The first plastic road used in a housing development

Springfield Properties has become the UK’s first house builder to use waste plastic to build a road on a housing development.

Springfield has used the more environmentally friendly asphalt product containing waste plastic on a section of road at the company’s Linkwood Steadings development in Elgin.

The product reduces the amount of bitumen needed in the asphalt mix but the new surface looks like a traditional road while benefiting from increased durability and longevity.

Springfield teamed up with specialist MacRebur and asphalt producer Pat Munro.

MacRebur turns plastic waste that would otherwise have gone to landfill into granules which are then mixed with a special activator, reducing the amount of fossil fuel required in asphalt production.

Springfield Properties’ North Managing Director, Dave Main, said: “The road in Elgin accounts for 20 tonnes of recycled plastic, the equivalent to 17,042 plastic bags or 6,000 plastic bottles, which would otherwise have been consigned to landfill or incineration.”

Sarah Lakin, Contracts Manager for MacRebur, said: “At MacRebur, we have worked with household names in the commercial sector, the Department for Transport, Highways England and councils to use our product in everything from roads to carparks and racetracks to runways.

“We are very proud to add Springfield to our growing list of clients and welcome them onboard as the first house builder in the UK to use waste plastic in their roads and we look forward to working with them again.

“We also hope this pioneering project will inspire other developers in Scotland to follow Springfield’s lead as our product is available across the country as well as the UK and abroad.”



Government to pay £200m for safer cladding on Grenfell Tower

The £200m bill to replace Grenfell Tower-type cladding on about 150 private high-rise blocks in England is to be met by the government.

Housing Secretary James Brokenshire had previously said the bill should be footed by the owners, not the taxpayer.

But he said owners had been trying to offload the costs on to leaseholders and that the long wait for remedial work had caused anxiety for residents.

Leaseholder groups said the news would be a “relief” but more was needed.

Seventy-two people died when a fire destroyed Grenfell Tower, in west London, in June 2017, in one of the UK’s worst modern disasters.

It took minutes for the fire to race up the exterior of the building, and spread to all four sides.

A public inquiry into the fire heard evidence to support the theory that the highly combustible material in the cladding was the primary cause of the fire’s spread.

Latest government figures show that 166 private residential buildings out of the 176 identified with aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding – the same type used on Grenfell Tower – are yet to start work on removing and replacing it.

  • Unsafe cladding still affects thousands
  • Stars in emotional Grenfell cladding video
  • The terrible speed with which the Grenfell fire spread

Mr Brokenshire admitted he had changed his mind on demanding that freeholders pay up for safety work.

He said some building owners had tried to pass on the costs to residents by threatening them with bills running to thousands of pounds.

“What has been striking to me over recent weeks is just the time it is taking and my concern over the leaseholders themselves – that anxiety, that stress, that strain, and seeing that we are getting on and making these buildings safe.”

Alex Di Giuseppe, a leaseholder in a block with unsafe cladding in Manchester, said he has been dealing with the developer, freeholder and management agent but had got nowhere.

“It’s taken its toll. We’ve been living in an unsafe building and we’ve had these huge costs placed upon our heads. The stress is insurmountable.

“If this was a car with an airbag issue, it would be recalled.”

Pemberstone, Aberdeen Asset Management, Barratt Developments, Fraser Properties, Legal & General and Mace and Peabody were named as having fully borne the costs for their buildings.

Grenfell United, a group of survivors and the bereaved, said the news offered hope to people feeling at risk at home.

“This result is a testament to residents themselves. The truth is we should never have had to fight for it,” the group said.

It asked the government to consider financial support for residents as they continue night watches and wait for the remediation work to begin.

Rachel Loudain, from the UK Cladding Action Group, said leaseholders had exhausted all other options before the government stepped in to pay for the work.

“No developer was taking responsibility, no freeholder, we didn’t have any option legally or any option with insurance,” she said.

The group welcomed the news but pointed out that “many, many” leaseholders and social housing tenants living in blocks with other forms of unsafe cladding would be excluded from this help.

“Fire does not distinguish between the different types of failed cladding out there. This inadequate response will be looked back on in shame when the next Grenfell tragedy occurs,” the group said.

Labour accused the government of being “frozen like a rabbit in the headlights” in its response to the Grenfell disaster.

