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Dutch contractor Ballast Nedam has withdrawn financial support from its UK subsidiary Ballast. A plan to reorganise the loss-making UK firm was launched in September but will now be abandoned.

Ballast Nedam said that financing the struggling subsidiary would take too long to implement, require too much money and carry too much risk. It is now winding down its international activities to concentrate on the Dutch market.

The Department for Transport has launched a consultation document on working time limits for the road transport sector. The Road Transport Directive, which will enter UK legislation in 2005, will limit weekly working time to an average of 48 hours and limit night workers to 10 hours working time in any 24 hour period.

Environment minister Margaret Beckett has announced plans to promote the use of environmental best practice in building design. A team of builders, developers and environmental advisers is working together as part of the Sustainable Buildings Task Group.

The group will look at ways to promote better environmental performance in issues such as water, energy, waste and building materials.

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