see the new road bridge over Newport Docks with concerns it could affect trade.

Economy Secretary Ken Skates has now announced both the Welsh Government and ABP have reached an agreement for works to integrate Newport Docks with the M4 Project.

These would include:

  • the construction and refurbishment of quays,
  • rearrangements of tenants
  • replacement of cranes, shaped around the new section of motorway and its new junction connecting the docks to the Trans European Motorway Network.

The port currently supports around 2500 jobs and is contributes £173m a year to the Welsh economy.

The accommodation of the extra work is estimated to cost an extra £136m and will push the opening of the new road back to Autumn 2023.

A Public Inquiry is ongoing to scrutinise whether the M4 Project, in collaboration with the Cardiff City Region Metro, is a solution to the problems with M4 around Newport.

The Welsh Government says if the plans are approved work could start as soon as summer 2018.

“I must stress that the works would only be constructed, and funding allocated for this purpose, if a decision is made to build the M4 Corridor around Newport Project. I anticipate that final decision can be made in the Summer in light of all views being heard at the Public Inquiry and the inspectors’ report being received.I would like to again make it very clear that the goals and ways of working of the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act will be central to that decision making, which I am keen to ensure is made in an open and transparent way to members. Continuing the spirit of previous updates I have provided to members, I have made this announcement to ensure that the best and most up-to- date information is available to all on this major project.”


Jacobs completes CH2M acquisition – global water market is $100bn p.a. opportunity

Jacobs Engineering Group Inc. has announced the completion of its acquisition of CH2M via a cash and stock transaction. The combination, which had strong support from CH2M shareholders, is expected to further drive the company’s profitable growth strategy.

The Group said it would increase Jacobs’ proportion of higher growth, higher margin business while maintaining its lower-risk portfolio and investment-grade credit profile.

Jacobs Chairman and CEO Steve Demetriou commented:

“This is a transformative step-change that brings together the industry’s foremost expertise and services to fulfill our vision to provide leading-edge solutions for a more connected, sustainable world,”

Demetriou stressed the combined firm’s continuing emphasis on talent retention and hiring as a top priority. “People are the heart of our organization, and we are calling on the best and brightest to join the new Jacobs to drive our growth strategy and be part of our exciting future.”

Focused integration discipline

Jacobs formed an Integration Management Office (IMO) early in August to begin integration planning following the announcement of the proposed CH2M acquisition. The IMO identified rigorous processes and protocols to drive realization of cost and growth synergies, for which Jacobs’ executive team and Board of Directors will continue to provide active oversight.

Both organizations reported strong performance in 2017, bolstering confidence in prospects for enhanced value creation in the newly combined firm and reinforcing the expectations for integration synergies and returns on the transaction.

According to Jacobs, the broader, combined solutions offering of the combined company, including CH2M’s proven leadership in program management and construction management, presents potential for longer-term revenue upside extending both companies’ complementary offerings across their combined client base and broader global footprint.

Focused and simplified operating model

Jacobs also announced its intention to streamline its operating model into three global lines of business, including: Aerospace, Technology, Environmental and Nuclear (ATEN); Buildings, Infrastructure and Advanced Facilities (BIAF); and Energy, Chemicals and Resources (ECR).

The company expects to move to reporting results by the three global business lines by the second half of fiscal 2018:

Water represents an approximately $100 billion-a-year opportunity

Jacobs said the acquisition enhances its position in infrastructure, including water and transportation. Water represents an approximately $100 billion-a-year opportunity, expected to grow at a 4 to 5 percent compounded annual rate, presenting significant potential to extend CH2M’s leadership in design, management and lifecycle services for government and industrial clients, including operations and maintenance, and resiliency services mitigating climate threats.

Jacobs is expected to benefit by expanding these capabilities globally, backed by its strong operating and project delivery platform. The combined company will have a leading global water business with the scale, critical mass and experience to capitalize on infrastructure and industrial growth trends.

