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Serco merges UK & European divisions

Service specialist Serco has announced a merger of its UK and European operations, creating a single business named Serco UK & Europe.

The international service company will combine its two divisions, UK Central Government and UK & Europe Local & Regional, to improve the efficiency of all operations across the regions.

“The move to an integrated UK & Europe operating division will improve the efficiency and capability of our operations and should be seen in the context of our strategy to transform Serco,” commented Rupert Soames, Serco Group chief executive.

“Over the last three years, our businesses in the UK & Europe have significantly improved their service delivery, customer satisfaction and capability, which now enables us to move to a simpler and more efficient structure. In terms of group organisation, Serco now has four, rather than five, regional businesses serving governments: North America, Middle East, Asia-Pacific and UK & Europe.”

Serco UK & Europe will be headed by Kevin Craven, currently chief executive of UK Central Government. Liz Benison, currently chief executive of UK & Europe Local & Regional Government, will leave the group.

Craven joned Serco in 2014 from Balfour Beatty Services as CEO leading 16,000 employees and revenues of over £1.6 billion.

Bidvest Group acquires Noonan

Bidvest Group has acquired Dublin-based outsourcing company Noonan for a consideration of E175 million, subject to approval from the South African Reserve Bank.

CEO John O’Donoghue will continue to lead the existing management team.

Noonan is a provider of facilities management services operating across the UK and Ireland. Services include Facilities Management, Technical Services, Security Services, Cleaning Services, Environmental Services and Ancillary Services, with the company employing over 13,000 staff.

The company was bought by Alchemy in 2008 for E90 million.

John O’Donoghue, CEO of Noonan said: “I would like to welcome Bidvest as our new owners. Our strategy and the substantial investment in our business and brand, coupled with the strong commitment of management and our employees, have allowed us to consistently outperform the market and to continuously enhance the services we provide to our clients.”

Lindsay Ralphs, CEO of Bidvest Group, said: “We are delighted to have completed this acquisition, which provides us with a unique opportunity and platform to establish a strong presence in the Irish and UK markets. NOONAN has an excellent team of people who share our passion and reputation for professionalism, innovation and excellence in the way we deliver service to our clients.”

Crises, CCTV and Cyber Crime top the total security summit

The global landscape has experienced a rather monumental change over the last year, with security being more relevant than ever as we go into 2017.

The first Total Security Summit of the year is determined to address these issues and uncertainties in a bespoke two-day event for security professionals.

Meet, share, connect and debate business relevant to your current and future projects with matchmade face-to-face meetings, experience a day of dining, drinks and discussion as you network with fellow business professionals and attend seminars covering a range of relevant topics.

Reaching a landmark age in political global challenges and uncertainties, it’s vital to prepare for the future, protecting crowded areas, addressing terror threats and discussing counter-terrorism is Dr Anna Maria Brudenell, Lecturer in Military and Security Studies,
Cranfield Defence and Security for the first seminar on Global Security Strategy.

As terror threats continue to rise and evolve without warning, discussing and understanding the implications is crucial to develop your security in a crisis. Chris Phillips, Managing Director, International Protect and Prepare Security Office (IPPSO) is presenting seminar 2 on Crisis Management and Communications

Video surveillance is being used in greater quantity and with higher quality expectations, with Britain among the leaders in CCTV operation, but are the benefits worth the cost? With few resources and increasing legal parameters, Simon Lambert, Independent CCTV Consultants, Lambert Associates is discussing  CCTV and Video Surveillance in seminar 3.


John Marsden, Head of Fraud, Equifax, is discussing how to identify and tackle theft as it happens, assessing risk, detecting threats and ensuring on-going training in Seminar 4: Keeping your Business’ Cash and Assets Safe and Secure

Going into your second day, and following morning networking, James Willison, Founder, Unified Security Ltd goes digital. As our dependency on technology grows, many companies are more vulnerable than ever, between data and privacy risks to ransomware, hackers are becoming more sophisticated, and businesses need to adapt quickly for Seminar 5 on Cyber Crime – the United Security Response.

With a continuing rise in companies at risk of fraud, from physical fraud to high level hacking, security needs to be tight across the board, and the final seminar before more discussion and networking addresses these fears. Fraud Prevention with David Lee, Fraud Prevention Manager, Transport for London sees the summit almost to a close.

Taking place between the 13-14 March at the Radisson Blu Hotel, London Stansted, this year’s Total Security Summit is the industry go-to for professionals.

To secure a complimentary delegate place at either of the two annual Total Security Summit events, call Liz Cowell on 01992 374 072 or email

Or, to attend either event as a supplier, call Nick Stannard on 01992 374 092 or email

For more information, visit

Ireland work fatalities drop by nearly a quarter in 2016

Fatalities in the Irish workplace have reduced by 21% in the last year compared to 2015, according to figures by the Health and Safety Authority.

