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Wednesday, 23 September 2020

Infrastructure & Archaeology: What Contractors Need To Know

Archaeology is much more than just digging up artefacts. It leaves a positive legacy for future generations and it adds value to what we build and to the communities we create.

Developer-led archaeology contributes a huge amount to our understanding of the UK’s cultural heritage. And, from a reputational point of view, paying proper attention to archaeology and heritage can cast a positive light for contractors within the communities that are affected by our projects. Archaeology can play an important part in enhancing the reputation of the infrastructure sector as a whole.

The Chartered Institute for Archaeologists, the leading professional body for archaeologists working in the UK and overseas, has said that although contractors and clients often get worried about archaeology, thinking it causes delays and costs money, it is not about stopping development – in fact it’s the opposite. If contractors follow best practice guidelines and work with an accredited archaeologist at the pre-planning application stage, this leads to a better understanding of what archaeological work is likely to be needed during a project, and how to conduct it in a way that will be acceptable to the local Planning Authority and Archaeological Officer.

As a contractor, early engagement means that you are much less likely to come upon any surprises later on when you start building on site, which may cause greater delays and higher costs to a project. But if something unexpected turns up when construction has begun, archaeology consultants can be there again to help work with the local authority to come up with a workable solution that won’t delay the site longer than is necessary. If we collaborate early, then delays can be minimised and by using a CIfA accredited archaeologist you will avoid unnecessary work.

CIfA has set out some tips for CECA members when working with archaeologists:

  • Involve archaeologists at the pre-planning stage. Too often we receive a frantic phone call on a Friday afternoon requesting an archaeologist for site the following Monday because ‘no-one realised there was a need for an archaeological excavation’. You might find that by involving us early there is no need for an archaeological excavation.
  • The production of a desk-based assessment or evaluation may not be the end of the archaeological works. Through regular communication further work will not come as a surprise and may be mitigated out. Crucially, good communication is the best way of ensuring that programmes will be met.
  • If there is the need for archaeological works use it to your benefit. Many of our clients talk of faster selling houses or reduced opposition to development when the community has a vested interest in the archaeology of a scheme. Archaeologists are skilled at public engagement and can be the means by which you can meet many of your environmental, community and training KPIs.

Commenting, CIfA Chief Executive Peter Hinton said: “In the UK, much of archaeology is developer-led. At the start of the planning process and during construction, developers and contractors need to take advantage of the opportunities to use archaeology to add value, as well as demonstrating that they have paid appropriate attention to any heritage that they might be affecting.

“Nowadays, ‘archaeology’ includes everything from initial assessment reports, intrusive excavation, watching briefs, conservation, and specialist services such as osteoarchaeology, through to dissemination and public engagement.

“CECA members have an important role to play in ensuring the vital infrastructure they deliver takes into account the important heritage of the UK, and the best means of doing this is to involve a CIfA-registered organisation at an appropriately early stage of schemes.

“That’s why I am delighted to have this opportunity to promote closer ties between industry and archaeologists, which will prevent unnecessary delays to building, maintaining and upgrading the infrastructure we all rely upon. This will lead to optimal outcomes for both the preservation of the UK’s heritage, the degree to which we can learn from the past, and the timely delivery of infrastructure schemes in all parts of the UK.”

To learn more about the Chartered Institute of Archaeologists and how they can help your business, click here.

CIfA has also published a useful Client Guide that you can download here.

posted by The Construction Alliance : 11:31

Thursday, 2 July 2020

Costain Skanska Joint Venture Delivers Significant Social Value To Communities In London

The Costain Skanska joint venture (CSjv) team working in partnership with HS2 has today shared details of its legacy programme that has created vast numbers of local jobs, invested in SMEs and challenged the stereotypical diversity of a construction project.

These outcomes known under the term ‘Social Value’ support the long-term wellbeing and resilience of individuals, communities, and society in general.

The social value activities CSjv has delivered support economic growth, local job creation and opportunities for local businesses. The joint venture’s activities also promote healthier and safer communities and protect the environment. Working with Social Value Portal (SVP), the project has been able to quantify the value of its legacy programme, achieving an equivalent of £115m of Social Value across seven London boroughs.

Nathan Goode from the SVP, which has independently verified CSjv’s social value figures said:“SVP was very pleased to work with Costain Skanska joint venture on the HS2 Enabling Works (EWC) programme, which showed how value can be added for communities by planning for social value and proactively managing supply chain.

“There is no doubt that CSJV has achieved a strong result on social value delivery and the EWC programme is performing well against its regional comparables. This provides a strong base for the construction partners to build their future social value strategies.”

Louise Dailly, Costain Skanska’s Head of Legacy said: “A key focus for our team on the Enabling Works Contract in London is to provide local jobs and support economic development to leave a lasting social legacy in the communities we’re working in. We’ve also looked at how we can deliver additional social value across our programme. One example is tackling homelessness.

