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Civil engineering in the papers today - Friday 16 January 2009

New construction orders fell to their lowest level since at least 1983 in November, according to official data released yesterday, as demand for building from the private sector fell sharply...

...The decline in construction, which has been led over the past year by a fall in housebuilding, is increasingly being felt in new construction of industrial and commercial projects as businesses pull back from investment. New orders were down 14% compared to October on a seasonally adjusted basis, and are now down 40% since April. Orders on a monthly basis can be volatile, but over the three months to November, orders were down 9% compared to the three months before that and down 27% compared to a year earlier - also a record – Financial Times

The United Arab Emirates took a step yesterday towards becoming the first Arab country to acquire a nuclear capability, a move that could prompt other states to seek to join the club and alter the balance of power in the region. The Gulf state said it was seeking a nuclear programme for energy, not to produce an atomic weapon - The Guardian

Arnold Schwarzenegger yesterday warned California faced insolvency "within weeks" after a protracted budget dispute that has left its finances in tatters. The governor of the most populous US state, which would be the world's eighth largest economy if it were a separate country, said California's record $42bn (£29bn) deficit left it in a "state of emergency" - Financial Times

A "truly devastating" jobs cull is expected among small to medium-sized builders in the first half of the year as work in the housing sector continues to shrink. About half of the members of the Federation of Master Builders said they had made people redundant in the last three months of 2008, and about half plannedto do so in the first half of 2009. According to the FMB, this could be about 90,000 job losses across small to medium-sized businesses - Financial Times

The plan for a third Heathrow runway is almost certain to face a courtroom challenge, both critics and supporters agreed on Thursday. Geoff Hoon, transport secretary, said the government expected legal action from some or all of the environmental groups, councils and other opponents of the project who spent Thursday poring through Department for Transport documents detailing the proposal – Financial Times

The new runway at Heathrow could be built five years earlier than expected as the Government rushes the planning process to prevent oponnents from blocking the expansion. Ministers asked BAA yesterday to submit a planning application as soon as possible with a view to opening the new runway and terminal as early as 2015 - The Times

Rio Tinto, the mining group, is to shut its Anglesey aluminium smelter, the largest single energy user in the UK, with the possible loss of 500 jobs. The closure of the Welsh smelter comes as Rio looks to cut a further 14,000 jobs and reduce capital spending by $5 billion (£3.4 billion) because of a reduction in demand for metals - The Times

Heathrow's third runway will be the subject of legal challenges lasting "decades" before it can be built, it was claimed last night. After the Government authorised the airport's expansion yesterday, opponents said that they were pursuing a wide range of legal avenues to block the plan - The Daily Telegraph

Schools and hospitals are being encouraged to install wood-burning heating. The Carbon Trust, set up by ministers to cut greenhouse emissions, introduced a guide to help the private and public sectors save money by switching to biomass heating - The Daily Telegraph

An estranged husband took revenge on his wife by digging up her drive with a JCB and dumping tons of rubble on her car, a court was told yesterday. Kevin Covell, a civil engineer, believed that his wife Jeanette, had scratched his car and poured paint stripper on it, causing £10,000 worth of damage - The Daily Telegraph

Commercial property values fell by 27.0pc in 2008, according to IPD, the leading index provider. Values fell by a record 5.8pc in December, meaning the overall decline for the final three months of the year was 15 pc - The Daily Telegraph

David Cameron will set out his vision today for a low carbon Britain built around a £1bn investment in a hi-tech National Grid that would include putting "smart meters" in every home in the UK. The network would allow energy companies to tell people when it is cheapest to use electricity, cutting bills and making the system more efficient - The Guardian

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