Many work sectors saw a large drop in deaths within 2016, while agriculture saw a rise of 21 from 18 in 2015.

The fatalities marked the lowest rate since 2009, a number that was reluctantly welcomed by analysts.

“It is especially important that as the numbers at work increase, accident rates are moving in the opposite direction,” said Martin O’Halloran, Chief Executive of the Health and Safety Authority, “nevertheless we must not forget the many families that experienced devastation and tragedy in 2016. It was a time when they lost loved ones due to events that should have been prevented.”

Of the deaths, 88% were men aged 25+, nine men over the age of 65 killed in the agriculture sector, and 45% of all deaths involved vehicles.

“It is clear that there is a systemic problem with safety on our farms,” continued Mr O’Halloran, as the agriculture sector continues to hold the highest recorded fatalities year on year, Our farm safety walks and knowledge transfer groups are designed to effect long-term behavioural change and it is only through this type of transformation that we will see a significant reduction in farm deaths.”

Increasing university commerciality will create further student housing partnerships…

A study by JLL’s Higher Education team has charted the rise of student housing partnerships between private sector operators and universities in the UK. 

Claiming to be the first to pull together comprehensive information on the student housing market, the study highlights the c. 27,000 new beds that these partnerships have created in the last 15 years, and the further c. 16,500 beds transferred from university portfolios. 

These partnerships have so far attracted £2.4 billion in capital investment and the number of partners has tripled in the last decade.

Robert Kingham, director in the management company’s Higher Education team, said: “As a market, the sector is maturing, evolving, and becoming more sophisticated. The scale of the challenge is huge. Universities own or lease a quarter of a million beds in the UK and we estimate that upwards of £5 billion is required to address their quality, in addition to creating more beds, to improve the student experience.”

JLL predicts a particular increase in the number of Design, Build, Finance and Operate (DBFO) schemes over the next five years, whereby a student housing partner takes a long lease of university-owned land, designs a scheme in conjunction with the university, raises finance, operates, builds, and takes the risk of finding occupants. In return, universities receive the expertise of a dedicated partner, a capital receipt and continued influence over creating a high-quality student experience. 

As a result, JLL expects universities who have not embarked upon this type of partnership before to look seriously at DBFO as an option. 

Martin Le Grice, head of Alternative Investment at JLL, added: “There is increased funder interest in the sector. This is partly driven by the opportunities in the DBFO and the emerging Strip Income markets, and the relative stability that Purpose Built Student Accommodation (PBSA) offers. When set against the difficulty in deploying equity, it demonstrates why funders are increasingly keen to enter what is currently a relatively closed market.”

The study concluded that affordability will be a major theme for all aspects of student accommodation over the next five years. This has become a priority concern for universities given the financial pressures on students, combined with high build costs and a lack of product which is driving up rents.

The full report can be downloaded here 

Industry Spotlight: Delivering Renewable Heat – what have targets got to do with it?

In 2009, the UK and Scottish governments of the day set renewable energy targets, theoretically binding, to be reached by 2020.  With just four years to go, how are we doing?

So, as we are only four years away, I wanted to examine where we are with the Renewable Heat Target and the role of biomass heat in delivering this. For this article, I want to focus on the renewable heat target and the role biomass is playing in delivering it.  And I’m going to pay specific attention to Scotland where some intriguing new data has emerged.

The Scottish Renewable Heat Target for 2020 is 11 per cent, while for reasons unbeknown to me; it’s 12 per cent in the rest of the UK. Beyond the obvious question of whether we will actually meet the target, it’s particularly interesting as the Scottish Government is embarking on an energy review and is setting out its objectives for post-2020. 

If the Scottish Renewable Heat Target is going to be met, then 6,420GWhs of annual renewable heat output are needed by that date. At present, Scotland produces 3,031GWhs of renewable heat annually.  Biomass heat contributes 1,716GWhs of that total at present and biomass CHP contributes most of the rest.

We can roughly calculate how many heat only biomass installations 1,716GWhs is equal to, as each MW of installed capacity provides around 2,600MWhs of heat output.  On that basis, the current biomass heat output represents roughly 660MWs of installed capacity. 

In cash terms it represents £561 million of investment in renewable heat capacity.  A great achievement, if somewhat modest compared to many other northern European countries.

However, if we assume biomass heat will constitute the same proportion of our renewable heat in 2020 (57 per cent) and that the 6,420GWhs of heat is actually provided to meet the target, then an additional 2,000GWhs of biomass heat must be provided by 2020.  I should say to assume biomass CHP provides a bit more is perfectly reasonable, but if you ‘do the math’ on all other forms of renewable heat, you’ll see they can’t deliver anything like what is needed – never mind making up any biomass shortfall.  In other words, biomass heat may well need to be more than 57 per cent, but let’s stick with this figure for now…

So biomass has a key role to play in meeting the target and for modelling purposes this can be split into four years, which requires 500GWhs of biomass heat output to be added annually.

