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Electricity reinforcement scheme named Scottish Project of the Year at RICS awards

The £1.1 billion Caithness-Moray transmission link was named the overall Scotland Project of the Year

Over 25 of Scotland’s most impressive and community beneficial building projects battled it out for top honours at the 2018 RICS awards, where the Caithness-Moray electricity network reinforcement took the overall Project of the YearScotland title.

Held at The Sheraton Grand Hotel & Spa, Edinburgh yesterday, the annual RICS Awards 2018, Scotland celebrate inspirational initiatives in the land, property and construction sectors across eight category awards.

The highly acclaimed Scotland Project of the Year accolade is presented to the category winner that demonstrates overall outstanding best practice and an exemplary commitment to adding value to its local area.

The project also took home the Infrastructure category award

The project, which has energized the initial section of the £1.1 billion Caithness-Moray transmission link, won the Infrastructure category award before being named the overall Scotland Project of the Year.

Head judge of the RICS Awards in Scotland, Colin Smith MRICS, said: “The network reinforcement highlights the importance of a long-term investment commitment to energy production and its transmission from the connection of remote wind farms in Caithness along the sea bed to the north-east corner of Scotland.

“This highly technical project required a significant degree of logistical planning, project management, safety procedures and engagement with the local community. This project is a leading exemplar for the need and benefits of investing in Scotland’s infrastructure.”

Commercial category award winner ScottishPower House in Glasgow

Other category winners include ScottishPower House, Glasgow, in the Commercial category, Marischal Square, Aberdeen, which took the accolade for Regeneration, and Countesswells, Aberdeen, taking the award for the Residential category.

The ScottishPower project saw consolidation of 1,650 staff from several different ScottishPower operating businesses into its new headquarters, an impressive achievement alone, but the design strategy and procurement route used to deliver the building proved equally impressive to the judging panel.

Colin Smith said: “The design of the building was fully tested pre-construction and the city centre location drove the need to develop innovative off-site manufacturing processes that minimised material storage and deliveries whilst accelerating construction.”

The Residential category was won by the Countesswells project in Aberdeen

Countesswells won the Residential category, providing an example of a large-scale housing development being funded by innovative means utilising a UK Treasury guarantee that has allowed certainty and confidence to invest in a significant amount of up-front infrastructure and environmental works.

Director of RICS in Scotland, Gail Hunter, said: “Residents in Countesswells are taking ownership of completed spaces by becoming members of the management company responsible for maintaining new public spaces and allowing them to own and control the land’s future use.”

Colin Smith added: “The regeneration of Marischal Square is transformational for Aberdeen City Centre.  It has reversed the negative impacts of the building it replaced and delivered a mixed-use development that has enhanced the setting of two of the city’s most important heritage assets.

“The significance of the new office space is heightened by its Aberdeen context, where such development has in recent decades been lost to the urban fringe. Marischal Square will help Aberdeen City Centre to capture the benefits of the economic success of the city region.”

Aberdeen’s Marischal Square was awarded the prize for Regeneration

6 St Andrew Square, Edinburgh, was also Highly Commended within the Commercial category. Other category winners include Appleton Tower, Edinburgh, in the Design through Innovation category, Falls of Shin, Lairg, which took the accolade for Tourism & Leisure.

Gail Hunter said: “I would like to congratulate all winners of the RICS Awards, and the high quality of projects shortlisted, demonstrating the calibre of built environment work taking place across Scotland. The winners showcase schemes, from billion pound investments to locally funded community projects, all of which have a positive impact on their region and wider economy.”

All category winners will go on to compete against regional winners from across the UK at the national RICS Awards Grand Final on 2 November 2018 in London, for the chance to be crowned the overall UK winner in their respective category.

RICS Awards 2018, Scotland – Winners

Building Conservation

Winner – St. Cecilia’s Hall, Edinburgh

Commercial

Winner – ScottishPower House, Glasgow

Community Benefit

Winner – Dunfermline Carnegie Library & Galleries, Dunfermline

Design through Innovation

Winner – Appleton Tower, Edinburgh

Infrastructure

Winner – Caithness-Moray Electricity Network Reinforcement

Regeneration

Winner – Marischal Square, Aberdeen

Residential

Winner – Countesswells, Aberdeen

Tourism & Leisure

Winner – Falls of Shin, Lairg 

Project of the Year

Winner – Caithness-Moray Electricity Network Reinforcement

SME building firms bemoan ‘rocketing’ material prices

Rising material prices are squeezing margins at more than half of the UK’s small building firms with the same percentage having to pass these price increases onto consumers, according to new research.

