World’s biggest tidal array to create new green jobs

World’s biggest tidal array to bring energy and new jobsThe world’s biggest tidal array is to be built in North Scotland bringing jobs and energy security to the Pentland Firth region, it’s been announced today.

The UK Government has provided £10 million worth of grant funding to the Meygen project, which will provide enough electricity to power 175,000 homes and provide up to 100 jobs when fully completed.

The £51 million scheme could inspire further projects in the Pentland Firth – helping to provide clean, sustainable and secure energy and jobs for the local community for decades to come.

The project is an exemplar of how the UK and Scottish Governments, as well as other agencies and organisations, have worked closely together to create lasting benefit for Scotland and the UK.

Energy Secretary Ed Davey said: “This innovative and exciting project puts Scotland and the UK on the map as a global leader in marine technology – meaning jobs, better energy security and the potential to export this technology to the world.

“The project also shows what can be done when the UK and Scottish Governments work together to provide a lasting benefit for the people of Scotland.

“Meygen will be the biggest tidal stream array in the world, providing enough electricity for 175,000 homes and 100 ‘green jobs’ when completed.

“Wave and tidal power have the potential to provide more than 20% of the UK’s electricity needs, and Meygen could pave the way for future projects in the Pentland Firth.”

The UK alone has around 50% of Europe’s tidal energy resource. Thanks to the UK’s geography, wave and tidal stream energy could meet 20% of the UK’s electricity demand.

Renewable energy generation is expected to play a major role in replacing one-fifth of the UK’s aging coal and gas fired power plants which are due to be brought off-line by 2020.

The Meygen project forms part of the £100 billion of private sector investment the UK Government aims to attract in new cleaner electricity infrastructure between now and 2020.

£100 billion of investment is expected to create a total of 250,000 jobs in the low-carbon electricity sector by 2020.

Rise in new homes for Scotland

Building IndustryOfficial figures have revealed that the number of new homes in Scotland has risen by seven per cent in the last year, the first annual increase since before the recession.

The new figures show that 15,957 new homes were delivered in Scotland in the year to March 2014, compared to 14,895 in the previous year. This is the first increase since 2007-08.

Private sector house building and housing association rehabilitations accounted for the largest share of this growth, with private sector-led new build completions rising nine per cent on the previous year, to 10,686.

The latest statistics also confirm that the Scottish Government remains on track to deliver on its target of 30,000 new affordable homes by 2016.

A total of 6,850 affordable homes were completed through the Affordable Housing Supply Programme in the year to June 2014, up nine per cent on the previous year. Approvals were up 25 per cent to 7,067, while starts were up 55 per cent at 6,530.

Local authority housing figures show that in the last year to March 2014, 1,140 new council houses were built in Scotland, the highest total in 25 years.

The Scottish Government has invested over £135 million through its Council House Building Programme, which has provided more than 4,000 new homes across Scotland since 2009.

Housing Minister Margaret Burgess said: “It is encouraging to see that the number of new homes in Scotland has risen in the last year, driven in large part by an increase in the number of private sector completions.

“Nonetheless, new housing supply remains well below pre-recession levels and I recognise that the house building industry continues to face a number of challenges.

“We are committed to working with organisations across the housing sector to address these, and work towards the shared goal of securing a sustained increase in housing supply.

“While we are making progress, the powers of independence would provide full flexibility over budgets, investment and innovative financing, allowing us to do even more to support the supply of new homes.”

College campus on Wirral Waters Enterprise Zone gets the go-ahead

College campus on Wirral Waters Enterprise Zone gets the go-aheadThe new Wirral Met College Campus at Wirral Waters has taken another step forward this week with the project approved by Wirral Council planning officials.

The approval comes as The Peel Group, the developers behind Wirral Waters, reveal the new designs for the waterfront campus.

The campus will be the first capital building on Wirral Waters, one half of the Mersey Waters Enterprise Zone, and will be a dedicated Built Environment, Skills and Enterprise Centre.

Peel and Wirral Met have been collaborating for some time in order that the college courses are aligned to the workforce needs of Wirral Waters and the wider economy, with courses in the renewable energy and construction sectors.

