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Civil Engineering in the papers today - Thursday 12 February 2009

The cost of the government's scheme to rebuild every secondary school in England has increased by £10bn, but the schools are still nearly two years behind schedule, according to the spending watchdog. . . .

By the end of last year - five years into the programme - just 42 schools had been built instead of the 200 planned, a National Audit Office (NAO) report on the Building Schools for the Future programme found - The Guardian

A controversial public sculpture, the £1.4 million B of the Bang near Manchester City's Eastlands stadium, is to be mothballed. Thomas Heatherwick's artwork , which was unveiled two years late in January 2005, needs up to £3 million of work to make it safe - The Times

WS Atkins, the design and engineering group, will cut 1,000 jobs as uncertainty across its markets is compounded by delays in government infrastructure projects. In his pre-Budget report last November, Alistair Darling, the Chancellor, unveiled plans to bring forward £3bn of infrastructure investment in an attempt to stimulate the economy. However, Keith Clarke, the chief executive of WS Atkins, said he was yet to see any material increase in government spending, adding he was "disappointed but not surprised" - The Daily Telegraph

Vestas, the world's largest wind turbine maker, brought some cheer to a renewable power sector struggling against the credit crunch when it reported a better-than-expected 51% rise in its full-year operating profit and maintained its 2009 sales and profit forecasts. But the Danish group admitted that profit growth seen over the last three years would slow during the next 12 months - The Guardian

Construction workers renewed pressure on the government over foreign labour contracts yesterday, mounting brief blockades of two new power stations at dawn. The protests came as unemployment figures showed foreign-born workers in Britain bucked the downward trend last year, with a further 214,000 finding jobs - The Guardian

Foster+ Partners, one of the leading firm of architects in the UK, is to lay off hundreds of its employees in the wake of the downturn in the global property development market. Lord Norman Foster’s award-winning partnership, which has been responsible for such buildings as the Swiss Re’s Gherkin tower in the City of London, told staff that “a number of individuals” had been selected for redundancy. It is thought that more than 300 staff could be affected out of a 1,300 workforce, although the company declined to comment on exact numbers - The Financial Times

One of Russia's biggest property developers, Mirax Group, yesterday said it had reached an agreement to restructure a £140M loan owed to Credit Suisse, in the country's first big restructuring deal since the credit crisis. Sergei Polonsky, chairman of Mirax Group, told reporters that the £140M loan, which fell due this week, had been restructured over two years. The company, which is grappling with weakening demand, would cut costs and freeze projects - The Financial Times

Lakshmi Mittal, chairman of ArcelorMittal,yesterday called the bottom of the steel market as he warned that underlying earnings at the world's largest steel maker could slide by 80 per cent in the first quarter of 2009. Mittal said that the first quarter of 2009 would probably mark "the bottom of the market" for the steel industry. "After this I can envisage some kind of pick-up in shipments, as customers will find they need to re-order to build up stocks, which have now fallen to very low levels," he said - The Financial Times

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