“Two of our boroughs – Camden and Westminster – have some of the highest rates of homeless people in London. So we wanted to see how we could improve the lives of these vulnerable people and create opportunities to help them off the street and into sustainable jobs. Through partnering with local charities and community groups we have supported nine homeless people into accommodation and jobs on HS2.”

Costain Skanska’s social value activities have included partnering with Buses for Homeless (B4H), a social enterprise which aims to get homeless people off the street and into full time sustainable employment and accommodation. B4H refurbishes decommissioned London buses into spaces suitable for their guests to live and takes them through an intensive 12-week training programme. The site set up includes separate buses for sleeping; cooking and eating; learning; and wellness and therapy.

Speaking of the initiative, Dan Atkins, Founder of Buses 4 Homeless said: “From the day we moved onto the HS2 site in October 2019, we have had nothing but support from CSjv and HS2. The team gave us the opportunity we needed to be able to get our pilot programme up and running and it would not have been as successful as it is without their support and commitment.

“Not only have they provided us with key equipment, supported us with paperwork and the land to run our project, most importantly, the team have helped us upskill our guests and through their Supply Chain, they have offered full time employment on the HS2 programme, giving our guests a big confidence boost to be able to gain independence and get back on their own feet.

“We couldn’t be more grateful for the incredible support we have received since we moved onto site and we can’t wait to welcome the next cohort of guests on board so we can, together, help change their lives.”

Julie King, Director of Community and Stakeholder Engagement, HS2 said: “Investing in skills, employment and education is crucial to HS2 achieving its vision of being a catalyst for growth and a creator of new opportunities across the UK.

“Costain Skanska joint venture has demonstrated its commitment to be a good neighbour within the communities it works, ensuring the benefits of social value activities are realised locally. This support is just one of many ways in which HS2 is contributing to Britain’s post-pandemic economic recovery.”

You can read CECA’s report The social benefits of infrastructure investment here. The SVP report is available on HS2’s website here.

posted by The Construction Alliance : 11:30

Tuesday, 28 April 2020

How Construction Has Helped In The Fight Against Covid-19

Companies from across the UK construction sector are being asked to showcase how they have played their part in the fight against Covid-19.

Since the initial outbreak of coronavirus in March 2020, businesses from across the industry have been playing their part in fighting the disease, providing vital resource to those on the frontline, and safeguarding construction workers and local communities.

Today sees the launch of a website that showcases examples of these responses.

The site is structured around four themes:

  1. Building NHS Capacity
  2. PPE Donations
  3. Safeguarding Workers
  4. Helping Communities

Commenting, Andy Mitchell CBE, co-Chair of the Construction Leadership Council, said: “No-one can have any doubt that the true heroes of the pandemic are those who work day in, day out in our NHS and care system, risking their lives to help others.

“But I have also been proud to see the response of the UK construction industry, which has come together to support our NHS, change the way we work, and support the communities in which we live.

“The delivery of the NHS Nightingale hospitals within a matter of weeks has required 24 hour working at all levels of the UK construction supply chain, and a level of co-operation that has shown UK construction at its very best.

“Industry has not only stepped up to the plate in a time of crisis, but has donated millions of pieces of much-needed PPE to hospitals, care-homes, and other front-line workers.

“We have also moved at speed to implement safe working practices in response to Covid-19 so where work can be done safely it can continue.

“Industry and Government’s priority now must be a long-term recovery plan for our sector, which will be at the very heart of the UK’s economic revival in the months and years ahead.”

The site is open to businesses from across the construction sector. Please send any case studies to

posted by The Construction Alliance : 11:28

Thursday, 12 March 2020

Boost For Renewables With Next Round Of Contract For Difference Scheme

In a boost for the UK renewables supply chain, measures to promote new electricity generation projects have been launched as the Government has set out details of the next round of the Contract for Difference scheme, which will open in 2021.

This latest round will be open to renewable technologies including onshore wind and solar, with proposals to include floating offshore wind. The scheme will also be changed to facilitate the deployment of energy storage.

Local communities will have a more effective voice on developments that impact them, through proposals for tough new guidance on community engagement for developers of onshore wind across Great Britain, also announced this week. They will have a definitive say on whether projects are allowed to proceed, and it will remain the case that no English onshore wind project can proceed without the consent of the local community.

The Committee on Climate Change have said that the UK needs to quadruple renewable energy generation to reach net zero by 2050.

Commenting, Secretary of State for Business and Energy Alok Sharma said: “Ending our contribution to climate change means making the UK a world leader in renewable energy. We are determined to do that in a way that works for everyone, listening to local communities and giving them an effective voice in decisions that affect them.”

