Caerphilly-based social enterprise, Celtic Offsite, has teamed up with one of the UK’s leading timber suppliers, Premier Forest Products, as part of their ambitious plan to develop a Welsh supply chain to reduce its carbon footprint and support the local economy.

Celtic Offsite, part of the United Welsh Group, manufactures low carbon homes by producing high quality, sustainable timber frame structures, complete with factory fitted insulation and windows, to build up to 250 low carbon homes a year.

Premier Forest Products was initially approached by Celtic Offsite to supply Oriented Strand Board (OSB) for sheathing for timber frame panels, plywood and chipboard. However, thanks to Premier’s growing product offering, they have recently started supplying roof trusses, engineered floor joists and Laminated Veneer Lumber (LVL) for structural beams, taking Celtic Offsite ever closer to their goal of using Welsh suppliers for more of their manufacturing work.

Neil Robins, Managing Director of Celtic Offsite said: “We are actively committed to making the areas in which we work better and more environmentally sound. We have been certified as a Climate Positive Business by Earthly, meaning we will remove more greenhouse emissions than we produce. One of the ways that we will do this is by working with local suppliers who have a similar mindset to our own.

“We have been so impressed by the service and quality of the products supplied by Premier Forest that we have consistently increased the range of items that we order from them.”


Co-founder and CEO of Premier Forest Products Terry Edgell said: “As an organisation, we firmly believe that the use of timber should be at the forefront of sustainable housing development. At the moment, wood in construction is the only commercially viable carbon capture and storage system so, simply by using more wood in construction, we can turn our built environment into a weapon against climate change.

“It is so inspiring to be working with an organisation in Wales that not only recognises the benefits of using timber but is actively working to build a sustainable supply chain, hopefully changing the way that homes are built.”


Premier Forest Products is a vertically integrated timber operation engaged in the importation, sawmilling, processing, merchanting, and wholesale distribution of timber and timber products from its 12 sites in the UK.

As part of its commitment to the local community, Celtic Offsite offers an on-site training suite to provide skills development and apprenticeships for green construction jobs.

The factory has been awarded two prestigious International Organization for Standardization (ISO) certifications; ISO 9001 for quality management and ISO 14001 for environmental management. Celtic Offsite has also achieved PEFC certification for the chain of custody of forest-based products and were awarded Gold by the Structural Timber Association in their latest audit.

MWJV, a Cornish construction services consultancy, has been supporting the build of Spaceport Cornwall, which launched its first mission on Monday 9 January.

The company has been managing the construction of the spaceport facilities at Cornwall Airport Newquay, which first began in January 2022. Spaceport Cornwall is the first place in the UK to offer space launch capabilities.

Roger Hannaford, Financial Director at MWJV, said: “We’ve been working closely with Spaceport Cornwall and the contractors to ensure the project is delivered on time, on budget and to the highest possible standard. Our work has included project management, quantity surveying, health & safety management and the appointment of a NEC Supervisor.

“Working on Spaceport has been a fantastic opportunity and we’re now looking forward to finalising the project and celebrating its many future successful launches. It’s great to see such an innovative and nationally significant project come to life here in Cornwall.”

The spaceport project includes the construction of two new buildings and supporting infrastructure. The Space Systems Integration Facility (SSIF) was completed in September and is now occupied by one of Spaceport Cornwall’s customers, Virgin Orbit. The SSIF is where the rockets are assembled and includes a large cleanroom, crane, and airlock for satellite integration activities, as well as welfare facilities, meeting rooms, and a large final assembly area.

The second building, the Space Systems Operations Facility (SSOF), will be multi-purpose and is where on-site mission control will be based. The SSOF is currently being fitted out and is set to be completed by the end of March.

Construction has been carried out by two main contractors, each with a supply chain of subcontractors. The principal contractors are Kier, which has led the general construction, and specialist firm Bassaire, which has headed up the cleanroom elements.

