Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott has vowed to be 'pretty aggressive' in extracting more money for transport from Chancellor Gordon Brown in the wake of last week's Budget. However, he accepted that he would have to take the strain off the public purse by securing more private sector investment.
The Government's transport adviser wants free bus travel in central London and guided busways taking priority over cars on main routes. Professor David Begg, chairman of the Commission for Integrated Transport, also called for the introduction of a paper-based system to charge motorists for driving into the capital within two years.
The Government has appeared to acknowledge that the future of nuclear reprocessing at Sellafield is in doubt. Government insiders said the Cumbrian plant, owned by British Nuclear Fuels, would struggle to cover its costs on nuclear reprocessing if its difficulties continued. The Department of Trade and Industry has said nuclear reprocessing should only take place if it is commercially viable.
Fears that Ken Livingstone might derail the Government's plans for London Underground if elected Mayor have
been dismissed by Amey.Chief executive Brian Staples said: 'Ken Livingstone is an astute enough politician to realise that he is faced with a fait accompli. The public/private partnership contracts will be already signed before the mayor can do anything about it.'
MPs yesterday recommended that Partnerships UK, the new organisation being created to take over the Private Finance Initiative, should not be allowed to take stakes in projects on which it has advised. The Commons Treasury Select Committee said that if Partnerships UK were to take equity shares in schemes, it could create a conflict of interest. Projects which werenot being financed by PUK could also be unfairly discriminated against.
Within weeks of imposing a housebuilding target that was 10% higher than that recommended by South East England's regional planning conference, Serplan, John Prescott has asked it to recommend where the extra homes should go. His decision was criticised by Tories as a tacit admission that the Government would be unable to achieve its objective of putting 60%of the new homes on brownfield sites.
Construction of what will be Britain's tallest wind generator began last week on Burgar Hill in Orkney. The machine, one of two being built on the site, will stand on a 65m tower and have a 72mrotor.
Toyko's extensive network of underground train stations is in peril from the city's rising water table. The lowest platforms at Tokyo's main terminus are now 12M below the water table. Engineers believe that the station's platforms and tracks could buckle if the watertable rises another 700mm.