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News in brief: University of Botswana accredited by RTPI; Scottish Labour calls for outright ban on fracking

University of Botswana

A round-up of planning news: Tuesday 31 May, 2016

University of Botswana accredited by RTPI

The University of Botswana has become the latest higher education institute to be accredited by the RTPI.

Accredited status means that the scope and quality of Botswana’s full-time bachelor degree in Urban and Regional Planning (with Professional Master’s Degree) have met the RTPI’s requirement for initial planning education, and that its graduates are well taught in the competency areas deemed necessary to become a Chartered Town Planner.

Trudi Elliott, RTPI Chief Executive, said: “I wish to congratulate Botswana University on their accredited status. It is one of the institute’s core aims to help educate the next generation of town planners and nurture in them a shared set of principles and values when tackling the common challenges facing the world today. Helping universities around the world to attain a certain standard and international recognition helps to strengthen the profession as a whole and bolster individuals’ careers.”

The RTPI currently accredits 25 planning schools in the UK and six outside the UK – in Ireland, Hong Kong, Cape Town and now Botswana.


Scottish Labour calls for outright ban on fracking

The Scottish Labour Party has tabled a motion that seeks an outright ban on fracking, on the grounds that further exploitation of fossil fuels would add to global warming.

The motion was tabled by the party’s environment spokeswoman Claudia Beamish ahead of a Holyrood debate on environment and climate change.

Beamish said: "Before the election Nicola Sturgeon told people she was very sceptical about fracking, but now she has been re-elected as first minister she has the chance to live up to her rhetoric.

"The SNP's temporary pause on fracking isn't good enough. Communities across Scotland want a permanent ban on fracking in Scotland.

"Having lost their majority, the SNP are faced with a choice - they can work with centre-left parties like Labour to stop fracking, or they can side with the Tories to go ahead with this dangerous plan."

This move follows an announcement by petrochemicals giant Ineos, which has licences to frack for shale gas across the Central Belt in Scotland, that the company had moved all fracking activity to England.

Ineos’s director of corporate affairs, Tom Crotty, told Herald Scotland: “Our focus is very much south of the border now, where we know we can put planning applications in and we can start work.

"We can't do that in Scotland. We think that is very bad news for Scotland."

HS2: compensation deals offered to home owners

New deals have been offered to home owners and businesses along the proposed route for HS2 in Staffordshire.

The offer means those close to the stretch from Lichfield to Swynnerton would be able to sell their homes to the government for their face value, plus 10 per cent. Compensation payments of between £30,000 and £100,000 would be available for residents and small business owners based between 60 and 120 metres from the route, with £7,500 to £22,500 available to those situated between 120 and 300 metres.

Home owners would also be able to sell their property to the government and rent it back, and anyone that is affected by the line, regardless of distance from the route, can apply to have their property bought if a compelling reason can be provided.

Stafford MP Jeremy Lefroy said: “I am pleased that these schemes have been announced and come into force today.

“I remain opposed to HS2 and will continue to make the case against it in Parliament and elsewhere.”

Multimillion-pound aerospace ‘technology hub’ planned for Yorkshire

Sylatech, a specialist in the design and manufacture of components for aerospace, satellite and defensive systems, is planning a multimillion-pound investment in a new manufacturing facility and 170 associated jobs in Pickering, Yorkshire.

The firm intends to relocate from its existing premises to a larger site that will form part of a “technology hub”, designed to attract like-minded businesses to rural Ryedale in a bid to boost job opportunities in the area.

The facility would be built on grazing land adjacent to the Thornton Road Industrial Estate. Plans include a £7 million 55,000 square foot production facility, 130,000 sq ft of commercial floor space, and the creation of a dedicated habitat for newts, which are prevalent in the area.

David Boulton, head of planning in the North at Carter Jonas, which worked on the plans, said that the development “shows that innovative businesses can thrive in a rural location and provide both excellent employment prospects and a wonderful living environment.”

EU construction giants bid for UK projects ahead of referendum

According to Barbour ABI, seven of the 10 biggest construction companies working in the UK with headquarters elsewhere in the EU have placed bids for UK-based construction projects worth a combined £9 billion.

Companies such as Amey, Bouygues & Skanska continue to bid for UK business.

Although the forthcoming EU referendum threatens to drastically change the business environment, seven construction companies based outside the UK have bid for a combined 71 projects in the UK – including five major HS2 projects – as a main contractor.

Commenting on the figures, Michael Dall, lead economist at Barbour ABI, said: “These 10 companies already have well established UK arms, however, an EU referendum could bring about a change in the business environment, which may make these multi-national businesses potentially think about their future construction pipelines in the UK market.

“If the referendum is in favour of Brexit, there could be possible ramifications for these 10 companies, alongside other EU-based construction firms who work in the UK. It could also cause potential issues for big-ticket projects, such as HS2, which have EU-based companies launching million-pound bids to work on the development.”


Midland Metro has ‘never made a profit’

Trams running from Birmingham to Wolverhampton have failed to make a profit in the 17 years since the line opened, according to accounts acquired by the BBC.

National Express, which runs the metro, has reportedly lost around £34 million on the route since 1999.

The company originally expected eight million passengers to use the trams annually, but only five million do so, with 85 million having used the service since it opened.

This news comes as the £128 million extension to New Street opened yesterday (30 May 2016). Further lines to Edgbaston and Centenary Square are also planned.


125 homes approved for East Lothian

Barton Willmore has secured planning permission in principle for 125 residential units in Gullane, East Lothian, subject to the signing of a planning agreement.

The homes will be built on the former Fire & Rescue Service College site, and the service intends to reinvest the proceeds from the sale of the site in capital projects to enhance and add to Fire & Rescue Service facilities across Scotland.

The proposal retains a landmark historic building, Henderson House, for conversion to flats alongside new homes.