“Too weak and too slow to act at every stage and on every front,” the shadow housing secretary John Healey said.

The government has already committed to funding replacement cladding in the social sector. There are currently 23 blocks still covered in it.

Owners of private buildings will have three months to claim the funds, with one condition being that they take “reasonable steps” to recover the costs from those responsible for the cladding.


Ekodek Board System

Ecodek have been producing their unique ecodek® WPC board system for over 14 years. In 2018, the production of ecodek® material consumed more than 3600 tonnes of recycled plastic milk bottles and sustainably sourced hardwood fibres.

With the versatility to adapt to urban or traditional design schemes, ecodek® will allow the designer to transform outdoor spaces and gardens into feature areas. They have produced a range of specific screws, substructure bearers and beams specifically designed for their boards.

ecodek® can be found across the UK and beyond, in residential settings and in public realm areas such as balconies, roof terraces, walkways, bridges, schools, care homes, stadia and restaurants.

Offering bespoke lengths to suit individual projects means a welcome relief on site to the usual problem of waste materials. ecodek® material is 100% recyclable, should any waste be generated on site, their buy back scheme means that this can be sent back to the factory and put back into the production of new boards.

The boards will not warp, splinter or rot, and as ecodek® does not promote mould or algae growth, only require minimal maintenance, and do not require sanding or sealing.

ecodek® material comes with a 25 year warranty as standard, giving piece of mind to both specifier and end user.

Here’s a re-cap of the benefits of ecodek® boards over traditional timber decking:

  • High quality, British made Wood Plastic Composite
  • ecodek® contains 95% recycled and sustainably raw materials and is 100% recyclable
  • Low maintenance – doesn’t require sanding or staining
  • Solid profile that is resistant to rotting, algae and fungal growth plus, no splintering, splitting or flaking­­­
  • Low potential for slip in both wet and dry (tested to HSE standards)
  • Bespoke lengths
  • Easy as timber to work with
  • Low moisture absorption
  • In-built termite and UV resistance
  • Carbon negative production
  • 25 year warranty

Source: UK Construction Week

house funding

Labour will end slum office housing

Labour says it would scrap a government scheme that allows offices and industrial buildings to be converted into homes without planning permission.

The party said changes to permitted development rules in England had led to the creation of “slum housing and rabbit hutch flats”.

It also said developers had been able to avoid building affordable homes.

The Conservatives said the plans would “cut house building and put a stop to people achieving home ownership”.

In 2013, the government changed planning rules to allow developers to turn offices, warehouses and industrial buildings into residential blocks without getting permission from the local council, in a bid to boost house building.

The rules have since been further relaxed, leading to 42,000 new dwellings being created from former offices in the last few years.

However, permitted development schemes are exempt from official space standards and also from any requirement to provide affordable homes.

Labour said the policy had seen the loss of more than 10,000 affordable homes, and meant that flats “just a few feet wide” were now counted in official statistics as new homes.

It said its policy was still to build 250,000 new homes a year in England with 100,000 being “genuinely affordable”.

“This Conservative housing free-for-all gives developers a free hand to build what they want but ignore what local communities need,” said John Healey, Labour’s shadow housing secretary.

“Labour will give local people control over the housing that gets built in their area and ensure developers build the low-cost, high-quality homes that the country needs.”

In one permitted development scheme at Newbury House in Ilford, an office block has been turned into 60 flats measuring as little as 13 sq metres each.

According to national space standards, the minimum floor area for a new one-bedroom one-person home is 37 sq metres.

Critics say the schemes can be damaging to residents’ mental wellbeing, as well as being miles from amenities and conducive to crime.

At Terminus House – a converted office block in Harlow – crime jumped 45% in the first 10 months after people moved in and by 20% within that part of the town centre.

However some developers warn that without permitted development many office to residential schemes would no longer be viable.

The government says the rules are helping tackle the housing crisis and allowing people to get on the housing ladder.

Of the 13,526 homes delivered under permitted development last year, more than three quarters were built outside of London

Marcus Jones, Conservative vice-chair for Local Government, said: “Labour’s plans would cut house building and put a stop to people achieving homeownership.

“We are backing permitted development rights, which are converting dormant offices into places families can call home.

