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Thursday, 27 February 2014

Somerset Level's flood pumps 'costing £1m a month'

Somerset Level's flood pumps 'costing £1m a month'

High-capacity Dutch-supplied pumps have been working beside the River Parrett

Fuel for emergency pumps being used to reduce water levels in parts of flooded Somerset is costing close to £1 m a month, MPs have been told.
Dozens of pumps have been sent to the Levels in the biggest pumping operation ever undertaken in the county.
The pumps - including some from The Netherlands - were brought in by the Environment Agency.
It has been suggested the bill was a sign the failure to dredge local rivers was a false economy.
Henry Cator, chairman of the Association of Drainage Authorities (ADA) said: "The cost of inaction is very high too."
He told a Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee hearing: "I think the bill for diesel for the temporary pumps is running at £200,000 per week."
'Flooded again'
Dredging of heavily-silted parts of the rivers Tone and Parrett is due to start next month.
Tony Bradford, a farmer and member of the ADA executive committee in the South West, said the dredging must take place quickly to prevent far worse damage in the summer.
"What worries us now is that if we have an inch-and-a-half or two inches of rain, we're flooded," he told the committee.
"What has happened now is in the winter, but you imagine this four months on: we have a flash thunderstorm, which is quite likely, and we could be flooded again.
"If we get flooded in the summer, the implications of that is a hundred times worse than what we've got now."

Monday, 24 February 2014

Airbus in $9bn deal with VietJetAir for 100 aircrafts

Airbus in $9bn deal with VietJetAir for 100 aircrafts

Agreement will fuel expansion of the airline and further secure work at Broughton

Airbus deal with VietJetAir

VIETNAM'S VietJetAir has finalised a major 100 plane order with Airbus.
The purchase agreement covers firm orders for 42 A320neo, 14 A320ceo and 7 A321ceo, plus 30 purchase rights to meet its future expansion plans.
In addition the airline will lease eight more A320 family aircraft from third party lessors.
The $9bn deal further secures work at the company's wing making plant in Broughton.
The order was finalised today at the Singapore Airshow by Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao, Vice Chairwoman and CEO, VietJetAir and Fabrice Brégier, President and CEO, Airbus.
Fabrice Brégier said: "We are pleased to finalise our first purchase agreement with VietJetAir.
"This order reinforces the A320 Family‘s position as the preferred choice in the single aisle market, both for full service and low cost carriers. We look forward to working with VietJetAir as it brings ever more affordable air travel to the fast growing South East Asian market.”
Luu Duc Khanh, Managing Director, VietJetAir, said: "The A320 has proven to be extremely efficient in service with VietJetAir and is a favourite with our passengers.
"Based on this experience, we look forward to developing our business across the Asia-Pacific region. Airbus will be our strategic partner and provide us with the most economic and comfortable aircraft and coordinate with VietJetAir in relevant training programs.”
VietJetAir took to the skies in 2011 and is the first private airline in Vietnam to operate domestic and international flights. Today the airline operates a fleet of 11 leased A320s on a network covering 20 routes, including domestic destinations, Bangkok, Seoul and Kunming in China.
With more than 10,100 aircraft ordered and over 5,900 delivered to over 300 customers and operators worldwide, the A320 Family is the world's best-selling single-aisle aircraft product line.

