Friday, May 26, 2017

News: Forge Island parking plan

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Plans to increase the number of car parking spaces to over 500 on Forge Island in Rotherham town centre are being progressed as the former Tesco store bites the dust.

The site on the River Don was purchased by Rotherham Council for around £1.5m earlier this year. Ultimately it is set to play a key role as a catalyst for further regeneration of the town. The wider development incorporating Forge Island and adjacent sites could deliver a 25,000 sq ft cinema, 20,000 sq ft hotel and 6,000 sq ft of restaurants and bars. It has an estimated project value of £43.5m.

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In the meantime, as local demolition firm, Demex, take down the retail store that was vacated in 2014, the site is set to continue as a car park, offering mixed short stay, long stay, free and permit parking.

If approved, new plans would enable the Council to operate a car park on the whole of the 4.23 acre site, previously the Rotherham Forge & Rolling Mills, on a temporary basis for three years.

The site currently has 309 spaces, including 70 spaces in the "red zone" which is free for two hours in the week. All parking is completely free on weekends. Plans show space for an extra 235 spaces on the site of the old store.

With the buildings demolished, the proposed development will utilise two vehicular accesses to the site. The current access is from the bridge to Market Street, but there is a proposal for a new entrance to the car park via a junction with Bridge Street and Forge Lane, close to Rotherham Central Station.

Originally constructed to form a delivery / service yard access for the supermarket, the access road will be operated via a one way system and not as an exit.

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A transport assessment submitted with the plans from Rotherham Council concludes that: "The proposed temporary car park is not expected to result in any material impact upon the highway network and certainly would not have any severe cumulative impact."

The plans show that the car park is fulfilling a need as a short stay car park as the majority of users make use of the free parking offer. Some 509 of the 774 users on average per weekday. It is not clear in the plans how many spaces will remain in the "red zone" and be free for short stays.

Changes were made to parking charges in Rotherham town centre in 2016 to help fill a deficit in the Council's parking services budget. Councillors wanted an option to to increase charges on the basis of free (off street) parking being provided on Saturdays but this was not acceded to.

The Council's planning board recently approved plans from Tesco to introduce parking restrictions at its Extra store on the other side of town.

Images: Tom Austen


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News: Another international R&D project for Metalysis

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Rotherham-based Metalysis has announced a new research and development project with Kazakhstan to develop high value metals and alloys for additive manufacturing.

The Manvers company holds the worldwide exploitation rights to a process which sees specialist powder metals created in a simple, cost effective process with significant environmental benefits. Backed by investors and grants, the Cambridge University spin out secured £20m of investment last year and recently opened a new Materials Discovery Centre on the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP).

Metalysis carries out bespoke, commercial R&D projects to produce exotic metal powders for high performance alloys in the aerospace and automotive industries. The latest project will support developing Kazakhstan's metal additive manufacturing industry, basing in-country efforts within the Central Asian country's Park of Innovative Technologies – a science and technology complex aimed at diversifying national, economic and industrial development.

The Autonomous Cluster Fund of Kazakhstan and Metalysis signed a metal additive manufacturing partnership at the Astana Mining and Metallurgy conference this week with company representatives and UK and Kazakh Government officials attended the signing ceremony.

Metalysis is in the process of commercialising the technology which produces metal powder directly from oxide using electrolysis and has the potential to significantly increase production volumes. It is being used to produce titanium, tantalum, and related high value alloys that are used increasingly by major worldwide industries such as aerospace, marine, medical, chemical, automotive and electronics.

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The partners in the latest collaboration will use Metalysis' disruptive technology to develop metals and bespoke alloy powders suitable for additive manufacturing. Kazakhstan is embarking on a strategy to further diversify its economy from raw materials into other value-added industries.

Initially, an R&D programme will be conducted at Metalysis' new Materials Discovery Centre and subject to its findings, the Partners will then seek to develop Kazakhstan's metal additive manufacturing industry, basing their efforts within the Autonomous Cluster Fund's Park of Innovative Technologies - the country's "Silicon Valley" - weighing opportunities for in-country production of metal alloy powders and printing commercial products using additive manufacturing techniques.

As the ninth-largest country in the world by area, Kazakhstan's mining industry is huge and it produced the fourth most titanium in the world at 27,000 metric tons in 2013. Iluka Resources, the Australian mineral sands mining firm that has invested millions and taken a 28.8% stake in Metalysis, has an ongoing exploration drilling program in the former Soviet Union country.

