National Infrastructure Commission welcomes government plans to tackle drought and leakage

The National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) has welcomed moves by ministers to tackle water leakages and drought which will be set out in a draft National Policy Statement this week.

The Commission was responding to commitments set out in a speech by Environment Secretary Michael Gove yesterday at the launch of the UK Climate Impacts Report 2018 on the Government’s approach to storing and managing water.

The Minister told his audience that climate change would “manifest itself most acutely” in thehydrologic system, saying:

“The intense rainfall of the winter, the arid heat of the summer, and rising sea levels will be how we experience climate change most immediately in our everyday lives. “

While successive Governments have made good progress on mitigating flood risk, he continued, as the risk of flooding and coastal erosion increases, a new long-term approach is needed. The Government will publish a long term policy statement next year and the Environment Agency will issue a new 50-year strategy, also next year.

Commenting on droughts, Michael Gove said the UK’s high population density means the available water per person is actually less than in many Mediterranean countries. The experience of this summer, and the evidence of the projections, underscored the need to make water supplies more resilient to a warmer climate in the future, he added.

Via the Government’s twin-track approach, on the supply side, the UK needs to capture and store more rainwater and on the demand side, water must be conserved and used more efficiently.

Draft National Policy Statement on expediting construction of new infrastructure to be published this week

He went on to tell his audience that climate change, coupled with a rising population, will require new water supply infrastructure. However, in part because of company behaviour, in part because of regulatory barriers, the UK had not built any major new reservoirs since the water industry was privatised.

This week the Government will publish a new draft National Policy Statement on water resources which would include a target for water companies to halve leakages and how it will expedite the construction of new infrastructure, like water transfers and reservoirs to support areas suffering water shortages.

New target of halving water leakage by 2050

Michael Gove commented:

“Relying solely on new water infrastructure would prove expensive for bill payers and create pressures on the natural environment. So we will also tackle waste and excessive consumption of water. Since privatisation, leakage has fallen by a third. But we still lose three billion litres of water to leaks every day. That’s why I am setting water companies a stretching new target to halve leakage by 2050.”

The plans to improve the resilience of England’s water supply and set a clear target to halve water leakages by 2050 match a key recommendation by the National Infrastructure Commission – the NIC said such a move would ensure the country’s water supply system could better withstand droughts.

The Commission’s report, Preparing for a Drier Future considered how to make England’s water infrastructure resilient to droughts – something expected to be more frequent as a consequence of climate change.

Responding to the Environment Secretary’s speech, a spokesperson for the National Infrastructure Commission said:

“With climate change increasing drought risk England can’t afford to lose 3 billion litres of water every day, so we’re pleased to see Michael Gove endorsing our recommendations to halve leakages by 2050.

“We’re also pleased the National Policy Statement will make it easier to deliver new reservoirs and water transfers to increase the capacity of the system and support areas in greatest need.”

“These measures are an important step towards a more resilient water supply.”

UK’s biggest road upgrade reaches half way point

A £1.5bn project that will transform journeys on one of the East of England’s most vital roads reaches its half way point this week.

Main construction on a project to upgrade 21 miles of the A14 between Cambridge and Huntingdon started on Monday 28 November 2016 and is on target to be completed by December 2020.

Since work started, more than 8 million working hours have gone into the project, and eight million cubic metres of earthworks have been moved across the site – equivalent to more than three Great Pyramids of Giza. Nine new bridges will have opened to traffic by the end of the year and construction is well underway on 25 more. Along the way, the project team has started delivering extensive protection for the environment and uncovered astonishing archaeological finds which shine new light on thousands of years of history.

Highways England Project Director for the A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon improvement scheme David Bray said:

“Our amazing team has been working incredibly hard to deliver this upgraded A14, and most days we have up to 2,700 staff working across more than 20 miles to build the new roads and bridges that are needed, in addition to all of the environmental measures we are implementing. This is the biggest road building project currently taking place in the country and yet drivers will only see around a quarter of it from the existing road at present.

“Working on this epic project has been remarkable so far: from seeing the new road emerge as we moved earth into place for its foundations, to the wide array of bridges and structures being built, the fantastic discoveries of our archaeological team and the industry-leading work our environmental team is carrying out.

