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Civil engineering in the news today - Tuesday 28 October

Labour is today facing a growing revolt over plans for a third runway at Heathrow...

...Ten backbenchers have signed a Commons motion calling for the runway plan to be scrapped, and the unease is shared by a at least one member of the Cabinet - The Daily Telegraph

A collapse in tax revenues will send government borrowing soaring above £60 billion this year, it emerged last night. Gordon Brown is preparing to tear up his “golden rule” on debt in order to fund a massive spending spree to counter the looming recession. Some economists predict that the level of government borrowing could reach £110 billion by 2011 – The Times

The pound plummeted close to a six-year low yesterday. The currency’s losses in recent months now mirror its demise after Black Monday in 1992, when John Major pulled Britain out of the exchange-rate mechanism and destroyed the Conservatives’ reputation for economic management. In London the pound hit a low of $1.5280, down from $2.01 three months ago, while shares in British companies tumbled again, leaving the FTSE down 30.77 at 3852.59, its lowest close since the invasion of Iraq in the spring of 2003 – The Times

House prices may be in free fall but a public lavatory was sold yesterday for £403,000, with developers claiming that it would make a great club, school or "bog-standard cafe". The two-storey property near Fulham Broadway, southwest London, was sold at auction for more than four times its guide price – The Times

African forest elephants live in fear of roads which they associate with poachers and death, scientists have discovered. Elephants in central Africa's Congo Basin - where poaching is rampant - have worked out that roads equate to danger - The Daily Telegraph

Britain risks losing its "fabulous inheritance of landscape and wildlife" as the Government allows developments - including its flagship eco-town projects - to spring up across the countryside, the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) has warned. The CPRE has accused ministers of ignoring its own independent advisor, Natural England, on a host of important environmental issues - The Daily Telegraph

Britain's shell-shocked house building sector suffered another blow yesterday when Persimmon warned it was writing down the value of its landbank by £600m. The decision follows further falls in the price at which Persimmon is able to sell its houses, which has a knock-on effect on the value of its land holdings - The Guardian

EDF is taking a majority holding in British North Sea gas fields from ATP Oil & Gas Corporation in a £265m deal. The move is part of the French power group's strategy of diversifying gas supplies for its own electricity generating facilities and for supplying natural gas to customers - The Guardian

Carbon pollution levels are rising so fast that the world has no realistic chance of hitting ambitious climate targets set by Britain and the G8, a report to the Australian government has warned. The report, from economist Ross Garnaut, says existing goals, such as those in Britain's climate change bill, are based on out-of-date figures, and are so unrealistic they could wreck attempts to agree a new international deal on global warming - The Guardian

Moscow is to spend £2.3bn buying newly built apartments from construction companies, first minister Igor Shuvalov announced yesterday. "In the construction sector we may see a fall in demand. We decided to replace that with government demand." - Financial Times

UK engineering group GKN has forecasted a 20% fall in annual profits and that it is to lay off all 1400 temporary staff. The company makes drivetrains for cars and generates two thirds of its profits from the automotive sector. The firm has now launched a restructuring plan which includes plant closures, short time working and is not ruling out job losses among its 30,000 permanent employees. Chief executive Sir Kevin Smith said "We understand how to control costs and can get our heads down and do that when we need to." - Financial Times

A consortium led by Germany's Deutsche Bank has bought UK rolling stock firm Porterbrook Leasing. The sum has not been disclosed but the FT believes it is £1.4bn - Financial Times

Persimmon has revealed the largest land writedowns so far for a UK housebuilder confirming that more than a third of sales had fallen through as buyers cancelled sales. It said it was making a £600M provision which reflect likely losses when using maximum land prices, which peaked in July 2007 - Financial Times

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