MWJV Senior Project Manager Phil Knight said: “The project has been an interesting challenge for us to manage the delivery of the construction phase in readiness for Spaceport Cornwall’s first customer. The project has involved a complex supply chain comprising a multitude of specialist contractors required for the Space Systems Integration Facility fit out and supporting infrastructure.”

The project also involves the installation of specialist equipment, including a shipping container-sized frequency converter, groundworks for access and car parking, and a rooftop solar array to help meet the building’s sustainability requirements for its BREEAM certification.


Commenting, Ross Hulbert, Business Development Manager at Spaceport Cornwall said: “MWJV provided an excellent service in managing the delivery of these complex buildings. These facilities are key to attracting a sustainable space industry cluster on-site, bringing jobs and building local skills. We are also excited that we are providing great opportunities for local businesses, like MWJV, to expand their capabilities into the space industry.”

The spaceport is the first of its kind in the UK, allowing for horizontal launches of satellites with a modified Boeing 747 and detachable wing-mounted rocket. Previously, satellite manufacturers had to take their products to other countries for launch.

Boost for modern homebuilding as government launches work with industry to set UK-wide standard


  • Government will work with British Standards Institution to develop a new standard for homes built using modern methods of construction
  • The new standard will reduce costs and enable the industry to grow
  • New industry working groups to advise the government, ahead of a full consultation later this year 


More high quality new-build homes will be delivered through modern homebuilding, as the Department for Levelling Up Housing and Communities today (24 January) announced it has commissioned a new UK-wide standard for Modern Methods of Construction that will boost the sector.

Modern Methods of Construction are used by many homebuilders to deliver energy efficient homes more quickly, reducing waste while also creating a wider range of jobs in the construction sector.

The government has commissioned the British Standards Institution to develop a universally recognised standard for homes built using Modern Methods of Construction. This will reduce costs and allow more people to benefit from the technology – delivering more homes across the country and helping thousands of young people and families onto the housing ladder.

This week, industry representatives will come together for the first in a series of working groups to inform the new guidance and share best practise for using Modern Methods of Construction in areas such as manufacturing, logistics, design, and assembly of homes.

The move forms part of the government’s ambition to boost innovation in homebuilding and deliver more quality, future-proofed homes that communities across the country need.


The Housing Minister Lucy Frazer said:

“We want to help homebuilding step into the future. This means embracing the latest technology to deliver more high quality, energy efficient homes for generations to come.

“Our work with the British Standards Institution and the wider industry will help to do just that – allowing more homebuilders to take up modern methods of construction, creating new jobs and homes across the country”



Anthony Burd, Head of Built Environment at British Standards Institution Knowledge Solutions said:

“The British Standards Institution looks forward to working with the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities and industry on this hugely important standard. As society’s needs change and in light of the role all of us have to play on the road to Net Zero, improving levels of building safety and ensuring better design – Modern Methods of Construction will be key to meeting these future challenges.

“The standard will provide essential requirements and guidance for best practice in the residential building sector and much needed assurance for the growing off-site sector.”


The government will also be inviting key stakeholders to specialist advisory groups, before launching a consultation on the proposals later this year.

The new requirements will be introduced by the British Standards Institution via a Publicly Available Specification. This specification will set out the recommended technical standards when building homes using a range of Modern Methods of Construction categories, as well as defining quality assurance and compliance processes for the sector.

A universally recognised standard will help increase choice and access to product warranties, insurance and mortgages – reducing costs for homebuilders and consumers when using Modern Methods of Construction. The changes aim to encourage greater adoption of Modern Methods of Construction, by levelling the playing field with traditional homebuilding.


Further Information:

  • The British Standard Institution will run working groups with 30 industry stakeholders to begin the process of developing the Publicly Available Specification for Modern Methods of Construction homebuilding. The first three working groups will run on 24, 25 and 31 January.
  • The government will also run specialist advisory groups with key stakeholders as part of this process.
  • A wider range of stakeholders will then be invited to comment on the Publicly Available Specification during a formal consultation process later this year.
  • More information on Modern Methods of Construction is available in the definition framework here.


