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NCE Live News Updates: Monday 21 October: Hinkley deal done; Liverpool rips out bus lanes

Energy minister Ed Davey has announced that a deal has been struck to allow construction of a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point to begin. Meanwhile, Liverpool’s new elected mayor has thrown out 50 years of transport planning wisdom in deciding to rid his city of bus lanes

Britain is waking up to a new nuclear future this morning after energy minister Ed Davey announced first thing that a deal had been reached with EdF over the price it will receive for energy generated by a new power station at Hinkley Point in Somerset. Meanwhile, Liverpool’s new elected mayor has announced he is to rid his city of bus lanes, citing “empirical” evidence that they cause congestion. And back here in London, engineers are gathering at the ICE to champion the case for High Speed 2. Reaction on all these stories as they unfold today here.

 

4.45pm: John Laing has sold its support services and facilities management business to Carillion.

The asset management and investment firm sold John Laing Integrated Services to the Wolverhampton-based construction company on 18 October.

All JLIS staff have transferred to Carillion.

John Laing chief executive Adrian Ewer said: “JLIS has made significant progress over the last few years, but it no longer fits within our core strategy.”

 

4pm: The business case for the £100M electrification of the Leeds-Harrogate-York rail line is to be presented to the government this week.

Councillors from North Yorkshire County Council, City of York Council and Harrogate Borough Council signed a letter sent to transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin.

They urged him to invest £100M to see an estimated £400M of economic benefits.

Consultant WSP also forecast the removal of more than 3M vehicle kilometres from the roads if the proejct went ahead.

 

3pm: John Laing has achieved financial close on a wind farm in Northamptonshire.

The company is investing in the Burton Wold onshore wind farm near Kettering.

Once completed, the wind farm will have a capacity of 14.4MW and is expected to generate enough renewable energy to power more than 11,000 homes.

John Laing managing director of renewable energy Ross McArthur said: “We are delighted to have achieved financial close on Burton Wold wind farm, and look forward to working with our partners to help deliver clean, renewable electricity to communities across the UK”.

 

2.45pm: Three steel manufacturers have signed deals to provide track to Network Rail.

Tata Steel, ArcelorMittal and VoestAlpine will supply the UK rail infrastructure operator for the next five years.

Network Rail’s plans for control period 5, which runs from 2014 to 2019, include £10bn of core renewals and a further £10bn of enhancements.

Network Rail group finance director Patrick Butcher said: “We are renewing and enhancing more and more of Britain’s railway over the next five years and it’s crucial that we have a trusted and secure supply chain to help us achieve that safely and efficiently.”

 

1.30pm: The coalition government will pursue a range of power sources, according to energy minister Ed Davey.

Speaking at the press conference on the deal to unlock construction of Hinkley Point, he said: “You have to have a mixed approach.

“You can’t have all your eggs in one basket, and this government won’t.

“Nuclear will have to compete with other sources of low carbon power.”

 

1.15pm: Local spending during the construction of Hinkley Point is a hot topic at the press conference.

“We will be spending up to 57% of the total construction value in the UK,” said EDF Energy chief executive Vincent de Rivaz

The 57% was a “very important part of our negotiations”, added energy minister Ed Davey.

Meanwhile, it would take 6,000 wind turbines to replace Hinkley Point C with wind energy, according to Davey.

 

1pm: Energy minister Ed Davey is outlining the benefits of the Hinkley Point deal at a press conference in London.

He has described it as an “historic” day and said the power station would provide low carbon energy to 6M homes.

EDF Energy chief executive Vincent de Rivaz also hailed the deal.

“This project has a huge potential to deliver huge benefits in terms of jobs, skills and this country’s industrial stamina,” he said.

 

12:30pm: Vinci has secured a deal to upgrade 13 stations in West London and Berkshire ready for Crossrail.

The work, for Network Rail, covers significant improvements to stations from Acton Main Line to Maidenhead.

Many of the stations are being refurbished or partially rebuilt in preparation for the trans-London line. Main works will take place from mid-2014 to 2018.

In another Crossrail deal, Balfour Beatty has been awarded a contract to install electric overhead line equipment between Airport Junction and Maidenhead.

 

11.30am: New transport minister Baroness Kramer has hailed the benefits of HS2 to the engineering sector.

“Building our own high speed system will give us the chance to develop new experience and expertise,” she told the Railway Engineers Forum.

“Phased construction will support a robust domestic supply chain – it will be my task to encourage and support the development of that supply chain.”

