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NCE's hot topics: Japan throws UK and European nuclear into disarray; heatwave risks fall off the radar; civils misery over prices continues

Lead story

British and European nuclear plans have been thrown into disarray in the aftermath of the worsening nuclear power disaster following last week’s earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

As Japanese engineers battle to avoid a nuclear meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear power plant, Germany and Switzerland have put the brakes on their nuclear power programmes and Russia is also understood to have ordered a review. The European Commission has also ordered stress tests on all nuclear plants in the EU.

Read the story here.


Are the risks of heatwaves to the UK being neglected? While flooding and energy efficiency are high on the political agenda, the predicted increase in heatwaves due to climate change is not. As urban living spaces become increasingly high-density, and we become ever more reliant on technology vulnerable to overheating, the upcoming UK Climate Change Risk Assessment will tell whether the government is taking temperature rise seriously. Read more here.

Fierce competition and rising prices are piling pressure on civils firms. With results season in full swing, it is obvious that the situation has not improved since NCE surveyed consultants and contractors last year. Tender prices for both new work and maintenance have now been falling since October 2008, so clarity on infrastructure spending in the upcoming Budget is sorely needed. Read more here.

Network Rail reform proposals have brought hidden industry tensions bubbling to the surface. With Network Rail set to be split into 10 independent regional companies or infracos if the Association of Train Operating Companies gets its way, suggestions of joint ventures between the infrastructure company and the passenger train operators has raised questions about EU law. Read more here.

Discussion forums

Japan’s ongoing nuclear troubles have prompted widespread hand-wringing in the rest of the world. How do you think the events of the last week will affect nuclear prospects here in the UK? Add your thoughts here.

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