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Civil engineering in the news today - Tuesday 3 February

Everyone in the UK could have their own carbon budget by 2020, says the head of the most comprehensive trial of the idea. Personal allowances set a limit on emissions produced by activities such as driving and heating homes. People could switch to greener services or do without to meet their allowances, sell credits if they did not use them all, or buy credits if they went over the budget because of more highly polluting activities such as flying...

...The idea was given credibility by the support of David Miliband, the former environment and now foreign secretary, and the launch of a three-year study by the Royal Society of Arts. A report into the study concludes that trading allowances is too controversial in the short term, but important elements could work, including the principal of giving every person a carbon budget, said Matt Prescott, the RSA's project director - The Guardian

Former cabinet ministers yesterday challenged the government to take a more pro-union stance on the issues behind wildcat strikes at big construction and energy sites. Trade unions say contractors are using EU court judgments to hand jobs to poorly paid foreign workers, undercutting negotiated British terms and conditions. Both the former party chairman, Ian McCartney, and the former work and pensions secretary, Peter Hain, raised doubts in the Commons about social dumping - how British skilled workers were being forced out of jobs - The Guardian

Boris Johnson yesterday announced the suspension of a key measure designed to improve London's air quality, on the grounds that it would have a "detrimental impact" on small businesses in the economic downturn. The mayor of London suspended the third phase of the low emission zone, which was introduced last year by his predecessor, Ken Livingstone, as a way to cut harmful emissions by encouraging the replacement of high polluting vans and lorries with new models that met the required emission standards - The Guardian

Britain faces a week of paralysis after the heaviest snow for at least 18 years shut 2,800 schools and brought chaos to the road, rail and bus networks. Conditions were due to become even more treacherous last night as temperatures fell below freezing, turning the slush to ice - The Times

Local authorities could run out of salt to treat roads within three or four days, with stocks nearly depleted in some councils. Town halls stockpile relatively low levels of salt, expecting only seven or eight days of mild snow and ice per year - The Times

An earthquake that killed at least 80,000 people in China last year could have been caused by the prescence of an enormous dam close to the epicentre, according to scientists. The 511ft-high Zipingpu dam holds back 315 million tons of water - The Daily Telegraph

Councils and transport chiefs were blamed yesterday as Britain's travel network collapsed in chaos despite five days warning that the country would be hit by extreme weather. As London ground to a virtual standstill, Mayor Boris Johnson also faced questions over the inability of the capital's infrastructure to cope with six inches of snow - The Daily Telegraph

Five years of growth in commercial property values prior to the onset of the credit crisis have been wiped out in just 18 months, new research shows. Capital values fell by 26.4pc in 2008, which is the most ever recorded by the leading property index IPD since it began in 1987, as the financial crisis pushed the property market into a deepening slump - The Daily Telegraph

Businesses are bracing themselves for more disruption from snowfalls this week after about 20 per cent of the UK's workforce stayed at home yesterday due to the weather. With London and the south east hit by the heaviest snowfalls for 18 years, many businesses were forced to operate on a limited basis with transport services in chaos after up to eight inches of snow - The Financial Times

Almost 900 years after its dockyards opened for the building and servicing of Britain's warships, Portsmouth's historic naval base on the south coast is going green. The base, which will be the home of the Royal Navy's two new aircraft carriers, plans to build a waste-to-energy plant to help cut its energy bills and meet the ships' electricity needs onshore once they come into service - The Financial Times


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