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NCE Live News Updates Thursday 12 December 2013: Aecom/Murphy/Kier wins Deephams job; options narrow for Lower Thames Crossing

The Highways Agency has published a statement outlining its position on delivering roads schemes while ensuring air quality requirements are met. The government has narrowed its options for a Lower Thames Crossing, deciding against connecting the A2 with the A1089. Early stories of the day were contract wins for Aecom/Murphy/Kier on a major sewage treatment works for Thames Water and MWH for a biomass job.

4pm: The Highways Agency has issued a statement outlining its national position on delivering roads projects schemes while ensuring obligations for clean air quality are met.

NCE reported recently about the potential wider impacts on road schemes of air quality requirements after the Agency shelved plans to introduce hard shoulder running on the M60 over concerns that extra traffic generated would cause health problems for nearby residents.

National position statement on Air Quality and Highways Agency Road Schemes – Agency’s statement in full

“We are delivering a significant programme of investment in improving the road network to tackle congestion and support the economy. This includes making smarter use of motorways by managing traffic to cut congestion as well as traditional bypasses and road widening schemes.

“To date, we have started construction on 12 major schemes since 2010 and a further five are planned to start by April 2015, subject to statutory processes. This new capacity creates better connections, and supports job creation and economic growth up and down the country.

“But we need to deliver this investment responsibly. Clean air is important for human health and the health of the environment. So, like some other European countries, we improve our strategic road network while still meeting our legal obligations that ensure we achieve good air quality for everyone.

“This means we have to build flexibility into project timetables, and into the specification they are built to and operated at. It could result in a project with no air quality concerns starting earlier, or that a scheme is operated differently until air quality levels sufficiently improve. This is considered carefully on a scheme by scheme basis as part of the environmental assessments we carry out on all projects ahead of any work starting.

“We have a toolkit of mitigation measures we can draw on such as taking steps to improve air quality in pollution hotspots beyond the immediate locality of the scheme. We can also make changes to the route of the new scheme or to the proximity of vehicles to adjacent properties along the existing route. Our toolkit also includes speed control.

“Innovative thinking is important, so we will also be testing roadside air pollution barriers to see if they can help reduce pollution levels experienced at nearby properties along the M60 in Manchester.

“We are working closely with local partners on schemes with air quality concerns to ensure as many benefits as possible can be delivered from the outset. We will implement any restrictions that are necessary for as short a time as possible as part of a phased approach.

“We will also work wider with local authorities to find solutions that seek to address the transport problem and also provide any mitigation needed to prevent significant air quality impacts.

“Our overall goal, working with local partners and central government, is to invest in the strategic road network while mitigating for significant environmental impacts.”


3.45pm: Efficiencies in highways delivery of 30% is achievable by 2020, according to the Highways Maintenance Efficiency Programme (HMEP) – a Department for Transport led initiative that involves cross-industry parties.

The pledge comes as local highways maintenance budgets face pressure in the coming years and the HMEP aims to harness best practice across the industry so that it can be shared among clients and providers across the UK.

HMEP detailed its commitment for 15% savings by 2015 and 30% by 2020 in its Annual Plan of work and priorities for 2014/15. Read the report here.

  • NCE will have more on this story in our special digital-only edition available on the iPad and other tablets from Thursday 19 December.

11am: The government has decided to drop one of its options for a Lower Thames crossing that would have connected the A2 Swanscombe Peninsula with the A1089 following a consultation.

The original proposals for a new crossing in the Lower Thames included:

  • Option A at the site of the existing A282 Dartford-Thurrock crossing;
  • Option B which would connect the A2 Swanscombe Peninsula with the A1089;
  • Option C connecting the M2 with the A13 and the M25 between junctions 29 and 30; and a variant to Option C that would additionally widen the A229 between the M2 and M20.

A consultation on these options was launched in May 2013.

“We had over 5,700 responses to the consultation and we have carefully considered each of them,” said transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin. “Ruling out the least attractive option now gives some clarity for local residents and businesses.

“We are committed to making a decision on the location of the new crossing as soon as possible, but we recognise that whatever crossing location is chosen it will have significant impact for people in the area and the economy. These are tough decisions to be made and must not be taken lightly.”

Feedback on the consultation showed that Option B received limited support and would frustrate plans for development in the area, the Department for Transport said.


10am: An Aecom/Murphy/Kier joint venture has won a £174M contract from Thames Water to rebuild Deephams Sewage Treatment Works, one of London’s largest sewage works facilities.

The project will improve the water quality of London’s River Lee, increase capacity to allow for future rises in population and significantly reduce the frequency and intensity of odor on site.

Work on the project is set to begin immediately with preparations for the planning application, which is expected to be submitted next summer.

Read NCE’s story on what’s involved at Deepham’s here


9.45am: MWH Treatment has won a contract from Birmingham Bio-Power to design, build and maintain a new 10.3MW biomass gasification facility in Tyseley, Birmingham. Site preparation work will begin immediately with completion scheduled for early 2016.

The plant, costing £47.8M and the first of its kind in the UK, will be supplied with approximately 67,000t of wood waste secured under a long term sustainable contract with a local supplier. It is forecast to generate enough renewable energy to power more than 17,000 homes a year.

Over its 20 year lifespan, the facility is expected to reduce greenhouse emissions by an estimated 2.1M.t and save 1.3M.t of waste wood, otherwise destined for landfill. Power is generated through the gasification of the waste wood, which is then combusted to create steam which drives a turbine unit thereby generating electricity for export to the national grid; the gasification technology is provided by Nexterra Systems from Canada.

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