Developments have fallen by more than half in a year, from 46 this time last year to just 17 in the past six months. But a report today warns that London is still facing a massive oversupply of empty office space in the next few years.Despite the slowdown in new starts this year, more than 12m sq ft of office space is still under construction, according to the Crane Survey from property consultancy Drivers Jonas out next week, equivalent to about 24 new blocks the size the Swiss Re tower in the City of London.There is already about 15m sq ft of office space lying empty in central London, and vacancy rates in parts of the capital such as the City are set to rocket as banks and other financial institutions look to reduce staff and freeze relocation plans.In the Square Mile alone there is 5.6m sq ft of space under construction without a waiting tenant, and the majority of this will be completed in 2009. The larger speculative schemes include Minerva’s Walbrook development, the Heron tower in Bishopsgate and British Land’s Ropemaker Place.Financial Times
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“We have to live with fossil fuels as the dominant part of the energy mix for decades,” says Statoil’s President and CEO Helge Lund at the 2013 Autumn Conference. “The big question is therefore how to make production cleaner than today, and make consumption more efficient. This is not simply a task for politicians and world leaders, although they play a major role. Industry and the private sector need to be committed and to contribute,” Lund says.In the 2013 World Energy Outlook, the International Energy Agency (IEA) presents a central scenario in which global energy demand rises by one-third in the period to 2035. Today’s share of fossil fuels in the global mix is 82%, the same as it was 25 years ago. The strong rise of renewables only reduces this to around 75% in 2035.“Those who argue that we should stop exploring, harvest existing fields and block new opportunities are, at best, preparing for a future that doesn’t exist – or which will be sustainable for very few. At worst, it is a way forward that will prevent a better and brighter future for millions of people,” says Lund.If the world comes together in a response to meet the IEA’s 2-degree scenario, there is still need for new production. To deal with the decline of production from existing fields we must replace some 4 times the level of Saudi Arabia’s production of oil. We also need to add approximately 10 times the gas production capacity from the NCS to meet the demand of such a low-carbon future.“Some take the view that extraction of finite resources almost by definition is unsustainable. That they create more harm than good. I beg to differ. Our industry is not issues-free. There are benefits as well as burdens. We need therefore to continue to increase the first and minimize the latter. How we respond to the climate challenge is at the core of that debate,” says Lund.China is the main driver of increasing energy demand in the current decade, but India takes over in the 2020s as the principal source of growth.“As industry players, we also carry a responsibility to meet our common challenge, look for solutions, and implement and improve our Co2 footprint. We do not have all the answers. There is not one single solution. Our efforts cover a range of areas on which our progress still varies,” he says.Statoil points to the importance of framework conditions that better incentivise consumers and the energy industry to make the right decisions. The company calls for a global price on carbon reflecting the real impact of emissions. A global price on carbon will stimulate technologies that can deliver energy with minimum carbon footprint.Statoil also points to the increasingly important role of natural gas – as more gas at the expense of coal in the energy mix contributes to reducing emissions by around 50 %. Secondly, the company works to reduce methane emissions. The third effort is to reduce natural gas flaring and finally Statoil is building on its carbon capture and storage experience to position for a future commercial CO2 business.[mappress]Press Release, October 25, 2013
Dunn v Institute of Cemetery and Crematorium Management: EAT (Judge McMullen QC, Mrs R Chapman and Mr P Smith): 2 December 2011 Charles Millett of Morecrofts, Liverpool for the employee; Daniel Northall (instructed by Beachcroft, Leeds) for the employer. Sex discrimination – Employee married to husband – Tribunal dismissing claim In December 2007, the employee commenced employment for the employer as technical services manager (northern). The purpose of her appointment was that she could establish an office in the north of Britain. In February 2008, she was told that there would be changes to her entitlement to sick pay. During consultation on the matter, issues arose as to the employee’s responsibilities and performance which upset her. She registered grievances about changes to her contract which were rejected. In September 2008, she went off sick. Later that month, the employer decided to shelve the northern office project. In October, the employee was informed of the proposal to remove her role and a consultation was started. In February 2009, the employee resigned. She brought a claim in the employment tribunal for, inter alia, sex discrimination under section 3 of the Sex Discrimination Act 1975 in that the employer had treated her less favourably because she was married