Dr. Malek Deifallah, director of business development at Metalysis, said: "This is an exciting time for Metalysis. We are very pleased to partner with the Autonomous Cluster Fund, and together pursue the clear opportunities Kazakhstan presents for metal alloy powder production and additive manufacturing. We look forward to providing future updates as we go about applying our unique know how and technology."

Sanzhar Kettebekov, CEO of Autonomous Cluster Fund (Almaty Tech Garden), added: "For the purposes of adhering to the priorities outlined in the President's Address, we are working to grow new industries with the use of digital technologies. Our cooperation with Metalysis is aimed to develop Kazakhstan's industry sector in the field of metal additives production.

"We are delighted to have established such a partnership, which will contribute to the diversification of the economy of Kazakhstan."

Last week, Metalysis announced a new R&D programme focusing on a high value aluminium-scandium alloy that is being carried out with an international partner.

Metalysis website

Images: Metalysis


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News: Rotherham waste facility operator reports on difficult year

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Renewi plc (formerly Shanks plc) has reported on a difficult year for its municipal division which included "challenges" at its multimillion pound Rotherham facility.

Earlier this year Rothbiz reported on the temporary closure of the 220,000 sq ft "BDR" development at Brookfield's Park in Manvers to address a "latent defect and upgrade certain areas of the facility."

In its financial results for the year ending March 31, the international waste-to-product business reported that revenue at its municipal business grew by 8% to £203m as a result of the full year effect of commissioning its facilities at Wakefield and Barnsley, Doncaster and Rotherham (BDR) facilities and construction activity in Surrey, Canada. However, the division recorded a trading loss for the year of £2.7m, compared to a profit of £9.4m in the previous year.

The UK business made a trading loss of £4.2m, compared to a profit of £7.8m in the previous year, impacted by the markets for the fuel that the plants recover from waste which "have experienced significant challenges over the past year and these worsened rather than improved in the second half."

The Manvers centre creates material suitable for recovery and recycling and includes Mechanical Biological Treatment (MBT) and Anaerobic Digestion (AD) facilities.

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Barnsley, Doncaster and Rotherham Councils secured £77m through the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) for the scheme and Shanks Group plc joined in partnership with SSE (Scottish and Southern Energy plc) to progress the plans. Known as 3SE, the operators signed a 25 year contract worth in excess of £750m with the councils for the treatment of black bag waste.

The operator, now known as Renewi following the merger between Shanks and the Van Gansewinkel Group, said in its report that: "The PFI sector in the UK has continued to face significant challenges for market participants. An increasing number of PFI contracts across the country have come under pressure as a result of austerity measures, poor performance or because the contracts are inappropriate in the current market environment. Within this unfavourable market background, our Municipal Division's portfolio of assets has been vulnerable contractually to the volatile recovered fuel markets, rising incinerator gate fees and the weakness of Sterling."

It added that first full year in production of Wakefield and BDR facilities "was challenging from an operational perspective" as it struggled to get the plants up to full optimisation. A new managing director and a recovery plan have been put in place which involves implementing urgent plans to bring the facilities up to full capacity and to maximise power generation, particularly in generating gas at the BDR plant.

Work to improve productivity and plant up-time by optimising maintenance and equipment reliability is also taking place to reduce unplanned stoppages.

The firm also said that it would negotiate off-take terms and secure better priced outlets for both refuse derived fuel (RDF), solid recovered fuel (SRF) and certain recyclates where appropriate. It will also negotiate improvements to local municipal contracts where possible.

The financial report also shows that accountants have included onerous contract provisions of £28.2m on the balance sheet relating to the municipal division. A new £8.6m provision relates to the BDR operating contract and a £9m provision covering incremental capital works that are required at BDR and Wakefield to enable the plants to function as intended.

Peter Dilnot, CEO of Renewi said that the company "will fix the Municipal Division and build up momentum for sustained growth and earnings accretion in 2018/19."

Renewi website
BDR website

Images: Renewi


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Thursday, May 25, 2017

News: Dearne Valley Business Centre opens in Rotherham

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A disused church in Rotherham has undergone a full conversion to create much-needed high-quality business space, ideal for enterprises taking the next step.

The former Wesleyan Reform Church on Coronation Road in Wath was sold by trustees and has recently opened as Dearne Valley Business Centre under the brand of "My Head Office."

