Stonehenge A303 road scheme green light fuels controversy
The UK’s Secretary of State for Transport, Grant Shapps, has approved Highway England’s Development Consent Order (DCO) application for the A303 Amesbury to Berwick Down scheme – which includes the construction of a two-mile long tunnel near Stonehenge, a 5,000-year old UNESCO World Heritage Site.
In a statement, Highways England says that the much-needed improvements to the A303 past Stonehenge are an important step in finally sorting out a road that doesn’t work for drivers, for people who live, work and holiday in Wiltshire, and the south west.
“The announcement is a major milestone, not only for us, but also for the many local communities who have long campaigned for improvements, as well as our stakeholders, who we’ve been working with for several years,” the statement continues.
However, the decision has angered campaigners, who say that the character of the area surrounding the Neolithic stone circle monument could be thrown into jeopardy, and roadworks could destroy areas of archaeological significance.
In a statement posted to its website and on its social media channels, the Stonehenge Alliance – a campaign group that has fought against the project and gathered more than 150,000 petition signatures – says it "deeply regrets the decision by Grant Shapps to give permission for the A303 Stonehenge Tunnel scheme."
It states the decision potentially breaches the UK’s international treaty obligation not to damage the site and will undermine the UK’s legal commitment to address Climate Change.
Highways England says its teams have been carrying out extensive surveys and investigations over the last few months, ahead of the decision to help prepare for construction.
Wessex Archaeology has been appointed to the project as archaeological specialists in a contract worth £35 million. They will carry out excavations and work to record and preserve any archaeological finds.
“We have also just appointed archaeological specialists - who will carry out excavations and work to record and preserve any archaeological finds - and a contractor responsible for other work that needs to be done before construction starts," the statement says.
“They have already started their planning for starting on-site in late spring of 2021, with work expected to last more than a year." In early 2021, public information events will be held where concerned individuals could find out more about the constructiong and speak with members of the project team."
In October, Highways England appointed contractors for the archaeology and preliminary works for the project, in anticipation of getting the green light in November, thereby allowing the companies to start pre-planning their work.
An £8.5 million preliminary works contract has been awarded to Osborne, which will be responsible for work that needs to be done before the actual construction starts, including site clearance, making sure local wildlife is protected, ensuring connection to a water supply, as well as some small road improvements.
Stonehenge is a famous monument shrouded in mystery as to why and how it was constructed.
China’s Broad Group builds 10-storey apartment in 28 hours
The China-based manufacturing enterprise Broad Group has managed to construct a 10-storey steel apartment building in just over a day. Constructed in the city of Changsha in China, the company used bolt-together modular units known as its “Living Building System”.
A video time-lapse showing the build process. Video: Broad Group.
Broad Group, a manufacturing company based in Changsha, constructs a range of air-conditioning, heating, and prefabricated structural units. It accomplished the challenge in 28 hours and 45 minutes, enlisting help from three cranes and an on-site workforce.
Broad Group’s “Living Building” system
Designed to be easy to transport and install, Broad Group’s “Living Building” system uses components that are able to fit into a standard shipping container, and then be bolted together when they reach the site. Ductwork and wiring are fitted directly by the factory, the company said.
As part of the system, Broad Group’s B-Core steel slabs are used as structural elements which, the company claims are 10-times lighter and 100-times stronger than conventional slabs. The company also says they have the ability to resist earthquakes and typhoons, and that it costs less than a carbon steel building and has low energy consumption.
Broad Group also says that buildings of up to 200 storeys, supertall towers, could be built using the same modules due to the B-Core steel slabs’ strength and lightness.
Other Broad Group projects
Broad Group has completed other significant projects in the past. In 2012, for instance, it attempted to build the tallest tower in the world in Changsha at 838m, which would have made it 10m taller than the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. The company claimed it could have made the building, named Sky City, in just eight months. However, due to not receiving approval, it was never built.
In 2015, the company accomplished another “speed-build” challenge, constructing a 57-story tower using the “Living Building system”. It was completed in just 19 days.