A survey by the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) found that 56% of small and medium-sized (SME) building firms have had their margins squeezed, an increase of one third (32%) in July 2017.

Around 49% of firms have been forced to pass material price increases onto their clients, making building projects more expensive for consumers. This figure has more than doubled in less than a year.

Other impacts of material price increases have been a third of firms (30%) recommending that clients use alternative materials or products to those originally specified, up from one in ten in July 2017, while nearly one fifth (17%) of builders reported making losses on their building projects due to material price increases.

Construction SMEs were asked by the FMB which materials are in shortest supply and have the longest wait times.

The average results were as follows (in order of longest to shortest wait times):

  1. Bricks were in shortest supply with the longest reported wait time being more than one year;
  2. Roof tiles were second with the longest reported wait time being up to six months;
  3. Insulation was third with the longest reported wait time being up to four months;
  4. Slate was fourth with the longest reported wait time being up to six months;
  5. Windows were fifth with the longest reported wait time being more than one year;
  6. Blocks were sixth with the longest reported wait time being up to four months;
  7. Porcelain products were seventh with the longest reported wait time being more than one year;
  8. Plasterboard was eighth with the longest reported wait time being up to two months;
  9. Timber was ninth with the longest reported wait time being up to two months;
  10. Boilers were tenth, with the longest reported wait time being more than one year.

SME building firms were also asked by what percentage different materials have increased over the past 12 months. On average, the following rises were reported:

  • Insulation increased by 16%;
  • Bricks increased by 9%;
  • Timber increased by 8%;
  • Roof tiles increased by 8%;
  • Slate increased by 8%;
  • Windows increased by 7%;
  • Blocks increased by 7%;
  • Plasterboard increased by 7%;
  • Boilers increased by 7%;
  • Porcelain products increased by 6%.

Brian Berry, chief executive of the FMB, said: “Material prices have rocketed over the past year. The reason for this could include the impact of the depreciation of sterling following the EU referendum still feeding through. High demand due to buoyant international markets could also be contributing to price increases. What’s particularly worrying is that when prices have increased mid-project, almost one fifth of builders have absorbed the increase and therefore made a loss. Also, if material price increases weren’t enough of a headache for building firms, they are also experiencing material shortages with wait times ticking up across a range of materials and products. Worst case scenarios include firms waiting for more than one year for a new order of bricks.

“The rise in material prices is not just a problem for the country’s construction firms – it is also a problem for home owners. Half of firms have been forced to pass these price increases onto their clients, meaning building projects are becoming more and more expensive. This problem has worsened recently with more than twice as many firms passing material prices on to their clients now compared with nine months ago. What’s more, home owners should be prepared to have to use alternative materials or products to their first choice. One third of firms have recommended that their clients should use alternative materials or products to those originally specified. Now more than ever, it’s important that builders and their clients keep the lines of communication open in order to stay within time and within budget. Specified products or materials may need to be swapped for alternatives or clients will need to accept the additional cost.”

Brain Berry added: “We are calling on builders merchants to give their customers as much advance warning of forthcoming material price increases or wait times as possible so that firms can warn their customers and plan ahead. We are also advising builders to price jobs and draft contracts with these material price rises in mind. The FMB’s latest State of Trade Survey shows that almost ninety per cent of building firms are expecting further rises over the next sixth months. This makes quoting for jobs difficult but if builders flag the issue to their client from the outset, and include a note in the contract that prices may be subject to increases, they shouldn’t be left short. What we don’t want is for the number of building firms making losses on projects to increase as this could result in firms going to the wall. A large number of collapsing construction companies will have a terrible knock-on effect in the wider economy.”

Designs unveiled for £100m Glasgow office development

M&G Real Estate has unveiled its plans for a new £100 million office development in the heart of Glasgow’s city centre.

