At a glance: Ferrovial’s air control tower

At a glance: Ferrovial’s air control tower

Spain’s Ferrovial has released photographs of the control tower it is building with Acciona and local construction company JJC at Jorge Chavez International Airport in Lima, Peru, it’s first project in the South American country.

Awarded in May last year, the project involves constructing the 61.5m-tall tower along with six ancillary buildings, including a fire station and a fauna control unit that will house birds of prey and other wildlife that stray into the airport’s precinct.

In all, some 3,100 sq m of built area are due to start operating in 2022 as part of the airport’s expansion plan.

“It is an ongoing challenge for us to carry out the project in this current situation with Covid-19… but even with the new protocols and measures provided by the Government, we are managing to meet the contractual schedule while safeguarding the security of our partners’ health,” said José Antonio Tellez, Ferrovial’s country manager for Peru last July.

Project stats

Some 3,000 cubic metres of concrete are used in the 21m-diameter tower’s shaft and interior slabs. Also used are 640 tons of corrugated steel and 450 tons of other metallic structures.

An 800-sq-m industrial building houses an electrical regulation and transformation centre with electrical rooms, a generator set and fuel supply system, UPSs and batteries, RCTs and a communication room.

Other buildings house electrical substations, access control points and water treatment facilities.

Bye-bye, PFI: UK signals effective end of private

Judged to deliver poor value for money, the UK’s once mighty Private Finance Initiative (PFI) has fallen into disuse.

It fuelled the “Blair’s Billions” campaign to build roads, hospitals and schools in the 2000s, but now the UK government has only two large privately financed projects on its books, and has not brought forward any new schemes for 18 months, a House of Commons committee has been told.

At its peak, the use of PFI procurement accounted for more than 60 projects a year, worth £8bn annually.

These represent an expenditure of about £2bn, just 4% of the £50bn pipeline of government infrastructure work.

Altogether, only 12 projects have been brought forward under PF2 in the past five-and-a-half years, representing 0.4% of the government’s total capital investment.

This is the picture that emerged from oral evidence given by senior officials to the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC), which is investigating whether the PFI delivers value for money.

Roxburgh said: “We have not done a new PF2 project since April 2016, which was the last of the schools programmes. We think there are some promising projects on the horizon – some good roads projects – but we are talking of a handful, rather than going back to the days of the 2000s, when it was up to one a week and £8bn a year.”

Witnesses said PFI fell into disuse because it got difficult to prove that private funding provided better value for money than public funding.

To validate the choice of PF2 the Treasury checks it against the “public sector comparator” to decide if it would be cheaper.

However, he denied that the government was planning to abandon the method altogether. “We are using PF2 in a much more focused way than was the case for PFI. [It is now] a very small, specialist approach to financing public investment.” In practice, this will be for projects where the advantages of transferring risk to the private sector will outweigh the superior borrowing power of the government.

Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP, the deputy chair of the PAC, commented: “When we did our report in 2011, we said that these PFIs had not demonstrated value for money. We asked you to publish the evidence. Our sister committee, the Treasury Committee, asked again in 2012, and you were going to publish it in 2013. You were going to publish new evidence in 2014. You have still not published that evidence.”

Other factors behind reduction in PF2 contracts are a fall in the financial attractions for both sides. For the government, the private investment in a public project is no longer “off balance sheet”, and so PF2 schemes push up official government debt.

UK may shoulder cost of new nuclear plants

The UK and Japanese governments may fund a new nuclear power station planned in Wales, in what seems to be a reversal of the UK’s insistence that its planned new fleet of reactors be funded by developers only.

The idea would be to capitalise on governments’ ability to borrow more cheaply than the private sector, thus reducing overall project costs.

Damned for being expensive and risky, that project is being funded by heavily indebted EDF, of France, and China’s state-owned nuclear power company, China General Nuclear (CGN).

The UK’s National Audit Office last year declared Hinkley a “risky and expensive” deal and said government should have considered taking on some of the construction risks to lower costs for consumers.

One senior UK government figure told The Financial Times that ministers were looking for “creative solutions” for future projects that would “not look like Hinkley” but would also be different to the “1950s model” of governments shouldering the full cost of nuclear construction.

UK abandons rail electrification schemes

Sarens, the Belgian heavy lifting specialist, this month unveiled the world’s largest heavy-lifting crane and trailed the coming in two years’ time of an even bigger lifter, which remains shrouded in mystery.

The unveiling at its works in Ghent means its famous “Big Benny” crane, the SGC 120, is now superseded, but that takes nothing away from its illustrious, six-year career lifting extremely heavy things all over the world.

This massive unit has now been exceeded by Big Benny’s Big Brother: the SGC 140.

“Bigger Benny” has the same lifting capacity but can move weights around a larger radius, which means it is able to work on projects with a greater area without having to be dismantled and moved to another position. It can be built with a boom of 130m, to which a jib of up to 99m can be added.

The Caspian job

The SGC 140 will make its debut on a three-year contract helping to build an oil refinery in Kazakhstan and installing equipment to increase the reservoir pressure in the giant Tengiz field in the northern Caspian Sea.

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