“Whilst Labour put politics before our families, the Conservatives are delivering the houses this country needs so every family has a place to call home.”



UK goes coal-free for record-breaking 90 hours during hot Easter weekend weather

Britain has broken its record for using energy generated from sources other than coal during the hot Easter weekend.

National Grid said the UK recorded its longest ever continuous coal-free period over the bank holiday weekend, lasting more than 90 hours.

It marks the longest stretch of time in which the UK’s electricity has been produced by other means since before the industrial revolution, which began in the 1700s.

Duncan Burt, director of operations at National Grid, said the long weekend marked “another significant step towards a zero-carbon power grid” in the UK.

Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland each enjoyed their warmest Easter Sunday on record, according to the Met Office said.

Mr Burt said the previous record was broken thanks to a “sweet spot” in conditions, where the warm weather stopped people from using their central heating, overall energy usage went down due to more people being outside, but temperatures were not so warm that people needed to stay indoors and use air conditioning.

He said ideal conditions for the National Grid see warm sunshine in the south and wind in the North and in Scotland, creating conditions that mean a high production of both solar and wind power.

Over the bank holiday, gas still made up a sizeable chunk of electricity usage, and Britain was still required to import power from Europe. Nuclear energy made up about 25 per cent.

A report published by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s (BEIS) earlier this year showed the UK used more coal-free power in the first three months of 2019 than in the entirety of 2017.

Energy and Clean Growth minister Claire Perry said: “Coal is the most polluting fossil fuel, which is why we’ve committed to phasing it out entirely from our energy mix by 2025 as we help lead the world in the transition to cleaner technologies.”

But environmental campaigners have warned that while an increase in renewable energy is positive, gas and other fossil fuels are also replacing coal.

Muna Suleiman, climate campaigner at Friends of the Earth, told the BBC: “89 hours of coal-free electricity is great, but let’s make this all day every day.

“Electricity generated by renewable sources is a key part of the fight against climate chaos, so it’s time to remove all the blockers to renewable energy.

“The Government must prioritise the development of sources such as solar and onshore wind.”

The Labour Party has also questioned Government policy, and said its fracking plans will release the same amount of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere as creating 300 million brand news cars.

A reliance on gas also makes the UK vulnerable to international markets, according to Friends of the Earth, which said the energy source isn’t clean enough to cut greenhouse gas emissions in line with the country’s legal targets.

The 2008 Climate Change Act requires greenhouse gas emissions to be reduced by 80 per cent – when compared to 1990 levels – by 2050.


Construction growth

SME contractors agree 2.75% pay deal for workers

Employers and unions have agreed a 2.75% pay rise for construction workers under the Building and Allied Trades Joint Industrial Council (BATJIC) agreement.

The increase is below last year’s 3.1% rise and will come into effect from June.

The one-year-deal follows successful talks between the the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) and Unite the union.

BATJIC has also secured tax dispensation from HM Revenue and Customs for Lodging Allowance and Daily Fares Allowance for this year’s Working Rule Agreement after several years’ hiatus.

The deal in detail:
• BATJIC has agreed a one-year deal involving a 2.75% pay rise over the next year;
• All apprentices and trainees will also benefit from a 2.75% pay increase;
• The adult general operatives’ rate increases by 26p per hour to £9.78;
• The NVQ3 advanced craft rate increases by 34p per hour to £12.79;
• The changes will come into effect as of Monday 24th June 2019.

Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the FMB, said: “This agreement strikes the right balance as it recognises the hard work that employees are putting into their work but at the same time, it reflects the uncertainty that many construction firms are facing.

“This increase is above last year’s rate of inflation, according to all three of the leading indexes, and sends out a strong message to tradespeople that we value them and want to retain them.

“It’s no secret that economic forecasts are quite conservative for the years ahead, given the unknown impact of Brexit, but I feel this is a good compromise from the perspective of both employers and workers.”

Jerry Swain, the National Officer for Construction at Unite the union, said: “Unite welcomes this agreement which recognises inflation levels from last year and the high employment levels that we have at present.

With construction skills shortages impacting on the industry, a 2.75 per cent pay rise will help encourage tradespeople to remain in the industry at a time when the current political uncertainty and drops in construction output are affecting confidence in the industry.

