From the Office of the State Auditor:SANTA FE – The Office of the State Auditor (OSA) will hold a public hearing to revise the Audit Rule. The audit rule is prepared annually to outline audit requirements designed to protect taxpayer dollars in our communities. The OSA will carefully consider all public comments offered during the hearing as part of the rulemaking process.WHAT: Public hearing on the 2020 Audit RuleWHO: State Auditor Brian S. Colón, Deputy State Auditor Natalie Cordova, and Staff of OSA WHEN: Monday, February 17, 2020 at 1:30pm WHERE: The Office of the State Auditor, 2540 Camino Edward Ortiz, Suite A, Santa Fe, NM 87507Find the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking here. The hearing is open to the public.
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Helix Energy Solutions Group, Inc. announced yesterday that it is proceeding with the construction of a second newbuild semisubmersible well intervention vessel, to be named the Q7000. Owen Kratz, Helix’s President and CEO, stated, “Based on strong market demand and our proven success for delivering specialized deepwater well intervention services, we are moving forward with the Q7000, which is consistent with our strategy of expanding our well intervention fleet around the world.”Helix Energy Solutions Group, headquartered in Houston, Texas, is an international offshore energy company that provides key life of field services to the energy market.[mappress]Press Release, July 31, 2013
Federal Member for Leichhardt Warren Entsch has welcomed news that the Government’s approval of dredging activities at Abbot Point will be subject to the highest environmental standards to protect the Great Barrier Reef.After rigorous assessment, the Government has completed the approvals process for four Queensland projects under National Environmental Law, approving:· The capital dredging program for the proposed Terminals 0, 2 and 3 at the Port of Abbot Point;· The Adani T0 project at Abbot Point;· The Arrow Liquefied Natural Gas Facility on Curtis Island;· The Arrow Gas Transmission Pipeline to Curtis Island.“The projects are a huge boost for local jobs and the economy in their respective regions,” Mr Entsch said.“At the same time I’m pleased to see that some of the strictest conditions in Australian history have been placed on these projects to ensure that any impacts are avoided, mitigated or offset.”Some of these conditions include:· 150% net benefit requirement for water quality. The result will be a long-term net reduction of fine sediments entering the Marine Park from land-based sources, well beyond the life of the projects.· Approximately $89m will be contributed to support the health of the Great Barrier Reef through programmes such as the Reef Trust.· 95 environmental conditions for Abbot Point and 53 for Curtis Island LNG.· Measures for protection of marine species and their habitat, ecological communities, flora and fauna.The Government has also advised the Queensland Government that the first priority for all future capital dredging projects within the Central and North Queensland coastal zone should be for shoreline, near to shore or land reclamation disposal.“This bodes well for the application that is currently before the government in relation to the dredging of Trinity Inlet,” Mr Entsch said. “I would hope that this will result in the dredge soil being used to reclaim the former NatWest site at East Trinity.“This will create a huge opportunity for the expansion of Cairns and is a significant step towards improving and protecting the Marine Park for future generations.”The decisions take into account the latest and best science and management practices, and consider the draft Strategic Assessment of the Great Barrier Reef and Coastal Zone, the Independent Review of the Port of Gladstone and the Queensland Government’s draft Ports Strategy.These projects were started under Labor, but the Government has taken major steps to minimise the environmental impact. It is important to note that each of these sites is already heavily industrialised and that the processes were highly advanced at the change of government.“The Government cannot undo Labor’s decisions but from today, it is drawing a line in the sand,” Mr Entsch said.The Arrow Project will create an additional 3500 jobs during the peak construction phase in the Gladstone region and an operational workforce of approximately 450 will be required and will increase to 600 with the commencement of the third and fourth liquefied natural gas trains.In relation to the Adani project, the Mackay region in the first phase of construction will see a boost of around 300 jobs and the indirect employment 430 people. The second phase will see the creation of around 445 jobs and the indirect employment of over 500 people.[mappress]Press Release, December 12, 2013
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Homes England launched with fanfare this month, announcing a series of core objectives, both new and invigorated policies intended to get housebuilders on site and start reducing the country’s housing shortfall. The newly introduced Brownfield Land Registers are one such policy.However, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is – it seems that’s certainly the case with the registers.While the thinking behind the registers is certainly sound – the intention being the creation of a list of developable brownfield sites in each local authority area – as things stand, the registers are without substance or value.It’s unlikely that the registers will have any meaningful impact on Housing England’s target of building 300,000 homes every year until the mid-2020Around 310 local authorities have now published a register, revealing 26,000 hectares of developable land over 16,000 sites – all well and good, but not all it seems on deeper inspection.Local authorities were given until the 31 December 2017 to complete their respective registers, a deadline many councils missed completely. There are also two parts to each register – while many have indeed completed