Environmental work separately represents an approximately $160 billion annual opportunity, growing 4 to 5 percent on a compounded annual rate. The combined company will have among the broadest and deepest environmental technical and project delivery capabilities in the industry.

In addition, CH2M’s environmental expertise complements Jacobs’ existing business with the U.S. federal government, positioning the combined company with leading capabilities for government clients that also are transferable to private-sector clients, creating opportunities for substantial upside potential for the company.

Highways England to continue archaeological survey work on A303 Stonehenge scheme

Highways England will continue archaeological surveys in the new year as part of the ongoing scheme to improve journeys for people using the A303 at Stonehenge.

The survey work, which includes surface artefact collection, topsoil tests and trial trenching, is part of the company’s continuing commitment to preserving the World Heritage Site and in particular its Outstanding Universal Value.

Highways England Project Director Derek Parody said: “Heritage is very much at the heart of our work at Stonehenge.

“As well as removing the traffic bottleneck at Stonehenge and addressing the rat-running issue through local villages, the proposed scheme will remove the sight and sound of traffic from the iconic monument and reduce intrusion in the wider World Heritage Site landscape.

“The environmental, archaeological and geophysical surveys we have been carrying out since 2016, and our review of existing surveys, have added to our knowledge and understanding of this unique landscape and helped us develop the design of our preferred route.

“Our continuing archaeological survey work, which we are carrying out with experts in the field, will ensure we gather vital information about the environment and archaeology to inform the project as it progresses.”

Among the experts is the Stonehenge Scientific Committee, a body of leading independent archaeologists, who have advised on the ongoing survey work, and will continue to do so as the company develops the details of the scheme.

The preferred route for the £1.6 billion A303 upgrade between Amesbury and Berwick Down was announced in September. It includes a free-flowing dual carriageway with a tunnel at least 1.8 miles long and a much-needed bypass north of Winterbourne Stoke.

Following public consultation earlier in the year and further engagement with local communities, heritage groups, archaeologists, historians and engineers, the preferred route was chosen so that the route now closely follows the existing A303 through the World Heritage Site.

This alignment avoids important archaeological sites and intrusion on the view of the setting sun from Stonehenge during the winter solstice.

The Government, as part of its £15 billion road strategy, is committed to upgrading all remaining sections of the A303 between the M3 and M5 to a high quality dual carriageway standard, starting with three schemes: one at Stonehenge, one between Sparkford and Ilchester and the third on the A358 between the M5 at Taunton and the A303 Southfields Roundabout.

Highways England plans to hold a statutory public consultation in early 2018, and in the meantime, details of the preferred route are available on the scheme webpage: www.highwaysengland.citizenspace.com/cip/a303-stonehenge/

Ahead of Friday’s Winter Solstice event at Stonehenge, Highways England has issued the following advice to drivers planning to travel on the A303: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/plan-your-a303-journeys-ahead-of-winter-solstice-event-at-stonehenge–2


Government sets out plans to strengthen surface water flood risk management

The government is to draw up plans setting out proposals to strengthen surface water management arrangements in response to the growing challenges of changing weather patterns and population growth and their impacts on the risk of surface water flooding.

In a written statement to the House of Commons yesterday, which was also presented in the House of Lords, Dr Thérèse Coffey, Environment Minister said the government had identified 5 key actions aimed at reducing the risk of surface water flooding in response to the commitment in the National Flood Resilience Review to look at issues affecting surface water in 2017.

Proposals to support the actions will be considered by the Inter Ministerial Group on Flooding early next year with a report outlining actions and an implementation timetable published in spring 2018.

The government will also need to take account of ongoing work by the National Infrastructure Commission and the Adaptation Sub-Committee as well as the soon to be published report of DCLG’s review of sustainable drainage systems in planning policy.