The consultation announced on Monday outlines proposals to ensure the Contracts for Difference scheme can support the increased ambition required, including:
  • making the UK a world-leader in new technologies such as floating offshore wind, which would allow wind farms to be built further away from the shore and increase clean energy capacity; 
  • supporting the UK’s renewables supply chain to enhance productivity and increase competitiveness, boosting the UK’s world-class clean energy industry; 
  • improving the scheme to better support energy storage, so projects can provide power when the wind stops blowing or the sun is not shining.
This is part of the Year of Climate Action, in the run up to the UK hosting the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in November.

posted by The Construction Alliance : 09:31

Wednesday, 29 January 2020

Government Pledges £500 Million To Bring Back Historic Rail Lines

The UK Government has announced £500m of funding to help reconnect towns across the country by kick-starting cuts made to the railway network in the 1960s and 1970s.

The cuts, proposed by British Rail Chairman Dr Richard Beeching in 1963, ended passenger services on around a third of the rail network, closing up to 5,000 miles of track and more than 2,300 railway stations across the UK.

Commenting, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps MP said: “Investing in transport links is essential to levelling up access to opportunities across the country, ensuring our regions are better connected, local economies flourish and more than half a century of isolation is undone.”

The £500 million funding pot will help reconnect towns across the country, and includes £21.9 million of funding for a 2 routes and New Stations Fund, with MPs, local authorities, and community groups across England invited to pitch their restoration proposals directly to government. The government has also said it will consult Network Rail and train operators on how best to deliver the benefits of the reversal scheme to communities.

To launch the reversal scheme, the government is also giving funding to develop proposals for re-opening two lines in the near future, namely the Ashington-Blyth-Tyne Line in Northumberland, and the Fleetwood Line in Lancashire.

Commenting, CECA chief executive Alasdair Reisner said: “£500 million is only a drop in the ocean of the money required to deliver the ‘infrastructure revolution’ the Government has promised.

“However, today’s announcement focuses on providing development funding to get projects to the point that they can be built. Moreover, this is only the beginning of the reversal of the Beeching cuts, which will be a long-term process, but one that CECA has campaigned for for many years

“The funding announced today provides a great opportunity for industry to work with promotors to develop deliverable projects ahead of future phases of Beeching reversal funding.

“A reinvigorated rail network will act as a springboard for the UK economy after we have left the European Union, driving growth, creating job opportunities, and delivering connectivity for communities across all parts of the UK.”

posted by The Construction Alliance : 12:02

Tuesday, 22 October 2019

Transport Committee Wants National Conversation On Road Pricing

The House of Commons TransportCommittee wants to start a national debate about road pricing – something that has been lacking for more than a decade since the then Labour Government’s road pricing plans were shelved.

This is in advance of an inquiry to be formally announced in early 2020, when the Committee will invite views from across the country from drivers and non-drivers alike about the future of road-based transport.

The UK needs to decarbonise its transport network, tackle congestion, and encourage ‘modal shift’ to alternative forms of transport where appropriate.

The £40 billion annual income from Fuel Duty and Vehicle Excise Duty is likely to decline sharply in future, and may end entirely if the Government keeps its pledge to fully decarbonise road transport within two decades. This income will need to be replaced if the Government is to continue to invest in transport infrastructure and prepare the transport network for a new greener future. In early 2020 the Transport Committee will investigate whether national road pricing should be a part of that future, but wants the public – drivers and non-drivers alike – to begin the discussion now.

Issues to be considered will include pros and cons of road pricing including the economic, environmental, and social impacts. The Committee will also look at the lessons that can be learnt from existing schemes at the national level, local level, and overseas. Road pricing does not only mean tolls – it also includes congestion charges, an HGV levy, workplace parking levy, low emission and clean air zones.

Commenting, CECA chief executive Alasdair Reisner said: “We need to pay for our roads in the future, and to do so in a manner that fits with decarbonising the economy. Road pricing might be a solution, but we look forward to examining proposed models that must ensure both that are roads are funded in a sustainable manner, and that those who can least afford to pay aren’t negatively impacted.

“That’s why we welcome the Transport Committee’s aims of kick-starting a national conversation on this issue, and look forward to engaging with our members and other stakeholders to ensure that the UK’s vital roads network is funded in a way that meets the needs of road users, businesses, and communities alike.”

If you are a CECA member and would like to input your views on this issue, please contact

posted by The Construction Alliance : 10:17

Thursday, 5 September 2019

New Rules On Prompt Payment Come Into Force

New rules designed to make sure government suppliers pay their bills on time have come into force.
The rules, which came in on September 1, mean all government suppliers must pay 95 per cent of their invoices within 60 days or run the risk of losing out on major government contracts. This will be particularly beneficial for SMEs, who are an important part of the supply chain for many government suppliers.
Commenting, the Minister for Implementation, Simon Hart, said: “Developing a prompt payment culture is critical for all companies helping to deliver vital public services.
“And it’s particularly important for small businesses who may not have the reserves of larger organisations. That’s why we’re making it clear to big businesses that they must get their payment records in order or face the very real risk of missing out on large government contracts in the future.”
The new rules were first announced by the Cabinet Office in November 2018. Since then, there has been evidence of an improvement in payment rates by government suppliers, but the government has been clear that many businesses still need to do more.

posted by The Construction Alliance : 18:07


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