Energy, aviation and water all demand innovation

Jason Ford

News editor

This week’s Briefing would like to start with a reminder that you have until Friday 30 July to enter The Engineer Technology & Innovation Awards.

Now in their fourth year, the awards celebrate excellence emanating from engineering collaborations involving UK companies and institutions, and this year feature new categories for consumer products and sports technology.

Click here for more information about the awards and how to enter.

On a different note entirely, a report published today suggests Labour’s ‘green’ policies have had a detrimental effect on manufacturing.

The Civitas report – ’British Energy Policy And The Threat To Manufacturing Industry’ – argues that under the previous government, Labour’s aims to reduce carbon emissions and increase the proportion of energy generated from renewable sources have significantly increased costs for consumers.

The report’s authors call on the coalition government to ensure that manufacturing industries are supported by policies that help rather than hinder their competitiveness.

Aviation is the subject of a report released tomorrow by the Institution of Civil Engineers.

Entitled ’Rethinking Aviation’, the report will look at the future of air transport and airport infrastructure policies including alternatives to domestic flights, airport access, aviation and climate change and the role of regional airports.

The report is said to identify air transport goals, airport infrastructure and supporting actions needed to improve Britain’s national and international connectivity, meet environmental targets and maintain economic profitability.

The Engineer’s news desk has taken a quick look at alternatives to domestic flights and was encouraged to see that in one scenario, rail can compete with air travel.

We imagined being asked today to attend an afternoon meeting in Edinburgh this Thursday and return to London the following day. This is the kind of last-minute situation that has the potential to throw up eye-watering train fares. Not so.

Were we to book online, an off-peak return (departing at 0700) from Kings Cross to Edinburgh Waverley would have us filling an expenses form for £183.50.

Similarly, a flight with a well known low-cost airline from London Gatwick Airport would set us back a total of £148.98. Factor in car parking fees and petrol costs and it would seem that rail — arguably the less polluting mode of transport — is cost competitive on this occasion.

Water management has seen many of you writing to The Engineer following the publication of last Friday’s Futurescope, which asked: where exactly has all the water gone? You can read the article here, and your comments are still welcome.

This question may well be on the agenda at tomorrow’s Water UK Innovation Hub Forum in London.

Organisers of the event say innovation will be the key to a sustainable future for the water industry, as it is recognised as a key tool in the delivery of tough efficiency targets alongside meeting future challenges of climate change, population growth, more demanding consumers and increasing environmental regulation.

The Water UK Innovation Hub 2010 will explore the current state of innovation in water and utilities. It is part of the Water UK Future Forum series designed to engage regulators, government, industry and the supply chain as enablers of innovation in the sector.