Monthly Archives: October 2010

Big Lottery Fund to inject £75m to create construction jobs

The National Lottery is using its Big Lottery Fund (BIG) to inject cash into the construction industry and help not-for-profit companies renovate their buildings, which will create more construction and trades jobs all over the country.

The BIG are allocating an extra £75 million through its Reaching Communities programme, and wants to use the funding to help improve community-use buildings such as memorial halls, community centres and village halls. England’s not-for-profit groups, in the voluntary and community sector, can start applying for grants between £100,000 and £500,000 from December, to fund their own local projects.

Each project should not cost more than £750,000 and the chair of BIG Sanjay Dighe says the communities that desperately need funding will be chosen.

“This gives rural and urban communities the opportunity to revamp and update buildings and – consistent with its mission – BIG will be directing funding towards communities most in need.”

The Big Lottery Fund has given out over £2.8 billion of funding for good causes over the years and the latest grant will undoubtedly help the construction industry and create trades jobs, especially in those areas out of the big cities where the big construction companies don’t spend billions of pounds on new projects.

What do you think about the National Lottery’s plans – will they help the trades industry?


Vanilla Ice’s DIY show picked up for second season

The very first story on the Train4TradeSkills Blog was the news that US rapper Vanilla Ice was fronting a new DIY show in the States, called the Vanilla Ice Project. Now the show has become successful enough to be picked up for a second season.

The show sees Vanilla Ice, who is most famous for singing Ice Ice Baby, swap rapping for DIY and renovating his six-bedroom, five-bathroom Florida mansion to improve its value. The rapper, whose real name is Robert Van Winkle, is a self-taught DIY expert who has spent many years teaching himself to remodel houses for “flipping” (selling to you and me).

The DIY improvements that Vanilla Ice has made in his show include a new attic home theatre, electric curtains and mood lighting that changes with your mood. The show has been well received by critics and will be picked up for a second season when the current one ends in December, with the next season rumoured to include a new house and a river in the backyard.

Andy Singer from the DIY network, is pleased to have secured the show for a second season, saying “Rob resonates with our audience and we are thrilled to continue working with him.” Van Winkle told MTV News:

“I think this show is going to entertain a lot of people, whether you like Vanilla Ice or if you just like the home-improvement aspect of it. I get in there and swing a hammer with these guys. It’s not just an investment. I take a lot of pride in what we do. And I put my signature on it.”

What do you think of Vanilla Ice’s show – are there any other celebrities that could front a DIY show?

Energy Saving Week promotes saving water through DIY

It’s Energy Saving Week, and homeowners are being advised how to save water by carrying out DIY improvements to their home.

Let’s Do DIY report that the Energy Saving Trust and the Consumer Council for Water are encouraging families to look at how much water they are using and working out how much they can cut back, which would have a positive effect on the environment and on the water bills of your home.

It’s the small things that can make a difference to save water and cut your energy bills. The Energy Saving Trust recommend the use of water meters, as homeowners can save lots of water by reducing their consumption.

Dame Yve Buckland, who chairs the organisation, says that little things like replacing worn washers on leaky taps, insulating the hot water cistern, spending less time in the shower and only using the dishwasher when it is full can reduce the amount of water that you use in the home and are not wasting it unnecessarily.

If you aren’t able to do the repairs yourself through DIY, then the best advice is to call a plumber. If you can reduce your water consumption and make the necessary improvements, then you can save money in the long run and help the environment at the same time.

World’s biggest solar project built in USA, when will the UK follow?

The world’s biggest solar power project has been commissioned in the USA, with the country’s Interior Department approving the plans for the 1000-megawatt project, which will provide electricity for 750,000 homes.

The Blythe Solar Power Project, which is in California, uses four concentrated solar-electric generation facilities, which have the ability to produce 1000MW of power, which is equal to a large natural gas or coal power plant. It will cost $6 million to build and construction work on the project is expected to begin shortly.

US President Barack Obama has promised to have more of the country’s electricity supplies generated by renewable energy sources like solar and wind power, which help the environment and create green jobs in the process. US Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has said:

“The Blythe Solar Power Project is a major milestone in our nation’s renewable energy economy and shows that the United States intends to compete and lead in the technologies of the future.”

