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2009: Hold on tight

This year is set to be tough, but there are opportunities to be had. Here is NCE’s guide to what to expect and when to expect it.

What a difference a year makes. This time 12 months ago NCE was predicting 2008 to be a boom year for civil engineering and construction firms. How little we knew – the year ended with consultants and contractors catching the house builders’ cold as the property market collapsed.

Geotechnical and structures specialists were particularly badly hit. Moving into 2009,redundancies and fire sales of cash-strapped firms are set to be a running theme, with industry analysts talking about "Armageddon scenarios" of falling profits.

And it will not only be firms with ties to the property market that are expected to struggle – the water sector is facing a perfect storm as its traditional cyclical downturn at the start of the new regulatory period coincides with middle of a recession, with no early start programme to relieve the pain.

But, amid the doom and gloom there will be a few significant rays of sunshine, not least from Crossrail. Key appointments including the project’s chief executive are due to be made. The award of the project delivery partner and programme partner contracts are due to be announced, and work is set to start at Tottenham Court Road.

Elsewhere, the race towards a new nuclear power station programme will gather pace as the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) holds its first auction of potential sites.

The widening of the M25 will also begin, as will the opening salvo of a £2.2bn flood defence splurge.

Manchester City Council can finally be expected to sign its £3bn waste deal, and major projects could find themselves starting to whiz through the streamlined planning system when the Infrastructure Planning Commission is established.

With Network Rail’s next spending programme also getting underway, there should be enough work out there to keep the wolf from the door for some firms. Oh, and there might just be the small matter of a General Election to consider…

Crossrail: Programme partner announced; Tottenham Court Road possessions start with work beginning late January.
Structures: Construction starts on the Bahrain-Qatar causeway.
Geotechnical: Phase 2 contracts to be awarded for Dubai’s Arabian Canal, which will involve the excavation of 300M.m3 of material at a rate of 300,000m3 per day.
Energy & waste: Manchester waste PFI deal is completed.
Transport: Transport secretary Geoff Hoon decides whether to build a third runway at Heathrow. Business: The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Infrastructure’s inaugural reception will reveal the results of the ICE’s Infrastructure Perception Survey.
Business: Regulations for National Infrastructure Policy Statements set out and timetable for establishment of Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC) announced.
Energy & waste: Government will review findings of the Strategic Environmental Assessment of tidal power in the Severn Estuary, managed by Parsons Brinckerhoff. If it decides to go ahead with the remainder of its two-year feasibility study, it will announce a shortlist of schemes being considered, most likely including the Severn Barrage.
Transport: Network Rail starts work on its Span 4 refurbishment at Paddington.
Water & environment: Dummy climate change prediction for the UK will be available from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs as will its UK Climate Projections. The final projections have been delayed but the dummy data will provide a set of probabilistic projections for land and marine areas.
Transport: M27 junction 3 to 4 widening completion.

Geotechnical: Fire damaged section of the Channel Tunnel due to reopen after €60M (£60M) repairs.
Geotechnical: UK National Annex of Eurocode 7, Geotechnical Design, Ground Investigation and Testing published.
Energy & waste: The three firms bidding to host the UK’s first Carbon Capture and Storage demonstration project – E.ON UK, Peel Power, and Scottish Power – will be invited to tender. Transport: Blackfriars Tube closes as Network Rail starts work on a new station spanning the river Thames as part of the Thameslink upgrade.
Business: Chairman of IPC confirmed.
Transport: Network Rail formally agrees funding with the Office of Rail Regulation for its next five year spending period.

Crossrail: Chief executive appointed and project delivery partner announced.
Geotechnical: Hindhead tunnel excavation due to be complete.
Energy & waste: Government consultation on justification for new nuclear plants ends. Crossrail: NCE conference sets out the challenge ahead.
Energy & waste: Tender process closes for third round of sites to be developed for offshore wind farms as the government publishes the results of its Strategic Environmental Assessment of the proposed sites.
Geotechnical: Environment Agency publishes its soil guideline value report for many commonly encountered substances on brownfield sites.
Energy & waste: First of four quarterly auctions of 23M carbon credits to be held by the government.
Energy & waste: Nuclear Decommissioning Authority carries out an E-auction for three sites – Wylfa, Oldbury, and Bradwell – paving the way for new nuclear.
Business: NCE names its Consultants of the Year

Water & environment: Draft Floods & Water Bill published, setting out legislation for implementing recommendations from last year’s Pitt Review.
Geotechnical: Work to restart on Britain’s first artificial surf reef off the coast of Bournemouth after bad weather suspended activities last August.
Water & environment: Publication of the water companies’ draft business plans.
Transport: M25 DBFO widening begins (junctions 27 to 30 and junctions 16 to 23).
Transport: Control Period 4, the next five year spending programme for the rail network starts. Network Rail begins enabling works for expansion of Reading station.
Business: Infrastructure Planning Commission established.

