This month has seen the unveiling of a range of major new projects, from the road tunnel between Manchester and Sheffield to a new bridge across the Menai Straits. However, the new prime minister appears to have doubts about the Hinkley C nuclear power station.
Theresa May has been defended by two Tory grandees over her decision to review the Hinkley C nuclear power plant. Mrs May is concerned both over the total cost of the £18 billion project and the involvement of Chinese money, the latter as a matter of energy security. Lord Hague, who led the party between 1997 and 2001, told the Daily Telegraph energy security was a sufficient concern to justify her intervention. Former deputy prime minister Lord Heseltine told the BBC she was entitled to take this action as she had not been closely involved with the decision making when she was home secretary, and this certainly did not make her “anti-infrastructure” as some had suggested. Mrs May’s former coalition cabinet colleague, Vince Cable, said she has long had doubts about the project. Mr Cable, the Liberal Democrat business secretary in the coalition, said she saw George Osborne’s approach to attracting Chinese investment as too “gung-ho”.
A £650 million deal has been confirmed to enable construction of a new heat and energy biomass plant to be built on Teesside. The deal between MGT Teesside and Macquarie Capital Europe will enable work to start next month on the Tees Renewable Energy Plant, creating 600 construction jobs. The plant will save around 1.2 million tonnes of CO2 each year as it burns wood chips and pellets, while the generating capacity of 299 MW will be enough to power 600,000 homes. MGT chief executive Ben Elsworth said: “We are proud to be delivering a project which is not only low-carbon, but which will meaningfully add to the UK’s energy security at an important time.”
Haringey Council has shortlisted six firms as possible construction partners for the 11-hectare High Road West development in Tottenham. Barratt Developments, Countryside Properties, Lendlease Development, Linkcity (Bouygues), Stanhope and Taylor Wimpey are on the shortlist for the project, which will include the building of 1,400 new homes. The development is part of a revival of the area based around the building of a new stadium for Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane, with the development providing an easy thoroughfare to the venue from a refurbished White Hart Lane station. Haringey Council cabinet member for housing, regeneration and planning Alan Strickland said: “Developments like High Road West send a clear signal that Tottenham is London’s most dynamic and important regeneration area.”
Wates Construction has won a £20 million contract to develop a 22-storey apartment building on Broad Street in Birmingham city centre. The project will see 189 new luxury apartments being constructed. Funded by Regal and West Point, the scheme will also see the construction of a new hotel, for which a contractor has not yet been named. Wates expects to start work next month and complete the new tower by the summer of 2018.
The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) has published figures showing a large imbalance in infrastructure spending per head between the north and London. It revealed that between 2016-17 and 2020-21 the capital is set to see £1,900 per head being spent on projects, with Crossrail alone receiving £4.6 billion. By contrast, the Yorkshire and Humber region will only get £250 per head spent, the north-west £290 and the north-east £300. In response, the IPPR has called for the government to use the interest rate reduction to borrow more and give northern projects a higher priority, arguing that the HS3 line from Manchester to Leeds should start before Crossrail 2.
The government has published details of five possible routes for a trans-Pennine road tunnel to link Manchester with Sheffield, which aims to halve the travel time between the two cities.
Of the five, four start at the end of the M67 and all will link the M60 Manchester outer ring road with the M12 north of Sheffield.
Transport for London is seeking a contractor for a project to extend the London Overground to the new Barking Riverside residential development. This will involved building an extra 3 km of track next to the existing line from London to Tilbury, plus a spur that will run 1.5 km to the new Barking Riverside station.
The Welsh Assembly government has announced work may start as soon as 2021 on a third crossing between the mainland and the Isle of Anglesey. At present, the island can be accessed by the Menai Bridge and the Britannia Bridge, with the latter originally being a railway bridge but a road was added on top in 1980. With the latter being closed to high-sided vehicles when it is windy, congestion in Menai Bridge village can be high at these times. This may be alleviated by a new crossing.
Lincoln is to get a new transport interchange. Funding of £29 million has been confirmed to enable building work to start on a new bus station and a car park with 1,000 spaces in the city centre.
The development is expected to create 200 new jobs and boost the local economy by £9 million a year, particularly thanks to the provision of the car park, as parking is currently sparse in the city centre. In addition, new cycle lanes and traffic calming measures will be introduced. Funding came in the form of £11 million from central government, £16 million from the city council and £2 million from the Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership.
Plans have also been unveiled of possible routes for an expressway between Oxford and Cambridge, via Milton Keynes, a development the government believes will provide a major boost to the economy.
The government is making a £20 million fund available to restore railway stations closed decades ago and build new ones. The Department for Transport scheme is designed to meet 75 per cent of the cost of these stations, which will follow in the footsteps of recently built new stations like Newcourt in Devon, Pye Corner in Newport, south Wales and Lea Bridge. Other recent funding has led to work starting on building new stations in Ilkeston and Kenilworth, both of which lost their access to the rail network in the Beeching Cuts.
Oil and gas round-up
Engineers have been working on salvaging a loose oil rig that spilt two tanks of oil into the sea near the Western Isles. Around 12,000 gallons of oil were spilt from the Transocean Winner when the tanks ruptured after it broke free of the tow in stormy seas. The secretary of state’s representative for maritime salvage and intervention Hugh Shaw told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme the risk to the environment was “extremely low”, as most of the oil has evaporated. With the rig beached, it will require considerable effort to re-float it so its journey can resume.
Oil tycoon Algy Cluff has called on the government to redirect subsidies aimed at offshore wind farms towards the oil and gas sector, to give it a much needed boost. The head of Cluff Natural Resources said the southern North Sea could still be “one of the most prospective offshore gas areas in the world” with the right support. He remarked: “That could be achieved simply by the removal of, or even reduction in, proposed subsidies amounting to billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money for new offshore wind farms, many of which are foreign owned.”