Monday, 29 September 2008

Hanson - More Closures

Latest News

Asphalt plants and quarries to close at Hanson

Issue date: September 24th, 2008

Six asphalt plants at Heidelberg-owned Hanson are facing the axe as are as many as 10 quarries as the company struggles to fight the effects of the downturn.

Asphalt operations facing closure are Gwalchmi in Anglesey, Pottall Pool in Cannock, Clee Hill in Shropshire, Chipping Sodbury in South Gloucestershire, Penderyn near Aberdare, and Machen near Caerphilly.

Any closures are dependent on review, however, Hanson spokesperson David Weeks told MQR today that given the weakened state of the forward order book closure was likely. Around two-three jobs will be lost at each site with production in each area moving to a nearby site.

Hanson is also looking to close up to ten quarries in response to the downturn. The majority (six or seven, says Weeks) will come from operations at the end of their reserves including Cassington in Oxford and Trentham in Stoke-on-Trent.

The news comes as the company confirmed further brickwork job losses along with the closure of a kiln and three cement mills at its Castle Cement Ketton operation.

Friday, 19 September 2008

Minerals Quarrying & Recycling Magazine (MQR)

Latest News

Lafarge UK set to mothball quarries

Issue date: September 18th, 2008

As the effects of the credit crunch continue to amplify across the construction products market, Lafarge UK says it will be mothballing quarries, which could lead to further industry job losses.

Following a slump in demand across the quarry products sector, which has led to both Tarmac and Cemex announcing job losses, Lafarge UK told MQR today it was too cutting back on production but that details had yet to be finalised.

The French-owned company said in a statement: “Mothballing of some sites will be necessary, but exactly when and which sites depends on varying local market conditions.

“We may well be bringing forward the closure of some sites which are nearing the end of their natural life, and needless to say we are monitoring each of our operations very closely.”

The group’s interim report at the beginning of August recorded an 11% fall in UK revenues during H1 compared with the same period in 2007. Gypsum, cement, concrete and aggregates fell from €734million (£583million) during the same period in 2007, to €653million (£514million).

These results compare with the other Lafarge Group Western European operations in France and Spain that experienced growth of £55million (€70million) and £12million (€15million) respectively over the same period.

The United States was the only other operation to experience losses with revenues falling from £1,031million (€1,309million) to £780.5million (€991million) over the period.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Britain's Summer of Miserable Weather

June 27: The Association of British Insurers said the overall cost of the floods would run into hundreds of millions and urged government to improve flood defences.

July 6: The Chartered Institute of Loss Adjusters (CILA) calculated that domestic claims from the June floods would reach £825m, while those from businesses would be £680m.

July 22: Environment Secretary Hilary Benn defended the Government's response to the floods and Environment Agency chief executive Baroness Young said £1bn a year was needed to prevent future flooding.

Oxford floods ...

Oxford floods deepen as more rain is forecast

By Richard Edwards
1 of 2 Images
Allotments in Oxford as the floods extended into the Thames Valley
Allotments in Oxford. In pictures: UK under water: Oxon | Worcs | Glos

Flooding may have caused greater devastation in affected areas than the foot and mouth crisis, farmers warned last night, as the floods extended throughout the Thames Valley.

Oxford became the latest area hit yesterday and parts of the city will be left under water for two days.

There are further fears with forecasters predicting up to half an inch of rain today in some areas already suffering.

The worst floods in modern history have now stretched more than 150 miles along the Severn and Thames from western England towards London.

Farmers in the worst-hit areas of Gloucestershire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire said it could take three years to recover from the disaster and said the impact could be worse than that of foot and mouth outbreak of 2001.

David Fursdon, President of the Country Land and Business Association, said: "In affected areas it could be worse than foot and mouth disease as in this situation there's no automatic right to compensation. One farmer has lost 200 acres of arable crops and many are battling to save their livestock."

The National Farmers' Union has drawn up a list in Gloucestershire alone of 20 high-risk farms. Dozens of dairies - which require up to 10,000 litres of water a day - are under threat and farmers are using winter supplies to survive. Entire summer crops have also been wiped out, which are likely to send food prices soaring. Ian Johnston, of the NFU, said: "We are facing a complete catastrophe."

Oxfordshire became the focus of the continuing flood crisis. Emergency rescues were carried out at 250 homes in west Oxford in the early hours and authorities confirmed 900 homes in the county have now been flooded.

Emergency services battled successfully to save the Osney Mead electricity sub-station, which provides power to most of the city.

However, 200 people off Abingdon Road, one of the main routes into the city, had their power supplies cut last night and are not likely to be reconnected until later today.

The developments came despite Hilary Benn, the Environment Secretary, announcing in the Commons on Tuesday that he "anticipated no additional, significant flooding in Oxfordshire".

Dr Evan Harris, the Liberal Democrat MP for Oxford West and Abingdon, said he was surprised by the error. He said: "Why did the Government and the Environment Agency get that prediction wrong? These floods are not 1 in 40 year occurrences, since this has now happened three years in eight."

Monday, 15 September 2008

OCC Planning Committee - Future Dates

Dates for your Diary

The WODC Final Report on the Summer Floods of July 2007 is due to be published on 15th October. It is likely therefore that the application will be discussed at County Hall on Monday 20 October. Failing that, the next Planning Committee meeting is on Monday 24 November.

Please note these dates. Your support is VITAL.

Further details will be posted as they become available.