The actions set out in the statement are:

Presentation of findings to date: this will take place in January 2018 at a co-hosted event with Water UK where stakeholders will be able to contribute in shaping future actions. One of the main themes will be the collaboration of local authorities and other risk management authorities in delivering their statutory responsibilities and achieving the best outcomes for surface water management.

National position: This year government added the risk of surface water flooding to the National Risk Register within the “High Risk” banding. The government will develop a clear national planning scenario for surface water flood risk based on plausible extreme rainfall events. This will be tested by a panel of experts who will give an independent assessment of its suitability and its application to existing surface water risk maps and national objectives.

Effective collaborative working: the government will work with others to build on effective partnership by risk management authorities, including using the review of the national flood and coastal erosion strategy to ensure best practice is shared and priorities are aligned.

Skills: the research has shown that it is important to maintain the right balance of surface water flood and drainage skills at the local level. The project has identified some particular concerns, for example in relation to drainage engineering skills as well as staff retention and succession planning. The government will work with others on actions to address skills and capacity issues.

Maps and data: the Environment Agency is reviewing the current and future data needs for the mapping and modelling of surface water flooding. They aim to improve the availability, consistency and accuracy of data across the range of bodies involved.

Forecasting: The Met Office and Environment Agency are carrying out a review on how improvements in surface water forecasting and communication can be made to make the best use of the information produced across the Met Office, Flood Forecasting Centre and Environment Agency.

UK better prepared this winter for flooding from all sources

Dr. Coffey told MPs and peers that following on from the National Flood Resilience Review the UK was better prepared this winter for flooding from all sources: the Environment Agency now has 25 miles of mobile flood barriers, 250 mobile pumps and 500,000 sandbags. The flood barriers and mobile pumps are ready to go anywhere in the country.

The Minister also highlighted the work of Water UK’s 21st Century Drainage Programme which will begin to develop the framework for Drainage and Wastewater Management Plans over the coming months.

Flood defence investment was also being boosted to over £2.6 billion by 2021 – the Budget announced an additional £76 million to be spent on flood and coastal defence schemes over the next three years.


Next Generation Road Communications Network Contract Let

Highways England today paved the way for the future technology which will keep road users as safe and informed as possible on the country’s motorways.

The Government company has let the contract for the next generation road communications network which will help reduce congestion, make journeys more reliable, and help drivers who get into difficulty.

The National Roads Telecommunications Service (NRTS) connects the company’s seven regional control centres, the national traffic operations centre and the 30,000 roadside technology assets including message signs, CCTV cameras and emergency roadside telephones.

Today 18th December 2017  Highways England has announced the award of the £450 million second NRTS contract, to telent Technology Services Ltd.

Chief Information Officer at Highways England, Tony Malone said:

“Safety is at the heart of everything we do and this network, the central nervous system for England’s motorways, enables us to operate safe roads. We are pleased to be working with telent Technology Services to deliver the reliability, resilience and innovation that will enable us to keep drivers safe and informed on our roads.”

The 30,000-plus items of on road technology equipment for which Highways England is responsible, include 3,327 CCTV cameras, 3,774 message signs, 229 weather stations and 7,155 SOS phones. The network enables traffic information services to provide accurate, real-time travel information to drivers and travel news providers. The message signs help warn drivers of potential hazards and display real-time journey information.

The new service will renew equipment and deliver a service that will provide an open, flexible and scalable telecommunications network to meet the future needs of the business; it will also enable and support Highways England in the development of innovative services such as ‘connected vehicles’ and 5G.

Additionally the technology will continue to underpin the development and operation of the smart motorway and expressway programmes that are central to the modernisation of England’s motorways and will help ensure the network continue to drive economic growth and prosperity.

The new contract will run from 16 March 2018 for 7 years.

Yorkshire Water targets 40% leakage reduction by 2025

Yorkshire Water has announced an ambitious package as it looks to reduce leakage by over 40 per cent by 2025 and become one of the leaders in the water industry.