Now branded as The Grid, the Cooper Cromar-designed project at 33 Cadogan Street will provide 277,500 sq ft of Grade A space over 12 levels.

M&G said the development aims to be Scotland’s healthiest workspace complete with electric car charging ports set up in the basement, on-site cycle storage and spa-style showers and changing rooms and laundry.

Following planning consent in 2017, The Grid, will be built on the site of the former Corunna House in Glasgow’s Central Business District. With well-being at the core of the design, The Grid is committed to securing ‘Gold’ certification from the International WELL Building Institute.

A highly visible entrance is positioned on the corner of Cadogan Street and West Campbell Street and an enhanced public realm is planned with new widened paving, trees, seating, and a building drop-off point. To the left of the main entrance is a dedicated street level cyclist entrance.

The reception area at The Grid

The building has achieved Scotland’s second ever WiredScore Platinum rating, which is the highest standard in the market leading accreditation for digital infrastructure, technology and connectivity of office buildings. The Grid’s access to superfast broadband and its agile working areas are said to enable mobility and enhance innovation for The Grid’s occupiers.

The top three floors have panoramic views from south facing terraces, which frame the unrivalled views across the city and the hills beyond. On the tenth floor, a private double height sky garden, provides a focal point for upper floor occupiers. At roof level there is ‘The Loft’, a communal business lounge and garden – an area designed to inspire, with space to meet, unwind and take in the view.

William Badger, Asset Manager at M&G Real Estate, said: “Ways of working are changing fast, and so must the buildings we create. Workspace is one of the key contributors to staff wellbeing, and we are very excited to present our vision to the market. We believe we have created something that is truly special and unique in the Glasgow market.

“With a lack of new Grade A space in the city’s office market, as well as in nearby Edinburgh, we are confident that The Grid will attract strong interest.”

Property advisors JLL and Knight Frank have been appointed as letting agents.

Demolition of the existing building is planned for later this year, with completion achievable by late 2021.

Whisky distillery fails in legal challenge over ‘unlawful’ wind farm development

The owners of a Speyside whisky distillery who claimed that the development of a new wind farm in Banffshire was “unlawful” on the basis that the construction works did not begin within the five-year time limit imposed upon the developer have had their legal challenge dismissed.

William Grant & Sons Distillers Ltd (WGS), owners of the Glennfiddich distillery and visitor centre, argued that access works were not part of the development and sought judicial review of a decision by Moray Council to the effect that the planning conditions had been met.

But a judge in the Court of Session refused to grant the orders sought and upheld the decision of the local authority after ruling that the developer Dorenell did “validly commence” the development.

Planning consent

Lord Woolman heard that the Scottish Ministers granted permission for the construction of the 59-turbine wind farm on the Glenfiddich estate near Dufftown on 22 December 2011, but attached a lengthy string of conditions, one of which was a requirement that the development commence within five years.

WGS, an “implacable opponent” of the wind farm because it considered that the development would have an “detrimental impact” on the Speyside landscape and “adversely affect” local tourism, unsuccessfully challenged the decision to grant consent.

But after the grant of the permission WGS monitored the progress of the works.

In August 2016 Dorenell served a notice on the council stating that it would commence enabling works at the end of that month, and in October the local authority confirmed that the development had been validly commenced.

The works were designed to provide access to the proposed location of the turbines by upgrading a road junction and existing forestry track.

‘Unlawful’ development

However, WGS received legal advice querying the legal status of the access works, with an opinion from counsel in September 2016 suggesting that the works may be “unlawful”.

Dorenell carried out further works on 22 December 2016, but WGS believed that commencement did not take place within five years, although it did not raise proceedings to challenge any decision taken on or before that date.

Instead, it sought to review a decision taken by the council on 6 March 2017 holding that certain planning conditions had been purified.

WGS submitted that Dorenell did not comply with the five-year time limit as the access works were not part of “the development”, because they lay outside the red line area on the map which depicted the site.

It was also argued that the works undertaken on 22 December 2016 were “de minimis” (a Latin expression meaning “about minimal things”) and “did no more than break the ground”.

‘Valid commencement’

However, the judge held that the site did not define the scope of the development.

In a written opinion  Lord Woolman said: “The Scottish Ministers gave consent to ‘the development’. That necessitates reference to the environmental statement.

