Thursday, 13 November 2014

Grand Depart Festival kickstarts new Festival for Yorkshire

Ambitious plans for a biennial Yorkshire Festival of art and culture starting in 2016 have been announced today.

The ten year plan, which will see major headlining commissions in a programme which has public participation at its heart, has been announced on the day a report reveals that this summer's cultural festival accompanying the Yorkshire Grand Départ of the Tour de France, generated close to £10 million for the county’s economy.

An independent evaluation report out today on the first ever cultural festival to accompany a Grand Départ also shows that there were more than 800,000 attendances at the 2,225 live performances, exhibitions and workshops over the 100-day Yorkshire Festival programme, with 18,000 people actually taking part.

Yorkshire Festival 2014, conceived by Welcome to Yorkshire, and supported by the Arts Council England, Yorkshire Water and Local Authorities across the county involved 47 headline projects alongside 475 fringe events.

Henrietta Duckworth, Executive Producer of Yorkshire Festival, said: “Yorkshire Festival exceeded all our expectations.  &Co’s rigorous evaluation report shows the festival’s artistic and economic impact and the irrepressible Yorkshire spirit. The cultural industries produced original work in every art form of exceptional quality, ambition and wit.  Participation was the “DNA” of this festival, people got creative as makers and performers at an unprecedented level.  Inspired by the Tour, the majority of the festival events were free attracting both young and old and 48,000 brand-new arts attenders.  It’s been 100 Amazing Days and we’re inspired that our ambitious cultural sector wants this festival to live again.”

Highlights of the festival included the world’s first Ghost Peloton, a monumental outdoor experience which brought dancers and a peloton of illuminated cyclists together in a stunning performance, Tour de Cinema’s premiere of Velorama screened in extraordinary outdoor locations across the county and the unusual Grand Departs, in which 18 cyclists pulled a grand piano up Cragg Vale, brought music to the longest continuous climb in England. Significant new plays were created – Bike Story, written by Mike Kenny and Beryl, actress Maxine Peake’s stage-writing debut.  One of the most influential sculptors of his generation, Leeds-born artist Thomas Houseago produced a monumental new commission - his first for Yorkshire.  Epic land-art, fashioned by artists, cyclists, school-children and young farmers, appeared as Fields of Vision throughout Calderdale and the South Pennines while Hypervelocity saw a fully functioning French Farm miraculously pop-up in St George’s Square, Huddersfield.  And more than fifteen hundred people attended 100 workshops to be part of Hope & Social and Grassington Festival’s live-gig Tour of Infinite Possibility, singing the festival song “The Big Wide”.

David Lascelles, Chair of the Yorkshire Festival Steering Group, said: “The Festival’s strapline was “Be Part Of It” and the talent of the artists and performers, the enthusiasm of members of the public who joined in or came as audiences, and the generosity of our partners and sponsors made it a wonderful, countywide success. Thanks to all of you for 100 memorable and joyous days!”

Richard Flint, Yorkshire Water Chief Executive, said: "We knew the Yorkshire Festival would be something special for the region and all of the local communities have played their part to put on a wonderful 100 days. We had the drama of the piano pull up Cragg Vale, the spectacular display of the Ghost Peloton and the transformation of some of Yorkshire's finest landscape, including two of our reservoirs, as part of Fields of Vision. We're immensely proud as a company to have helped bring this fantastic festival to the region."

Talks regarding a future Yorkshire Festival are now underway.

Gary Verity, Chief Executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, said: “Yorkshire Festival shone a spotlight on Yorkshire, creating an exceptional summer for people in readiness for the grandest ever Grand Départ. The success of the festival shows the exceptional artistic talent we have in this county and what we have to offer the world.

With all the current talk of northern powerhouses, this is the perfect time to demonstrate tangible Yorkshire ‘True Grit’, and launch a new festival for the North.  From today, we kick-start our ten year plan to create Yorkshire Festival for the future.”

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Utility company scoops top engineering award

Yorkshire Water has become the first water company to win a top engineering award. 

Emma Hughes and Jonathan Piatka from Yorkshire Water’s Flood Strategy team  joined forces with former employee Catherine Minor who now works for URS to win the Young Engineer 2014 competition at the SoPHE annual dinner in London. 