Ofwat’s Innovation Fund launches £4m open competition to reward innovators working in the construction industry with bold solutions for the water sector

  • Ofwat today launches the Water Discovery Challenge, a new £4m competition for innovators outside of the water sector with bold ideas that can help solve some of its biggest challenges.
  • Ofwat is calling on innovators working in the construction industry to apply their ingenuity and skills to deliver breakthrough solutions to be used by the water sector.
  • Water companies provide drinking water and sewage services to over 50 million households in England and Wales, with a sewage network that could wrap around the world 13 times – yet the sector faces significant challenges due to increasing demand and climate change.
  • The Water Discovery Challenge, the latest competition from Ofwat’s £200 million Innovation Fund, will fund innovation from sectors meeting similar challenges.

Today, England and Wales’ water regulator Ofwat launches the Water Discovery Challenge, a £4m competition for innovators working in the construction industry with bold and ingenious ideas that can solve the biggest challenges facing the water sector today and in the future.

The competition is the latest from Ofwat’s £200 million Innovation Fund, which seeks to generate new ideas to tackle issues including managing leaks, preventing pollution, improving water efficiency, reducing emissions, boosting flood and drought resilience, prioritising sustainable practices, and supporting vulnerable customers.

Where previous Ofwat Innovation Fund competitions have focused on innovations from, and led by, those within the sector, the new Water Discovery Challenge is incentivising ideas from, and led by, those outside of the water sector – including in construction.

It is seeking solutions from industries dealing with similar challenges to those faced by the water sector, or implementing solutions that could benefit water and wastewater services in England and Wales – with no requirement for entrants to partner with a water company. The goal is to open the sector to new ground-breaking insights and thinking that benefit consumers and the environment.

Up to 20 teams of the most promising innovators will be awarded up to £50,000 to develop their ideas, with expert support and mentoring from water companies. Up to 10 will go on to win up to £450,000 to turn ideas into pilots.


David Black, Chief Executive of Ofwat said: “It’s no secret that the water sector has faced challenges in the last year. As a regulator we’re constantly pushing the sector to overcome these. Water affects everyone, and it’s time we see what the water sector can learn from astronauts, farmers, data specialists, architects and planners. This is about preparing the water sector for the future, and I look forward to the ideas that come out of it.”


John Russell, Senior Director at Ofwat, said: “Our £200m Innovation Fund has already supported projects that detect and fix leaks, capture carbon emissions from water processing plants to convert them into fuel, and remove fertilisers from waterways to be re-used in our food system. Now, we’re broadening the opportunity to innovators in any industry that can make a difference to improving the water system for all of us.”


Ofwat is looking for bold and innovative entrants from outside the water sector. It has identified five sectors where it believes there is particularly high potential for innovative crossovers: construction, energy, cities and transport, agriculture and farming, and digital, data and internet of things.

To deliver the competition, Ofwat is working with innovation prize experts Challenge Works, alongside global engineering, sustainability and water sector experts Arup, and Isle Utilities. In addition to financial incentives, successful teams will benefit from expert mentoring and capacity-building support, including access to insights and mentoring from water companies and support for scaling solutions for the extensive water network in England and Wales.


Holly Jamieson, Director at Challenge Works, said: “Our experience of nurturing and rewarding innovators across multiple challenge prizes has shown us that it is often the least likely suspects that can provide the solution with the greatest impact. And with the support of Arup and Isle Utilities, we can work closely with innovators from outside the water sector to turn great ideas into real-world solutions.”


Previous examples of Ofwat Innovation Fund winners that showcase the value of cross-sector collaboration with the construction sector include:

  • Enabling Water Smart Communities Designing new housing and urban environments to absorb excess water like a sponge during heavy rain events and cope with sustained drought by recycling “greywater”.
  • Designer Liner – Aiming to line older pipes from the inside to prevent leaks and increase the lifespan of mains pipes.
  • Community-Centric Rainwater Management Asking communities to test new water butts called Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) that will help manage the flow of rainwater and reduce risk of flooding in paved urban areas.