Deeside firm to help supersonic jet car smash world land speed record

Deeside firm to help supersonic jet car smash world land speed record

Bloodhound SSC car aims to travel more than 1,000mph

uper-sonic Bloodhound SSC Image courtesy of Curventa and Siemens
A SUPERSONIC jet car  that aims to smash the  world land speed record by  travelling 1,000mph is  being backed by a Deeside  aviation firm.
Bloodhound SSC – a car  with both a rocket and jet  engine – has been designed  to shatter the current land  speed record of 763mph  when it arrives in  Hakskeen Pan, South  Africa, in 2015.
Deeside based PPA  Group, a leading  manufacturer of  composites and aviation  components, is part of the  project team – responsible  for designing and  manufacturing the canopy  and porthole side windows  for the car.
The Bloodhound SSC  project team, led by  Richard Noble, who held  the land speed record  between 1983 and 1997,  chose to work with PPA by  recommendation.
Conor La Grue,  Engineering and Product  Sponsorship Lead, said:  “We were immediately  sure the PPA Group was  the right company to  produce the high speed  transparencies for the  Bloodhound SSC.
"We  require the hardest  working screen for the  necessary speed at which  the car will be travelling,  and we feel in safe hands  with PPA.”
The canopy and side  windows are being crafted  using specialist  aviation-grade acrylic. It is  moulded and heated to  form the exact dimensions  and structure required,  and will be tested to  withstand heat build-up  and air pressure.
“The entire PPA team  certainly has a can-do  attitude and a passion to  deliver a great final  product. That comes  across in everything they  say and do,” said Conor La  Grue.
The car
Bloodhound SSC is exactly what it says - a SuperSonic Car.
It is supersonic because it is designed to go faster than the speed of sound.
It is a car because it has four wheels and is under full control of its driver.
Bloodhound SSC is a jet and rocket powered car designed to go at 1,000 mph (just over 1,600 kph). It has a slender body of approximately 14m length with two front wheels within the body and two rear wheels mounted externally within wheel fairings. It weighs over 7 tonnes and the engines produce more than 135,000 horsepower - more than 6 times the power of all the Formula 1 cars on a starting grid put together!
The Car is a mix of car and aircraft technology, with the front half being a carbon fibre monocoque like a racing car and the back half being a metallic framework and panels like an aircraft.
Land speed record
The current holder of the Outright World Land Speed Record is ThrustSSC, a twin turbofan jet-powered car which achieved 763.035 mph - 1227.985 km/h - over one mile in October 1997. This was the first supersonic record as it broke the sound barrier at Mach 1.016.

Friday, 21 February 2014

India Plans to Install 26 Million Solar-powered Water Pumps

India Plans to Install 26 Million Solar-powered Water Pumps

Photo: SunEdison
India’s government wants to replace 26 million groundwater pumps for irrigation with more efficient pumps that run on solar power, in an effort to relieve farmers of high costs of diesel fuel. Diesel generators are commonly used when grid power is unavailable, a not uncommon occurrence. And the power used for pumping irrigation water is also one of the largest strains on the Indian power grid.
The initiative is expected to require $US 1.6 billion in investment in the next five years just to switch out the first 200 000 pumps, according to Bloomberg.
Pumping water is critical for Indian agriculture, which otherwise relies on seasonal rain. It's also very contentious—Indian farmers are currently drawing more water than is sustainable, removing about 212 million megaliters from the ground each year to irrigate about 35 million hectares.
One of the risks of switching to solar pumps, however, is that farmers may use even more water than they currently do with expensive diesel generators. To combat that unintended consequence, the farmers who accept the subsidies to purchase the solar water pumps must switch to drip irrigation. The state of Punjab is also offering subsidies for drip irrigation
The government thinks the upside of solar pumps will outweigh the risks. “The potential is huge,” Tarun Kapoor, joint secretary at India’s Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, told Bloomberg. “Irrigation pumps may be the single largest application for solar in the country.”
Falling prices of solar panels means that the payback for a solar water pump system is about one to four years, Ajay Coel, CEO of Tata Power Solar Systems, told Bloomberg. Some state governments in India are subsidizing most of the cost of the systems because it helps eliminate the billions of dollars in annual farm diesel subsidies that go to farmers.
Agriculture isn’t the only sector that the government is trying to wean off of heavily subsidized diesel. Mandates will require 75 percent of rural and 33 percent of urban telecom towers to run on renewables by 2020
Solar powered “water ATMs” are also bringing clean water to rural India. All of this activity is part of why India is expected to be the fifth largest market for solar PV by 2015. It is not just small, rural projects to supplant diesel, either.India has plans for a 4-gigawatt solar PV plant, which would nearly triple the country’s solar capacity and be the largest in the world.

