Week commencing 27 July 2015

In today's bulletin

• Future of HAs called into question
• Skills shortage threatens building boom

• Poll results suggest new airport not extension
• DECC publishes statistics on UK energy production & consumption

Property, Planning and Regeneration

Future of HAs called into question

The Communities and Local Government (CLG) Committee is launching an inquiry into the sustainability of housing associations.  The future of Housing Associations has been called
into question following uncertainty over the extension of the Right to Buy scheme, welfare reforms and the reduced public sector budget.

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NI Construction slow but growing

The latest RICS and Tughans Construction Market Survey reports that Northern Ireland’s construction sector has seen a big increase in public and private sector building in the second quarter of the year but still lags other UK regions.

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Skills shortage threatens building boom

A recent survey by the Federation of Master Builders (FMB), State of Trade Survey Q2 2015, has shown that rising activity in the SME construction sector could be undermined by a shortage of skills.
Commenting on the results, Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the FMB, said: “Our members are reporting that their workloads are likely to rise over the coming three months which means the shortage of skilled workers will only become more acute.”

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All-Party Parliamentary group to tackle housing emergency

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has announced it is taking a lead role in supporting a new All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Housing and Planning.
The APPG will review increasing housing stock and speeding up construction of sustainable housing, to tackle the national housing shortfall.

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Rise in homes being granted planning permission, shows HBF report

The latest Housing Pipeline report, published by the Home Builders Federation and construction data provider Glenigan, shows that planning permission was granted for 52,167
homes in England during the first quarter of this year – a 19 per cent increase on the 43,926 permissions in the corresponding quarter last year.

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Poll results suggest new airport not extension

New research from Ipsos MORI has found more people in Britain support plans for a new airport rather than an extension to either Heathrow or Gatwick.  30 per cent of those who
believe the UK needs more aviation capacity favoured a new site, compared to 24 per cent who backed an extension to Gatwick and 22 per cent who preferred a bigger Heathrow.

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New fleet of trains to bring faster and better journeys to south west

The government has given the green light to a new fleet of trains running between London and Cornwall.  First Great Western will spend £360 million to provide 29 long distance trains
to serve the south west from 2018.  These trains will have 24 per cent more seats compared to the majority of the trains serving the route today.

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Bernadette Kelly appointed as Director General for the Rail Executive

Bernadette Kelly has been appointed as the new Director General for the Rail Executive for the Department for Transport (DfT).  Ms Kelly is currently the Director General for Business and Local Growth at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).
She will be joining the DfT in late September and will be replacing Clare Moriarty who was recently promoted to Permanent Secretary at Defra.

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Energy and Environment

2015 sees record number of offshore wind installations

Europe installed more offshore wind farms in the first six months of this year than in any other year on record, according to a report published by the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) on Thursday 30 July.
Installations in the first half of 2015 reached 2,342.9MW, helping total installed offshore wind capacity in Europe to peak at 10,393.6MW in 82 wind farms across 11 countries.

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DECC publishes statistics on UK energy production & consumption

On Thursday 30 July, the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) released its Digest of UK Energy Statistics 2015, giving analysis of the production, transformation and consumption of energy in 2014.
The report showed that final energy consumption fell by 5.6 per cent last year, reflecting the warmer weather experienced, and was down one per cent when seasonally adjusted.

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Norway aims to become “green battery of Europe”

Researchers in Norway have designed a model that could help the country’s hydropower network to “store” excess power generated by Europe and release it on demand.  The concept would see excess power from Europe’s growing network of renewables sent to
Norway and used to pump water up from lower reservoirs to higher reservoirs.  Then, when power is required, the water would be released to generate electricity through the hydropower turbines.

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Other News

New head for local government group

On 28 July, the Local Government Association  announced Mark Lloyd’s appointment as the organisations chief executive.
Mr Lloyd is currently chief executive at Cambridgeshire County Council, a post he has held since 2008.

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Economy grows in latest tracker

The strength of the UK economy improved in the three months to July, according to the latest CBI growth indicator. 
The report identified business and professional services as the main driver of growth, with manufacturing and retail growing at a slower pace.

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