Politics: Earliest date for a General Election.
Structures: Decision is made on whether to go ahead with the new Thames crossing at Silvertown.
Geotechnical: Start of foundations for London 2012 International Broadcast Centre/Main Press Centre.
Transport: Contractual completion date for next round of London Underground station upgrades, including Waterloo station.

Business: Remaining Eurocode National Annexes published.
Geotechnical: Construction contracts due to be awarded for the 7km long, up to 75m deep Lee Tunnel, the first of the London Tideway Tunnels.
Geotechnical: The British Geotechnical Association celebrates its 60th anniversary.
Transport: Deadline for Tube Lines to respond to London Underground’s restated terms and provide pricing.
ICE: State of the Nation report focusing on critical infrastructure published.
Sustainability: The government to produce the first of three carbon budgets designed to cut the country’s emissions. It will set targets for the period between now and 2012.
Sustainability: The government will also this year be issuing guidance on how companies should report their greenhouse gas emissions from 2010.

Water & environment: Regulator Ofwat’s draft determination of price limits and spending levels for next five-year period from 2010.
Crossrail: Demolition of buildings at the Tottenham Court Road site due to finish.
Business: Time to find your sea legs for the annual Construction Industry Regatta at Rutland. Structures: England faces Australia in the first Ashes test at Cardiff’s re-vamped and rebuilt Swalec stadium.

Water & environment: Local authorities’ calls for improved funding likely to be enhanced by more summer floods.

Structures: The world’s tallest building the Burj Dubai due to be completed.
Geotechnical: Platform column foundations work starts on World Trade Center transport hub in New York.
Structures: Parliamentary Bill for new Forth crossing introduced.
Business: The annual International Federation of Consulting Engineers (Fidic) conference comes to London between 13 and 16 September to discuss Delivering Sustainable Solutions to Global Challenges hosted by the Association for Consultancy & Engineering.

Energy & waste:
Organisations that spend more than £1M a year on electricity directly and via subsidiaries to be targeted to reduce their bills or trade for the right to continue maintaining electricity consumption levels. Organisations will be required to monitor and report their total energy use emissions from this month.
Olympics: Host city for 2016 Olympics announced.
Crossrail: Route-wide compulsory purchase orders issued.
ICE: The Institution will again be running fringe events at the three main political party conferences.
Water & environment: Floods & Water Bill due to gain Royal Assent.

Structures: Erection of steelwork for One World Trade Center – Freedom Tower – starts. Crossrail: Terry Morgan takes over as non-executive chairman.
ICE: State of the Nation report focusing on low carbon infrastructure published.
ICE: Professor Paul Jowitt takes office as next ICE president.
Water & environment: Ofwat’s final determination of price limits.
Sustainability: The firm set to host the UK’s first carbon capture and storage demonstration project will be announced.

Structures: Start of preparations for the demolition of Heathrow Terminal 2 to make way for construction of the new Heathrow East Terminal.
Transport: The Tube Lines’ deadline to agree terms and pricing for its next spending second period with London Underground.
Transport: Jubilee Line signalling upgrade complete
Water: Water Framework Directive implementation continues; the draft regional basin management plans were scheduled to be published in December last year and the final versions
are due to be published this month.
Sustainability: United Nations Climate Change conference in Copenhagen between 7 and 18 December. Governments are expected to come up with policies to reduce emissions and to adapt to and mitigate climate change.
Transport: Redevelopment of Birmingham New Street station gets underway.

The year in numbers

  • £2.2bn - Flood development spending splurge starts this year

  • 23M - Carbon credits to be auctioned by government in March

  • 75m - Depth of Thames Tideway tunnel - work starts in June

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