That means 192MWs of new installed capacity must be added annually for four years.  That’s going to be quite a challenge.

We know that 1MW of good quality biomass heat capacity costs about £850,000 to install.  As we need 192MWs a year, that requires annual capital investment to run at £163 million for four successive years…totalling more than has been achieved in the last 15 years combined.

If we assume an average installation size of 250kW, it means 768 installation contracts a year, each worth about £212,500.  Bringing that down to monthly figures it comes to 64 installs a month with a monthly spend rate of £13.6 million.

Typically, each MW of biomass heat capacity creates two jobs, so around 1,500 new jobs would be created if 2,000GWhs of biomass heat were produced.

Each scheme will take around four to six months to plan, design and install. Biomass heat installs require a range of design and contracting skills in M&E, civils, architecture, engineering and a co-ordination expert in biomass to oversee this.

There are no reliable figures on how many companies are involved in the design and installation of biomass heat. My own guess is that we have around 10 to 15 specialist biomass companies operating in Scotland, with fewer than 150 direct employees in total. 

Total sector capacity could probably expand quite quickly, but key skills shortages in specialist areas like biomass boiler specification/commissioning and fuel handling system design will hamper progress.  However, even if demand were to actually run at 64 x 250kW installs a month, it is hard to see how the required capacity could be mobilised sufficiently quickly.

I have reached the clear conclusion that unless things change, the Scottish Government will fall way short of its 2020 renewable heat target.  More on that next time…


Steve Luker is principal consultant at re:heat, specialists in biomass heat with offices in North East England and Scotland. Before entering consultancy, Steve worked for Scottish Enterprise as a renewables and sustainability consultant. Steve is a recognised expert in bio-energy, advising local and national government, development agencies and the private sector in the UK and overseas on supply chains, energy contracts, tendering and procurement.  For further information, please visit

Scotland leads the UK in energy and climate change…

New analysis compiled by the government’s climate watchdog, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has discovered that Scotland is leading the UK when it comes to lowering emissions; detailing that its annual greenhouse gas reduction target was met in 2014 and gross emissions fell by 8.6 per cent during that period – compared to a reduction of 7.3 per cent recorded for the UK as a whole.

The ‘Reducing emissions in Scotland – 2016 progress report’ also acknowledges that emissions in Scotland have decreased by almost 40 per cent over the past 30 years – in comparison to 33 per cent for the UK – and CCC members also revealed that Scotland has shown great enthusiasm in introducing renewable electricity generation, as well as implementing a ‘well developed’ energy efficiency policy and making ‘excellent progress’ with community energy schemes.

Chair of the CCC, Lord Deben, said in a statement: “Scotland continues to lead the UK both in performance and ambition when it comes to tackling climate change. Emissions are reducing and the latest targets have been hit.”

Despite the positive action, the CCC has also warned that more work needs to be done following warnings from the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee that the UK will more than likely miss an EU-set target that is legally binding to achieve 15 per cent of its energy from renewable sources by the year 2020. 


Read the full analysis here

Brexit vote behind confidence dip in energy efficiency…

The latest EEVS & Bloomberg report has suggested that supplier confidence in the energy efficiency sector has fallen to its lowest point in five years; detailing a combination of supplier order books, sales prices, government action and staffing levels had experienced an overall confidence fall to (-) 38 points for the second quarter (Q2) of 2016.

This follows a decline of 21 points in the previous quarter to (-) 4; the most significant drop since the trends survey commenced in 2012. 

Furthermore, it is thought that sector confidence has also been hit by the UK’s decision to leave the EU, with a Bloomberg EEVS survey conducted before the vote indicated both suppliers and consumers in energy efficiency favoured a remain vote prior to the outcome on June 23. 


View the full report here


Minimise Energy and OMS sign UK distribution deal…

A new deal between the energy division of the Minimise Group, Minimise Energy and the commercial lighting manufacturer, OMS, will see all lighting products including ceiling recessed lighting, high bay lights and emergency lighting brought to UK businesses.

Currently providing its services to central and Eastern Europe, the deal is expected to benefit architects, engineering consultants, contractors and lighting specifiers with access to an exciting and progressive range of LED luminaires and lighting controls for both internal and external applications.

Sales director at Minimise Energy, Sam Stageman, commented: “We’re excited to bring the full OMS product range to the UK. Since establishing in 1995, OMS has built a dynamic and innovative range which provides specifiers with an unsurpassed portfolio of quality lighting products to choose from. Combining both performance and style, the range is ideally suited to retail, commercial and industrial applications and we expect them to be extremely popular. This really elevates and widens the spectrum of Minimise Energy Lighting Technologies’ proposition.”