Run by The Society of Public Health Engineers  (SoPHE) entrants had to find ways to make a typical wastewater treatment system more resilient against floods for a small town in Bangladesh, where such events are frequent and prevent the installation of such treatment systems.

The trio who all lives in Leeds beat off strong competition from 10 other teams, one from Ukraine and the rest from the UK, and will be travelling to Bangladesh with WaterAid, next year.

During the trip they will meet with local authorities and non-government official representatives and gain an understanding of whether their design is feasible and what changes will need to be made before it can be implemented.

Emma Hughes, Flood Strategy Engineer, said: “Having been supporters of WaterAid , having attended and helped to organise many events to raise awareness and funds, it was a very exciting opportunity to be able to use our technical skills in support of WaterAid too.

“When we entered we didn’t expect to win because there was a lot of strong competition but we were one of the four teams to be shortlisted and travelled to London to hear the results.
“We are absolutely over the moon and still can’t quite believe it.”

Yorkshire Water’s CEO Richard Flint said: “We are delighted to be the first water company to win as it embeds what we do as a firm, working with a great charity like WaterAid to give people around the world access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene.

“The Flood Strategy team worked extremely hard on their entry and put a lot of thought into what has and hasn’t worked in the past and that was commended by the judges. This is a fantastic achievement.”

Rémi Kaupp, Programme Officer with WaterAid and one of the judging panel for the award, said: "The winning team's proposal highlighted a number of technical, social and institutional solutions which remain adaptable for those implementing them in Bangladesh. They demonstrated not only their expertise of flooding planning, but also their savvy research into the lessons learned from disaster risk reduction in developing countries to date.

“Their proposal, which they will pilot themselves during a trip to Bangladesh, will bring huge value to WaterAid Bangladesh and our partners there."

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Kelda Group Appoints New Independent Chairman

Kelda Group has today announced that Professor Richard Parry-Jones, CBE is to become its new, non-executive Chairman from April 1, 2015.

He will replace Kevin Whiteman who announced back in June this year that he would be stepping down after 17 years with the group.

Mr Parry-Jones, born in Wales in 1951, retired in 2007 as Group Vice-President, Global Product Development and Chief Technical Officer with the Ford Motor Company, where he had enjoyed a successful career spanning almost four decades around the world.

Since his retirement, Mr Parry-Jones has combined a career in consultancy with Board roles at the global engineering business, GKN plc, where he is the Senior Independent Director and at the UK’s rail infrastructure and system operator, Network Rail, which he has been non-executive Chairman of since 2012. He has also devoted considerable time over the last 10 years to providing public policy advice to Governments in Westminster and Cardiff on topics ranging from Industrial Policy to Transport and Energy, and to working with Universities to improve and promote teaching and research excellence in Engineering.

He has extensive technical and business experience of the transportation and engineering industries and is widely recognised for his leadership of the development and introduction of breakthrough technologies in both vehicle safety and sustainability. In 2004, his achievements were publicly recognised with a CBE for his services to the automobile industry.

He is also a fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, the Institute of Mechanical Engineers and the Royal Society of Statistical Science. He was recently awarded the James Watt Gold Medal by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers – its highest honour, awarded every other year to the most eminent mechanical engineers in the world.

Mr Parry-Jones will join the Board of Directors of Kelda and Yorkshire Water as a non-executive director from January 1, 2015, before officially taking over as non-executive chairman in April.

Commenting on his appointment, Mr Parry-Jones said: “Clean water and sanitation are taken for granted by most of us who live in advanced economies, yet it is a critical public service requiring enormous skill, technology and investment, coupled with passionate customer and environmental care.

“I am excited and honoured to be given the opportunity to work with the executive team to help the men and women of Yorkshire Water and Kelda, one of the best water utility companies in the world, to continue to deliver services ever more safely, reliably and efficiently in the framework of great values and the intelligent use of technology.”

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

On The Hunt For The Pumps

Yorkshire Water is inviting customers to go on a treasure hunt  for around 720 private sewage pumping stations which could help them save up to £1,200 per year in shared energy and maintenance costs.

From 1 October, 2016, a number of private sewage pumping stations will automatically transfer to Yorkshire Water ownership, under a new piece of Government legislation.

