The Specialist Engineering Contractors Group (SECG) met the Treasury's chief secretary Paul Boateng this month to discuss retentions.

An estimated £3.25bn in cash retentions is funded by SMEs every year with the annual cost to the public purse an estimated £750m. The public sector is responsible for 40% by volume of all construction work in the UK.

House of Commons Select Committee reports have urged government departments to lead by example by adopting new procurement practises and a uniform approach to phasing out retentions.

The Treasury is reluctant to commit to a timescale for phasing out retentions, focusing instead on

A free CPD seminar - part of the Leonardo Power Quality Initiative - aims to help electrical contractors and installers understand the theory behind power problems and provide practical guidance on their identification, measurement and mitigation in LV installations. Content includes measurement techniques, availability concepts and back-up power supplies, short and long term monitoring, mitigation methods and the role of the earthing system. Presenters are from the UK Power Quality Partnership, as well as Fluke, Rhopoint systems and MGE UPS Systems. The seminars begin on 9 March. To reserve places, e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Hartlepool-based CBL Contractors has bagged a lucrative contract for cabling and electrical installation work on the new Wembley stadium.

Worth some £10m, the deal will enable the firm to create up to 200 jobs over two years. CBL already has experience of stadium work, having won contracts for Cardiff

Scottish and Southern Energy has announced its preferred route for a 400kV electricity transmission line, which must be built between the Highlands and the Central Belt of Scotland if the company is to meet the government

Electricity firms will not be prosecuted for the power cuts that hit south London and Kent on 28 August and the West Midlands on 5 September.

The energy minister, Stephen Timms, said findings from an investigation will be passed on to the electricity companies concerned ?so that they can take the necessary action to enhance the robustness of their networks, and so make such occurrences less likely?.

The investigation, carried out by DTI

Metal halide lamps account for 6% of the world lighting market. Last year 70 million units were sold with the expectation that in 2010 this will rise to 120 million.

To keep up with demand, Venture Lighting Europe, specialising in metal halides, has closed its headquarters in Derby and moved to Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire. Manufacturing has been transferred from Europe to India.

Its US parent company, having solved its financial problems, has appointed a new management team for its European operation with Keith Price, managing director, and Richard Morris given the job of looking after the distribution markets.

Keith Huxley, Venture?s marketing director is upbeat about the company?s prospects. ?Metal halides can be used in industrial, commercial, retail and residential applications and the use of the lamps for street lighting, car parks and other exterior lighting situations will grow dramatically. As for televised sporting events, the choice must be metal halides.? The new management: Richard Morris, Keith Price and Keith Huxley

The high-colour rendering and exceptional lumen maintenance accounts for the growing popularity. Metal halides provide a compact source of white light, available in colour temperatures from 2,700 to 5,000 degs K. At 110 lumens per watt, they are among the most energy-efficient lamps. The technology is moving towards the use of ceramics rather than quartz and Huxley predicted that Venture would soon acquire a partner with ceramic experience.

Some 40% of the company?s output goes to lighting equipment manufacturers, 50% sells through wholesalers and about 10% to specialist contractors such as Parkersell.

It is also rumoured that people who grow their own hydroponic marijuana have fueled demand for metal halides. The white light, we understand, produces excellent results during the early growth stage while high-pressure sodium, in the red end of the spectrum, is best for the flowering growth.

First Great Eastern says problems with the transformers on some of its new class 360 Desiro trains will not prevent it from running a full service. The rail firm reintroduced slam-door trains to cover the journeys affected by the withdrawal of around half its 21-strong, ?80m fleet. Around 55,000 people use the firm?s trains to travel to London?s Liverpool Street station each day. A spokesman for First Great Eastern said: ?There are suggestions that the technical problems with the new trains are resulting in cuts to services from Liverpool Street. This is simply not true and we plan to operate the normal service not just tonight but tomorrow, the day after and for the foreseeable future.? Customers can check on possible service changes by calling 08459 50 50 00 or visiting

Royal Air Force Valley, Anglesey, has moved to meet Nato?s Stanag 3316 agreement by replacing a centralised standby generator on its aeronautical ground lighting systems with five diesel generators.

Supplied to Amey BFPO Services, RAF Valley?s works service management company, the generators are able to restore power to localised areas around the site within 15 seconds of a power cut.

?We went out to competitive tender with a very stringent specification, which very few companies were able to meet,? said John Leathwood, electrical engineer for Amey Facilities Management.

?Scorpion Power Systems won the tender as it was able to provide the best value for money, has an excellent track record and the experience and expertise to undertake such assignments.?

Previously, RAF Valley relied on a single generator. This left the system vulnerable in the event of a localised power failure, as the central system wouldn?t detect the fault and the power would remain down. The use of five separate generators increases the security of supply and also enables localised maintenance to be carried out without disrupting the entire system.

Britain?s nuclear industry is accused of complacency after claiming the problem of radioactive particles discovered outside the Dounreay nuclear plant is not harming attempts at the environmental clean up.

The UKAEA has to return the Caithness complex to a near-greenfield site within 50 years at a cost of ?4.5bn.

Since 1983, over 200 radioactive hotspots have been found on the foreshore at Dounreay and approximately 50 more on the nearby Sandside beach, which is open to the public. A further 750 have been discovered on the seabed during surveys and it is thought that up to 50,000 may be in the sediment close to Dounreay.

The infamous pit in to which scientists for many years discarded radioactive material was originally thought to be the source of contamination.

Lorraine Mann, the convener of Scotland Against Nuclear Dumping, said it shows a quite extraordinary level of complacency by the new management of the clean up team and ?reveals that they have no grasp of the magnitude of the problem they are facing.?

Dounreay yesterday opened a ?7.5m plant to control and dispose of low-level effluent from the decommissioning of the plant.