to D, her husband. The tribunal held that the employee was not discriminated against on the ground of her status as a married person, but because of her relationship to D and, accordingly, the claim of direct discrimination failed. The employee appealed to the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT). Before the EAT, documents were referred to including statements from the employer’s chief executive, M, to the effect, inter alia, that D had ‘relentlessly harassed’ him. Those statements further accused the employee of being aware of D’s ‘private commercial activities’. The principle issue that fell to be determined was whether the act applied to protect the employee, whose complaint was that she had been discriminated against on the ground of being married to D. In respect of that issue, consideration was given, inter alia, to the EAT decision in Chief Constable of the Bedfordshire Constabulary v Graham  IRLR 239. The employee further invoked article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, claiming that her right to respect for private and family life had been breached. In respect of the latter issue, consideration was given to articles 12 and 14 of the convention and the Human Rights Act 1998. The appeal would be allowed. (1) Graham was the authority for the proposition that a married person was protected by section 3 of the act by reason of her being married to her husband. It followed that any person who was married, or in a civil partnership, was protected against discrimination on the ground of that relationship and on the ground of their relationship to the other partner. Any less favourable treatment which was marriage-specific was unlawful (see ,  of the judgment). In the instant case, Graham was correct and applicable. There could have been no doubt as to the link in the employer’s conduct between the employee and D. It was clear that the employer’s officers had treated the employee the way they had, adversely, because of her relationship to D. She was treated as an adjunct to his family. There would have been no reason to raise, in the employee’s grievance proceedings, matters relating to D unless they were married. Accordingly, the construction adopted by the tribunal had been incorrect (see , ,  of the judgment). (2) In the instant case, article 8 of the convention was engaged. There was no reason for the employer’s attitude towards D’s involvement to adversely affect the employee’s treatment at work. Article 12 of the convention was probably only subsidiary (see  of the judgment). The case would be remitted to the original tribunal for determination of whether the employee had been unlawfully discriminated against on the construction of the act, applying articles 8, 12 and 14 of the convention (see  of the judgment). X v Y  IRLR 625 considered.
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For some time now the contracting market has been reluctant to entertain single-stage tendering. This is not true across the board but it is generally the case. So, in accepting the rise of two-stage tendering again many clients are currently challenging themselves, and their QS, as to how they can “hang on to their shirt” at the end of the second stage.The lack of trust, sadly, is still very evident in much of what the industry does, as is the “swinging of the pendulum” from one side to the other in terms of taking commercial advantage – informed of course by the temperature of the market. Perhaps, then, it’s worth exploring the ingredients of a successful two-stage tender process.First thoughts go to what can the employer and his team actually control. In my experience, it’s all too easy for people to believe this is “not much”, commenting further that the eventual price is “totally in the hands of the contractor”. This is not the case.Essential matters within the control of the employer and his team would include a clear brief, the setting of key dates and durations, the production of quality information, client change, the cost target, a realistic design and procurement programme, engagement and timing of the supply chain, pre-construction activities and complete team awareness over roles and responsibilities. With all of these things being key influencers on level of price, there is much to be happy about and focused on.The part that is ultimately outside of the client’s control is contractor behaviour at agreement of the stage-two price, but keep the faith for a moment and read on … The short way of summarising the above is to say that a real focus on what you can control will help manage what you can’t.The stage-one enquiry document is an important document and needs to be put together well, adequately explaining the full procurement process and how it will runHaving promoted the importance of focusing on doing a great job on those items you can control, careful consideration needs to be given to a programme that allows adequate time for critical activities and is not too ambitious in its plan. Being realistic and ensuring that activities occur in good time and in the right order is fundamental to success. The programme needs to be both understood and agreed to by all parties and unless this is the case there is likely to be a weak link, or a “ticking time bomb” (I think the expression is one step forward, two steps back).Upon a settled programme bought into by the employer and his whole team, preparation for going to market should include allowing adequate time to warm up the industry, selling the scheme to the market, ensuring the design team understands the whole process and their role in it and, finally, keeping momentum once you’ve started the process.The stage-one enquiry document is an important document and needs to be put together well, adequately explaining the full procurement process and how it will run – including the important detail around how the second-stage price will be formulated.Selection criteria for the contractor will include understanding of the project, construction proposals, commitment to cost and time targets and experience, calibre and attitude of the team. While these are relatively objective points, the inevitable emotional ones will be “who do I trust?” and “who do I think I have the strongest relationship with at senior level?”