The Water Discovery Challenge is open to entries from today at 1200 (GMT)

and closes on 5 April 2023.

To find out more about the competition and enter,



KINGDOM Housing Association has announced it has acquired eight ‘highly energy-efficient’ homes for mid-market rent in Blairgowrie, Perthshire, from Scotia Homes.

The two and three-bedroom properties are Kingdom’s first mid-market rent homes in the Blairgowrie area and will be let and managed by Kingdom Initiatives.

The £1.5 million project is part of the larger private Hazelwood site and has been part- funded by the Scottish Government with a contribution from Perth & Kinross Council. The remaining balance has been financed by Kingdom Housing Association.

Bill Banks, Kingdom Group chief executive, said, “The new homes at Hazelwood mark Kingdom’s first mid-market rent offering in the area and have been completed to an extremely high standard. Modern methods of construction mean these homes are highly energy-efficient and the inclusion of solar panels means tenants will be able to make the most of renewable energy. The homes also benefit from fast fibre internet connectivity which is ideal for home working.

“Kingdom has a great track record of collaborative working and through our partnership with Perth & Kinross Council and Scotia Homes, Kingdom Initiatives is able to offer these new homes to help meet current housing needs in the area. Demand for the properties was very high with around 130 people enquiring about the eight homes.”

Councillor Tom McEwan, Perth & Kinross Council’s housing and social wellbeing convener, added, “These excellent mid-market homes for social rent will help to meet a particular housing need in Blairgowrie. They have been built to an extremely high-standard, with a range of energy-efficiency measures included to help keep tenants’ energy bills down and reduce the carbon footprint of the development. I am delighted that the council was able to make a significant contribution towards the cost of the homes.”

Lesley Lindsay, development lead from Scotia Homes, commented, “Scotia Homes are delighted to deliver Kingdom Housing Association with eight high-quality homes. Our on-going development at Hazelwood, Blairgowrie gives us great pride, and the delivery of multi-tenure homes helps to further enrich the development. Kingdom Housing Association have been a delight to work with, and we look forward to further building our relationship with them.”

Source: Project Scotland

UK colleges are increasingly incorporating drones into their curriculums – and are turning to heliguy™ for consultancy, supply, and training. Find out how Oldham College and Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) are introducing drones to help students working towards qualifications such as T Levels and HTQs.

  • Rising number of UK colleges are incorporating drones into their curriculums – and turning to heliguy™ for consultancy, supply/support, and training;
  • Drones are being integrated into a range of syllabuses to help students work towards qualifications such as T Levels and HTQs; 
  • Find out how and why Oldham College and Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) have introduced drones into their teaching provision, and how heliguy™ is supporting them;
  • Oldham College is using drones within its new T Level Construction curriculum, and will also introduce UAS as part of its HTQ construction qualifications and the Introduction to Modern Methods of Surveying course;
  • SRUC is utilising drones to bolster its course delivery of Forestry and Arboriculture, and Agriculture – with qualification levels including Certificate, Advanced Certificate, HNC, and HND;
  • heliguy™ has a track record of working with the education sector, supporting universities such as Cranfield, Cambridge, and University College London (UCL).

UK colleges are increasingly incorporating drones into their curriculums, recognising the technology’s value to real-world applications and helping to prepare students for a digital future.

With UAS playing an ever more important role in the world of work, drones are fast-becoming an integral component within higher and further education, as colleges aim to bolster career development pathways, provide authentic learning experiences, and cultivate skills in industries where drones are driving accurate, efficient, and safe data collection.

As such, a rising number of colleges are seeking drone supply, support and training from heliguy™, who has a track record of working with the education sector, including universities such as UCL, Cranfield, Nottingham, Cambridge, Newcastle, and Stirling, to facilitate ground-breaking research.

heliguy™ is helping colleges integrate the technology and associated workflows into courses such as construction, forestry, and agriculture – for students working towards a range of qualifications, including T Levels and HTQs (Higher Technical Qualifications).