Somerset flood pumps turned off after riverbank damage

Somerset flood pumps turned off after riverbank damage

Eight high-capacity Dutch-supplied pumps have been installed beside the river near Bridgwater

High capacity water pumps deployed on the Somerset Levels have had to be switched off because of damage to the riverbank.
The pumps at Dunball, which have been brought in from the Netherlands, were installed by the Environment Agency.
A spokesman said the River Parrett's bank had been damaged due to the volume of water being discharged from the King's Sedgemoor drain.
Engineers are working on a plan to get pumping started again, he added.
A total of 13 Dutch pumps were brought in by the Environment Agency to divert water in a bid to reduce levels in the River Tone and River Parrett.
Eight of them were installed at Dunball and five at Beerwall, near Bridgwater.
Pipe extension
The original plan was to run the pumps at Dunball for a few days before levels had been reduced enough for the ones at Beerwall to be turned on.
The agency spokesman said the pumps were switched off on Saturday evening.
"We will be working round the clock on alternative options so that pumping can start as soon as possible," he said.
"In the meantime we expect levels in the drain to continue to drop naturally."
Engineers were looking at stabilising the bank by adding ballast and extending the pipes so they pump water further into the estuary, the spokesman added.
He hoped the pumps would be turned back on again "at some point" on Monday.
Up to a million tonnes of water has already been pumped out, the spokesman added.
About 65 sq miles (41,600 acres) of the Somerset Levels have been flooded for several weeks.
A wakeboarder rode the flood water on the Somerset Levels on Sunday

The Dutch pumping system that could save submerged Somerset

The Dutch pumping system that could save submerged Somerset

orry loads of equipment have been arriving in Somerset all over the weekend.

A convoy of massive pumps and drainage equipment has been imported from the Netherlands to help drain the areas of Somerset still underwater.

The Dutch pumping company arrived in Somerset over the weekend. Credit: Van Heck

Four Dutch engineers with enough equipment for 21 pumps have arrived in Somerset since Friday. The Environment Agency have enlisted the help of Jerome Van Heck, a flooding expert engineer whose equipment has helped drain waters in times of floods and natural disasters across the globe.

The area near Bridgwater in Somerset, almost completely submerged in water. Credit: ITV News

When he arrived in Somerset and realised the scale of the problem, he shipped more equipment over from the Netherlands over the weekend.

It could take weeks or months to clear the land from the floodwater. Credit: ITV News

The extra pumps have been set up to funnel the massive amount of water out of Bridgwater and back to sea. As Peter Rossiter, a former National Rivers Authority manager explains, the pumps will help to drain the water that currently has nowhere to go.
There is an enormous amount of flooded land upstream, which can't get out because of what we call tidelock. The pumps will help pump against that tidelock.

Some of the pumps will be installed in Bridgwater. Credit: ITV News

The process will work by using the highly complex system of canals in the area. The giant pumps will be installed around submerged Bridgwater, which is currently a bottleneck for water.

The pumps will push the water upstream and inland.

The massive machines will then funnel the water upstream and inland towards Moorland, and on towards Langport, where a relief gate can be opened on the River Parrett, near Langford

The relief gate will then funnel the water through on the River Parrett, near Langford. Credit: ITV News

The relief gate will allow the water to flow down a relief channel into the King Sedgmore drain allowing the water to flow out to sea, more quickly at high tide.

The pumping system should allow some of the water to be taken at high tide. Credit: ITV News

Once this happens, it should mean that in areas where the flooded water is stuck, it should be able to begin to move. But it is a huge task, and with more bad weather forecast, there is no guarantee of when the fields will begin to drain.
Van Heck said earlier in a statement the situation may require even more pumps to ensure the plan actually works.
At the present moment Van Heck has shipped more than 20 pumps using more than 30 lorries to flood ridden Somerset.
With more bad weather forecast, it is likely that even more may be needed.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Hospital ward under investigation closed due to lack of staff

Hospital ward under investigation closed due to lack of staff

Allegations of patient abuse were made at Deeside Community hospital which has now closed Gladstone ward