“The environmental statement recognises that the access works had to take place first…Unless and until the access works were carried out, construction traffic could not reach the turbine location. Accordingly, I hold that Dorenell did validly commence the development in August 2016.

“The question is put beyond doubt by the works undertaken within the red line area on 22 December 2016…The test is when a material operation ‘begins to be carried out’. Very little needs to be done to satisfy that requirement…It is evident from the photographs that the works were not de minimis.”

The judge also held that WGS had failed to bring the application within the three-month time limit, as required for judicial review.

Proceedings must be brought within three months of the date on which the grounds of challenge first arose, but WGS only served the petition on 8 June 2017.

Lord Woolman said: “Looking at the chronology, WGS must have contemplated proceedings on receipt of senior counsel’s opinion in September 2016. Litigation became an option when the council approved commencement the following month.

“The grounds of challenge clearly arose at midnight on 22 December 2016. Matters crystallised then. Accordingly, WGS should have raised this action within three months of that date.

“In any event, I would have refused to exercise my discretion to grant relief. WGS has not given a good reason for the delay in raising proceedings.”

He added that to quash the decision would “undermine the needs of good public administration” and cause “serious prejudice” to the developer and third party contractors, as over £100 million has been spent on the development to date.

Workloads hold steady despite bad weather and skills shortage – RICS

Construction workloads in Scotland remained resilient despite bad weather in the first quarter of 2018 though labour shortages remain a concern for the sector, a new survey has found.

The latest Construction and Infrastructure Market Survey by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) revealed that 11% more chartered surveyors reported that workloads in Scotland had risen as opposed to fallen during Q1 2018.  While 67% of respondents across the UK noted bad weather conditions as a limiting factor, the ‘Beast from the East’ was not enough to slow the pace of growth.

The RICS quarterly series suggests the construction sector has largely enjoyed a period of steady growth since the early part of 2018 as the industry has geared up to meet the demands of a stronger economy.

Scottish workloads increased across infrastructure, private housing and public non-housing in the early part of the year, with both new work and repair and maintenance activity rising steadily. Private housing in Scotland saw the strongest rise in workloads with 25% more respondents citing an increase rather than a decrease. This contrasts with the public sector where the pace of workloads dipped slightly with a net balance of -8% in housing (+27 in Q4 2017).

In infrastructure, 8% more contributors reported a rise rather than a fall in activity, and on a UK level, respondents expect the rail and energy categories to post the most significant increases over the coming 12 months.

Higher input costs and a shortage of labour continue to restrict growth in profit margins. And even though cost pressures may ease later this year, expectations for the expansion margins are still well below the three-year average of 40% recorded between 2014 and 2016. Indeed, tender prices are expected to rise over the next 12 months with respondents in both the building and civil engineering sectors envisaging greater price pressures.

Besides the one-off factors related to inclement weather, labour shortages remain the key impediments to growth. The lack of sufficiently skilled workers, particularly with regards to professional services such as quantity surveying is particularly challenging; around 80% of contributors in Q1 highlighted this as an impediment to growth. Indeed, the share of respondents reporting insufficient availability of quantity surveyors across Scotland was the highest in ten years.

In an extra question added this quarter, 85% of respondents were of the view that small and medium-sized firms are the most impacted by constraints on financing.

Despite the constraints that firms have been facing recently, surveyors remain relatively upbeat. Net balances of 44% and 25% of respondents expect workloads and employment levels, respectively, to continue to rise over the coming 12 months across Scotland.

Jeffrey Matsu, RICS senior economist, said: “While a short-lived snowstorm may have snarled logistical supply chains and site works at the end of February, it was not enough to negatively impact on workload order books. Indeed, several years of limited spare capacity have resulted in a backlog within the delivery pipeline which will take some time to unwind. Risk aversion by both lenders and developers, in the wake of Carillion and ongoing Brexit negotiation, will continue to weigh on investment decisions.”

Barhale appoints regional manager to Scottish office

Patrick Seymour

Civil engineering and infrastructure specialist Barhale has appointed Patrick Seymour as regional manager in its Scottish office in Glasgow.