“We know drivers can be frustrated by roadworks, particularly when they’re in place for a long time, but we’re delighted to announce at this two-year anniversary that we’re on time and on budget, having completed more than 50 per cent of the work, to get this new road opened for drivers by the end of 2020.”

Highways England is upgrading a 21-mile stretch of the A14 between Cambridge and Huntingdon to three lanes in each direction including a brand new 17-mile bypass south of Huntingdon, with four lanes in each direction between Bar Hill and Girton. The project, which includes 34 main bridges and structures, will add capacity, boost the local and national economy and cut up to 20 minutes off drivers’ journeys.

Since work started in November 2016, 80 per cent of the 10 million cubic metres of material needed for the £1.5 billion project has been moved, with the spoil used for new earthworks and embankments. More than 8,000,000 construction hours have been worked, and the 750m long River Great Ouse Viaduct, with its 6,000 tonne steel structure, is 85 per cent complete.

Caption: Highways England is proposing for new A14 to provide a continuous motorway from London to Peterborough
Highways England is proposing for new A14 to provide a continuous motorway from London to Peterborough

The project team has worked hard to keep traffic flowing through the roadworks, leaving all lanes open to traffic during the day, with extra restrictions, when needed, in place overnight and at weekends. The free recovery service has also responded swiftly to every incident within the existing roadworks, recovering more than 700 broken down vehicles, with 95 per cent of these cleared within an hour, and 184 cleared within 30 minutes.

The team has won eight industry awards for innovative working, including ‘Best Construction Project to Work On’ and a RoSPA Gold Health and Safety Award. The project is also the first of its type to be recognised as by the Considerate Construction Scheme as an ‘Ultra’ site, for the way the project is delivered.

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Irish Water progresses plans for Moville Sewerage Scheme

Irish Water is holding an information evening in Moville on Monday to present plans for the Moville Sewerage Scheme.

The water company is working to end the unacceptable practice of discharging untreated wastewater into Lough Foyle and the Bredagh River by developing a sewerage scheme for Moville.

Untreated effluent is currently being discharged into the Bredagh River and Lough Foyle at five locations in Moville. Moville is one of the areas the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) identified as having no treatment.

New wastewater treatment plant and collection system is needed

The EPA has also highlighted the untreated discharges as a significant pressure causing pollution in the Bredagh River. The discharge of untreated wastewater threatens water quality, the environment and detracts from the amenity value of the river and the coastal waters around Moville and environs. A new wastewater treatment plant and collection system is needed to end this practice.

Irish Water expects to submit a planning application to Donegal County Council next year.

It is envisaged that planning, design and construction will take approximately 4 years and will be undertaken between 2019 and 2022 (subject to statutory approvals).

Projects worth £600 billion in the pipeline as government gets Britain building

Government publishes 2018 National Infrastructure and Construction Pipeline and Call for Evidence on Offsite Construction.

A massive £600 billion investment in our roads, hospitals and schools over the next ten years has been set out today, alongside proposals to harness modern technologies to build infrastructure in the most effective way.

The Government’s National Infrastructure and Construction Pipeline reveals the vast scale of public and private investment underway and expected by 2028. It includes schemes announced by Chancellor Philip Hammond in his recent Budget, like the £28 billion national roads fund, as well as other flagship projects like East West Rail, upgrading the M6 to a smart motorway and Hornsea Project One – the largest offshore wind farm in the world.

To ensure maximum efficiency in building these projects ministers are encouraging greater use of more modern approaches to construction. This includes the manufacturing of components in factories using the latest digital technology before being sent for assembly on construction sites. The Government has committed to increasing use of these methods in public-funded projects and today asks for views on how to encourage greater use of these cutting-edge techniques.

Despite significant contributions to the UK economy, the construction sector’s productivity is weak compared to other sectors like manufacturing. Applying modern manufacturing approaches to building projects can boost productivity and reduce waste by as much as 90 per cent. For example, a school that typically takes a year to build could be completed in just over four months.

This manufacturing technique has already been used to great success in several projects, including the A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon improvement scheme. Parts of these bridges were developed in a factory, meaning they were built more efficiently than if traditional methods of construction had been used.

The Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, Robert Jenrick said:

“We are committed to renewing our infrastructure to drive economic growth in all parts of the United Kingdom. Over the course of this Parliament, investment in economic infrastructure will reach the highest sustained levels in over 40 years.

“And as the pace of technological change accelerates, we are stepping up our commitment to digital infrastructure, use of data to drive greater productivity and embrace new methods of construction.

“With £600bn of investment over the next decade, including the largest ever investment in our strategic road network, we are taking the long term action required to raise productivity and ensure the economy is fit for the future.”

Chief Executive of the Infrastructure and Projects Authority, Tony Meggs said:

“Government is the largest client for infrastructure projects so has an important role in using its purchasing power to drive improved productivity in their delivery.

“We recognise there is significant momentum within the sector to scale up the adoption of more modern and innovative practices and it is the role of the IPA to help coordinate this approach across new infrastructure projects.

“We would like to hear from a range of industry experts on government’s proposals for a Platform Approach to Design for Manufacture and Assembly.”

Chief Executive of Highways England, Jim O’Sullivan said:

“At Highways England we recognise the productivity and efficiency challenges that the U.K. construction industry is facing. In recent years we have encouraged more computer-led design, automation, and pre-assembly across all of our construction activities. As well as driving productivity and efficiency, it improves worker safety and reduces delays and frustration for road users passing through our works.

“We will adopt ever increasing levels of automation and off-site construction on road improvement schemes and smart motorways in our next five year road investment programme.”

For more articles like this, please visit Highways Industry News website.

Saltash Tunnel gets hi-tech safety upgrade

State-of-the-art technology will be installed in the Saltash Tunnel over the coming months to ensure the safety of the thousands of people who use the underground route in Cornwall.

Highways England is starting a scheme next week to upgrade the incident detection system within the A38 tunnel, which will provide quicker and more reactive detection of vehicle fires and other incidents.

The scheme will see close to 5,000 metres of cable – equivalent to 415 double decker buses – installed inside the 410-metre long tunnel

New technology inside the 30-year-old tunnel will include Wayfinder emergency evacuation signs, and separate smoke and heat detection systems, all aligned to the Public Address system to direct drivers to the safest tunnel exit in the event of an incident.

The tunnel has a good safety history – a new PA and CCTV system was installed two years ago – and the new improvements will link into that to ensure drivers are alerted quicker and help Highways England and the emergency services to react quicker in responding to any potential incidents via the Tamar Bridge control room.

Once work is completed next year, Highways England plans to hold a joint emergency test exercise with the fire services and police.

Highways England spokesman Julian Strong said: “The current detection system is still operational but this essential upgrade is needed to meet current standards, and the work to integrate the different systems is innovative.

“This will enable automatic detection, without the risk of false alarms, and make the tunnel as safe as possible for all those who use it.

“The installation and connection of the cable is a complex procedure, the work will take place under overnight closures to minimise its impact on people, and we apologise in advance for any disruption.”

The £1.2 million scheme, financed from Highways England’s Innovation Fund, will start on Monday, 26 November and is scheduled to be completed in the spring. During that time, the tunnel will be closed on week nights from 8pm to 6am with a diversion route in place via the B3271.

There will be no closures during the Christmas period, 22 December to 6 January.

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Millions of pounds set aside for road repairs in Staffordshire

Staffordshire will receive the largest chunk of a £43.5 million Government investment to fix potholes throughout the West Midlands, keeping drivers and cyclists safe this winter.

It was announced earlier this week that the Department for Transport will invest £43.5 million into road repairs across the West Midlands region.

And the biggest chunk of cash will be heading to Staffordshire, with a total of £8.9 million set aside to fix potholes and other highway problems across the county.

Roads Minister Jesse Norman said: “Potholes are a huge problem for all road users, and too often we see issues occurring at the same place time after time.

“That is why the government is investing more in improving our roads than at any time before – £15 billion between 2015 and 2020 and a further £28.8 billion to 2025, plus an immediate extra £420 million for potholes and local road maintenance just this year.

“The West Midlands will be getting an extra £43 million this winter to keep its roads in good condition to keep drivers and cyclists safe.”

Staffordshire County Council has confirmed the grant and money has now been allocated to local areas, although a breakdown of the funds has not been released.