Deeside Community Hospital

Health chiefs have been forced to close  a ward at a troubled Flintshire hospital  because of a lack of staff to run it  safely.
Gladstone Ward at Deeside Community Hospital, Aston, was already at  the centre of an investigation sparked by  allegations of patient abuse when it  closed on Friday.
A combination of the investigation,  staff off work sick and retirements from  service have been blamed for the chaos.
Local councillors branded the situation “disgusting” and accused health  bosses of letting patients down.
George Hardcastle, county councillor  for Aston, said:  “It’s disgusting – absolutely disgusting.  This hospital is supposed to be serving the community but  it’s letting the community down. 
“We have elderly and vulnerable people  who have been pencilled in to have  treatment there and now what are they  supposed  to do?  
“These patients are already in need of  treatment and shouldn’t have to travel  any further than they need to.”
The investigation involves North  Wales Police, Healthcare Inspectorate  Wales, Flintshire County Council and  Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board (BCHB)  was launched in August.
The hospital has two wards – both are  under investigation. No members of staff  have been suspended from duty while  the investigation is carried out: instead  those members of staff in question have  been given other duties to perform.
BCHB said concerns had been raised  around “issues of care, dignity and respect of patients”. “The investigation into  the concerns previously raised is now  nearing completion.”
Health bosses said the investigation  and pressure on staff numbers had left  them struggling to run the ward safely.
BCHB spokesman  spokesman said:   “This has been caused by a combination  of retirements, long-term sickness and a  number of staff being on restricted duties while an investigation into standards  of care is completed.
“Twelve beds had to be taken out of use  over the Christmas period as it was not  possible to ensure safe staffing numbers  on every shift, even by trying to obtain  bank and agency staff.
“Although every effort is being made  to recruit extra staff, the pressures on  staffing are continuing at present.  This is  at a time when the emergency demand  on the health service means the hospital  is looking after frail patients with complex needs.
“On Friday we decided to concentrate  all the available staff to work on one ward  to make sure all shifts can be safely  covered.  This has meant the number of  available beds in the hospital has temporarily been reduced to 24.”
While the ward is closed hospital  bosses have grabbed the chance to carry  out planned maintenance work.
The spokesman said: “While the Gladstone ward is closed, the opportunity  is being taken to renew the flooring and  carry out other refurbishment work that  was due.   This work could not be carried  out while the area is in use so would have required the ward to be closed for a period anyway.”
It remains unclear when Gladstone  will have enough staff on rota to start  functioning again or where patients will  be treated in the meantime. 
The spokesman added: “The ward will  reopen as soon as we have sufficient staff  to ensure that all shifts can be covered  safely across both wards.”
Interviews for vacant positions left by  those retiring are due to be carried out next week.
Health unions said they were aware of  the problems the hospital was battling. Donna Hutton, regional  organiser for North Wales health branch  of Unison, said the union was keeping an  eye on developments on Gladstone Ward.

North Wales: Slips and trips cost councils more than £31,000 in compensation in 2012/13

North Wales: Slips and trips cost councils more than £31,000 in compensation in 2012/13

Flintshire Council was forced to fork out over £12,000 after someone slipped at Deeside Leisure Centre

Deeside Leisure Centre

A sauna room slip cost a council more than £12,000 in compensation while a similar sum was paid out after a child slipped on a foam play shape.
A Freedom of Information request has uncovered the compensation bills paid out by local authorities for trips and falls in 2012 and 2013.
It revealed a list of payouts that totalled more than £31,000.
These included a slip at Deeside Leisure Centre as someone was leaving the sauna room that saw £12,100 paid to the injured party by Flintshire Council.
The same local authority also paid £11,520 after a child slipped on a foam play shape at the Venerable Edward Morgan School in Shotton.
It faces two further claims from incidents at schools including one from a person who fell on a freshly mopped floor at Maes Glas Primary School in Greenfield.
The other case at Ysgol Croes Atti, Flint, saw a fall from a rolled up mat as the person left the school building. Money has been set aside in reserve for these claims.
In Denbighshire two claims were lost by the claimants with no compensation paid out.
One claim was from someone who had fallen on mud in Gwyddelwern while the other was from a person who had fallen over stacked chairs in Prestatyn.
The council did payout £1,000 after someone tripped over a metal bolt in Rhyl.
Wrexham settled a £3,700 bill after someone claimed after tripping on a manhole cover while a steps fall saw £500 paid out.
The authority is currently dealing with two on-going cases. These include a claim after someone fell off monkey bars at Acton Park in Wrexham.
A spokesman for Flintshire County Council, which had paid out a total of £26,000, said: “We do our upmost to prevent accidents happening on council owned premises and to keep people safe. Unfortunately accidents do happen from time to time. We always take steps to prevent reoccurrence and to mitigate risks.”
Alex Aldridge, Flintshire County councillor said while many claims would be legitimate, some could be part of the “blame game culture”.
He said: “I’m afraid we’ve inherited some of the less attractive practices from the US including the blame game when it comes to making a claim against organisations for money. 
“But while some of the £26,000 figure could come from that, if there has been negligence on behalf of the council then it is right that the injured person is compensated.”