Originally from County Tipperary, Ireland, Patrick has a BEng degree in Civil & Environmental Engineering from the University of Edinburgh and has worked previously for Morgan Sindall, Lagan Construction and Carillion.

A chartered member of the ICE, Patrick will oversee Barhale’s operations in Scotland. He will be responsible for setting the strategic direction and managing the safe, sustainable and profitable delivery in line with the business plan. Patrick will lead a team of 25 directly employed staff to ensure the safe delivery of infrastructure projects for a range of clients including Scottish Power, local authorities, private companies and public development partnerships.

“I am really looking forward to working for Barhale,” said Patrick. “I’ve have joined the company at an exciting time. We have an excellent team here in Glasgow with experience across all sectors of civil engineering including transport, water, energy and tunnelling. As we look towards the future, I can see that exciting times lie ahead for the team as we grow the business across all sectors, developing collaborative working relationships with new clients in the process. At the same time we will maintain our focus on the safe, sustainable and profitable delivery of projects working collaboratively with our established client base. ”

Matthew Behan, CEO of Barhale, said: “We are delighted to welcome Patrick to our team. His past experience as a civil engineering and construction professional is exceptional and is vital as our presence in Scotland continues to grow.”

Patrick joins Barhale with nearly 20 years’ experience in the industry across a broad range of civil engineering projects, from constructing ferry terminals on the Inner Hebrides and flood prevention schemes in city centre environments, to the Saltire Award winning redevelopment of Haymarket Station.

Record year for CCG maintenance arm

A division of construction company CCG (Scotland) Ltd has reported a record year as the company completed over 1,800 jobs for clients across the country.

With a workforce of over 120 operatives and supported by 21 apprentices, the Asset Management division offers a range of services, including heating and rewiring, boiler renewals, kitchen and bathroom installations, as well as window and door replacements. Over the past 13 years, the division has completed work on over 50,000 properties and buildings across Scotland.

CCG Asset Management manager, Stephen Riley, said: “Our team has worked extremely hard over the past year undertaking a wide variety of contracts all across Scotland on behalf of local authority and housing association clients. As a Glasgow-based company, we are proud to have the capability of delivering any type of contract anywhere in the country.”

2017/18 saw a range of major contracts including the conclusion of a 10-project contract with City of Edinburgh Council covering kitchen and bathroom renewals, as well as window installations across over 900 properties. A further 420 bathroom and kitchen renewals were completed for Perth and Kinross Council with various window replacement contracts completed on behalf of Port of Leith Housing Association.

In early 2018, CCG Asset Management also commenced a major contract on behalf of Linthouse Housing Association which covers boiler, kitchen, bathroom and electrical works to 230 properties in Govan.

Stephen added: “Overall, 2017/18 was overwhelmingly positive as we have managed to secure contracts with long-standing clients as well as working with new ones, something that has been greatly assisted by working with framework partners such as the Scottish Procurement Alliance (SPA) as part of their KB3 Kitchen and Bathroom Framework. Alongside the SPA and others, more and more public sector organisations are aware of CCG Asset Management’s unwavering ability to deliver a high-quality, cost-effective product that is underpinned by our commitment to first class client and consumer engagement.

“2018/19 has already begun positively and we look forward to working with our existing customers and developing new relationships as we continue to grow.”

£1.5m project set to transform gateway to Crinan Canal

A historic disused building known locally as the ‘Egg Shed’ is to be transformed into a new heritage and community hub at the gateway to the Crinan Canal in Ardrishaig.

The £1.5 million project led by Scottish Canals will create a bespoke interpretation centre telling the story of the Crinan Canal and the communities on its banks.

From its role in the ancient Gaelic kingdom of Dalriada to the tale of Queen Victoria’s journey along the Crinan Canal, the new centre will allow visitors to step into the unique history of Mid-Argyll via an array of interactive exhibits and interpretation material.

As well as the creation of the interpretation attraction, the revamped Egg Shed project includes space for community activities that could include everything from art installations to pop-up exhibitions and opportunities for social enterprises and community groups. An array of public realm and access improvements also form part of the project, with plans to create new viewpoints and walkways around the building and new access connections with Ardrishaig.

The works, which form the first phase of the redevelopment of the former Gleaner Oil depot in the area, are expected to be complete by early 2019.

