CBI: Onshore wind important for the UK

CBI Onshore wind important for the UKThe crucial elements of stability and a long-term outlook are needed in order for the UK’s onshore wind sector to realise its full potential, according to the CBI.

Speaking at the Scottish Renewables Onshore Wind Conference, Rhian Kelly, Business Environment Director at Britain’s largest business group, highlighted the pivotal role of onshore wind in the UK’s wider energy mix.

On the role of onshore wind in the UK energy mix, Rhian Kelly, CBI Business Environment Director, said: “Having steadily grown in capacity, onshore wind now meets over 5% of the UK’s energy needs, saving almost 15 million tonnes of carbon each year.

It can support our objectives of decarbonisation, affordability and security of supply as part of a diverse and balanced energy mix across the UK.

We need to ensure that low-carbon investment is affordable for both households and businesses. And this is where onshore wind plays an absolutely pivotal role.

It is all too easy to forget that the UK is still one of the world’s leading wind energy markets, with the onshore industry adding over £900 million to the economy last year. This is something that we should be shouting about and looking to build upon.”

Lindsay Roberts, Senior Policy Manager for Scottish Renewables, said: “Renewables are now Scotland’s largest generator of electricity, with onshore wind making up the lion’s share of output.

There is plenty of scope for further growth – which would be good for the environment and for consumers – but only if government is prepared to create a level playing field and allow onshore wind to compete for long term contracts for power for clean electricity, along with other renewables and nuclear power.”

Hinkley Point C to create 25, 000 jobs

Hinkley Point C to power six million UK homesEDF and its Chinese partner China General Nuclear Corporation (CGN) have committed to Hinkley Point C during this week’s landmark China State Visit.

The project will provide a vital boost for the national and local economy – creating 25,000 jobs, up to 1,000 apprentices and landing UK businesses billions of pounds worth of supply chain contracts.

Hinkley Point C will provide low carbon electricity to six million homes, twice as many as the whole of London, for around 60 years – and consumers won’t pay a penny until the plant is up and running.

The companies have signed a Strategic Investment Agreement which marks a critical moment for the site in Somerset. EDF has confirmed it will take a 66.5 per cent stake in Hinkley with CGN taking 33.5 per cent, demonstrating a clear commitment from both parties.

The Government and EDF have finalised the detail of the Contract for Difference which offers increased price certainty for the electricity produced from Hinkley Point C.

The Funded Decommissioning Programme has been approved and will make sure that the tax payer doesn’t pick up the cost of decommissioning the plant in the future.

Prime Minister David Cameron said: “I’m pleased to announce that today we are signing an historic deal to build the Hinkley nuclear power station, providing reliable, affordable energy for nearly six million homes and creating more than 25,000 jobs, all while working together to build a low-carbon future.”

Energy Secretary Amber Rudd said: “We are tackling a legacy of under-investment and building energy infrastructure fit for the 21st century as part of our plan to provide the clean, affordable and secure energy that hardworking families and businesses across the country can rely on now and in the future.

The UK is open for business and this is a good deal for everyone – Hinkley Point C will continue to meet our robust safety regulations and will power nearly six million households with low-carbon energy, creating over 25,000 jobs and more financial security for working people and their families.”

The Government will support new nuclear power stations as we move to a low-carbon future. Hinkley Point C will kick start this and is expected to be followed by more nuclear power stations, including Sizewell in Suffolk and Bradwell in Essex. This will provide essential financial and energy security for generations to come.

EDF Energy CEO Vincent de Rivaz said: “Hinkley Point C and successive nuclear projects will guarantee the UK the reliable, secure low carbon electricity it needs in the future.

Nuclear power will save customers money compared with other energy options and provide a huge boost to British industrial strength, jobs and skills both in Britain and abroad. Today’s announcements are also good news in the fight against climate change.”

Wales to increase funding through EU collaborative projects

Welsh GovernmentBusiness Minister for Wales Jane Hutt is set to increase the value of EU investments from collaborative projects with other EU regions to help boost the Welsh economy.

Launching Wales’ European Territorial Cooperation (ETC) programmes action plan, the Minister will highlight the collaborative opportunities for Welsh businesses that will drive economic growth and create new jobs.

The Minister said: “The EU’s key programmes for supporting co-operation between partners across national borders and regions have paved the way for many fruitful partnerships over the years.

“Looking ahead, we are committed to strengthening relations between regions building on partnerships and networks to increase joint working so we achieve maximum benefit for our region.

“This source of funding is additional to the Structural Funds that Wales receives and provides many opportunities for collaborative projects with our European counterparts.  It is yet another example of how UK membership of the EU is vital to sustainable growth and jobs in Wales.”

The strategic initiative will bring experts together from across Europe to develop the potential of sustainable energy. Its aim was to reduce CO2 emissions and dependency on unsustainable energy sources in North West Europe by developing algae-based fuel as a renewable power source.

