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NEC: the place to be

The Infrastructure Show: Three days of networking, learning and agenda-setting. NCE reports from Birmingham.

As the last few visitors made their way out of hall five at the NEC on Wednesday last week, and the inaugural Infrastructure Show came to a close, everyone was able to digest all that they had heard, seen and talked about during the event.

The show kicked off with Olympic Delivery Authority chairman John Armitt confidently informing delegates that delivery of construction projects for the 2012 Games is on target and under budget.

Olympic challenges

Initial challenges of clearing and preparing the site for development included the £300M operation to remove a myriad of overhead power lines, demolition of more than 200 industrial buildings, the relocation of existing businesses and curing a range of contamination issues. Over 95% of demolition material has been recovered and recycled for use in construction.

Sustainability and value for money were the hot topics for the three-day event, with many speakers from projects such as Crossrail, London Thames Tunnel and Birmingham International Airport explaining to crowds how they had achieved big savings, sometimes before the work had begun.

In fact, one of the most impressive value for money figures of the week was the £700M that Thames Water has already saved on its Thames Tunnel project. By choosing a preferred route that is 9km shorter, the project will miss a considerable amount of tunnelling through chalk.

Recycled material

Phil Stride, head of the London Tideway Tunnels project, also announced that the scheme will look at using the estimated 5M tonnes of excavated material for habitat regeneration and creation, creating or improving flood defences. Energy creation will also improve the scheme’s sustainability.

On Tuesday night the show moved to the ICC in the city centre for the inaugural Retrofit Awards, which celebrated achievements in the booming retrofit market - estimated to be worth £500bn over the next 20 to 30 years. Mott MacDonald picked up the prize for infrastructure for its work on the Mersey’s Silver Jubilee Bridge.

Over the three days, one of the hottest places to be was the Crossrail hub on Tuesday. A packed seminar area had people craning to see a panel including programme director Andy Mitchell, head of procurement Martin Rowark and principal programme supply manager Gary Wright.

They discussed the ways in which Crossrail is determined to bring innovation to the sometimes staid rail sector.

The panel said innovation and competitive contract tendering was key to providing value for money on the massive project, which was guaranteed funding the following day in the ComprehensiveSpending Review.

As the show wound down on Wednesday afternoon, and visitors left with new connections and digested ideas from some of the biggest names and projects across the country, everyone looked forward to next year’s event, which takes place at the NEC between 17 and 19 October.


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