Countryside Alliance CE speaks out on Flooding

Flooding should be treated on the same level as terrorism or a flu pandemic

The official Government report into the 2007 floods, led by Sir Michael Pitt, suggested the much needed infrastructure that will reduce the impact of flooding - but this could take months, even years to implement. While medium and long-term plans must be put in place to ensure adequate defences, it is in the short term that the misery is most apparent. The Pitt report suggests that flooding should be treated on the same level as terrorism or a flu pandemic. Fair, when you consider the floods of 2007 were not only the most serious inland flooding that England and Wales had experienced since 1947, but were ranked as the most financially costly floods in the world for that year.
With over 11,000 people still living in temporary accommodation owing to 2007's floods, we can ill afford this latest blow. Rural Britain's tenacity is being tested to the limit, and supporting our communities has never been more important.
Simon Hart
Chief Executive

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Flood Alert

The River Windrush Catchment
Received at: Location:
Flood Watch
10:37 on 09-Sep-2008
The River Windrush from Bourton-on-the-Water to Newbridge and its tributaries

Monday, 8 September 2008

Minerals Quarrying & Recycling Magazine

Latest News

Hanson loses Hope in Flintshire

Issue date: September 3rd, 2008

Councillors in Flintshire have thwarted Hanson’s application to modify conditions on its existing permission to quarry sand and gravel from Fagl Lane quarry in Hope, leaving the Heidelberg-owned company to assess its way forward.

Non-operational for three years and now up for sale, the quarry is at the centre of a definitions tug of war with Flintshire County Council over whether the site was closed for good in 2004 or whether it was simply mothballed.

The council says a letter sent by Hanson when it closed the quarry states the operation had ceased and so the quarry firm should get on with restoration – a condition in the permission says if work stops for a year then restoration has to begin.

Hanson, which is not seeking to work the site, maintains the operation has simply been mothballed and seeks to modify the conditions for work to potentially begin again. However, the planning committee yesterday rejected the application.

A planning official for Flintshire Council told MQR today: “It was the view of the committee that the site had been abandoned and so needed to be restored. Although there was a balance between those for and against.

“We need to make provision for sand and gravel and as quarries go this is the least problematic site around. But there was a feeling that patience had been tested on this matter. Hanson has no intention of working the site.”

Hanson can now appeal the decision, take the financial hit of starting to restore the site while they find a buyer or simply take the view that a change in permission is not needed because the site has simply been mothballed, the planner said.

Thursday, 4 September 2008

Daily Telegraph - 30th August 2008

Growing flood risks

Sir - I recently attended a meeting called by the Environment Agency to discuss the final draft of the North Essex Catchment Flood Management Plan. It covers the maintenance of watercourses on nearly 750,000 acres of farmland, through 14 towns and innumerable villages.

After four years' work on the project the agency gave one week's written notice of a meeting. The 600-page report arrived one working day beforehand. Present were the contractor, three agency staff, three professional environmentalists and one member of the public (myself) to represent the views of the 2,504 homes and 400 plus businesses at risk from river flooding.

In all areas, apart from three towns, we have been told to expect an increased risk of flooding.

If I were Ken Wilkins (Letters, August 28th), I would not rely on the Environment Agency unless I was a water vole or great crested newt.

Andrew St Joseph
Tollesbury, Essex

Letter published 30th August 2008

Flood Watch today

The River Windrush Catchment

Page last updated: 15:27 on 04-Sep-2008

Current status

Flood Watch

(Flooding of low lying land and

roads is expected.)

Status last changed at:

15:27 on 04-Sep-2008


The River Windrush from


to Newbridge and its tributaries

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Parish Flood Report Roadshows

West Oxfordshire District Council will be holding four Parish Flood Report Road Shows in September as follows:

1) 9th September 2008, 2 to 7pm, at New Beaconsfield Hall, Shipton –under-Wychwood, for the north of the District

Covering: Salford, Chipping Norton, Cornwell, Kingham, Little Tew, Enstone, Chadlington, Charlbury, Ascott-under-Wychwood, Milton-under-Wychwood, Shipton-under-Wychwood, Taynton, Fulbrook, Swinbrook & Widford, Burford, Westwell, Asthall, Leafield

2) 11th September 2008, 2 to 7pm, at Standlake Village Hall, for the south east of the District

Covering: Standlake, Northmoor, Aston, Cote, Shifford & Chimney, Hardwick-with-Yelford, South Leigh, Eynsham, Cassington, Stanton Harcourt

3) 16th September 2008, 2 to 7pm, at Woodgreen Offices, New Yatt Road, Witney, for central and east of the District

Covering: Witney, Minster Lovell, Curbridge & Lew, Ducklington, Crawley, Hailey, North Leigh, Freeland, Combe, Woodstock, Bladon, Hanborough, Ramsden, Finstock, Fawler

4) 18th September 2008, 2 to 7pm, at Bampton Village Hall (booked), for the west and south west of the District

Covering: Bampton, Clanfield, Black Bourton, Grafton & Radcot, Kelmscott, Little Faringdon, Langford, Filkins & Broughton Poggs, Broadwell, Kencot, Alvescot, Carterton, Shilton, Brize Norton

Members of the public affected by flooding have been invited by letter to attend their nearest event; however, they will be welcome to attend whichever road show is most convenient for them.

Representatives from the Environment Agency, Oxfordshire County Council, West Oxfordshire District Council, and Thames Water will be at all the events. Cottsway Housing will be attending the 16th and 18th September Road Shows, and representatives from RAF Brize Norton will be at the 18th September Road Show in Bampton.

These are informal events and a good opportunity to drop in, ask questions and find out more about flood prevention.