Work starts to prepare Bath’s railway scheme

Work starts to prepare Bath’s railway electification schemeNetwork Rail’s ‘orange army’ has started work to prepare the railway line through Bath for the arrival of electrification and a new fleet of faster and greener electric trains.

The £50 million project forms part of Network Rail’s Great Western Electrification Programme to modernise and significantly improve the main railway line that runs from London Paddington to Swansea.

The work will involve lowering 10km of track through Dundas Aqueduct, Box Tunnel, Middle Hill Tunnel and Sydney Gardens, removing the need to make significant changes to the historic infrastructure in these areas.

This track lowering work will also involve installing 11 new sets of points over the duration of the project that is due to complete on 1 September.

Andy Haynes, Network Rail’s project director for the west of England, said: “The preparation work we are doing in Bath is essential to make the line ready for electrification and the benefits this will bring.

The new electric trains are faster and will have more seats, more legroom and more tables. They are also greener and quieter, benefitting those who live close to the railway line.”

Rail minister, Claire Perry, said: “Improving the UK’s rail network is a vital part of our long-term economic plan. We are fully committed to electrification of the Great Western line as our top priority, and the work at Bath is another milestone in delivering this essential scheme.”

New local community powers over onshore wind farms

New local community powers over onshore wind farmsLocal residents will have the final say over whether onshore wind farm applications get the go-ahead in their area, Communities Secretary Greg Clark announced this week.

While onshore wind now makes a meaningful contribution to our energy mix, they are often imposed upon communities without consultation or public support.

Following the new planning rules, wind turbines should only get the go-ahead if they have been clearly backed by local people in a Local or Neighbourhood Plan.

Any application to build wind turbines will then need to have the clear backing of the community – with any planning concerns clearly addressed.

Power in the hands of local people

Radical reforms to the planning system have put power in the hands of local people, enabling them to have a greater say in the future development of their local area through Local and Neighbourhood Plans.

Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Greg Clark said: “Our One Nation approach is about backing people on the issues that really matter to them and we are today delivering on our manifesto commitment to give local people the final say over onshore wind farm applications.”

If a planning application has already been made for wind turbines in an area where the local plan does not identify suitable sites, the council will only be able to approve the application where it addresses the planning concerns of the affected community and therefore has local backing.

Green light for Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon project

Green light for Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon projectPlanning consent has been given for construction of the world’s first tidal lagoon, in a boost to moving towards a low carbon, home grown energy mix.

Turbines in the proposed six-mile horseshoe shaped sea wall around Swansea Bay in Wales could generate around 500GWh per year of low carbon electricity.

Energy and Climate Change and Wales Office Minister Lord Bourne said: “We need more clean and home-grown sources of energy, which will help to reduce our reliance on foreign fossil fuels.

Low carbon energy projects like the tidal lagoon in Swansea Bay could bring investment, support local jobs and help contribute to the Welsh economy and Swansea area.”

Separately from the planning consent, the project is still subject to Contract for Difference (CfD) negotiations to establish whether a tidal lagoon at Swansea Bay is affordable and value for money for consumers.

Any decision to offer a CFD for the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon project would be subject to strict value for money considerations and affordability, and to State aid approval.

£21m funding for home improvements

£21m funding for home improvements£21 million will be invested in a new three year scheme which will allow low income owner-occupiers to carry out essential repairs and energy efficiency improvements to their homes.

Unveiling details of the new scheme Housing Minister Margaret Burgess said: “Housing is at the heart of the Government’s ambitions to create a fairer and more prosperous country, and that includes supporting homeowners in essential upgrades to enable sustainability at home.

We recognise there are homeowners who want to look after their homes and make them more energy efficient but are unable to afford to carry out work, particularly those who live in tenements. The Help for Homes funding will help homeowners with limited income to combat this.

That is why the Scottish Government is tendering for a Help for Homes pilot scheme, which will see vulnerable homeowners given help to carry out vital improvements to their homes.”

The property must have been the homeowner’s sole residence for at least 12 months. The maximum loan is 49 per cent of the valuation.

If there is a mortgage or other secured debt at least 30 per cent of the market valuation in equity must remain in the property after the loan has been deducted. Eligible homeowners will borrow from the Scottish Government and repay when they sell their home, die or transfer ownership.

There will be no means test but the scheme will be limited to properties in Council Tax bands A to C and also to home owners outwith these Council Tax bands in receipt of Council Tax Reduction.

Peter Howden, Chair of GWSF, said: “GWSF very much welcomes the Scottish Government’s renewed emphasis on community regeneration, and its commitment to helping owner-occupiers make necessary and sustainable changes to their homes through the Help for Homes scheme.

Not only will this scheme encourage regeneration and sustainability within tenements in particular, but it will also help owner-occupiers living in mixed tenure blocks contribute toward overall repairs alongside housing associations and local authorities.”

Jobs boost for Haven Waterway Enterprise Zone

Jobs boost for Haven Waterway Enterprise ZoneMain Port Engineering is investing £1.6m in a major expansion which will create 100 new jobs when its new purpose built premises in the Haven Waterway Enterprise Zone are up and running.