“I’m pleased that BATJIC has been further strengthened this year by successfully jointly lobbying for tax dispensation on key employee expenses.

“It was important that we secured the dispensation from HMRC in respect of lodge payments, as this now formalises the position regarding taxation of lodge payments.

“The dispensation gives peace of mind to our members and ensures that they will not face any claims for retrospective payment of tax when receiving lodge payments while working away from home.”

Source: Construction Enquirer

22 million

New pre-qualification system aims to save £1bn a year

Build UK and the Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA) have launched the first phase of a new pre-qualification (PQ) system that they claim will cut bureaucracy in the sector.

The trade bodies said the current PQ system is complex and estimated that it costs the industry up to £1bn a year. Currently, the multitude of schemes in operation see around 180,000 specialist contractors producing two million pieces of paper every year for 5,000 contractors, the organisations claimed.

The roll-out of the first phase of their new system, which aims to make the industry more efficient, includes:

Publication of the Common Assessment Standard used to pre-qualify companies. Based on existing PQ questionnaires, including BSI’s PAS 91, this covers 10 key areas and includes desktop and site-based assessment standards.

Confirmation of the first recognised assessment bodies to certify companies against the Common Assessment Standard. These organisations are Achilles, CHAS and Constructionline.

The system is being overseen by an interim cross-industry body consisting of experts from organisations across the sector, including public and private sector clients, contractors and trade associations.

Once the new system is fully up and running, companies will not have to be certified by more than one recognised assessment body. A data sharing arrangement is currently being developed which will allow contractors to obtain PQ information from any one of the recognised assessment bodies. Contractors will be transitioning to the new system over the coming months.

Jo Fautley, deputy chief executive of Build UK, said: “The construction industry is making great strides towards more collaborative working and this new PQ system has been developed by industry, for industry, based on standards that clients, contractors and the supply chain have all agreed on. We look forward to the industry getting on board with it over the coming months so we can realise the efficiency gains for everyone’s benefit and boost overall productivity.”

Marie-Claude Hemming, director of external affairs at CECA, said: “CECA has long advocated an industry standard approach to PQ and the new system which builds on PAS 91 will simplify the process and reduce duplication and cost. Change takes time and there will be a transition period, but this marks the start of the rollout of the new system which we anticipate will play a key role in the future delivery of world-class infrastructure.”

Ann Bentley, chair of the Construction Leadership Council business model workstream, said: “The Construction Leadership Council welcomes and supports the proposed reform of the current PQ process – it is a real and practical way of reducing bureaucracy and improving quality in the procurement process. Companies will be able to demonstrate that they meet an agreed industry standard and clients and contractors will be able to rely on the certification. The CLC will be encouraging adoption of the revised standard throughout Government construction procurement.”

Source: Construction Enquirer

helmet credentials

Call for Occupational Health Training

Construction companies of all sizes are being urged to provide at least one employee with occupational (OH) awareness training following a new report from Loughborough University which highlighted the lack of training particularly in SMEs.

The report from Loughborough University, Improving occupational health risk management in SMEs: the role of major projects, looked into how major projects such as the construction of the Defence and National Rehabilitation Centre (DNRC) can support their supply chain to develop good practices in occupational health.

The research, which was carried out in the School of Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering at Loughborough University, was made possible after they were named recipients of the B&CE Charitable Trust OH Research Award 2016 worth £25,000.

In light of the report’s findings, B&CE are calling for Occupational Health Training to be more commonplace within all sizes of organisations, plus improved training materials and increased education regarding OH obligations.

Commenting, Margaret Grahamslaw, Head of Occupational Health at B&CE, said: “These recommendations centre around the importance of training in occupational health awareness to ultimately improve the wellbeing of workers in the construction industry across the UK. By ensuring at least one member of staff in any company, regardless of size, is trained in this area, this can encourage the spread of knowledge in both common OH issues and those that are less well understood.

“We’re grateful that our charitable trust could provide Loughborough University with the funds to facilitate this important research and look forward to using our joint voices in the industry to make these recommendations a reality in construction.”

