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NCE Live News Updates 4 July 2013: London Array, world's largest offshore windfarm, opens

The world’s largest offshore windfarm, the London Array, has been opened today by the Prime Minister. Scroll down for more.

5:42pm: BRE crosses teh pond to help set up Portland Park

The BRE has been signed up to help design a new innovation park in Portland, Oregon as part of its goal to forge a ‘global information exchange’.

Based on the original BRE Innovation Park model in Watford, the US version for the Portland Development Commission, will have a visitor’s centre and up to 10 residential and mixed-use buildings which will showcase various building technologies. 

A spokesperson told NCE that while the BRE had no plans to send staff out to Portland, the new park would be another ‘permanent link’ in the BRE’s Innovation Park Network which now includes facilities in Scotland, China and Brazil.

4.31pm: The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority is to provide funding for an upgrade programme at Wick Harbour.

The Authority has pledged to provide £250,000 for the installation of heavy lift facilities at one of the port’s quays and the dredging of the quay entry channel.

“Wick Harbour Authority is an example of community-led economic development at its best,” said ND stakeholder and socio-economic manager Anna MacConnell. “The role of the public sector, to support and encourage sustainable economic growth,  is made so much easier when working with a Board as adaptable and innovative as Wick Harbour Authority.”


2.57pm: ‘Definitive evidence’ that one hub and four runways best for UK and London, says Boris

Boris Johnson has today said that he has “definitive evidence” that the UK and London need one hub airport with four runways.

Based on research by independent concultant York Aviation, the London mayor said: “To get the flights we need, it has to be four runways operating efficiently in one place rather than spread haphazardly across the south east.

“A four-runway airport will secure us the direct connections to the emerging markets around the world that will allow us to compete with our international rivals, who are busy building and growing their mega airports even as we speak.”

The ‘evidence’ was gathered in response to the Davies Commission’s discussion paper on Airport Operational Models.

Johnson will submit his full response to the Davies Airports Commission later this month


2.48pm: Energy firm Tidal Lagoon Power has today launched a formal consultation for its plan to construct the world’s first tidal lagoon in Swansea Bay, Wales.

The firm has reached agreements with contractors Costain and Van Oord, along with consultant Atkins to design, build and deliver the project.

See full picture story here.

Swansea Bay

Swansea: The project is the first of its kind in the world

“Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon will be the world’s first, purpose-built, tidal lagoon power plant, and will be capable of generating electricity equivalent to Swansea’s entire domestic consumption,” said Costain infrastructure managing director Darren James. “Importantly, the proposed 250MW power plant will save over 200,000t of CO2 per year for its design life of 100 years.”


2.34pm: Repair works to the Hatfield and Stainforth rail line are on track to be completed in time for an 8 July reopening.


Hatfield repairs underway

The Northern Rail services will be the first trains to use the line since it was closed by a landslip in February of this year.

Click here for more on this story.


2.21pm: Forecasts for economic benefit of HS2 “away with the fairies” says former HS1 boss

The man who led the construction of HS1 for two years in the late 90s has said forecasts of the economic benefits of HS2 are “away with the fairies”.

In a letter to The Times Adam Mills, a former chief executive of London and Continental Railways (LCR) which until 2010 was the parent company of Eurostar, said the £50 billion budget for HS2 would be better spent “…on traditional rail enhancements given the relatively short distances between UK cities”.

Mills, who headed up LCR between 1996 and 1998, said although he “loved high speed trains”, the economic benefit for a HS2 was based on a flawed “time equals money” rationale. Referring to his work on HS1 Mills told The Times: “I inherited forecasts based mainly on this rationale. It rapidly became apparent that such forecasts were away with the fairies.

“I spent two years trying to defend the indefensible and knocking some commercial reality into the business. Volume in the first year or so was little more than 10 per cent of forecasts,” said Mills.


1.57pm: Homes in the UK use 9bn.l of water every day, according to a study released today by the Energy Saving Trust.

The Defra-funded study, entitled At Home With Water, claimed that behavioural changes such as taking one minutes less in the shower could add up to savings of £215M on energy bills nationally.

Up-to-date technology such as a dual flush mechanism on toilets could save around 44,000l of water per year.

“The future challenge of finding enough water resources means all water companies have a duty to promote efficiency, and the research carried out by the Energy Saving Trust helps towards that aim,” said Thames Water sustainable water manager Paul Rutter. “Importantly, their work linking the costs of heating water helps make the point that win-win chances to save both water and energy are out there.”