Work is well underway on their new manufacturing facility currently under construction on a 5.5 acre site at Warrior Way, Cleddau Reach, which is supported with £650,000 funding from the Welsh Government’s Economic Growth Fund.

Welsh Government support will create 30 new jobs and safeguard the current workforce of 155 over the next three years although company Director Jeff Harries said he anticipated the business will easily exceed these numbers and create 100 new jobs in total.

Main Port Engineering, which has been trading since 1990, provides a complete engineering service to  the petro chemical, food processing, water treatment, manufacturing and power generation industries.

The new facility will improve efficiencies, enable the company to become more competitive and expand into new markets.

Main Port is currently working with the Welsh Government’s energy and environment team to identify new opportunities in the marine and nuclear sectors.

Economy Minister Edwina Hart said: “This is really good news and a very welcome jobs boost for the region and the Enterprise Zone. Main Port Engineering operates in one of our key sectors and is an important employer in West Wales and I am delighted their significant expansion plans are supported through the Economic Growth Fund.

Their new facility will secure the firm’s long term future in Wales, enable the company to maximise the latest engineering technology, take on large long term contracts and create new skilled jobs. In addition, the construction phase will provide indirect benefits to the local economy through utilising local supply chains.”

Jeff Harries said: “Like many companies in the area, our business was affected by the closure of the Murco oil refinery, however I am confident that we will create 100 new jobs at the end of this project and employ more than 250 people in total.”

Mr Harries added the company is also benefiting from the Welsh Government’s Enterprise Zone Business Rates Scheme and the money saved will help the company create new jobs and fund their apprenticeship programme.

The new unit is designed to BREEAM standards and able to accommodate overhead lifting gantries allowing the company to service larger contracts.

Building work to start on Durham University job

Building work to start on Durham University jobConstruction work is due to start next month on a new £11.5 million research centre for Durham University, designed by the architect behind the redevelopment of New York’s World Trade Center.

The new Ogden Centre for Fundamental Physics will house two research institutes that are world leaders in their field – the Institute for Computational Cosmology (ICC) and the Institute for Particle Physics Phenomenology (IPPP).

It is a top priority because of the Institutes’ rapid growth and academic success, enabling them to maintain their leading global positions in the decades ahead.

Durham University selected the renowned international architect, Daniel Libeskind, of Studio Daniel Libeskind (SDL), who produced the master plan for Ground Zero, New York, to design the building.

The project has been made possible thanks to a generous donation of £3.35 million from The Ogden Trust, whose Chairman is Durham Physics alumnus and entrepreneur Sir Peter Ogden, and a further £1.5 million from the Wolfson Foundation.

The new centre will be built next to the University’s Department of Physics. Work will begin in early June and the building is expected to be completed by Autumn 2016.

Professor Tom Ward, Pro-Vice-Chancellor at Durham University, said: “The University is excited to be embarking upon the next phase of this project to develop an iconic new building that reflects the high international standing of the Institute for Computational Cosmology and the Institute for Particle Physics Phenomenology.

The new centre will enable both institutes to remain at the forefront of research as they seek to advance our understanding of particle physics and the structure and evolution of the Universe.

Its unique design will also make an important contribution to the architectural heritage of the University and Durham City.”

Go-ahead for £1.7 bn Royal Albert Dock scheme

Go-ahead for £1.7 bn Royal Albert Dock schemeThe creation of the £1.7 billion London’s next business district that will create thousands of jobs has today moved a significant step closer.

The Greater London Authority has given the go-ahead in the process towards full planning approval to ABP for the 4.7 million sq ft development at Royal Albert Dock.

This follows the decision by Newham Council last year to grant planning permission subject to the response from the GLA.

ABP is expected to be able to begin work on the 35 acre site later this year and build what is being described as London’s next financial business district following the City of London and Canary Wharf. The first phase will be completed in 2018.

UK planning regulations are complex and it is understood it took months of negotiations between ABP and the planning authorities involving London Borough of Newham, Transport for London, and the Greater London Authority before agreement was finally reached.

The final stage is for UK Secretary of State, Eric Pickles, who is responsible for planning within the UK Central Government, to formally allow ABP to progress and Newham have already sent the documents to his office for ratification.

ABP’s Chief Operating Officer and Executive Director, John Miu, said: “Obviously we are delighted by how the whole planning process has progressed and we are looking forward to getting underway and completing our first phase in just 3 years.

There is tremendous interest from across Asia from companies wanting to locate in the Royal Albert Dock business district development and we look forward to making further exciting announcements in the months ahead.”

Sir Robin Wales, Mayor of Newham, said: “This decision means that we are a step closer to realising the vision of Newham as an international location for business.

The ABP development will bring further investment in to east London, including thousands of jobs and opportunities for Newham residents within high-tech businesses as well as construction industries from at home and abroad.

ABP is a significant part of the Royal Docks transformation which will see the revival of the waterfront and reinstate the docks as the heart of London’s industry.”