A round-up of all the construction news from Westminster this week, brought to you by the Madano Partnership
Construction minister Mark Prisk has issued a written statement confirming that land and property assets owned by recently abolished regional development agencies will be transferred to the Home and Communities Agency. The transfer of land and property assets will take place on 19 September 2011 and is intended to support regeneration (6 July).
Business secretary Vince Cable has presented an Honorary Award to the chairman and chief executive of Laing O’Rourke in recognition of his services to the UK construction industry (6 July).
The Institute of Civil Engineers has announced that Engineering for the Future alliance is inviting comment from the supply chain and related industries on a series of best practice guides for nuclear new build (6 July).
New figures released in the Market/CIPS construction PMI report for June have continued to dampen market confidence, citing the highest job cut levels since January. The report showed that firms are less optimistic about future growth as new orders fell and output growth slowed. This followed the prediction of the Construction Products Association of another two years of declining workloads (4 July).
Experian has released new research predicting a continuing decline in construction activity over the next three years, albeit at a slightly weaker pace. As part of the European Commission’s Business Surveys programme, the monthly tracker surveyed 800 selected firms throughout the UK and showed that overall activity within the industry dropped by four points in May, with orders falling below normal levels (4 July).
Following Westminster City Council’s decision to abolish the jobs of 31 planning staff due to funding cuts, local developers and property owners have taken to lobbying communities secretary Eric Pickles under the premise that “a properly funded and excellent planning service is an absolutely essential part of an agenda for growth” (30 June).
In a speech to the Local Government Association Conference, deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg unveiled plans to allow councils to retain local business rates in an attempt to build a “virtuous circle” of business investment and new infrastructure as a result of the new finance model (1 July).
Employment minister Chris Grayling has called for responses to his ‘Red Tape Challenge’, asking contractors to suggest unnecessary safety laws which could be scrapped. This caused controversy within the industry following the recent publication by the Health and Safety Executive report citing a rise in annual construction deaths from 41 to 50 (30 June).
The Department for Transport has announced more than £150 million in funding to boost economic growth and reduce carbon emissions on 39 projects under the Local Sustainable Transport Fund. The projects cover eight regions and a total of 37 local authorities, with many more as partners. All have been judged to be effective against the fund’s two key objectives of creating growth and cutting carbon (5 July).
WASTE AND UTILITIES
The Committee on Climate Change has urged the government to provide insulation for an addition 8.3 million lofts in the UK by 2022 in order to meet its carbon emission targets in its latest report, entitled Meeting Carbon Budgets - 3rd Progress Report (30 June).
In a speech to the NIA Conference, energy minister Charles Hendry urged the UK to strive to become a more internationally recognised leader on nuclear power. He concluded by reiterating his goal is “to make Britain the most attractive place to invest in energy” (6 July).