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News in brief: Renewable energy on the up; Edinburgh contractors asked to follow national guidance

Words: Laura Edgar
Renewable wind energy / Shutterstock 155706680

A round-up of planning news: Tuesday 31 March, 2020

Renewable energy on the up

Government statistics have suggested that in 2019, renewable energy generated a record 36.9 per cent of the UK’s electricity.

More than half of this came from wind, according to figures published by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). 

Wind provided 20 per cent of the UK’s power in 2019 – 9.9 per cent came from onshore wind and the same amount from offshore wind.

A fall in electricity generation from coal and nuclear sources was offset by the increase in renewables, said the government.

Overall, renewable and nuclear generated 54.2 per cent, gas generated 40.9 per cent and coal 2.1 per cent.

RenewableUK’s deputy chief executive Melanie Onn said the figures demonstrate just “how radically the UK’s energy system is changing, with low-cost renewables at the vanguard”.

“This will continue as we build a modern energy system, moving away from fossil fuels to reach net-zero emissions as fast as possible. As well as wind, we’ll use innovative new technologies like renewable hydrogen and marine power, and we’ll scale up battery storage.”


Edinburgh contractors asked to follow national guidance

The City of Edinburgh Council has asked contractors delivering non-essential council-led construction to follow the Scottish Government’s guidance.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has advised that all construction projects should stop during the coronavirus (Covid-19) lockdown unless they are delivering essential buildings, such as hospitals.

The council has set out a general position in relation to its acceptance of delays to provide clarity and to protect the health and well-being of all those who live and work here.

Council leader Adam McVey said: “The safety of workers delivering the capital’s key projects is paramount, as is our commitment to supporting the country’s efforts to limit the spread of the coronavirus, so it’s essential that we comply with Scottish Government guidelines and ask contractors to halt all council-led construction projects.

“We will, of course, be working with contractors over the coming weeks to mitigate the impact on delivery of key projects for the benefit of our capital, and to finalise plans for returning to sites as quickly as possible once things return to normal.”

Last week, the council instructed contractors delivering Edinburgh’s Trams to Newhaven project to cease all work on site.


Joint venture search for Oxford North starts

Thomas White Oxford (TWO) has begun a preliminary search for a commercial and residential joint venture development partner to work with to deliver plans for Oxford North. 

The partner is sought for the development of phase 1a commercial and phase 1 Canalside residential.

Oxford North is a “sustainable innovation” district, that intends to deliver about 4,500 new jobs, 480 new homes, shops, bars and restaurants, a hotel, 23 acres of open spaces including three new parks, and significant investment into the walking, cycling, bus and highway networks.

The commercial joint venture partner will deliver part of phase 1a of the project, which is located between the A40 and A44. It will comprise three new office buildings, the central public square, temporary car and cycle parking and installation of the energy-sharing loop.

The residential joint venture partner will assist in the delivery of phase 1 Canalside to the south of the A40, which will include more than 200 homes – both market and affordable – as well as related infrastructure.

The search is being conducted through real estate consultancy Savills.


Investment in Kent railway works announced

Masterplanner The Creative District Improvement Company (TCDI Co) has teamed up with property developer Quinn Estates to announce a £250 million investment in Kent’s TV and film studios.

The restoration project intends to restore five at-risk grade II-listed buildings and convert them into 80,000 square feet of TV and film studios, 80,000 square feet of ancillary production space, 50,000 square feet of mill store and 30,000 square feet of media village.

The plans for Ashford Studios also feature a 120-room hotel, 68 serviced apartments, a creative industries conference centre and a gym, restaurant and leisure space.

TCDI Co. and Quinn Estate are collaborating with architects Guy Holloway to deliver the project, which is scheduled for 2021.

The firm has said it will fund the largest film school in the country, partnering with the University of Kent and Kent’s three other universities in its Future Media Centre. They will work with the publicly funded Thames Estuary Production Corridor, a long-term project to create the world’s largest creative corridor.


Council issues call for help to house homeless

Lichfield District Council has called on second homeowners, hoteliers, B&Bs, Airbnb owners and student housing providers to offer accommodation to the district’s homeless during the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak.

The council is seeking properties to house rough sleepers and homeless people, as it is “vital” to get them into suitable accommodation so that they can self-isolate.

Ashley Yeates, cabinet member for communities and housing, said: “While we have currently offered accommodation to all the rough sleepers and homeless in the district we still need to have reserves, especially during this crisis. It is so important that everyone has the space to self-isolate, and this is near impossible for anyone who is sleeping rough. We are particularly looking for city centre-based accommodation, but all offers will be gratefully received.

The council will work with clients to find accommodation that is suitable for each individual, as well as ensuring that food and support needs are met.

All businesses and individuals who provide emergency accommodation will be compensated.

For more information, contact Lichfield District Council’s housing team by emailing [email protected]


Burnham’s charity donates £100k to homelessness

The Greater Manchester Mayor’s Charity has granted an emergency £100,000 to the city-region’s homelessness charitable sector. 

Alongside this, it has launched an urgent appeal calling on big business and individuals to donate funds to support voluntary, community and social enterprises during coronavirus (Covid-19) crisis.

Donations will form the basis of packages of goods to be delivered to those homeless people currently living in hotel accommodation.

Tim Heatley, chair of the Greater Manchester Mayor’s Charity, said: “The mayor’s charity fundraises all year round and is focused on reducing the number of people experiencing homelessness, and in particular rough sleeping.

“We’ve already made an emergency contribution of £100,000 – this is a recognition of the pressure on budgets and the immediate need for support. The funding will be vital in enabling the hard work of those on the front line assisting and safeguarding the homeless community throughout Greater Manchester during this pandemic.”

Image credit | Shutterstock