Implementation of the plan starts with immediate effect – the announcement comes as industry regulator Ofwat has sets new targets for water companies to reduce water lost by billions of litres per year as part of the upcoming Price Review in 2019.

Yorkshire Water said it would commit “significant and material investment” over the next two years to reach the target. This includes recruiting fifty new front-line leakage inspectors, together with using new detection technology and data.

The reduction in leakage is part of a wider plan to transform the performance of the company, which will also significantly shorten any interruptions to customers supply and also see many fewer pollution incidents.

Currently, Yorkshire Water deals with around 5,500 leaks on its network each year which costs around £19,000 per day to investigate and repair. With demand for water set to increase as the population in the region is predicted to rise to nearly six million by 2024, water resilience is a number one priority for the firm.

Traditionally, water leaks have been repaired by excavating and clamping the damaged pipes. However, Yorkshire Water is now trailing different types of cutting-edge technology to help stop millions of litres of water escaping from its network.

In Halifax and Keighley for example, satellite space technology traditionally used to hunt for water on other planets in the solar system has been tested to help identify underground water leaks from its pipe network.

The technology has helped identify 44 underground leaks in both towns that were then quickly fixed by Yorkshire Water’s response team and helped save 330,000 litres of water a day escaping from its network.

Other technology being used by the firm includes up to 15,000 acoustic loggers attached to fittings on water pipes throughout Yorkshire that will be capable of listening to the flow of water in a pipe. The noise and flow pattern of this water will then allow expert data scientists to understand the sound of water to help reduce the risk of bursts or leaks caused by high pressure.

The company’s long-term objective is to fully meet the needs of a growing population, whilst using substantially less water than at present.

Liz Barber, director of finance, regulation and markets at Yorkshire Water said:

“Our customers have been very clear to us that they really dislike the fact that so much water goes to waste.  When we explain the size and scale of the network we have, they do understand how tough it is to reduce leakage, but they still expect us to do better. By doing this, we’ll improve the security of everyone’s supply and also have much less impact on the environment.”


Extra lanes to open before Christmas on Manchester smart motorway

Drivers will be able to use over ten miles of extra lanes on the M62 near Rochdale in time for Christmas.

Highways England is opening a permanent fourth lane in each direction between junctions 18 and 20 as part of a phased opening of the Manchester smart motorway scheme – increasing capacity on one of England’s busiest stretches of motorway by a third.

Roadworks will be removed from the eastbound carriageway tonight (Monday 18 December) and from the westbound carriageway tomorrow night (Tuesday 19 December).

New electronic signs will also be switched on along this section of the M62 as well as on the M60 between junctions 8 and 10 near the Trafford Centre, providing drivers with journey time updates and details on incidents.

The opening of ten miles of extra lanes on the M62 are among almost 400 miles of roadworks across England being lifted or completed by Highways England in time for the Christmas getaway.

Almost 99 per cent of motorways and major A roads will be roadworks-free, meaning people travelling to meet up with families and friends can more easily reach their destinations.

Jon Stokes, Senior Project Manager at Highways England, said:

“The extra lanes on the M62 will provide a significant increase in capacity on the busy stretch of motorway between Greater Manchester and Yorkshire, benefitting the 180,000 drivers who use the route every day.

“We’re now at a stage where we can open the extra lanes in time to benefit both Christmas shoppers and people travelling to visit family and friends over the festive season.

“Nearly 600 people are currently working to complete the smart motorway and we will open each section along the route as soon as possible, improving drivers’ journeys and supporting the economy.”

Variable speed limits will be introduced on the M62 (junctions 18 to 20) and the M60 (junctions 8 to 10) in early 2018 which will automatically change in response to the flow of traffic. The speed limit will remain at 50mph while the new technology is being fine-tuned.

Construction work will continue between junctions 10 and 18 on the M60 in 2018 to complete the installation of over 350 electronic signs, over 100 traffic sensors and 50 CCTV cameras.