The joint Mersey Water Enterprise Zone plans in Wirral and Liverpool forms one of only 24 Enterprise Zones in the country. Enterprise Zone status gives businesses tax incentives to support growth and job creation.

Richard Mawdsley, Project Director at Peel said: “Wirral Met College will be the first new building within Wirral Waters. Since we received planning permission for Wirral Waters back in May 2012, we’ve been focussed on site preparation, remediation and infrastructure – all of which take time and all are needed to enable us to start delivery.

“The new College is all about putting skills and training at the centre of Wirral Waters. Wirral Met are an exemplar FE college and will be training young adults with relevant skills aligned to local industries.

Deborah McLaughlin, Executive Director for the North West at the HCA, said: “We’ve been working closely with partners to help develop plans for Wirral Waters, so it is excellent news that we’ve been able to invest in Tower Road South.

“This work should act as a catalyst for future development, helping to make the wider area more appealing for investors and in turn having a great impact on jobs and the local economy.”

House building continues to climb

House building UKMore homes are being built thanks to the government’s action to help homebuyers and fix the broken housing market, Housing and Planning Minister Brandon Lewis said today.

The latest statistics published today show 36,230 new housing starts in England between April and June, an increase of 18% on the same quarter last year.

It brings the total number of starts over the last 12 months to 137,780, a 22% increase on the previous year and the highest level of house building since 2007.

Mr Lewis said today’s figures are further evidence that the government’s long-term economic plan to improve the housing market is working.

Almost 40,000 households have bought a home through Help to Buy, with over 80% of sales going to first time buyers purchasing new build homes. The direct result is a new generation of homeowners and a 34% increase in private house building during the first year of the scheme.

At the same time the construction sector has been growing for 15 consecutive months, and is currently experiencing the sharpest rise in house building orders since 2003, while companies are taking on new workers at the fastest rate since 1997.

A growing pipeline of new projects is also emerging from the reformed planning system. Last year successful applications for major housing schemes were up 23%, and planning permissions were granted for 216,000 new homes.

Tenants exercising their Right to Buy

Mr Lewis said the latest figures for Right to Buy sales, published today, show hard-working tenants are also benefiting from government assistance.

Between April and June 2,845 council owned properties were sold, a 31% increase on the same quarter last year, and bringing the overall number of homes sold under the reinvigorated Right to Buy to nearly 22,500.

Receipts from additional sales are now being recycled into building new affordable homes. In the last quarter councils received £211 million, and started work on 675 new homes, bringing the total number of replacement homes started to almost 3,700.

More than 480,000 new homes have now been delivered since July 2010, including almost 200,000 affordable homes.

Shanks Group gets funding for Derbyshire job

Shanks Group gets funding for Derbyshire jobShanks Group has announced a joint venture with Interserve that will begin the construction of a 27-year contract with Derby City and Derbyshire County Councils which will generate £950 million.

The project will be delivered by a Derbyshire based Resource Recovery Solutions Ltd (RRS) which has agreed funding terms on the transaction and will now begin construction of the new facility.

The contract will make a significant contribution to the local economy: approximately 250 people will be recruited to work on construction and a further 34 permanent positions will be created once the facilities are operational.

RRS has been providing interim waste management services to the residents of Derby and Derbyshire since 2009 working with the councils to secure planning permission for the new facility.

Interserve will now start building the £145 million Mechanical Biological Treatment (MBT) facility and an on-site gasification plant in Sinfin, south Derby, which waste management specialist Shanks will operate, alongside Derby’s existing waste management facilities.

The new facility is expected to divert up to 98 per cent of residents’ residual waste from landfill, while also generating enough green electricity to power approximately 14,000 homes.

This electricity will be supplied to the national grid, offsetting the cost of the waste treatment to the Councils.

Non- recourse debt funding of up to £195 million is being raised by RRS through the UK Green Investment Bank and two leading international banks; BayernLB and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation.

The new facility is expected to be completed by April 2017, at which point Shanks and Interserve will each inject £18 million of subordinated debt into the SPV.

