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Senior Australian trade officials pay visit to the LSEP

Senior Australian trade officials have visited a site in the north-west of the UK to celebrate the positive impact the Australia-UK Free Trade Agreement (FTA) is having on UK construction.

Elisabeth Bowes PSM, Australian Deputy High Commissioner to the UK and Chief Negotiator of the Australia-UK FTA, paid a visit to the Lostock Sustainable Energy Plant (LSEP) in Northwich, Cheshire, on Wednesday, at the invitation of Australian heavy lifting tower crane specialists Marr Contracting.

Marr, which provides innovative cranage solutions to complex construction projects across the world, expanded its international operations into the UK following the signing of the Australia-UK FTA in 2021.

Ms Bowes said: “The benefits of the high-quality Australia-UK Free Trade Agreement are evident, with strong two-way trade and investment since entry into force one year ago.

“Marr Contracting’s cranage expertise is helping construct a sustainable energy from waste facility that will produce enough power for 125,000 UK homes. By reducing obstacles to trade and investment, and by creating new avenues to work and share knowledge and expertise across our two countries, the FTA is supporting Australian businesses like Marr Contracting to maximise their opportunities in the UK.

“The UK is Australia’s second largest destination for overseas investment, and the UK is the second largest investor into Australia. Australian and UK businesses are making an important contribution to energy transition in both countries.”

Marr Contracting developed the world’s largest capacity luffing tower crane (the Favelle Favco M2480D), two of which are on site at LSEP. The cranes can lift 330-tonnes, something which construction company Black & Veatch said made them the perfect solution for the work at Lostock.

“While the benefits may not be intuitive to the ‘person on the street,’ using high-end tower cranes like those supplied by Marr Contracting actually translates into significant project outcomes,” said Ashley Palmer, Steel and Heavy Lift Supervisor, LSEP Project, Black & Veatch.

“It’s a compact, brownfield site so we were able to reduce the crane’s footprint and the cranes on site can operate under higher wind conditions, meaning they are in operation for longer. All these aspects come together to help the team gain schedule and keep the project safely on track.”

Simon Marr, Managing Director of Marr Contracting, added: “The FTA has provided more opportunities for businesses in the UK and Australia to work together.

“We’ve already established strong relationships here since working on our first UK project, the Hinkley Point C Tunnelling & Marine Project, in 2017. And now with the FTA it’s easier for us to bid on other large-scale projects through access to UK construction frameworks.”

The Australia-UK FTA was the first new trade agreement signed by the UK following its exit from the EU.

Once complete, the Lostock Sustainable Energy Plant will have the capacity to process 600,000 tonnes of waste per year – producing enough sustainable energy for 125,000 homes and reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 190,912 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e) when compared with the alternative of sending the same quantity of waste to landfill.