Ten office "pods" ranging in size have been created in the 7,000 sq ft building, which has undergone a redesign and restoration to offer unique space complete with high ceilings, parquet floors and large windows. Suitable for one, two or three people, the units are aimed at growing small businesses from the local area that are taking the next step, moving out of the home office or up the premises ladder.

Property investor, Stephen Hollings was supported in buying the property by Smiths Chartered Surveyors in Barnsley. It was advertised as a residential development plot.

"Everyone else who looked at it wanted to flatten in," said Hollings (pictured, left), proudly showing off the conversion work that has taken place. "But we saw the appeal of creating a business centre which is close to the community.

"The building is fresh and unusual and now we are focusing on creating an ethos. Our motto is for it to be a place where businesses thrive. We want tenants to buzz of each other."

The centre is certainly unusual, with original features retained alongside a very modern solution for the new occupants. The church piano remains in the foyer alongside the hi-tech printer.
Much of the work on the building has been done using suppliers from the local area who also attended the recent launch event where the outgoing mayor of Rotherham, Lindsay Pitchley, cut the ribbon in one of her final engagements in the role.

The centre is working with Barnsley and Rotherham Chamber of Commerce, RIDO, the regeneration arm of Rotherham Council and the Federation of Small Business to further develop linkages and networks.

One way of helping businesses with their next steps is that there are no additional costs that often come with renting premises. Utility charges and service charges are included with rents that start from £100 a week.

It is not just the tenants that are looking to grow, but the developers too. Hollings added: "This is the pilot, we are aiming for ten more centres."

My Head Office website

Images: My Head Office


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News: Council confirms INEOS seismic survey

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Rotherham Council has confirmed that INEOS' oil and gas exploration and production business is set to carry out a 3D seismic survey in part of the borough from early June, as reported by Rothbiz last week.

The company, which owns licences to pursue a range of oil and gas exploration activities in the region, is assessing the suitability of the area for hydraulic fracturing (fracking). It has submitted details about the areas to be surveyed and how the survey will be undertaken. The full survey area covers approximately 250 square kilometres (approximately 17.32 sq. km. in Rotherham) and also includes parts of Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire.

Areas in the Rotherham borough include the villages of Thorpe Salvin and Harthill, where INEOS is already pressing ahead in the search for shale gas as it prepares to submit a planning application for a proposed test drilling operation.

The test drilling operation requires a planning application but, subject to certain restrictions and giving prior notification to the Council, planning permission is not required for the seismic survey as Government planning rules state that it is "permitted development."

Paul Woodcock, assistant director for Planning, Regeneration and Transportation at Rotherham Council said: "Subject to certain restrictions, the company is permitted to undertake the seismic survey without planning permission in line with national planning rules. However, any further development, including test drilling to explore for shale gas below ground, will require full planning permission."

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Seismic surveying uses the principles of seismology to allow deep subsurface geology to be imaged and mapped in either two or three dimensional (2D or 3D) detail. INEOS will require an agreement with affected landowners and occupiers although local parish councils have already refused to allow surveys on land they own.

Turley, planning consultants for INEOS, has stated that the seismic survey will last for no longer than six months and it is assumed that it will commence from June 5 2017.

Taking place between 7am to 7pm on a 7 day a week basis, activity ranges from deploying small recording equipment, to a convoy of three trucks that hydraulically vibrate the ground for between 20-30 seconds with increasing frequency. "Shot holes" could even be used. This more invasive source involves the loading and detonation of a small explosive charge at the base of a shallow pre-drilled hole.
The survey will help INEOS to gain a better understanding of the geology and rock formations below the ground to understand where shale gas might be located.

The company has already identified a Greenbelt site between the villages of Harthill and Thorpe Salvin because it is within an area of interest to INEOS based on existing seismic data. It is here that plans are coming forward to enable a period of surveys before a period of drilling, coring and testing. A well would be drilled to approximately 2,800 m using a drill rig of maximum 60 m rig height followed by three months of testing.

Rothbiz reported last week that Rotherham Council has ruled that the proposed operation "would not be likely to have significant effects on the environment" in relation to national planning guidelines.

The authority did however ask INEOS to include an Environmental Impact Assessment alongside any planning application. In response to the request Ineos will submit an Environmental Report addressing, among other topics, the aspects of water environment, ecology, noise, landscape and visual effects, and cultural heritage.

INEOS website

Images: INEOS / Turley


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