Ardrishaig Locks

Christopher Breslin, head of regeneration and development at Scottish Canals, said: “Over the past few years, we’ve worked with our partners and the local community to develop a shared vision for the future of the Crinan Canal corridor. This project marks the latest stage in the delivery of those grand ambitions and the transformation of Ardrishaig into an attractive leisure, tourism and maritime hub.

“The redevelopment of the Egg Shed will help deliver a sustainable future for Ardrishaig, creating a fantastic tourist destination and a vital community resource that will bring jobs and economic benefits to the area. We’re grateful to our funders and the local community for their support and look forward to welcoming them to the new hub in early 2019.”

The project is funded by the Scottish Government and the European Community Argyll and the Islands LEADER 2014-2020 programme; the Scottish Government Regeneration Capital Grant Fund; Scottish Canals; Argyll and Bute Council’s Tarbert & Lochgilphead Regeneration Fund; SUSTRANS Community Links Fund; Shanks Argyll & Bute and Argyll & Bute Council through the Scottish Landfill Communities Fund; and Ardrishaig Community Trust.  A local contractor TSL, based in Oban, successfully won the contract for the project and begins work on site this week.

Aileen Morton, policy lead for economic development at Argyll & Bute Council, said: “It’s great that Ardrishaig is another step closer to having the community and business resource its residents want.  The redevelopment of this site is all about working with the local community to create jobs and boost the local economy and the project was championed by local people. The council has agreed to contribute up to a quarter of a million pounds to make this project possible, as part of our wider work to regenerate the Mid-Argyll area.”

New town signs up to biodiversity partnership to increase and protect wildlife

A new £800 million residential project in Aberdeen is to become the first town development to sign up to the North East Scotland Biodiversity Partnership (NESBP).

Stewart Milne Group, the developer behind the 3,000-home Countesswells development, has joined forces with NESBP on several wildlife projects to protect existing wildlife and promote biodiversity within the 400-acre site.

With the aim of being one of the greenest and most attractive environments in which to live and work in North-east Scotland, Countesswells will be a new community containing thousands of new homes as well as an academy and two primary schools, community facilities, offices, formal and informal parkland, play parks and civic spaces.

Countesswells Development Limited (CDL), a wholly owned subsidiary of Stewart Milne Group, will work with NESBP on several initiatives to increase and protect wildlife in the town. Initial ideas include regular ‘BioBlitz’ events, with the community participating in recording wildlife over a fixed period and camera trapping with young people to film wildlife and learn about their movements and habits.

Ewen Cameron, chairman of the North-east Biodiversity Partnership’s Awareness & Involvement Group, said: “We were struck by the fact that open green space and woodland were an integral part of Countesswells from day one with a focus on actively encouraging wildlife.  NESBP is not involved in the development planning process but we were impressed that CDL wanted to do environmental work that went above and beyond that required by planning conditions and obligations.

“Our role will be to work with CDL and the growing community at Countesswells to help them understand the wildlife they share space with and how they can care for and nurture that wildlife. This is the first time we have entered into such a collaboration with a developer at this scale and we are grateful to CDL and Stewart Milne Group for their forward-thinking in this regard.”

Previously, environmental consultants Ironside Farrar were appointed by CDL to conduct a study into the biodiversity of Countesswells. The probe found that birds, bats, badgers and bugs of all shapes and sizes have burrowed and built nests throughout the many green spaces at the site.

In addition, red squirrels have been spotted in gardens in and around Countesswells, in line with a reversal in regional decline of these animals, recently announced by the Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrels partnership.

Allan McGregor, project director for Countesswells, said: “As the new £800m community to the west of Aberdeen is phased in, CDL will continue to channel resources into creating a haven for new and existing plants and wildlife.

“The new green spaces, waterways and parklands at Countesswells, which replaced the low grade agricultural land, have now joined Hazlehead Wood with Countesswells Woods to create a sprawling natural green landscape. Within this, we’ve been able to provide a natural forage route for amphibians, birds and insects. In addition, landscaping in the wider area includes vegetation species, which are attractive to badgers, such as crab apple, elder, gean, guelder rose, hawthorn, holly, dog rose and rowan.