Helen Fisher, who leads highways and transport at the council, said: “We welcome the additional funding for road repairs announced in the October budget which has now been allocated to each local authority area.

“This will support our ongoing programme of road maintenance across our large network which was boosted by our own additional £5 million investment this financial year.

“What we would like to see is more long-term sustained funding to help us plan our future road maintenance programme.”

Next year, the region will receive £110 million from the Local Highways Maintenance and Integrated Transport Block funds, which will go towards repairing roads and investing in safety, walking and cycling schemes.

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Nearly £10M to be spent on fixing potholes on Somerset roads

Nearly £10M will be spent fixing potholes in Somerset roads following a one-off windfall from central government.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond MP announced in his budget on October 29 that an extra £420M of new funding would be spent on improvements and repairs to Britain’s road network.

The Department for Transport (DfT) has confirmed that the South West will see just under £72M of this funding.

Somerset County Council has not confirmed precisely how and where the money will be spent, but has called on the government for more long-term, stable funding for its transport network.

Announcing the funding, roads minister Jesse Norman MP said: “Potholes are a huge problem for all road users, and too often we see issues occurring at the same place time after time.

“That’s why we are investing more in improving our roads than at any time before – £15bn between 2015 and 2020 and a further £28.8 bn to 2025, plus an immediate extra £420M for potholes and local road maintenance just this year.

“The South West will be getting an extra £71m this winter to keep its roads in good condition to keep drivers and cyclists safe.”

Of the £71.917M Somerset will be able to spend £9.98M.

This is the third-highest allocation within the government’s funding pot, behind Devon (£18.754M) and Cornwall (£10.056M), and higher than the amounts for Gloucestershire (£7.905M), Wiltshire (£7.358M) and Dorset (£6.165M).

Councillor David Fothergill, leader of the council, said the funding was welcome but more work was needed to provide long-term sustainbility.

He said: “On the face of it, this is an increase on previous years which is good news for Somerset and a welcome boost to our road network.

“However, while one-off pots of money are always very gratefully received, we repeat our calls for a clearer, sustained model for highways funding which would allow us to plan our budgets more effectively in the long-term.”

The council has not yet confirmed how and where in the county it intends to spend the money.

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Northumbrian Water launches interactive leak map for customers

Northumbrian Water has unveiled the latest tool in its quest to stop water being lost to leaks – a new interactive online map which gives customers the power to report leaks and track repairs at the touch of a button.

The North East water company has pledged to reduce leakage across its network by 15% over the next few years, through significant investment and an innovative approach. Northumbrian Water said customers can play a key role in this by reporting leaks as soon as they see them and the new interactive leak map lets them do this quickly and easily.

The interactive map shows reported leaks on the Northumbrian Water network which customers can use to find if a leak has already been reported, and check the progress of the repair. If it hasn’t been reported they can then make their report online, which is passed directly to an advisor.

The map also features tools to help customers describe the type of leak they have seen, and they can even upload photos so it can be identified and prioritised for repairs. Once a leak has been reported it will be included on the interactive map, and updates will be provided until a repair has been completed.

Eliane Algaard, Water Director for Northumbrian Water said:

“We are firmly committed to driving down leakage across our network and have set ourselves an ambitious target of reducing it by 15% by 2025. To achieve this we are making a significant investment into finding and fixing leaks, and taking an innovative approach. We are putting more resources into hunting down leaks so we can get them repaired as quickly as possible, and our customers can really help us by reporting anything they spot to us.

“The new interactive map allows our customers to check whether we already on the case with a leak they have spotted, and report it to us quickly and easily if not. We are also committed to keeping our customers updated on our progress, so once a leak has been reported they can track the repair right through to completion.”

The company is currently working on a number of innovative approaches to reducing leakage, including using satellite technology to capture images which can be used to detect leaks, which can then be passed on to leakage technicians on the ground.

New initiative to make Coventry roads safer takes shape

Work has started to install average speed cameras to help improve safety on two of the city’s busiest roads.

The equipment is being installed over the next two weeks on columns along Ansty Road and London Road to test the software, before the cameras begin operating next month.

The Coventry City Council-funded move has come after increasing fears over the speeding across the city.

