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News in brief: Port Talbot transport hub moves forward; HS2 boss Kirby quits for Rolls-Royce

Words: Huw Morris
Port Talbot transport hub

A round-up of planning news: 13 September, 2016

Port Talbot transport hub moves forward

A £5.3 million integrated transport hub in Port Talbot has been given the green light by the Welsh Government.

The hub, which will be a focal point for the area, will be located adjacent to the rebuilt Parkway station. It is jointly funded by £2.7 million from the Welsh Government and £2.5 million from the European Regional Development Fund.

Economy and infrastructure secretary Ken Skates said: “Improving local public transport connection forms a central part of our vision for transport in Wales and having such an inviting, dedicated facility will be a big step towards that for the area.

“It is now vital that such local infrastructure improvements are matched at national level, and I continue to press the UK Government to ensure that electrification of the rail line to Swansea happens at the earliest possible opportunity.”


HS2 boss Kirby quits for Rolls-Royce

Chief executive of HS2 Simon Kirby is leaving the £56 billion high-speed railway project to join Rolls-Royce as chief operating officer.

He joined the project in May 2014 from Network Rail, where he was managing director of its infrastructure projects business.

HS2 has also announced the appointment of Mel Amey, formerly chief executive of Amey, as a non-executive director.


Countryside campaigners call for housing development near transport hubs

High-density housing development next to public transport hubs would boost urban businesses while reducing pressure on the countryside, according to campaigners.

A paper by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) says locating development alongside transport infrastructure would focus regeneration on brownfield sits and increase connectivity to employment centres.

The paper - the latest in the groups’s Housing Foresight series - follows recent government consultation on the National Planning Policy Framework, which identified 680 commuter hubs suitable for high-density development.

The CPRE suggests smaller places including market towns could similarly help in delivering connectivity, services, jobs and business opportunities. It also says terraced housing and mansion blocks could provide high-density homes and preserve the character of towns.

Making the Link is available here.


Trade unions attack UK’s low investment record

The UK is near the bottom of leading countries for investing in housing, transport and industry, say trade unions.

Research by the TUC found that out of 35 OECD countries only Greece and Iceland had lower capital investment levels than the UK. The TUC added that in the wake of the EU referendum it was crucial that the UK closed the “investment gap”.


Green buildings could diminish threat of air pollution

Air pollution can be reduced by up to 20 per cent if buildings adopted ‘green envelopes’ or ‘living walls’, according to research by Arup.

The engineering consultancy said the contribution of moss and vegetated walls, vertical farming and roof gardens to combating air pollution has previously been underestimated. It called on cities to adopt a strategic approach to “greening” to create cleaner environments.

The study highlights that green envelopes can reduce sound levels from emergent and traffic noise by up to 10 decibels in certain situations. They can also reduce peak energy consumption in traditional buildings by up to 8 per cent.

Read more here.


Final two in race to buy Green Investment Bank

Two bidders submitted final offers this week to buy the Green Investment Bank.

Macquarie, an Australian investment and fund manager, and the UK-based consortium Sustainable Development Capital are competing for the bank. The government hopes to raise £2 billion from the sale.


Gatwick renews onslaught against Airports Commission

Gatwick Airport has attacked forecasts by the Airports Commission as “even further out of date than previously thought” after reporting it carried 42 million passengers in the past year.

The commission, set up by former prime minister David Cameron to advise on airport expansion in the South-East, has suggested Gatwick would not reach this level until 2030. Gatwick said the milestone proved the commission had relied on “flawed and inaccurate data”.


World’s largest tidal stream project launched

The MeyGen tidal stream project in Scotland, the largest of its kind in the world, has officially been launched.

The scheme, at Nigg Energy Park near Inverness, includes one of the world’s largest tidal turbines at 15 metres tall with blades of 16 metres in diameter and weighing almost 200 tonnes.

The turbine is the first of four to be installed underwater, each with a capacity of 1.5MW, in the initial phase of the project. The developer, Edinburgh-based Atlantis Resources, intends to install up to 269 turbines, bringing the project’s capacity to 398MW – enough to power 175,000 homes.