These pumping stations are currently the responsibility of residents or businesses and they  connect to the company’s sewerage network. Maintaining them could cost customers up to £1,200 a year – a cost which will be transferred to Yorkshire Water.  

Over the next two years the Bradford based firm needs to ensure it has located and surveyed all the pumping stations it thinks are eligible in the region.

Dave Wilson, Transfer Manager at Yorkshire Water said; “We estimate that there are 720 private pumping stations in our region and currently we have identified around 560 sites.  

“It’s really important that we locate and survey all the pumping stations in our area. That’s why we’re asking for customers right across the region to help us find them and potentially save themselves a lot of money at the same time.

“They literally could be anywhere, in your back garden, or on land next to your home or business, or just on the side of the road.

“Normally you will only see the steel access covers and a metal kiosk, usually green, which contains the electrical control equipment for the pumps. However, many of the controls are located in customers properties.”

Customers wishing to understand more about  private sewage pumping stations and what they look like can find information on the company’s website – or they can call call 0345 1 24 24 24.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Fat's amazing – innovative Bradford project extended

An innovative Bradford scheme which is simultaneously helping to turn fat into power and preventing blocked pipes is being expanded after the initial 6-month trial proved so successful.

Yorkshire Water began the unique ‘fat vat’ scheme in the Bradford Moor area in March, asking residents to collect used cooking oil in 5-litre containers rather than pouring it down the drain.

And the 85 residents in the area have taken to it with such gusto that  over 500 litres of used cooking oil has been collected since the trial was started.

That liquid, which is converted into a bio fuel by renewable energy experts Living Fuels, could provide enough power to make 125,000 cups of Yorkshire tea or even power a microwave continuously for 1,500 hours.

As well as generating renewable energy, the scheme also prevents blockages in the sewer created by ‘fatbergs’. These large obstacles are created when fats, oils and greases are poured down the sink before gathering and solidifying as they cool down.

The Bradford trial has been such a success that since it was launched seven months ago, there hasn’t been a single blockage on either of the streets involved. That’s a great result considering that houses in the Bradford Moor area have previously experienced more than 80 sewage blockage incidents in the past five years – with the main cause being identified as cooking oils being poured down people’s sinks, causing blockages in the pipes.

And those encouraging signs have resulted in Yorkshire Water now looking to expand the project to another 50 houses around Byron Street.

Duncan Woodhead, Network Protection Technician at Yorkshire Water, said: “The response from the local community to this trial has been excellent and people really do understand the difference they can make by changing their behaviour.

“We’ve been delighted with the amount of liquid we’ve managed to collect already and are looking forward to offering this to more people, which will help us generate more renewable energy and further reduce the amount of fats, oils and greases entering our network.”

Yorkshire Water has been working with the Bradford Moor-based Karmand Centre to understand residents’ cooking habits and spread the message about the impact of pouring used cooking oil down the drain.

Nasa Hussain, from the Karmand Centre, said: “By working together, Yorkshire Water and the Karmand Centre have succeeded in changing the way people in this small area of Bradford dispose of their cooking oil. Most people were unaware of what happened when oil was poured into the drains but this scheme has made a difference."

Yorkshire Water invested £2.3 million in improving the area’s sewerage system last year and has since asked residents to get into the habit of pouring their waste cooking oil into the ‘Fat Vats’.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

£30m technology helps power site on sewage


The conclusion of a two-year, £34 million project to create a self-powered sewage works in Bradford is being marked with a grand opening today.

Yorkshire Water’s Esholt site will become the company’s first entirely ‘poo powered’ site thanks to one of the UK’s only operational BioThelys Sludge Treatment Plants.

This cutting edge technology creates enough renewable energy to power the 750-acre site by generating biogas from the 30,000 tonnes of sludge that comes through the site each year.

That fuel can provide heat and power for the large site, reducing Yorkshire Water’s carbon footprint by 9,000 tonnes and saving £1.3 million a year in energy costs – helping keep customer’s bills down.

And the development is also great news for the local agricultural community; the process creates a product which is a superb fertiliser, packed full of nutrients, which is recycled back into Yorkshire’s agriculture. A total of 62,000 tonnes of fertiliser can be produced at the site each year.