And more could follow with any profits from the scheme used to fund further average speed cameras on other Coventry roads where speeding is a problem.

Councillor Jayne Innes, Coventry City Council’s Cabinet Member for City Services, said speeding traffic were increasing concerns for local residents.

She said: “Road safety, and tackling speeding traffic in particular, is a priority for this Council and we are committed to creating a safer speed city.

“We want to make sure that our streets are safe for everyone, and Average Speed Cameras have been shown to be a great deterrent to speeding drivers, dramatically cutting incidences of speeding where they’re installed, and as a result, greatly reducing the number of accidents.

“Ansty Road and London Road are two of the city’s busiest, with a number of serious and tragic accidents over the last few years that have impacted on many people. Anything that we can do to prevent such tragedies on Coventry’s roads is worth doing.”

Over a three-year period, London Road saw 22 accidents, including three fatalities and six serious injuries. In a similar period, there were 32 accidents on Ansty Road, resulting in two fatalities and five serious injuries.

The cameras on London Road will cover the stretch from Allard Way to the A46, with the Ansty Road cameras covering from Dane Road to Clifford Bridge Road.

Clear signs will be installed to tell drivers they are entering an average speed control zone.

Income from motorists paying for speed awareness courses would be used to cover police costs and re-invested in maintaining and potentially extending the scheme.

Cllr Abdul Salam Khan, Coventry City Council’s Deputy Leader with responsibility for enforcement, said: “As a Council we monitor and set the city’s speed limits, and we work closely with West Midlands Police who enforce the limits.

“The idea of installing Average Speed Cameras is a response to concerns raised by a number of residents, and we’ve always made it clear that road safety is something we are prioritising and willing to invest in even at times of austerity to ensure that our roads are made safer.

“The enforcement of this scheme will enable us to teach those that drive recklessly and without respect on Coventry’s roads that their actions can have a devastating impact, and that speed limits are set for a reason.”

Average Speed Cameras record the registration of a car and calculate its speed by measuring the time taken to travel between set points and are seen as an effective way of reducing speed, as they can cover a longer stretch of road compared to other cameras.

The Council is responsible for setting speed limits in the city and works closely with West Midlands Police which enforces them.

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Highways England new gritters take to the road

A fleet of new look gritters, using state of the art technology are on the road this winter following a multi-million pound investment by Highways England.

The first delivery of the new gritters took place in October and will improve safety for drivers and workers due to the vehicles improved technology, ergonomics and enhanced visibility.

Despite being 26 tonnes and measuring a maximum of 2.5 meters wide, Highways England has seen a number of incidents where gritters have been struck by vehicles.

Research carried out by Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) shows that vehicles stand out more if painted in one block colour and are solid in shape which is where the new design has come from.

As well as a new design, the latest vehicles contain innovative technology which includes being able to pre-programme gritters with information specific to each gritting route. This enables salt to be spread onto the road automatically, taking into account any specific requirements for bridges, landscape and other road features allowing drivers to give their full attention to driving at all times.

Highways England’s winter fleet manager Jane Wilkins said:

“Safety is our top priority and we are always looking at ways we can improve our winter resilience. Using the research carried out by TRL and our own data, we have looked carefully at the number of incidents involving gritters to see what more can be done to improve safety and the service we provide.

“The roll out of this £30million programme started this year with 34 new vehicles in East Anglia. The remainder of the 157 vehicles, will be replaced over the next two years.”

Highways England is working closely with gritter manufacturers Romaquip on the roll out of the new fleet.

Romaquip technical director Stephen McKeown said:

“We are excited to be working with Highways England, manufacturing a new generation of winter vehicles with numerous safety and technical advances. It is a pleasure to work with an organisation that strives to develop and improve their service, actively partnering with us to achieve these goals.

“It is clear to see that the specification of these vehicles has been derived from consciously deciding to improve safety for both operators and other road users, and that the innovation to improve efficiency and functionality has also been thoroughly considered.

“Romaquip is committed to delivering the best quality machines to all of our customers, we welcome this improvement and look forward to working with Highways England over the years to come.”

Highways England currently has 535 winter vehicles patrolling the 4,400 miles of motorways and major A roads across the country.

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