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In brief

Civil engineering is heading for three consecutive years of decline, according to the latest forecasts from Hewes & Associates. It predicts civil engineering output will decline 6.3% this year, following a 6.2% fall in 1998. The market will fall another 1.9% during 2000-2001. The new build market, it adds, will peak in 1999 and decline 10.4% during the first two years of the next millennium.

The first two consultants have been appointed on a new landslip prevention project in Hong Kong. Halcrow Asia and Ove Arup & Partners Hong Kong have won £2.9M and £2.1M contracts respectively as the first stage in a £530M, 10 year investigation of 5,500 man-made slopes.

Water companies must ensure that the shortages which occurred in the 1995 drought are never repeated, according to guidance issued by the Department of the Environment Transport and the Regions. The DETR says that water companies must 'reduce future uncertainties in predicting supply and demand' and 'maintain a vigorous approach to promoting water efficiency'.

The 0resund Link's Drogden tunnel has been completed ahead of schedule after a 2.5m gap between the final element and its neighbours was sealed by divers. Dewatering was carried out at the start of the week and the steel doors between elements were opened successfully on Tuesday.

Old and degraded cabling has been found in 10% of Railtrack's signal boxes and condemned as a potential cause of malfunction and possible disaster unless urgent maintenance is carried out. A Railtrack spokesman said the company identified the problem in 1996 and has set up a £200M replacement programme, tackling most urgent works first.

A ban on bicycles and other low-speed vehicles is being proposed on the A1 Gateshead and Newcastle Western Bypasses during peak traffic times.

Yorkshire Water is to buy its smaller neighbour York Waterworks for £33.8M. The deal will fill a 'hole' at the centre of Yorkshire Water's £200M grid, and should cut bills by 15%.

Friends of the Earth has urged Environment Agency chairman Lord De Ramsey to resign after it alleged his chauffeur made a 160km journey to ferry him 4km from King's Cross station to the Agency Westminster's HQ. FoE's call comes only three months after Labour MPs called for De Ramsey's resignation over the Agency's response to last Easter's flooding.

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