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NCE Live News Updates 16 May 2013: High Speed 2 benefits unclear, says spending watchdog

The strategic case for High Speed 2 (HS2) has not yet been fully demonstrated, a report by public spending watchdog the National Audit Office (NAO) has today concluded.

5.30pm: Insurers will continue to cover customers for a month after the industry flood insurance agreement expires, the Association of British Insurers (ABI) has today said.

The existing agreement expires on 30 June. The ABI is continuing talks with the government over longer term plans.

“There are still important issues to resolve and no deal has been reached, but negotiations are advanced and we will bring negotiations to a conclusion as soon as practicable,” said ABI director general Otto Thorensen.

“After the Statement of Principles expires on 30 June, ABI members have agreed that they will continue to meet their commitments voluntarily for one additional month until 31 July, to ensure that their customers across the UK can continue to access insurance while discussions are concluded

The Airports Commission has today released the fourth in a series of discussion papers intended to inform its assessment of the UK’s airport capacity needs.

Interested parties can submit evidence on the issues raised in the paper, called Airport Operational Models, until 11 July.

The paper discusses trends in the global aviation sector, possible future developments and the potential implications. It also examines various models for structuring airport capacity.

“The Airports Commission will need to give these arguments full and detailed consideration as we develop our assessment of the UK’s future aviation requirements,” said commission chairman Sir Howard Davies. “We believe it is particularly important to think about the way the aviation industry will change in the coming decades.”

5pm: Network Rail is due to start redevelopment work on London Bridge later this month.

Platforms 14, 15 and 16 will be shut this month for redevelopment and remain closed until spring 2014. Platform 13 will be narrowed.

Works at the station will reconfigure it from the current set-up of 6 through platforms and 9 terminating platforms to 9 through and 6 terminating platforms. It is hoped this will increase capacity and reduce the number of trains that have to wait outside the station.

London Bridge

London Bridge: The work will increase the number of trains passing through the station from 8-9am from 70 to 88

4.30pm: The joint administrators for Daniel Contractors and Land & Marine Project Engineering have reached an agreement with two of the firm’s three main customers to continue to trade with the business before transferring to another provider.

The agreement is understood to have saved 990 jobs. Despite this, 81 redundancies have been made within Daniel Contractors and 43 within Land & Marine.

Accountancy Deloitte partners Bill Dawson and Dan Butters were appointed joint administrators to the firms yesterday.

4pm: Environment Agency chairman Lord Chris Smith is today expected to call on the water industry to address leaks and prevent overflow of sewers.

Speaking at the Institute of Water’s annual conference, Lord Smith will acknowledge the steps already taken by the industry. But he will stress the need for more action to secure water supplies in the face of climate change and growing population.

“2012, with its drought and floods, put the resilience of the water network into sharp focus,” said Lord Smith. “One in every five days saw flooding in 2012, but one in four days were in drought, including hosepipe bans affecting over 20M people.”

“Water companies have an opportunity this year to make big, long term improvements to their infrastructure through the periodic review process, and endure the water industry in this country is fit for the future.”

3.30pm: High Speed 2 promoter HS2 Ltd has published its draft environmental statement for consultation.

The statement includes proposed design refinements and offers the public a chance to comment on the design of the first phase of High Speed 2.

“Publication of these plans is a crucial next step and will ensure [the] construction of the first phase can begin within the next 4 years,” said transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin.

  • For more on HS2 look out for NCE’s special supplement due to be published with the 30 May issue.

2pm: The Environment Agency has begun testing England’s bathing water’s to improve water quality and protect the seaside tourism industry.

Environment Agency analysis has suggested that around 55 (10%) of England’s beaches could be at risk of failing new EU water quality regulations due to come into force in 2015.

“The good news is that the vast majority of our beaches pass the current standards and they have seen a huge improvement over the past 20 years,” said Environment Agency head of bathing waters Christine Tuckett. “But more needs to be done. Local authorities, water companies, farmers and businesses all have important parts to play in protecting and improving bathing water quality.

10am: Engineering disaster relief charity RedR has issued an urgent appeal to help those affected by the factory collapse in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Following the disaster, in which 1,000 people died and 2,500 were injured, relief workers appealed to the charity for search and rescue training.

Donations can be made here and you can read more about the collapse here.

9am: Network Rail has awarded US construction giant Bechtel a £36M contract to modernise Vauxhall Tube station.

Under the contract the firm will be responsible for reconfiguring the ticket hall to increase capacity, refurbishment of the stairways and subways and installing a lift to allow step free access.

The works are part of a wider programme to support growth and regeneration of the Battersea and Nine Elms area.

8.30am: The strategic case for HS2 has not yet been fully demonstrated, a report by public spending watchdog the National Audit Office (NAO) has today concluded.

The NAO report High Speed 2: A review of early programme preparation said that HS2’s potential to increase rail capacity and generate regional growth has not yet been demonstrated clearly.

“It’s too early in the High Speed 2 programme to conclude on the likelihood of its achieving value for money,” said the NAO’s head Amyas Morse. “Our concern at this point is the lack of clarity around the Department’s [Department for Transport’s] objectives… It is also unclear how HS2 will transform regional economies by delivering jobs and growth. The Department is trying against a challenging timetable to strengthen its evidence and analysis, which at present provide a weak foundation for securing and demonstrating success in the programme in future.”


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