Adrian Ringrose, Chief Executive of Interserve plc said: “This facility will help both councils significantly increase their recycling rates, reduce the amount of waste being sent to landfill sites and boost Derbyshire’s local economy.”

Councillor Joan Dixon, Derbyshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Jobs, Economy and Transport, said: “The county council is facing massive budget cuts and our current landfill bill is one we cannot afford in the future.

“We do not know how much landfill will cost in coming years but it certainly won’t cost less than it does now. This waste treatment facility will give us certainty about the cost of managing waste in the future, help us to manage our budgets and protect us from future rises in the cost of landfill – including Landfill Tax which is currently set at £80 a tonne.”

Financial stability in the housing sector continues

Affordable Housing ProgrammeThe social housing sector continues to demonstrate its financial stability, and has access to sufficient finance, according to the latest quarterly survey published by the Homes and Communities Agency yesterday.

Overall the sector is in a strong position in relation to its future financing needs with £13 billion of undrawn borrowing facilities and £4 billion held in cash.

As the regulator of social housing providers, the HCA undertakes a quarterly survey of housing providers to establish the levels of exposure to a range of risks faced by the sector.

This report is based on a survey of all private registered providers owning and/or managing more than 1,000 homes for the quarter ending 30 June 2014.

Investors’ confidence in the sector was demonstrated by the continued trend towards capital market funding; over half of the new funding came from capital markets including the first long term government guaranteed bond arranged through Affordable Housing Company plc, which raised £180 million for English providers.

This report also includes additional information relating to properties developed for market sale – the forecast pipeline for completions over the next 18 months anticipates a marked increase in activity, averaging 879 homes per quarter.

Mick Warner, HCA Deputy Director of Regulatory Operations, said: “The sector as a whole remains financially strong with £13bn undrawn borrowing facilities in place. Most of the sector’s forecast debt requirement over the next 2 years is to fund development programmes.

“The number of unsold AHO and market sales homes fell in the quarter and sales risk is concentrated in relatively few providers. However, pipeline figures for AHO and market sale development in the next 18 months forecast a level of new supply significantly in excess of current sales volumes.

“The July announcements, by HCA and GLA of £1.3 billion allocations to deliver over 60,000 new homes, will give providers greater clarity of their future debt requirements.

“As regulator, we remind providers to ensure that they secure facilities well in advance of need so that they can meet their financial commitments in an orderly manner.”

Manchester gets £47m funding to build 600 homes

Manchester gets £47m funding to build 600 homesManchester will see the building of nearly 600 affordable homes as it received funding success that will boost the construction trades and create new jobs.

Manchester City Council has successfully supported 37 bids across 43 development sites in the city as part of the Homes and Communities Agency’s (HCA) 2015-2018 Affordable Homes Programme.

This will bring £11.5 million of grant funding to the city matched by £35.5 million of funding from Housing Associations. In total, this £47 million of investment into the city, will build 439 affordable homes for rent and 159 homes for affordable owner occupation.

The development sites were identified by Manchester City Council and its partners – including the innovative use of spare and unused infill sites – working with registered providers to ensure the tenure mix of the new homes fits the housing requirement for the location.

Partnerships such as this are at the core of the Manchester Place initiative launched this month by Manchester City Council. The initiative has identified development ready sites across the city and aims to link developers with home building prospects they would otherwise not have access to.

Project planning for the 2015-18 Affordable Homes Programme funding will commence shortly, with the first developments starting on site next year.

Cllr Jeff Smith, Manchester City Council’s Executive Member for Housing and Regeneration, said: “In the past few years Manchester has been well ahead of the curve in our innovative thinking to deliver new homes. This is essential to make sure there is enough high quality housing of mixed tenure to support our growing city.

“Affordable homes are an important strand of the city’s housing offer and this funding approval is a real success. We will now work closely with our partner registered providers to best realise the potential of these site identified through the Manchester Place initiative.”

Massive town power station set to create 400 jobs

The Scottish GovernmentPlanning consent has been granted for the new Lerwick Power Station which will improve electricity supplies on the Shetland Islands and create 400 construction jobs.