The UK government are committed to a zero-carbon future and using renewable and non-renewable energy sources to generate cheap electricity. Nuclear power has been touted as a possible power source in the UK, and numerous off-shore wind farms are set to be built around the country. But a solar power plant like the one being built in the US would definitely help the government meet its target and use a renewable power source to create electricity for thousands of British homes.

What do you think – should the UK look towards a massive solar power plant?

Liverpool’s Alexandra Dock to get new £300m green power plant

Liverpool’s Alexandra Dock is set to get a major upgrade with plans for a £300 million biomass facility, which will provide energy in the city, as well as creating a host of new trades jobs.

The biomass plant, which will be based at the Port of Liverpool, is being constructed by energy developer RES and is rumoured to be capable of producing between 100MW and 150MW of renewable energy. According to, It will create green electricity for an estimated 170,000 to 250,000 local homes and businesses in the Liverpool area each year.

 As well as creating green electricity, the Alexandra Dock project will help the environment, as it will cut carbon emissions and use renewable fuel sources such as wood chips and pellets to power the biomass plant.

 This is great news if you are looking for trade jobs in Liverpool, as RES have promised to employ local contractors in the construction of the Alexandra Docklands. RES Project Manager Johanna Doyle says:

 “The North West has a highly skilled workforce that we can draw upon and we will be using local contractors and service providers where possible. We will work hard to involve the local communities in our development plans and look forward to hearing their views.”

What do you think about the renovation of Liverpool’s Alexandra Dock?

David Cameron announces National Infrastructure Plan to help Construction Industry

Prime Minister David Cameron and the Coalition government have announced the first ever National Infrastructure Plan, which promises major economic investment in the construction industry over the next five years.

Despite the well-publicised spending cuts imposed by the government last week, the PM wants to spend big to create sustainable growth over the next few decades. Mr Cameron said:

“Even in this very constrained time, we will invest over £30bn in transport projects over the next four years.”

As well as transport projects, more money will be spent on energy, digital communications, floodwater and waste management over the coming years. The report aims to bring down the cost of construction projects in the UK, as we spend 60% more than countries like Germany on similar projects. Lord Sassoon, commercial secretary to the Treasury said:

“If we were only to reduce public sector construction costs by 15% that would result in annual savings, or additional investment, of £1 billion.”

None of the money in the proposed plans will go towards new homes or renovating existing properties, which has drawn criticism from some of the big construction companies, notably the Federation of Master Builders. But the increased spending will help the various energy projects going on, as £300 million will be invested on offshore wind farms over the next few years and will create around 4,000 jobs.

What do you think about the National Infrastructure Plan – can it help change the trades industry?

Paul from Bury named Train4TradeSkills Student of the Month for September

Train4TradeSkills’ Student of the Month for September has been named, with the most deserving student of the month being awarded £200 in B+Q vouchers, and the second and third place students receiving £100 and £50 in vouchers respectively. Here are the top 3 students from last month:

3rd Place:
Riza, from London

Riza only started his Train4TradeSkills course in August and has already finished his TMA Assignments 01 to 04, achieving three 100% grades, and one 90%. Riza says his goal is, “to learn all my work exceptionally well and to achieve the highest grades possible to be able to have the necessary knowledge to become the best plumber in London.” It’s a tall order, but if he can display that hard work and determination he has shown so far, he could very well do it.

2nd Place:
Daniel, from Lancs

Daniel wins second prize and £100 in B+Q vouchers, as he has used the skills gained from his Train4TradeSkills course to design a water main manifold at his work, which has been commissioned with no leaks of faults. Daniel says he has also completed his study manual, a month ahead of schedule.

1st Place:
Paul, from Bury

Paul has bought a house and is using the skills acquired on his Train4TradeSkills course to give it a complete renovation. Paul says he has installed a new bathroom, central heating system and the radiators in his new home. Apart from enlisting the help of a gas safe plumber to install the new boiler and checking the new pipework for the heating, Paul has done all of the renovations himself. He says:

“Before enrolling on this course, I would’ve been phoning around the local plumbers, hoping to get as good a deal as possible. However, I’m now more than confident enough to tackle the work myself, and in the process, save myself a lot of money, which is being used in other areas of the house.”