This blog will focus on two colleges: Oldham College and Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) – highlighting why they are incorporating drones into their curriculums, and how heliguy™ is supporting them.

Oldham College Introduces Drones For T Level Construction Course

Oldham College – which offers an extensive range of technical and professional qualifications – is a recent adopter of drones, having purchased the DJI Mavic 3 Enterprise and DJI Mini 3 Pro, as well as the Emlid RS2+ GNSS receiver, from heliguy™.


As part of the offering, drones will be used within the new T Level Construction curriculum: A sector that is increasingly benefiting from the deployment of UAS.

T Levels are two-year courses which are taken after GCSEs and are broadly equivalent in size to three A-Levels. They are developed in collaboration with employers and education providers so that the content meets the needs of industry and prepares students for entry into skilled employment, an apprenticeship, or related technical study through further or higher education.


Tom Leahy, Oldham College’s Head of Department for Building Services Engineering, said: “Drone technology sits within the Building Technology Principles topic and will be used on our T Level provision, which includes Design, Surveying and Planning – where drones will be used throughout the full course – and Building Services Engineering, where they will be used during the core year.

“Learners are required to understand the benefits of using technologies from other industries and how the construction industry is incorporating these technologies, such as drones.

“The course content will cover surveying using drones and how they can be used for construction – including thermal imaging – as well as site security, site inspections, and virtual walkarounds.”

Oldham College will also introduce drones as part of its HTQ construction qualifications and the soon-to-be-launched Introduction to Modern Methods of Surveying.


As well as drone hardware supply and support, the staffing team at Oldham will benefit from heliguy™ training, including dedicated surveying tuition from the in-house GIS team, and the Ofqual-regulated TQUK Level 4 drone pilot training course – an advanced version of the GVC (General Visual Line of Sight Certificate) – delivered by heliguy™’s training instructors.


Tom said: “We chose heliguy™ due to their experience with drone technology and wide range of testimonies.

“The service provided gives us the technology, and more importantly, the continuing professional development required for all of our delivery staff.

“It is very important that all our staff are fully up-to-date with industry developments and current methods used within the construction industry. Staff also need to be confident in the delivery of drone technology, so using a reputable company like heliguy™ that can provide the drones and the required training, is essential.”

SRUC Adopts Drones For Agriculture And Forestry

SRUC is Scotland’s national provider of college and university-level education in the land-based sector.

The institution has turned to heliguy™ for the DJI M300 RTK drone and L1 LiDAR and photogrammetry sensor; the Mavic 2 Enterprise Advanced; and the Phantom 4 Multispectral, to bolster its course delivery of Forestry and Arboriculture, and Agriculture – with qualification levels including Certificate, Advanced Certificate, Higher National Certificate (HNC) and Higher National Diploma (HND).



Lecturer Philip Sage, who specialises in land management, forestry and land-based engineering, said it was vital that students were au fait with drone technology, given its ever-increasing role in forestry management, monitoring tree health and characteristics, and capturing precise and accurate spatial data.

He said: “Drones have become an everyday bit of kit within the sector, and more and more students are asking about using drones as a tool for forestry and ag-tech.

“So we have decided to introduce them as part of our courses to help students feel comfortable around them and understand how to maximise their capabilities within the industry and properly analyse the data they collect. For example, the image below shows a point cloud of our walled garden and orchard.


“Using drones in this way helps to prepare the students for the real-world application of drones in forestry and agriculture – whether it is conducting mapping for land management, using multispectral drones for managing crops and monitoring their health or efficient nutrient applications, or utilising thermal cameras for deer surveys.”

The drones will also be used for SRUC’s research and survey work.

“Drones are a great enabler for conducting scientific research – feeding into work addressing health and productivity in animals, animal welfare and crops; and wildlife conservation, promoting low carbon farming and increasing farm output through efficiency and innovation,” said Philip.