part one, a simple list of brownfield sites, the majority have failed to populate section two.Section two of the register should comprise a list of brownfield sites on which the council has granted permission in principle, removing an element of risk for developers and speeding up delivery. The fact is, none of the information on part one is new – these sites are already listed on SHLAA documents, available to any developer that should wish to look. There are no doubt numerous reasons for the failure of local authorities to list sites within part two of their registers, the primary concern being loss of control over the final design of the development. It has also been suggested that the potential for a reduced application fee in the absence of the usual planning permission requirements isn’t quite as appealing. In addition, the subjectivity of the current system for compiling the registers is also questionable, opening the risk of differing standards and guidelines throughout the country. Whatever the reason, it’s unlikely that the registers will have any meaningful impact on Housing England’s target of building 300,000 homes every year until the mid-2020s. It’s unlikely to have very little impact at all.Without penalties or incentive for local authorities to complete part two of the register, it’s a toothless strategy.Not only will brownfield sites remain unused, the policy will also fail to succeed in achieving Homes England’s intention of supporting SME builders to grow their businesses and build more homes, “disrupting” the housing market.Transparency is also key – were accurate lists of suitable brownfield sites available, we would be likely to see more constructive discussion at a local level around the unavoidable development of some greenfield sites if we are to meet the 300,000 per year target. The fact is the vast housing shortage cannot be met by developing brownfield alone.Despite the widespread (but nonetheless erroneous) belief that housebuilders are only interested in greenfield land, in reality it can often be more appealing to develop a brownfield site, not least due to political issues, local sensitivities and the ability to generate sales quickly. Should councils take the time to complete part two of their register, they will no doubt see considerable interest from developers keen to move forward with schemes.An alternative solution can be found in up-to-date local plans, listing all developable brownfield sites, with the addition of permission in principle – as it stands, the superfluous registers will have little or no impact in getting housebuilders on site, building the homes this country urgently needs and supporting smaller builders and SMEs.
The High Court has been asked to make an unprecedented order to allow a journalist to see all court papers in a flawed adoption case. The application comes as the family justice system faces heightened pressure to be more transparent.Melanie Newman, a freelance journalist, asked the court to make an order allowing her to see the full court file relating to an adoption order regarding a four-year-old girl, known as R. Judges said the order had been made on the ‘slimmest of evidence’. Even if successful, Newman will not be able to publish any of the information in the documents without a further court order.Anya Proops QC, acting pro bono for Newman, told the court that the girl’s mother, as well as R, now aged seven, supported the application. She read an email from the mother that said: ‘My hope now is that lessons can be learned from the systematic failures of this case and spare others from the unimaginable trauma that [R] and her family has endured.’Proops said the application was being made to reveal the ‘full picture of the evolution and origin’ of the local authority’s decision-making process and allow the media to perform its crucial ‘social watchdog function’.Media scrutiny was ‘fundamental to maintain the integrity of the care system’, Proops said. Lawyers for the local authority and the child’s guardian stressed that they recognised the benefit and necessity of transparency in the family justice system and the role played by journalists, but opposed the application, although they agreed to disclosure of some of the papers.For the local authority, Heather Rogers QC said the ‘unprecedented’ application went beyond anything ordered in other courts. To give a third party the right to see the requested documents, which include medical records, was an intrusion into privacy rights that required ‘proper justification’.She told the court that the journalist’s right to freedom of expression was not more important than the privacy rights of others.For the child’s guardian, Deirdre Fottrell QC said the child’s best interest should be considered before balancing the rights of the press to scrutinise the care process. She urged the court to protect R’s privacy.Judgment was reserved.
MARCH 31 has been set as the bidding deadline for the £500m main works contract to build the East London Line extensions. Part B of the tender documentation was issued by Transport for London to four shortlisted consortia in December.The E-link consortium is led by Laing O’Rourke Civil Engineering, with AMEC Spie Rail and Vinci Construction Grands Projets, and a joint venture of Atkins and Arup as key subcontractor. East London Rail is led by Mowlem with Parsons Group, advised by Jacobs-Babtie, whilst a joint venture of Balfour Beatty and Carillion Construction is working with Scott Wilson. The ELL Integrated consortium is led by a joint venture of Skanska Construction and Costain, with First Engineering and Siemens, and Faber Maunsell as key subcontractor. TfL London Rail hopes to announce the successful bidder ‘in the summer of 2006’, with work starting by the end of this year.A contract to supply rolling stock is expected to be awarded by the end of this month. Shortlisted bidders include Bombardier, Hitachi and Siemens who are proposing new trains, and Porterbrook Leasing which is offering Class 458 EMUs currently operated by South West Trains.