Because of his work this month, Paul is the recipient of £200 worth of B+Q vouchers, which he can use to help renovate his new home.

Do you want the chance to win £200 in vouchers and be named Train4TradeSkills Student of the Month? All you have to do is go to Student World at and submit your story and then you could win a prize.

One house per minute for 40 years must be refurbished to make Britain energy-friendly

The Build with CaRe conference, which talks about energy distribution in the UK, have declared that one house per minute for 40 years must be refurbished to meet the UK’s energy and emissions targets.

According to the Builders Merchant Journal, the Build with CaRe conference, which is organised by the University of East Anglia, will access what is needed to make Britain more energy efficient. The news won’t be good, though, as millions of new zero-carbon homes will need to be built and 20 million existing homes will need to be renovated by 2050, which will cost a hefty £500 billion, or £250 million a week.

The UK’s homes need to be more energy efficient to radically reduce energy use and carbon emissions, and if no action is taken, some people may go into fuel-poverty and be unable to keep their home warm in the winter. And with the weather getting colder and the weeks of snow that we will probably get, if you compare it to last year, then more money will need to be spent, so finding cheap energy and insulating your home will be more important than ever.

This isn’t exactly good news for the government with the news about the spending cuts being released today, but it will be good for the trades industry, as it will create millions of trades jobs all over the UK.

New Energy Centre for 2012 London Olympics unveiled

I’ve talked about how what the Olympics is doing for the trades and construction industry by creating well over 10,000 jobs on the Olympic Stadium, and now it seems like the London Olympics are helping the environment with its new Energy Centre in the Olympic Park.

The state-of-the-art Energy centre has today been unveiled by the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA), and aims to provide efficient low-carbon heating and cooling systems for venues all over the Olympic Park. The centre aims to create a legacy of sustainable energy across the site before the 2012 Games, and carry on capturing heat and using sustainable biomass fuels like woodchip to create electricity long after the millions of tourists and the Olympic Games finish.

ODA’s Chief Executive David Higgins said:

“The opening of the Energy Centre is a significant milestone for the Olympic Park and demonstrates the sustainability features that underpin this project.

The Energy Centre will deliver essential services throughout the Olympic Park well before the Games begin and ensure a lasting legacy of green power for generations to come. The delivery of this facility is a considerable achievement and sets a model for future urban regeneration schemes.”

This energy centre can only be good news for the Olympic Park area, as it will continue to produce cheap electricity for the surrounding area and help the environment. And with West Ham, Tottenham or whatever company set to take over the Olympic Stadium after the Games finish, this centre can continue creating low-carbon energy for years to come.

Chris Huhne and Government cutting nuclear plans

The government are always looking for ways for new energy sources to heat and light UK homes, but it seems that nuclear energy may not be the way forward, as a number of sites have been ruled out for nuclear power plants.

Energy Secretary Chris Huhne has announced that the government are cutting down the sites available for new nuclear power plants from eleven to eight, whilst also killing plans for the controversial Severn Barrage tidal power scheme.

The three sites that have been cut are the ones at Dungeness, Braystones and Kirksanton, after the government stated that they were unwilling to build nuclear power plants on greenfield sites. Currently, the eight sites chosen to build nuclear power plants are at Bradwell, Hartlepool, Heysham, Hinkley Point, Oldbury, Sellafield, Sizewell and Wylfa.

The government have promised to be the “greenest government ever” and to fulfill this promise, they need to use renewable energy to generate 25% of the UK’s electricity, whilst also reducing carbon emissions. But Chris Huhne says something needs to be done if the government want to deliver on their promise.

“I’m fed up with the stand-off between advocates of renewables and of nuclear which means we have neither. We urgently need investment in new and diverse energy sources to power the UK. The market needs certainty to make this investment happen, and we are determined to clear every obstacle in the way of this programme.”

This news follows the government’s announcement that the Severn Barrage tidal power scheme, that would have cost £30bn to build, which is an obscene amount of money, when they are much cheaper alternatives.