One such project includes a joint initiative with Forest Land Scotland to assist a study into the management of individual ash trees affected by ash dieback.

Philip added: “This research will provide the students with an opportunity to see the drones being used on a real-world project and show how UAS can make a difference. For example, the thermal drone image below is of an ash stand which was taken to assess the extent of ash dieback.”



To provide the students with comprehensive tuition, SRUC’s six-strong forestry staffing team has completed the UK CAA-approved A2 CofC drone training course through heliguy™.

Philip has also undergone dedicated surveying training – including RTK and PPK, and LiDAR data capture and processing – delivered by heliguy™’s surveying specialists, as well as heliguy™’s Ofqual-regulated Level 4 Drone Training Course, which includes the completion of workbook assessments.


He said: “It was important to complete the Level 4 course, as well as the specialist surveying course, as it adds credibility, deepens understanding, and widens knowledge about surveying workflows, which in turn benefits our students and enables us to pass on more information to raise the standard.

“heliguy™ was recommended to me: We have received really good support and have benefited from a two-way service, where their consultants have worked with us to provide the best drone solutions tailored to our course requirements. The training has also been excellent.”


Drones have become an essential tool for a range of industry verticals, so it is no surprise that more and more colleges are starting to introduce the technology into their educational provision. In doing so, they are laying the foundations to provide students with the skills required for a modern-day working environment.

Having played a leading role within the drone sector for almost 20 years, heliguy™ has witnessed the evolution of UAS as commercial tools and understands the value of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) learning and how drone adoption can pave the way for enhanced opportunities and employment credentials.

As such, heliguy™ takes pride in supporting educational establishments and is committed to help colleges, schools, and universities integrate the technology into curriculums to facilitate the development of an innovative and tech-savvy workforce of the future.

Richard Dunlop, part of the heliguy™ surveying team, said: “Aerial drone surveying is embedded into a number of industries, and it has a growing role in AEC, forestry and agriculture.

“It has been a pleasure working alongside Oldham College and SRUC with our drone technology and training, and it is great to see educational bodies opening themselves up to the benefits of drone surveying, showing them how drones can be used to complement and elevate existing workflows. “heliguy™ looks forward to supporting education and the new T Level courses with a variety of courses planned for the year ahead.”



The School of Civil Engineering and the Built Environment, at Liverpool John Moores University, leads the way with ‘robot dog’ investment.

LJMU is the first university in Europe to acquire Spot and the 3D Laser Scanner with software as a package and plans to use its £150k investment for teaching and research.


Engineers at LJMU have gone out and bought a dog!


It’s four-legged and likes a little walk but ‘Spot’ won’t be barking or looking for cuddles because it’s a robot dog designed for all terrains and ideal for construction and civil engineering surveys.

‘Spot’ is prepped with a Trimble 3D Laser Scanner at the BuildingPoint UK and Ireland Service Centre

Supplied and adapted by BuildingPoint UK and Ireland (the construction arm of Liverpool based mapping and surveying equipment specialists, KOREC), the robot dog has been developed by American robotics company, Boston Dynamics, in conjunction with Trimble who are the manufacturers of Spot’s 3D Laser Scanner payload. The end result is an agile, fully autonomous, four-legged robot that can be used to enter buildings which are unsafe for humans or to survey building projects as they progress.

The robot dog can either undertake fully autonomous pre-programmed missions or can even be operated remotely and controlled off-site. Both options will ensure that Spot is a perfect fit for survey requirements in hazardous conditions or for carrying out repetitive survey tasks, freeing up a skilled surveyor to work elsewhere.


Sam Hough, BuildingPoint UK and Ireland Business Manager, said:

“LJMU is really at the forefront of what is happening within the construction industry which is currently undergoing a digital revolution. Not only is Spot an important addition to construction sites from a health and safety perspective, but also a significant reminder that if the construction industry is to overcome a skills and labour shortage, then this is just the sort of technology to attract a new, motivated generation of engineering surveyors.

