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Civil engineering in the news today - Thursday 25th September

The most burning issue in the bulging in-tray that will greet Ruth Kelly's successor as transport secretary is likely to be road congestion...

A general policy consensus suggests that the way forward is a national system of pay-as-you-go road pricing. But successive transport secretaries have seemed nervous about developing such a programme - The Financial Times

The planning regime is to blame for housebuilders failing to develop vacant land, fuelling perceptions of a lack of competition in the sector, according to an Office of Fair Trading report released on Thursday. The watchdog’s year-long study dismisses the perennial complaint that housebuilders accumulate prime land without developing it – so-called landbanking – thus preventing competition and slowing the growth of new homes - The Financial Times

Council tax will rise or local services will have to be cut if local authorities do not hit European Union targets to cut the amount of waste going to landfill, the Audit Commission has warned. Local authorities have just five years to hit the 2013 target and it typically takes seven years to get the incinerators or other disposal and treatment plants through planning permission and built - The Financial Times

Up to four sites for building new reactors will be put up for sale by EDF following its £12.5bn acquisition of British Energy, opening the way for other companies to share in the planned renaissance of nuclear power in the UK. The French power group and British Energy yesterday announced the agreed takeover, at a price of 774p per share, or 700p plus contingent value rights - securities that pay out according to future electricity prices and the performance of British Energy's power stations - The Financial Times

Funding for a £400M media centre for the London Olympics is in doubt because of restrictions on lending in the financial markets, The Times has learnt. The broadcast and press centre, which will play host to 20,000 journalists during the Games in 2012, is the second casualty in the £9.3bn Olympics project of the credit crisis, which has led banks to rein in their lending, particularly for property-backed deals - The Times

BAA has threatened the Competition Commission with a legal challenge after the Heathrow airport owner accused the watchdog of making "substantive errors" in recommending a break-up of the business. Manchester Airport Group, a suitor for BAA's Gatwick airport, meanwhile raised the pressure on the Spanish owned group by urging the commission to appoint an independent trustee to oversee any sale - The Guardian

The French utility company EDF announced a £12.5bn deal yesterday to buy the nuclear power firm British Energy and confirmed plans to build four new reactors. British Gas parent Centrica is also in talks to buy a 25% stake in the new British energy (BE) and secure a power-sharing arrangement once the takeover is complete - Daily Telegraph


In recent weeks, as many as 20% of drivers have gone past, or very close to, the empty mark as drivers fail to realise how little petrol their money now buys them, a survey found. Less experienced drivers have been most likely to gamble on running their fuel gauges on red with half of young drivers admitting they had run their tanks close to dry, the AA/Populus poll of 12,000 AA members showed - Daily Telegraph

The ultimate green lifestyle statement could, in fact, end up using up energy rather than creating it, said Which?, the consumer organisation, which has tested one over the last year. Between December 2007 and June 2008 the turbine, on top of a roof in Milton Keynes, used up more electricity that it generated. That is due to an inverter that converts energy into a form that is usable by the mains – but it constantly uses power, even when the turbine is not turning - Daily Telegraph

Plans showing a pyramid-like tower rising 180 metres above Paris - the first skyscraper to be built inside the French capital in 30 years - have been leaked to the press ahead of Thursday's official unveiling. The 50-storey building has already been dubbed the "Delanoë tower" after Paris' Socialist mayor, Bertrand Delanoë, who has battled to bring towers to the low-rise city - Daily Telegraph

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