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NCE Live News Updates Thursday 14 November 2013: Atkins' profits up; Environment Agency warns of winter flood risk

Atkins posts positive half year results this morning but the coming months could be bumpy for those at risk of flooding, says the Environment Agency.

2pm: The Defence Infrastructure Organisation has appointed five firms to design and build construction projects in the East Midlands and eastern England region, it was revealed yesterday.

The five firms are: Henry Brothers (Magherafelt); Interserve Construction; Mansell Construction Services; Morgan Sindall; and Shepherd Construction.

Contracts will be worth up to £12M on the framework, which is estimated to be worth between £100M and £250M over an initial four-year period with the option to extend by up to three years.

It is also the first of seven capital works frameworks that are being procured under the Next Generation Estate Contracts programme for the delivery of construction projects on the Defence Estate. There are five other regional frameworks and one national framework. It is expected that, in addition to supporting other requirements, the frameworks will be used to procure a significant proportion of work in support of military rebasing up to 2020.


1.45pm: Gateshead Council has given the green light to the first district energy scheme in the North East.

Designed by Parsons Brinckerhoff, the centre and district heating network will provide low carbon energy direct to buildings via a dedicated network of pipelines and power cables when it is operational in 2015. It will serve businesses based in the town centre and Gateshead Quays.

The new high-tech facility will be built in the Baltic Business Quarter.


11am: RedR chief executive Martin McCann said yesterday that the disaster relief charity was stepping up its efforts to help those affected by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.

The charity is launching a new appeal to raise funds to send out a new team of engineers to help train locals in project management, water and sanitation.

10am: Atkins has seen underlying pre-tax profits rise by 8% from £41.3M to £44.7M in the six months to 30 September compared with the same period last year, the consultant revealed this morning.

UK revenue was up by 16% and the firm said strong areas of growth were in energy and the Asia Pacific region. The full year outlook, it said, was “slightly ahead of expectations”.

Staff numbers remained steady dropping 2% from 17,756 to 17,407, which was partly due to the departure of 169 UK highways staff. Atkins sold off its highways services business to Skanska for £18M earlier this year.

9.30am: London mayor Boris Johnson’s London 2020 Vision is lagging 12,000 new homes per year behind where it needs to be, according to a report by consultant WSP.

The London 2020 Vision, published by the Greater London Assembly in summer 2013, aims to put London on the map as a world leading city by 2020, accommodating 1M new residents with 400,000 more homes, locally generated energy and improved transport networks to provide capacity for the projected 12% growth in travel (2021).

The report, published yesterday, offers four recommendations as to how the vision can become a reality:

  1. Increase house building by giving the Mayor greater control over London’s planning.
  2. Create jobs closer to homes through better planning of the Opportunity Areas
  3. Reward commuters for travelling fewer stops and more off peak
  4. Refocus energy policies away from local generation to energy efficiency

WSP head of development Ian Liddell said: “Boris’s vision, admirable as it is, requires some bold moves to make it achievable. An extra 40,000 homes per year is the equivalent of 270 ha of residential development every year – almost twice the area of Hyde Park every year for the next eight years, or 30 new Shards per year in square footage. We’re nowhere near that, in fact we’re lagging behind by 12,000 homes per year. We can catch up, but there’s a lot to be done.

9am: The Environment Agency yesterday warned of an increased likelihood of flooding this winter.

Wet weather, strong winds coinciding with high tides and wind-blown leaves and debris blocking rivers, are increasing flood risk, especially in the west of England, it said.

Based on Met Office analysis, the Environment Agency is advising that:

  • There is an elevated risk of flooding from rivers, the sea and from surface water
  • Persistent rainfall in the second half of October made the ground very wet – making rainfall more likely to lead to flooding
  • Strong winds could increase the risk of flooding, as leaves and branches block drains, culverts and rivers
  • A strong westerly jet stream is expected to dominate through much of November bringing bands of rain from the west and south west, driven by strong winds. Heaviest rainfall is expected in the west of the country, especially on areas of high ground
  • During November and early winter Atlantic depressions are typically more intense, more frequent and carry large amounts of moisture. Late autumn and early winter are typically the stormier and wetter times of the year
  • A combination of possible of gale force winds, large waves and a moderate coastal surge could lead to localised flooding of low lying land along the Norfolk and Suffolk coast tonight

 It said with one in six properties in England at risk of flooding, it offers a free flood warning service via telephone message, text message, email or Facebook alerts, which can give people and businesses time to prepare.

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