Spot is presently active on several construction sites following investment by major construction companies so for LJMU to already be preparing the next generation of engineers in this way will be of considerable importance for the industry as a whole.”


Dr Fiona Borthwick, Interim Subject Head of Civil Engineering and Built Environment, said: “We’ve been excited about Spot for a very long time, so we’re pleased that we now have our robot dog up and running. It’s a great plus for our students that they will be familiar with this technology before they go full-time into the industry, and we look forward to further exploring Spot’s capabilities and options for different payloads.”


Plaid Cymru has renewed calls for the devolution of the Crown Estate to Wales, following the Estate’s confirmation of six new offshore wind energy lease agreements, worth an estimated £1 billion.

In response to the bonanza, announced on 19 January, the King had asked for profits from the new leases to be used for the “wider public good” rather than as a funding boost for the monarchy.

A Buckingham Palace spokesperson said: “In view of the offshore energy windfall, the Keeper of the Privy Purse has written to the Prime Minister and Chancellor to share the King’s wish that this windfall be directed for wider public good, rather than to the Sovereign Grant, through an appropriate reduction in the proportion of Crown Estate surplus that funds the Sovereign Grant.”

Welsh communities

Ms Saville Roberts has long called for profits from renewable energy generation off the Welsh coastline to be reinvested into the communities of Wales rather than to go to the UK Treasury.

Plaid Cymru has also pressed for the devolution of the Crown Estate to Wales, as has been the case in Scotland since 2017.

In a letter to Sir Michael Stevens, Keeper of the Privy Purse, Ms Saville Roberts said that given the King’s support for profits to be directed for the “wider public good”, and that environmental matters and natural resources are devolved matters, that the Palace should consider directing the money to the people of Wales, via the Welsh Government, rather than to the UK Treasury.

In her letter, the MP for Dwyfor Meirionnydd writes: “In light of the offshore energy windfall from which the Crown Estate will benefit in coming years, I understand that the King has indicated his preference for the percentage of the Sovereign Grant to be reduced so that more of the Crown Estate’s profits can be ‘directed for wider public good’.

“This comes following the news that the Crown Estate has signed leasing agreements for six offshore wind projects which together will result in revenue of close to £1bn for the Crown Estate every year. One of the six projects will be located off the North Wales coast, reminding us of the historic opportunity offshore wind represents for the Welsh economy.

“As I understand, the Crown Estate is also developing plans to lease further areas of the seabed in the Celtic Sea to floating offshore wind developers.

“As you may be aware, management of the Crown Estate in Wales is reserved to Westminster, while in Scotland management of the Crown Estate has been devolved to Scottish Government since 2017.

“There is growing support in Wales for Welsh Government to receive the same powers as Scotland so that the people of Wales are able to benefit directly from the economic opportunities presented by the potential for renewable energy production on land held by the Crown Estate.

“My Private Member’s Bill, the Crown Estate (Devolution to Wales) Bill, received cross-party support in the 2021-22 parliamentary session. Given that environmental matters and natural resources are devolved to the Senedd, we believe that profits from renewable energy generation should be reinvested into the communities of Wales – not to Treasury coffers.

“I would urge you to explore further the devolution of powers over the Crown Estate in Wales to Welsh Government, in particular with your fellow Royal Trustees; and ask that this matter is raised in any further communication with the Treasury regarding the Sovereign Grant.”


It is not clear as to the exact amount of taxpayer funding the King has passed up and asked to be used for public good, but it is likely to be many millions.

The Crown Estate – an ancient portfolio of land and property – belongs to the reigning monarch ‘in right of The Crown’ but it is not their private property.

The monarch surrenders the revenue from the Estate – more than £312 million a year – to the Treasury each year for the benefit of the nation’s finances, in exchange for the Sovereign Grant which covers the running costs of the royal household and events such as official receptions, investitures and garden parties.

The Grant goes up if Crown Estate profits increase, but it does not fall when they decrease.

The capital value of the portfolio is more than £15 billion.


