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Construction Parliamentary Update - 22 December 2011

A round-up of all the construction news from Westminster this week, brought yoto you by the Madano Partnership

GENERAL

Planning changes need ‘significant reform’

The government’s proposed reforms to the planning system will allow unsustainable developments to go ahead and needs “significant” alterations, according to a report by MPs. A highly critical communities department select committee report on the draft National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), says that the government needs to remove references to the default answer to planning applications being “yes”. (21 December)

Contractors criticised for passing levy fee costs to suppliers

Supply chain members are being advised to seek legal advice if they are having levy payments deducted from their pay by main contractors. In a joint statement today from CITB-Construction Skills and ten of its Consensus Federations, the group has warned that contractors should not be saddling extra costs onto subcontractors by passing on levy payments. (20 December)

CONSTRUCTION

Monthly insolvencies up 15 per cent year-on-year

Insolvencies in the construction industry in November were up 15% on the same period last year, according to Experian. There were 261 insolvencies in the construction sector last month, the second highest of any of the 35 sectors monitored by the financial analyst. Only the business services sector saw more insolvencies with 444. Of the five biggest sectors in the UK economy only property saw an improvement in its insolvency rate. (22 December)

Environment Agency seeks six for £750m civils work under £1bn framework

Up to £750 million in civils work will be contracted under a new £1bn framework from the Environment Agency. Details of the four-year Water and Environment Management Framework were released under OJEU and include four lots, of which the asset delivery package boasts three quarters of the work. Up to six contractors will be appointed under the asset delivery lot and will deliver civil engineering construction works including design and build projects, packages and other approaches requiring an integrated project team. (19 December)

Coalition is ‘damaging business’

A raft of government construction policies have come under fire, as the industry shows signs of impatience at the lack of growth and public investment. The government’s financial approach was criticised by Edge, a think tank including senior figures from engineer Arup, Edward Cullinan Architects and engineer Ramboll, for “actively discouraging” investment in green construction skills. In a letter to chancellor George Osborne, Edge wrote: “Recent announcements have not only directly damaged businesses gearing up to deliver a low carbon built environment, as is witnessed by the potential loss of 4,500 jobs at Carillion, but, critically, have jeopardised confidence in the robustness and longevity of other government carbon reduction programmes.” (16 December)

HOUSING

Housing biggest contributor to fall in project starts

Housing project starts fell by almost a quarter in the three months to November compared to 2010, spiralling overall construction starts downwards by 10 per cent, according to the latest Glenigan index figures. Private housing starts fell by 13 per cent but are expected to stabilise, while social housing starts fell by 38 per cent year on year. (19 December)

FSA waters down mortgage rules review

Mortgage lenders have reacted positively to outcome of a review of home loans by the Financial Services Authority (FSA) which they previously feared could see half of all lending rendered unviable. Issuing a formal consultation on the new rules the FSA admitted it had “significantly amended” the proposals following feedback on the draft proposals in 2010, with measures more limited than originally envisaged. (19 December)

WASTE AND UNTILITIES

Feed-in Tariff cuts ‘unlawful’, judge rules

FITs Solar firms and the charity Friends of the Earth have won their legal challenge against the government’s plans to cut Feed-in Tariff payments to solar schemes started after the 12 December 2011. The High Court ruled that the government’s plans to cut solar tariff payments 11 days before the official consultation on the subject closed was unlawful, following the legal challenge by Friends of the Earth and two solar firms Solarcentury and HomeSun. (21 December)

90 per cent of contractors say FiT changes will destroy consumer demand

Nearly 90 per cent of contractors believe the government proposal to halve the Feed-in Tariff rate will lead to a major fall in customer demand for solar panel works, according to the Electrical Contractors’ Association. A survey of members, was carried out by the ECA this week, which has around 350 members in the photovoltaic installation business. (21 December)

 

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