She added: “It will also equip hundreds of engineering businesses to export their products and know-how to markets around the world.”

 

10.20am: Far away from Somerset, Hyder Consulting has opened a design centre in Jordan.

The engineering firm launched its new centre in Amman this week.

It houses highways and drainage expertise and will accommodate Hyder’s expanding diversity of expertise.

The company said the new centre showed its “ontinued commitment to the Middle East”.

 

10am: Somerset County Council is among the parties celebrating the Hinkley Point deal.

Energy minister Ed Davey announced this morning that a deal had been reached with EDF over the price it will receive for energy generated by the new power station.

Somerset County Council leader John Osman said: “This huge step forward is important for Somerset’s young people. It’s important for businesses and our local economy and it’s important for our communities.”

The construction project alone could create 25,000 jobs, and a boost of up to £100M per year to the regional economy, according to the council.

 

9.20am: Business group CBI also backs the Hinkley decision.

“This is a landmark deal which will help us meet our future energy challenges, while boosting jobs and growth,” said the business group’s director-general John Cridland.

“New nuclear plants must be a fundamental feature of our future energy landscape, and Hinkley Point C is the starter gun to securing the investment we need.

“Amid understandable public concern about rising bills, it’s important to remember this investment will help mitigate the impact of increasing costs. The fact is whatever we do, energy prices are going to have to go up to replace ageing infrastructure and meet climate change targets - unless we build new nuclear as part of a diverse energy mix.”

 

9.20am: WSP is first out the door with a statement supporting the Hinkley decision.

Responding to the news that a strike price has now been agreed on Hinkley Point C, Scot Parkhurst, UK energy sector director at consultancy WSP said: “Finally we have certainty that this important project will go ahead, safeguarding the specialist skills across the construction sector that have been sitting dormant for too long.

“Deep-rooted uncertainty in the industry, largely due to the dawdling energy market reforms, have delayed construction to the extent that generating capacity is only just meeting energy demand.

“On top of that, our spare capacity is set to fall to 4% over the next three years so if we see above average winter demand or reduced electricity imports from the EU then there could be no spare capacity at all in 2015 and 2016. It’s a very worrying situation for our energy security.”

 

9am: Operation of all bus lanes in Liverpool has been suspended in a nine-month trial.

The city-wide suspension, which is aimed at keeping the city moving, officially began at midnight last night.

All bus lane cameras in the city will be immobilised from this date, and will remain off for the duration of the trial. Variable messaging signs will also be activated across the city to advise motorists that bus lane restrictions

The idea is the brainchild of newly elected mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson. He said: “I have asked for this trial suspension so that we can explore what benefits, if any, bus lanes are bringing to our city. Keeping the city moving for our motorists, businesses, residents, commuters and visitors is absolutely vital, so it’s important we take a proper look at this.

“While we don’t have extensive data, the evidence we do have suggests that bus lanes are not benefiting the city as planned, that they are not leading to an increase in bus usage, and that they may actually be making congestion worse. This trial is about getting the data we need so we can make an informed decision over this important issue which we know is a major source of frustration for motorists.”

A detailed report will be brought back to the council’s cabinet before any final decisions are made. The suspension of the city’s bus lanes will be made permanent “if clear benefits to the city can be demonstrated”, the council said.

The Council said its on-going monitoring of bus lanes – both directly by officers and through the city’s camera network – has found that a number of the city’s bus lanes are having a major impact on traffic movement during the morning and evening peak periods, in some cases causing significant congestion.

The research has also found that some bus lanes are used even at times when bus lane restrictions are not in force.

Fact file

The Third Local Transport Plan for Merseyside recognised that the overall trend for bus patronage as a proportion of the total public transport journeys across Merseyside was showing a continual decline. In 2005/06, nearly 82% of public transport journeys were made by bus, compared to 78% in 2009/10.

 

8am: The government and French energy giant EdF have agreed a long-awaited deal for a new nuclear strike price to allow development of Hinkley Point C in Somerset to go ahead.

The long awaited deal means that the £16bn construction of the plant will now go ahead with the aim of electricity generation beginning in 2023.

The guaranteed price that EdF will be able to charge for electricity has been set at £92.50/MWh. However, this could be reduced to £89.50/MWh if EdF is able to share the upfront costs of new nuclear investment with its proposed development at Sizewell C.

In the announcement the Department of Energy and Climate Change said that UK companies could benefit from getting up to 57% of the construction work. Details here

 

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