Energy Minister Fergus Ewing has announced that the new Power Station will replace the existing Lerwick Power Station where some of the present generators are 40 years old.

The existing station will be decommissioned following construction and commissioning of the proposed new plant.

During construction the power station will create hundreds of jobs and boost the local economy.

Mr Ewing said: “While we are working towards vastly increasing our renewable energy, Scotland still needs conventional, clean fossil fuel power to provide a steady supply of electricity. This could be met by new build plant, upgrades to existing plants or a combination of both.

“The Shetland Islands have no connection to the UK National Grid and as such the electricity supply to both domestic and commercial properties is met predominantly by the existing power station.

“The generating capacity of the consented Power Station will be up to 120MWe. This increase in electrical capacity from 67MWe will allow the entire demand of Shetland to be met both now and will allow for future expansion of demand.

“The development is designed to utilise the heat produced during the electricity generating process, which could help Scotland further decarbonise its heating sector.

“I am pleased to see that the number of direct construction employment opportunities generated is expected to be around 400 personnel and also that the development will open up opportunities for the existing Lerwick staff.”

Scottish Government builds 4,000 new council houses

Government investment to build thousands of new homesMore than 4,000 new council houses have been built in Scotland with Government funding, providing a “huge boost” to the economy and creating new jobs, First Minister Alex Salmond has said.

Analysis shows that the Scottish Government Council House Build Programme – introduced in April 2009 – has seen more than £135m invested to provide local authority housing for people across the country.

The funding incentivises local authorities to build new homes – the first such central government support to councils in a generation.

Speaking during a visit to a scheme to provide 18 new homes at Noran Avenue in Arbroath, backed by £652,000 of Scottish Government funding, Mr Salmond said:

“Our funding for council house building has now provided more than 4,000 new homes across Scotland and demonstrates the scale and ambition of this programme – the first in Scotland in a generation.

“Backed by £135m of Scottish Government funding, the programme has provided much needed new homes for people the length and breadth of Scotland. This transformation followed the period before this Government came to power, when just 6 council homes were built in 4 years to March 2007.

“This demonstrates our commitment to investing in infrastructure to support our economy. In Scotland we have consistently adopted the approach that maintaining this kind of vital capital spending is vital to support growth and employment – in direct contrast to the austerity and cuts of Westminster.

“Despite these considerable challenges to our budget, we plan to spend over £1.7 billion to deliver our target of 30,000 affordable homes during the lifetime of this Parliament, supporting an estimated 8,000 jobs each year.

“However only the full powers of independence will give us full control to tailor our housing supply investment and initiatives to meet the needs of our communities and the homebuilding industry in Scotland.

“It will also provide the full borrowing powers we need to invest prudently in infrastructure, and not have our capital budget dictated to us by Westminster.”

Work starts on community development scheme

Work starts on groundbreaking community developmentWork has started on a ground-breaking, £900,000 housing development to provide new affordable homes for local people on two brownfield sites in Stocksfield, Northumberland.

The development is one of the very first in the country to be a led by a local community group that will help boost the local economy and create new jobs.

The homes will remain the property of Stocksfield Community Association Trading Arm (SCATA) with Isos managing the homes on a long lease and funding the construction work alongside the HCA.

The entire project should be completed by March 2015 while provide significant employment opportunities for people in the construction trades

Pete Duncan, chair of SCATA, said: “As a not for profit community business, our role is to help meet local needs and plough back as much as we can into projects and programmes which directly benefit the local community.

Our first development project is doing just that – providing much needed homes for rent for local people and re-investing £100,000 in sports facilities in the village.

“At a time when it seems most of our countryside is fair game for developers, we are building homes on previously developed sites – not in the green belt. It really is a ‘win-win’ project for the whole village”

Vince Walsh, development and regeneration manager at Isos, said: “This is an important development both for Stocksfield and the wider area. The community here has taken a positive approach, recognising the need for more affordable homes, and demonstrating how building those homes can have wider benefits too.

“We look forward to supporting SCATA in delivering a project which will provide affordable homes here for generations to come.”