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NCE Live News Updates Wednesday 26 March: Government warned after further wind farm dissappointment

SSE announces it will not be committing any further at present to schemes at Dogger Bank, the Firth of Forth or off the coast of Suffolk

3.45pm: Murphy Group main board director Caroline Murphy has announced her resignation from her late father’s company.

Murphy saw turnover double from £250M to £500M in her first four years.

In a statement she said: “Following eight years with the Murphy Group, I have formally decided to exit the company.

“My father John Murphy, remains a great inspiration to me. I was delighted to have seen the company grow in strength during the years I worked to embed his values into the structure of the Murphy Group. I was proud to see those efforts recognised independently too, when I was named as one of the top five private business women in the UK.

“The natural extension of my father’s values in my view, is the development of the Murphy Group into an Employee Owned structure.  I believe the future of his legacy is best entrusted into the capable hands of its people. I have been vocal in my belief that leadership of this business must include those working on the ground if it is to continue to deliver for the clients who have placed their trust in us over the years.

“Taking into account the direction of the board’s interests, the current structure holds no space for me to develop this process further. I wish all within the Murphy Group the greatest success for the future. I hope the company goes on to represent my father and continues to provide work and opportunity for many years to come.”


1.30pm: Renewables firms have warned the government it is harming the offshore wind industry.

Energy firm SSE today announced it would not be committing any further at present to its schemes at Dogger Bank, the Firth of Forth or off the coast of Suffolk (see 12pm, below).

Maria McCaffery, chief executive of trade body RenewableUK, said: “This announcement demonstrates very clearly the need for the government to provide greater confidence for investors in its long-term support for Britain’s offshore wind industry.

“If we could rely on more certainty and less risk, firm commitment to the huge financial investments involved would secure all the economic benefits of energy independence in a shorter timescale.” 

She added: “As the SSE announcement makes clear, there are some aspects of policy which are troubling developers, so policy makers should take notice. The lack of clarity about the Government’s support for offshore wind past 2020 is in stark contrast to its support for nuclear where they’ve set out a clear package of financial support.”


12.45pm: Hafren Power chief executive Michael Davies appears to have set up a new company focusing on the long-awaited Severn Barrage.

Severn Tidal Energy says its aim is to produce renewable energy from the largest tidal energy barrage in the world.

Energy minister Greg Barker last year slammed Hafren Power’s plans for a Severn barrage, saying they were not detailed enough to warrant government backing.


12.15pm: A scheme to reduce the risk of flooding in an area of South London has secured planning approval.

The £3.7M Dulwich and Belair Parks sustainable drainage system project was passed by Southwark Council.

It will include the construction of grass covered banks to channel rain water towards drainage points; a new wetland area in Belair Park; and more trees and shrubs in Dulwich Park to soak up rainwater.

Underground tanks will also be installed in the parks providing storage for rainwater, which will be gradually released into the sewer system.

In 2004, flooding caused over £1M worth of damage in Herne Hill as a result of one month’s rain falling in just two hours.


12pm: Energy firm SSE has cast significant doubt on its wind farm ambitions.

The company this morning said it would be focusing its resources for the rest of this year on the Beatrice development off the shore of Caithness.

This meant it would be holding back from committing further to major schemes at Dogger Bank, the Firth of Forth and off the Suffolk coast, it said.

SSE managing director of generation development Jim Smith said: “Having looked across our offshore portfolio, and across our capital and investment programme as a whole, we believe that we should focus our near term development activity on Beatrice. 

He added: “While increasing our commitment to the development of Galloper, SeaGreen and Forewind is not the right option for SSE at present, in the context of our wider investment plans, we will continue to work with partners and other stakeholders to achieve the most positive possible outcome for each project.”

The announcement is the latest in a line of setbacks for the offshore wind sector recently.


11am: FM Conway has secured contracts with Westminster City Council worth up to £450M.

The Dartford-based firm won a £30M-per-year deal with the central London authority covering highways maintenance management and public realm projects.

It was also appointed for public lighting maintenance management and mechanical and electrical works under an agreement worth £5.25M per year.

Finally it was named for a bridge and structures maintenance, management and improvement contract valued at £2.5M per year. 

Each deal will start on 1 April and run for eight years with an option for a four-year extension. WSP will supply design services for all three.


10am: A sea defence in Dorset has been repaired following damage received during the winter storms.

The Environment Agency has completed five weeks of intensive work to restore the Preston Beach Sea Defence Scheme to the east of Weymouth.

After an extreme storm on 5 February, the beach was reduced to no crest, and foundations in front of the promenade were exposed. 

The Agency used a contractor to carry out emergency reinforcement of the beach crest using rocks placed under the shingle to protect the foundations and integrity of the scheme. 


9am: Sixteen people have now been confirmed dead from the landslide in Washington state, according to local reports.

Up to 176 people are understood to be missing following the incident in Oso last weekend.

NCE sister title Ground Engineering says the devastating landslide was a reactivation of a glacial deposits landslide complex known as the Hazel Landslide that was previously active in 1988 and 2006.

The debris of the most recent activity is reported to be up to 12m deep and to cover an area of more than 2.5 sq km. A state of emergency has been declared.

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