. The truth is that all of these points are in play.Upon selection of your contractor, the second-stage commences with the over-riding objective of successfully procuring the subcontract works. This typically runs over several months and is too involved to simply summarise all of the do’s and don’ts here. However, key focus areas include the trailing of the second-stage process to the full team, adequately warming up the trades, staying on top of the design, page turning tender documents, only sending out tender packages when you are satisfied with their quality and staying engaged post tender return. A final one, perhaps more controversial, is the requirement for the tenders to be returned to the employer and “belonging to him” until such time that the total contract sum is agreed.By adopting all of these principles one would hope that the chances of a successful two-stage process are enhanced. In summary, the important points are a well-rehearsed and well-executed plan of action, total team buy-in to the process, a focus by the employer and his team on what they can control, an effective stage-one process and recognition that relationships and trust are important. The one negative thing (but sadly necessary) is the ability to have a contingency plan if a stage two-price can’t be agreed. However undesirable, a “Plan B” should exist and be visible.As an industry, it would be good to be positive about two-stage tendering and generally trusting one another a bit more. After all, the toes one steps on today may be attached to the backside one has to kiss tomorrow…Iain Parker is a founding partner of Alinea Consulting
Ejar noted that the fleet expansion was undertaken to meet rising demand from its customer base in the region. The cranes will be used primarily by energy sector customers.Ejar has also placed a large order for a range of Liebherr all-terrain cranes that are set for delivery during 2013.www.liebherr.comwww.ejarco.ae
The Snow RoseLulu TaylorPanReview: Lauren O’Connor-MayThe Snow Rose is a curious read. Perhaps I missed it but to me it seems as if this book has a complete absence of a discernible genre.When I first picked it out from the review pile I wondered what I was getting myself into. The cover looked spooky, with a bit of a Virginia Andrews feel to it. “Is this a horror?” I wondered. It isn’t, not really, but it does get spooky at times.The novel starts out a bit like a thriller, with smatterings of chick lit. The lead character is on the run, as the back cover informs. She’s running from a great many mysterious things, it seems. As the chapters pass, the curiousities of why she is running and hiding aren’t resolved but intensified.And then, midway through the book, just after the first major plot twist – which is very cleverly hinted at since the beginning of the story – boom! A complete change of storyline. Just like that, the novel suddenly picks up in the middle of a family inheritance squabble, several decades earlier. This alternating storyline is linked to the first but this is not obvious from the outset. In this secondary storyline, the eldest sister and only heir of the family’s vast estate, surprises her younger sisters by becoming entrenched with a doomsday preacher. Deviating deeper into a new genreless realm, the story becomes increasingly strange as an ever-increasing number of quirky characters are added. Then both storylines pick up the chick lit thread again as the former begins to resolve itself and the latter builds into a rather sweet love story.And if that is not enough, throw in a bit of mania, a teensy bit of philosophy, an orgy and a good solid dollop of weirdness and only then will you start to get an idea of what this book is like.
CONTRACTS were signed in Gabarone on August 3 for resignalling of the Botswana Railways network.Ansaldo Signal subsidiary Union Switch & Signal has been selected to provide computer-based Direct Traffic Control to replace the now-obsolete British Radio Electronic Token Block equipment installed in 1989-90. As part of the programme, the number of crossing loops on the 640 km Ramatlabama – Bakaranga main line will be cut from 41 to 21, but the remaining loops will be extended to take longer trains.According to BR Chairman M I Ebrahim, the resignalling project began in May 2004, when CIE Consult was appointed as project management adviser. This led to the selection of US&S as principal supplier.As well as providing the DTC equipment, similar to that used in Queensland for more than 10 years, US&S will also install Microlok II interlockings and remotely-controlled signalling at eight stations. Work is scheduled for completion by April 2007. n