Barhale wins £9m Thames water project

Walsall contractor Barhale has won a £9m project from Thames Water to inspect & refurbish 35km of water tunnels in West and North London.

140m3 of Zebra Mussels are expected to be removed, an invasive species which arrived on the hulls of ships from Eastern Europe. They eat plankton which makes the water clear which allows it to be penetrated by sunlight which stimulates the growth of invasive weeds. Zebra Mussles block and clog the tunnels and they cost upwards of £500,000 a year to remove from treatment plants.

Barhale will clear silt and repair structural issues in the waterways. Teams will also replace valves in shafts and outlets across London. Work is expected to complete in 2025.

Environment Agency £100m flood defence framework up for grabs

Credit Bj.schoenmakers via Wikimedia Commons

The Environment Agency is seeking contractors for its new £100m flood defence framework worth up to £100m. Successful bidders will repair and maintain flood defence assets for example lock gates, pumping stations, river weirs and flow systems. The NAT – MEICA Maintenance Framework and EICR is 7 regional lots plus a separate EICR Electrical Installation Condition Report covering 6 regions which invites separate bidders. Bidders can bid on all 6 lots.

Flooding in the UK is expected to increase with global warming. As we write more than 100 new flood warnings have been issued across the UK with snow and icy conditions to come. There are now more than 180 flood warnings are in place.

The contract is for 4 years from November 2023 to 2027. Deadline to apply is 10am on 8 Feb.

Interested parties can find out more here

National Grid trials hydrogen generator

Source National Grid

National Grid completed a 10-week trial of a hydrogen powered generator at Deeside Centre for Innovation (DCI) in Wales.

A hydrogen unit housed within a shipping container was provided by GeaPura with 100kW continuous capacity or 250kW for 45 minutes.

It uses green hydrogen and powered test facility operations for the 10-week trial.

The unit provides carbon free energy with the only emission being water. National Grid said the technology could replace diesel operations across all of the UK’s power network. Diesel generators are currently used as backup. Switching to hydrogen would save 500,000kg of carbon emissions per year.

Dam capacity study: 50% lost

clywedog reservoir Credit Badgernet via Wikimedia Commons

The United Nations University Institute for Water, Environment and Health (UNU-INWEH) estimates that more than a quarter of the world’s dam capacity will be lost by 2050 due to trapped sediment in dam walls.

The project carried out studies which found 13-19% of capacity has already been lost and the UK is one of the worst affected countries followed by Panama, Ireland, Japan and the Seychelles.

The study goes on to say the lost capacity is equal to the water consumption of India, China, Indonesia, France and Canada combined. Bhutan, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Guinea, and Niger will be the least affected countries according to the study.

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National Highways to use Trust accounts for all contractors


Source Construction Industry Collective Voice Forum

National Highways has announced it will be automatically opting all Tier 1 and Tier 2 suppliers in on ‘Project Bank Accounts’ which means all suppliers will have money owed ringfenced and held in trust in case of a lead supplier insolvency.

Previously suppliers had to opt in manually with around 80% of suppliers taking part, but the new process means all suppliers will automatically be opted in with a manual opt out if required.

National Highways Trust payment terms are 18 days with some suppliers across the rest of the industry waiting up to 100 days for payment.

The Construction industry in particular when working for the Government has a systemic history of late payments and subcontractors going unpaid for work already completed. PBAs were the result of a report written in 1994 ‘Constructing the Team.’ The idea was built upon in 1998 with the report ‘Rethinking Construction’ and again in 2008 with the paper ‘Never Waste a Good Crisis, A Review of Progress Since Rethinking Construction and Thoughts to our Future.’

In 2012 the Government published its intention for all public bodies to use PBAs however a 2014 survey showed that only a distressing 57% of respondents got paid within 45 days and 56% within 30 days when working for a Government client, indicating limited progress.

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Caddick Merseyside logistics mega hub

Source Caddick

Developer Caddick has entered into a partnership with Knowsley Council to build a 1 million sq ft logistics megahub in Knowsley, the home of Everton football club.

Most recently planning consent has been granted to 3 new units at Knowsley Park, an extension to an existing industrial estate resident to Amazon and Matalan amounting to 157,000 sq ft of space.

Cost of construction at a peak

Cranes South Bank London Credit Sudzie via Wikimedia Commons

A recent FT article says the cost of commercial construction is at an all-time high with central London office prices at £440 per square foot, three times the cost in 1998 of £130-£150.

The rise in price is due to the shortage of raw materials therefore an increase in price, a long -term effect of COVID-19 supply chain issues and lingering Brexit woes, not to mention the Ukraine war.

Insolvencies are up at the highest rate in a decade in 2022 and are expected to rise due to inflation and the effect of previously agreed fixed price contracts.

Demand is expected to drop in 2023 due to recession leading to further insolvencies.

In addition, rising labour costs, increased regulation, the requirement to transition to green energy and hiked insurance costs does not bode well for 2023. We hope it’s better than the outlook.