Richard Flint, Yorkshire Water CEO, said: “This is a massive step for us as a company and it is good news for the environment, the agriculture industry and also our customers because it will help us keep bills down.

“The technology being used on this site truly is some of the most cutting edge around and it’s playing a major part in an 80% increase in the amount of renewable energy being generated by Yorkshire Water in the last year.”

The opening event was attended by Bradford Lord Mayor Cllr Mike Gibbons, who said: “The innovative technology which Yorkshire Water is now harnessing is hugely impressive. I'm delighted that the Esholt site is now the first self-powered sewage plant in Yorkshire and is leading the way in the industry with this new technology.”

Waste coming into Esholt, which serves a population of 700,000 people in Bradford and Leeds, goes through several stages to reduce it down to the sludge which renewable energy can be generated from.

The state of the art Biothelys technology then effectively pressure cooks the sludge at 165’C, turning it into a soup-like consistency and making it easier to capture biogas from. This biogas is then fed back through pipes and combusted in an engine to generate both electricity and heat that is circulated around the large facility.

Engineering specialists Morgan Sindall and Grontmij have undertaken the major project, in what is one of the biggest contracts ever awarded by Yorkshire Water.

Simon Smith, Managing Director Utility Services for Morgan Sindall and Gavin Stonard, Director of Water & Asset Management for Grontmij, said: “The Morgan Sindall Grontmij joint venture is committed to adopting a sustainable approach on all the projects we deliver for Yorkshire Water.”

“With this in mind, we are particularly pleased to have been able to work on this project to achieve such a green and cost efficient solution to powering the sewage works, which is a prime example of sustainability by design and our value beyond engineering approach. The Morgan Sindall Grontmij joint venture looks forward to continuing its successful partnership with Yorkshire Water throughout Asset Management Period 2015-2020.”

Friday, 5 September 2014

Barn owl baby boom in East Yorkshire

An ideal year of weather has resulted in an East Yorkshire nature reserve recording its highest ever number of barn owl chicks in a single season.
The kind spell of weather resulted in Tophill Low Nature Reserve witnessing the extremely unusual sight of two separate sets of chicks being produced by the same parents in the same season.

That resulted in the Yorkshire Water-owned site celebrating nine of the cute birds being born in the same little bird box in the past few months.

It’s more positive news for the region, after a disastrous breeding season in 2013 prompted Yorkshire Wildlife Trust to sound a warning all-time low numbers of the birds in Yorkshire.

Richard Hampshire said: “We’ve never seen the same pair of owls produce two sets of chicks in the same season so we’re absolutely delighted to get this unexpected second set.

“The mild winter last year and warm temperatures over spring and summer have meant there’s lots of mice and voles around, which the owls love to eat, so the mating pairs will be having a good time of things.

“We think that’s why this year has been such a good one for barn owls and it really is the sort of season our region, and the bird-lovers within it, has been crying out for.”

Joanna Richards, spokesperson for Yorkshire Wildlife Trust said: “The success of barn owls at Tophill Low Nature Reserve is really something to celebrate and fits with the pattern that has been seen across Yorkshire this summer. Numbers had reached a concerning low in 2013, but the better weather has been kind to them, and numbers of voles, a key food item, have been high. Vole populations are cyclical in nature and this year was a boom year, which has aided the population growth.

“Places for barn owls to nest and roost had also created problems in recent years, with barn conversions and the removal of old trees reducing the number of nesting places traditionally used. Yorkshire Wildlife Trust has been able to put up a large number of barn owl boxes across Yorkshire, including along the River Hull valley, thanks to the support of members of public. This will hopefully provide sites for this year’s young to utilise next year, including those born at Tophill Low this summer.”
The combination of a harsh winter in 2013, which left only the strongest owls alive, and the ideal conditions over the past 12 months is thought to have resulted in the barn owl boom.

It’s hoped this winter may bring further good news for the area’s bird spotters, with a potential visit from the spectacular short-eared owl, which commonly lives in Scandinavia.
The beautiful birds tend to visit Tophill Low every other year and, after no sightings last year, the team at the site have their fingers crossed for an appearance in the coming months.