12.25pm: The world’s largest offshore windfarm, the London Array, has been opened today by the Prime Minister.

The 175 turbine windfarm in Margate, Kent will be able to generate 630MW. The project was a £1.5bn joint venture by energy firms Dong Energy, Eon and Masdar.

London Array

Array: The array will produce enough electricity to power almost half a million homes

“It’s a bulk generator of power feeding into the diverse mix on our grid,” said energy secretary Edward Davey. “Half a million homes will be London Array powered. This is good news for keeping our lights on and reducing carbon emissions.”


11.35am: The Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) has fined contractor Barhale £13,000 for failing to protect workers.

The breach happened when the firm was undertaking work to demolish and rebuild the River Gowy Bridge. During the work the firm operated heavy machinery under live overhead power lines.

“Barhale Construction was well aware of the inherent risks for work near overhead power lines at the River Gowy site and failed to take adequate safety precautions,” said ORR principal railway inspector Darren Anderson. “The company even had the approprite safety equipment stored unused on the site. It was just good fortune that no injuries occurred prior to ORR’s intervention.”


11.13am: Demo firm Keltbray posts upbeat figures

UK demolition and engineering firm Keltbray has posted a 17% increase in turnover and a boost in operating profit to £2.6M.

The group, which employs around 800 people, focuses on demolition and civil engineering, rail and environmental materials management.

Seventy per cent of Keltbray’s business is in demolition, a setor that the group said had “continued to grow, but with reduced margins”. Ongoing work includes a 10-year framework contract with Magnox for the de-planting, demolition and bulk asbestos removal at nuclear reactor sites across the UK.

Keltbray owner and chief executive Brendan Kerr, said: “Despite the continued levels of uncertainty in the market during 2012, Keltbray continued to experience significant growth. We believe the key to this was our increased ability to provide our customers with an integrated service to meet the needs of diverse and complex contracts”.


10.59am: UK firm signed up to work on Paris tram scheme

UK planning consultancy Barton Willmore has been appointed as advisor on a £280m tram link scheme in the south of Paris.

The London-based firm is advising the Seine-Amont Développement agency on the 6.5km scheme which will run through several neglected suburbs in Paris’ 13th Arrondissement in the south east of the city.  

The project which is due to open in 2020 will have around 20 stations will replace an existing overcrowded bus route and also link up to Paris Orly Airport to the south.


10.46am: Network Rail’s National Delivery Service (NDS) is to start handling new and used ballast in house, it was today announced.

The NDS previously contracted ballast services out to a number of different firms, but has found a way to make savings of £1M annually by taking over ballast operations at Carlisle, Crewe, Bescot, Toton, Doncaster Whitemoor and Eastleigh.

“This is fantastic news for us,” said Network Rail NDS director Martin Elwood. “As well as welcoming 40 new people into our team who bring a wealth of knowledge and experience this change will provide our customers with better value for money and open doors to other sales opportunities with our partners in the industry.”


10.18am: Cable cites Arup as role model in employee ownership

Vince cable_Arup

Business secretary Vince Cable dropped into Arup’s HQ this morning to underscore the government’s commitment to ‘employee ownership’.

Cable timed the trip to tie in with the publication of new joint government and industry-led guidelines designed to help businesses move to the employee ownership model.

Click here for Arup chairman Philip Dilley’s thoughts on the pros and cons of employee ownership.


10.16am: Local transport minister Norman Baker has today given final approval for a £12M package of measures to improve Nottingham’s ring road.

The scheme includes selective widening and upgrading of key junctions, repair of carriageways and improving conditions for pedestrians and cyclists.

“The ring road already suffers from congestion and planned housing and employment growth will generate additional pressures,” said Baker. “The work I have approved will ease this congestion, improve bus journey times; and make the road safer for pedestrians and cyclists.”

Work will now start on the project and is expected to be completed in summer 2015.


9.56am: Contractor Balfour Beatty has won a £200M highways maintenance contract for Herefordshire Council.

The ten year contract covers highways maintenance nd improvement, street lighting and cleaning, among others.

“This exciting opportunity to work with Herefordshire County Council further strengthens our position in the local authority services sector,” said Balfour Beatty chief executive Andrew McNaughton

The contract begins on 1 September 2013.

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