Lead researcher, Dr Wendy Jones, Loughborough University said: “Health often ends up as the poor relation of safety in construction, and it can be particularly difficult for smaller companies that don’t always have the right expertise, or who have limited budgets, to get the right arrangements in place. This research found that some small and micro employers are improving their management of hazards such as dust and musculoskeletal disorders as a result of working on major projects such as the building of the DNRC, which the research was centred on. This is good news and confirms that good practices ‘trickle down’ through the sector for health, as they do for safety.

“We still have a long way to go, particularly in terms of the way we educate our workers, managers and OH professionals about managing health risks and the way the industry manages health surveillance: but this research shows we are heading in the right direction.”

The research report, which includes recommendations for those leading on major construction projects and for the industry more widely is available here.

The B&CE Charitable Trust OH Research Award is awarded annually to research initiatives that aim to improve the occupational health in the construction industry. Applications for the 2019 award open later this year.

Source: UK Construction Online

steel building

FIS And SCI To Launch Steel Framing System Guide With Consortium Of Industry Partners

FIS, representative body for the £10 billion finishes and interiors sector in the UK and the Steel Construction Institute (SCI), will launch the much-awaited Technical Report ED017 – Design and Installation of Light Steel External Wall Systems guide with a consortium of industry partners.

FIS and the Steel Construction Institute have been working with the FIS Steel Framing Systems (SFS) working group and industry to update guidance for the sector.

“SFS is the lightweight steel frame used to create the inner leaf of an external wall, it’s been around for over 20 years but its benefits are just being realised, which is why so many projects are using it, but there are problems being created because of a lack of planning and knowledge. It’s the first thing you see, but often the last thing that’s designed in a building, and that’s the issue. This development of this guide is a great example of how the supply chain can work together to share knowledge, support training and deliver quality, we are grateful to all involved.” Joe Cilia, Technical Director at FIS.

SFS is seen as non-load bearing, not holding the structure up but it is supporting cladding, internal linings insulation and perhaps even services. There are significant implications should it fail, which could lead to the external cladding falling off.

The report on the collapse of the brick cladding at Oxgangs Primary School Edinburgh on 29th January 2016 highlighted that there was a failure in the correct installation of a simple element -wall ties- and although there are no direct examples of this happening where SFS has been installed, it highlights the danger of ignoring the correct installation process. , this guide will help to ensure that everybody from designers to installers are clear about what is required.

Olton Bridge, 245 Warwick Road
Solihull, West Midlands B92 7AH
Telephone 0121 707 0077

The guide will spread best practice, help raise standards and educate clients and installers, and because the sector is new there are still a lot of client’s, designers and installers who will benefit from an education process driven by the document.

The guide will help avoid the issues caused by last minute changes.

The guide is for anyone who designs and installs SFS infill walls, and anyone checking that the products are being correctly installed, such as a ‘Clerk of Works.’ It will help to raise standards, show clients what SFS is and how it works. It will get people thinking about what is expected of them, the design and the final installation. It will give installers the confidence to question designs and provide guidance to ensure the installation is as good as it can be. The document includes check lists as well as guidance that makes people stop and check that all the information that should be provided, is provided.

As the landscape post-Grenfell develops, we envisage that it will be very different from the way in which buildings are being designed and constructed now, this guide will become the go to reference for all involved.

The SFS working group meeting will be held at Plaisterers’ Hall Offices, London on 16 May from 14:00–16:30. This will be followed by the launch of the much-awaited Technical Report ED017 – Design and Installation of Light Steel External Wall Systems guide. The launch event will run from 16:30-18:00. Spaces are limited and will be offered on a first come, first served basis.

To register please follow this link:

Source: UK Construction Week

gas heating

Low-carbon heating to replace gas in new UK homes after 2025

Gas boilers will be replaced by low-carbon heating systems in all new homes built after 2025 in an attempt to tackle the escalating climate crisis, Philip Hammond has said.

In his spring statement, the chancellor said new properties would use alternative systems, such as heat pumps, to help the UK reduce its carbon emissions.

However, Hammond appeared to row back on implementing the full recommendations from the government’s advisory committee on climate change last month, which called for new homes to have no gas for cooking or heating from 2025.

The move away from gas heating in new homes was given a cautious welcome by environmental groups, although they said the chancellor had to be more ambitious, systemic and radical if the government was to get to grips with the climate emergency.