Source: Nation-Cymru

In response to the announcement that £60m will be made available to revive brownfield sites, Mark Powell, managing director of EDAROTH – a wholly owned subsidiary of Atkins – said: “Any investment in housing is a positive move. But looking at the scale of the problem across the UK today, this is barely a drop in the ocean, especially compared to the £1.6bn spent on temporary accommodation from 2021 to 2022, according to government’s own figures.

“There are currently in excess of one million households on social housing waiting lists across England, so an extra 5,800 homes by 2027 as quoted in the statement is in no way adequate. And it is a long way short of widely accepted estimates that we need to build at least 90,000 new social homes per year.

“It’s a challenge that requires a proportionate response. However the recognition that brownfield sites have a role to play in the solution is welcome, as we have been calling for, and integral to that development is the use of modern methods of construction.

“In addition to traditional methods, MMC represents a very real opportunity to accelerate the delivery of new homes across the UK which are not only energy efficient but can also be built faster with greater cost certainty.

“But the MMC sector needs a strong pipeline of developments in order to sustain it and make it viable in the UK, which we would hope funding announcements like this will support.”

Source: Building Design & Construction

Illustrative image of nuclear fusion concept

South Oxfordshire District Council Planning Committee approves fusion energy project; construction to start this year at UKAEA’s Culham Campus.

The fusion demonstration will be built to 70 per cent scale of a commercial power plant at UKAEA’s Culham Campus. The fusion machine is expected to be commissioned in 2026 and fully operational by early 2027.

Following the resolution to grant planning permission by the South Oxfordshire District Council Planning Committee, construction of General Fusion’s demonstration at the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority’s (UKAEA) Culham Campus is expected to start this summer.

When construction of the 10,500m2 building is complete, General Fusion will lease the building from UKAEA. The company’s fusion machine is expected to be commissioned in 2026 and fully operational by early 2027.

Built to 70 per cent scale of a commercial power plant, the demonstration will create fusion conditions in a power plant-relevant environment, achieving temperatures of over 100 million degrees Celsius. This is a crucial step on the path to eventually powering homes, businesses and industry with zero-carbon fusion energy. The facility itself will not generate power.

Siting the facility at the UKAEA’s Culham Campus, part of the thriving UK Fusion Cluster, enables General Fusion to access world-leading science and engineering capabilities, such as knowledge and experience in designing, constructing and operating the record-breaking Joint European Torus. In addition, the company will benefit from the UK’s existing fusion energy supply chains.

“The UK has been a longstanding leader in fusion energy development. We are thrilled to join the Culham Campus and the UK’s Fusion Cluster, and anticipate creating 60 long-term jobs at the site,” said Greg Twinney, CEO of General Fusion. “In addition, we expect the project will generate approximately 200 jobs during construction.”

“The UKAEA welcomes this milestone as it aligns with our strategy to create clusters that accelerate innovation in fusion and related technologies, and support public-private partnerships to thrive,” said Professor Sir Ian Chapman, CEO of UKAEA. “It also builds upon our heritage of hosting major fusion facilities here at our Culham Campus.”

The building was designed by architects, AL_A, led by Stirling Prize winner Amanda Levete and Ove Arup Engineers, and has been developed to exemplary design and sustainability standards.

“Receiving planning permission is a huge milestone and testament to the close collaboration between our team, General Fusion, and the UKAEA. The building will not only be highly efficient but one that also expresses the technological optimism of fusion to solve the energy problems of the world,” said Amanda Levete, founder and principal of AL_A. “The design projects a confident message to the public about the extraordinary potential of this technology. It represents a clear shift in the relationship between environment and industry, moving from one of opposition to one of symbiosis.”

The design of the fusion demonstration facility is intended to enhance the surrounding biodiversity. The building will achieve BREEAM excellent accreditation through a mix of strategies that include reusing waste heat, natural ventilation to minimize cooling loads, as well as a large green roof and extensive photovoltaics.


Source: Built Environment Network