Resurfacing work will also take place along the entire smart motorway route using overnight carriageway closures. The project is due to be completed by summer 2018.

The scheme is Highways England’s most complex smart motorway project, affecting the second busiest motorway in the country and covering 13 junctions – an average of one junction every 1.4 miles.

The full scheme stretches 17 miles between junction 8 of the M60 near Sale and junction 20 of the M62 near Rochdale.

Save the Children

Carrington West had an amazing day of fundraising on Friday 15th to support the ‘Save the Children’ fund.

Staff wore their favourite Christmas jumpers and took part in our festive raffle.

All the money raised has gone towards helping the lives of vulnerable children in the UK and around the world. The funds help provide children a healthy start in life, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm.

For more information about the charity visit: https://www.savethechildren.org.uk/about-us

Government publishes abstraction reform plans

The government has published a new plan to reform abstraction management aimed at protecting the environment while improving access to water where it is needed most.

Increasing demand for water is putting pressure on supplies – latest data shows that five per cent of surface water bodies and 15 per cent of groundwater bodies are at risk from increasing water use by current abstraction licence holders that could damage the environment.

Announcing the proposal, the government said today’s new abstraction reform plan will improve better access to water by:

  • preventing unsustainable abstraction by reviewing existing licences and introducing more controls to protect rivers, lakes and groundwater
  • developing a strong focus on catchment areas for water bodies to encourage more partnership working between the Environment Agency, abstractors and catchment groups to protect and enhance the environment and improve access to water
  • modernising the abstraction service to allow online applications for licences and bring water resources regulations in line with other environmental permitting regulations

Environment Minister, Thérèse Coffey said:

“The abstraction licencing system is in clear need of reform and I am very pleased to set out how we will do this in our plan. I believe our approach will work for all parties and, most importantly, will protect our precious water supplies.

“Our ambition is to be the first generation to leave the environment in a better state than we found it and we will keep building on our successes by enhancing our environmental standards and delivering a Green Brexit.”

While good progress has been made in recent years, the plan emphasises the importance of the Environment Agency, the water industry and other stakeholders working in partnership at a catchment level to improve and protect the environment and improve access to water.

From January 2018 the Environment Agency will begin to regulate around 5,000 water users that have historically been exempt from regulation. This will create a fairer system and help protect the environment.

Other actions the Agency will take include:

  • use the Water Industry National Environment Programme (WINEP), due in March 2018, to make sure that water companies take a leading role in addressing unsustainable abstraction
  • review more than half of time limited licences by 2021 (2,300 in total), adjusting them as necessary to make sure they do not allow environmental damage now or in the future
  • adjust all permanent licences shown to be seriously damaging. This includes completing the Restoring Sustainable Abstraction programme, a list of 150 potentially damaging licences, by March 2020
  • revoke an estimated 600 unused licences that are no longer needed, and work with abstractors to reduce under-used licences. This will prevent increased abstraction from these licences creating new environmental pressures
  • regulate all significant abstractions that have been exempt historically (approximately 5,000) to make sure that they also play a part in protecting the water environment
  • update ten abstraction licensing strategies by 2021 and all remaining strategies by 2027 to capture agreed solutions to environmental pressures

The Environment Agency’s work to address unsustainable abstraction should see around 90 per cent of surface water bodies and 77 per cent of groundwater bodies meet the required standards by 2021.

The Agency will produce updated abstraction licensing strategies that detail the solutions to environmental issues in local areas around rivers and groundwaters and set out approaches to help abstractors access the water they need.

Since 2008 the Environment Agency has made changes to over 270 abstraction licences to prevent over 30 billion litres of water per year being removed from the environment where abstraction is unsustainable.

In the New Year, the Environment Agency will begin piloting and testing a digital system for handling licence applications and data reporting. Modernising these services will improve the user experience as well as supporting reforms to better protect the environment and improve access to water.

A report will be made to Parliament by May 2019 on the progress made on abstraction reform.