Deeside fire station: Big plans put forward for transformation

Deeside fire station: Big plans put forward for transformation

An artist's impression of what the improved and extended fire station at Deeside may look like
Deeside Fire Station looks to undergo a major transformation after plans to remodel the existing building were submitted to planning bosses.
The application, which was put to Flintshire County Council earlier this week, proposes to extend and improve current facilities at the station to bring them up to standard.
A design and access statement says that the extension will provide an additional 75.61m² of space to increase the  size of the existing appliance bay ‘to comply with current standards and the demand of the station itself’.
The existing building will also be upgraded to offer a larger and more modern administrative and operational area which is hoped will help improve response times and staff the welfare.
The former ambulance service section of the station will also to be remodelled to provide an area for staff training, together with facilities for use by partner agencies and the wider community.
The statement also explains how the station will look once work is complete.
It says: “The materials and colours chosen for the building reflect a modern, `high-tech’ building, to offer a  break in the current simplistic surrounding brick buildings.”
Plans also state that the existing bin store will be retained and a new covered bike store will be created.
Paul Claydon, assistant chief fire officer with responsibility for North Wales Fire and Rescue Service’s estate, is looking forward to the improvements.
He said:  “The work will involve remodelling and extending within the  current site, with the introduction of a new training facility and a community area for use by members of the public.
“We are looking to create an up to date facility which will help North Wales  Fire and Rescue Service continue to serve and meet the needs of the local community now and over the coming decades.”

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Manchester Airport bosses remove advertising promoting Deeside Enterprise Zone

Manchester Airport bosses remove advertising promoting Deeside Enterprise Zone

The poster is taken down four weeks before the end of a Welsh Government campaign looking to attract investment into North Wales

The poster at Manchester Airport

Bosses at Manchester Airport ordered the removal of a prominent advertisement promoting the business benefits of Deeside Enterprise Zone.
 The poster, extolling the proximity of Deeside to the airport, was taken down on Sunday, four weeks before the end of the Welsh Government campaign.
 The advert was sited on a premium plot on the airport’s busiest road and visible to all passengers leaving Terminals 1 and 2.
 But executives at the airport believed it competed with the £800m landmark property development Airport City which is about to begin construction.
 Now the Welsh Government has to look  for other sites in Manchester to promote Deeside Enterprise Zone as a destination for investment.
 The fact that Deeside is just 35 minutes travel time from Manchester international airport was a main focus of the campaign.
 At Liverpool Airport, the adverts still appear inside the arrivals terminal and on a 96 sheet poster site on the key route out.
 David Jones, principal of Coleg Cambria and chair of the enterprise zone board said: “I’m staggered by this decision by the airport really, particularly after contracts had been raised and paid for.
 “Do they really think that Deeside is that much of a threat to Manchester Airport – perhaps they do.”
 Welsh enterprise minister Edwina Hart announced the eight week campaign at both airports last month as a “good opportunity” to raise awareness of the zone as a hub for advanced manufacturing with key companies like Airbus, Toyota, Tata and UPM.
 The 2,000-hectares zone has direct links to the M56/M6 and is on the E22 Euro Route making it strategically positioned to access both Irish, domestic and European Markets. It was also the first Enterprise Zone in Wales to secure Enhanced Capital Allowances for qualifying investment.
 A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “We signed a contract, in good faith, for this advert to be in place for two months and we expected that to be fulfilled.”
 Airport City is hailed as one of the biggest regeneration schemes in the UK since the 2012 Olympic redevelopment in East London. It will provide offices, hotels, advanced manufacturing and warehousing, the website says.
 A Manchester Airport spokesperson said: “The site is a gateway to our Airport City programme and as we begin construction this year, we will be looking to maximise exposure for this project during the early part of 2014.”
 Last month, economy minister Edwina Hart said: “Both airports are well used by business people and the campaign provides us with a good opportunity to raise awareness of Deeside Enterprise Zone its proximity to the airports and the benefits it can offer. We are promoting the Zone as a great centre for companies in the UK looking to expand as well as overseas companies looking for a base in the UK.”