“With people also making their home at Countesswells, we’re keen through this collaboration with the North-east Scotland Biodiversity Partnership, to demonstrate that living amongst and interacting with nature promotes a sense of well-being and is vital part of all modern communities.”

ScottishPower to light up HALO regeneration project

ScottishPower and The HALO Scotland have today announced a groundbreaking partnership that will see the energy giant established as the headline partner of the Kilmarnock urban regeneration initiative.

The announcement heralds the launch of a £5 million, five-year programme by ScottishPower and The HALO project. The energy company will be a leader in The HALO’s Innovation and Enterprise Centre and its Digital and Cyber Zone where The HALO and ScottishPower will create a cyber and digital training and learning facility at the forefront of the “Fourth Industrial Revolution”.

To top this all off, ScottishPower’s long term support for The HALO will shine like a beacon via The HALO Light located on the roof of the state of the art building.

Keith Anderson, CEO of ScottishPower and Marie Macklin C.B.E., founding director of The HALO joined by students from Ayrshire College at Scottish Power’s Glasgow HQ

The partnership is set to:

  • Explore energy innovations for a lower carbon society whilst inspiring a digitally skilled generation
  • Harness ScottishPower’s business and technical expertise to support start-up and scale-up businesses located at The HALO
  • Create economic growth by driving a new digital and cyber skilled workforce, upskilling ScottishPower’s existing workforce and others through The HALO’s innovative partnership with the Scottish Business Resilience Centre, Ayrshire College and Scottish universities, which will see the creation of accredited courses
  • Support The HALO’s employability initiatives through specialist technical input into student learning and practical skills development to enhance the job prospects of local young people
  • Working alongside The HALO, establish and develop ScottishPower’s learning partnerships with both Ayrshire College, University of the West of Scotland and beyond
  • See ScottishPower partner with The HALO to establish a Children’s Innovation Centre and Nursery of the Future in collaboration with Ayrshire College

The HALO Kilmarnock is an imaginative, innovative and inspirational regeneration initiative located on the site of the former Johnnie Walker bottling plant in Kilmarnock, East Ayrshire. It is being shaped as a multi-faceted brown-field regeneration that will create a unique urban park with a dynamic commercial, educational, cultural, leisure and lifestyle quarter.

A proposed low carbon, renewable deep geothermal district heating network could address fuel costs on the site and have the capability of being extended to service other areas of the community. The development will also include a light manufacturing facility and private rental accommodation for key workers.

Ayrshire College will feature strongly in the partnership

The development is one of four HALO projects planned for the UK that are being seen as catalysts for urban regeneration. The next HALO project is proposed for Belfast, with Wales and the North West of England to follow. It is envisaged that The HALO Scotland will connect through road and rail infrastructure directly to the Northern Powerhouse, creating economic benefits across the wider area.

Keith Anderson, CEO of ScottishPower, said: “Across all of our business areas, ScottishPower is working to deliver a low carbon and sustainable future. We are a leader in smart and renewable energy and a perfect fit to help The HALO achieve their objectives.  We are excited to explore the opportunities within this innovative project. There will be a focus on young people, digital skills and energy innovations that we hope will help us move towards a decarbonised transport, heat and energy sector.”

Marie Macklin C.B.E., founding director of The HALO, said: “In making this commitment ScottishPower is supporting an urban regeneration project that is going to change the lives of young people, not just in Ayrshire but across the whole of Scotland. With ScottishPower behind it, The HALO is going to rock the Scottish economy, generating economic growth, innovation, digital skills development, enterprise and innovation and I applaud their forward thinking. Together with ScottishPower, The HALO is going to light up Britain.”

First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon MSP, added: “This partnership is great news for the Ayrshire and Scottish economy. It is hugely inspiring to see the Halo development contributing to the regeneration of Kilmarnock and doing so in a way which supports innovation, digital skills and, through this partnership with ScottishPower, contributing to Scotland’s low carbon future.”

UK government minister Lord Duncan said: “Supported by a £3.5 million UK government investment through the Industrial Strategy, the HALO Kilmarnock is an important development that will create jobs, grow the economy and drive innovation. This partnership is a further example of its ambition and drive to innovate and attract new talent to the region.”