ANOTHER PLANET

Every household in Britain paid out an estimated £120 on utility bills as a result of the rather useless European carbon trading initiative  (the Times has found) and energy companies such as Scottish Power, EDF Energy and Centrica, the owner of British Gas, have pocketed about £9 billion in free windfall profits by manipulating the carbon trading scheme. The European Union emissions scheme — the world’s first carbon-trading initiative – requires heavy polluters, such as factories and coal power plants, to hold permits for each tonne of carbon they emit but it always seemed a deeply flawed scheme, drawn up by bureaucrats against mixed messages of policies. The extra costs have come when energy prices are at a record high, but, according to the climate change group Sandbag, the total carbon emissions saved by the scheme are roughly equivalent to every person in Europe replacing two old incandescent lightbulbs with energy-efficient alternatives, costing about £3 each.

A wind farm developer’s plan for a unique apprenticeship scheme have moved a step closer after Fife council gave an initial thumbs up to a development.  In what it claims is a UK first a collaboration between Adam Smith College and Carbon Free Earlseat the business will create six renewable energy apprenticeships each year.  The new was announced after officials at Fife Council recommended approval for Carbon Free’s plans for nine turbines generating more than 20MW of power.

The Uk government’s planning minister, Greg Clark, has agreed to meet environmental and countryside groups who are horrified about planned reforms to planning laws which would remove environmental controls to allow for more development – or ‘economic growth at any cost’. Groups such as the National Trust , RSPB and the Campaign to Protect Rural England  have been vocal in opposing government plans. Clark says he will discuss details with the groups but will not make any ‘U-turns’.

Britain’s increasingly weird weather (2011 – hot fine spring, wet summer, early autumn) in making it increasingly hard for meteorologists to predict what will be happening weather wise.

Scientific journals are being urged to take greater care in accepting articles on climate change and meteorology after accusations that some academics and scientists who deny climate change are bypassing the acedemic peer review system and chosing less specialist ‘off-topic’ magazine to ensure publication.

Cycling adds almost £3bn to the UK economy as well as cutting emissions and pollution, according to a new report from the London School of Economics (LSE) which says that almost a quarter of the British population are now cyclists and the industry is experiencing a huge boom. LSE’s academic Dr Alexander Grous says cycling is worth a staggering £2.9bn after he calculated a ‘gross cycling product’ by taking into account factors including bicycle manufacturing, cycle and accessory retail and cycle related employment. The research claims 208
million cycle journeys were made in 2010 meaning there were 1.3M more cyclists bringing the total UK cycle population to 13M.

EDF Energy is working with ParalympicsGB to provide a new standard for sustainability in the London 2012 Paralympic pre-games training camp taking place this month. The training camp for athletes will be taking place until 28 August at the University of Bath, to mark the ‘one-year-to-go’ for the Paralympic Games which start on 29 August 2012.  As a sustainability partner of London 2012, EDF used last year’s training event to create a pilot to create more sustainable training camps. The information collected is now being used by the Council for Responsible Sport (CRS) to create a new sustainability accreditation for sporting events.

Edie.net reports that  SITA UK has hooked up one of its landfill sites near Heathrow Airport to the SITA could potentially generate around 55MWh of electricity every week at the HollowayLane site from landfill gas to power local homes and businesses.  The project is the latest development by SITA’s energy recovery division, which was set up last year to manage the company’s current energy recovery operations, power production, landfill gas operations and energy related technologies.

PUMA and parent company PPR Group has announced the results of the economic valuation of its environmental impact through its operations. It puts the value of the impact of water consumption and greenhouse gas emissions alone at Euro 94.4 million.  The results revealed that the largest impacts come from the production of raw materials such as cotton and leather.  The company valued the impact of greenhouse gas emissions and water consumption involved in this part of the supply chain at Euro 41.4 million.  The valuation comes as part of the company’s new method of analysing and auditing its environmental impact throughout its core business and supply chain operations.

Half of all adults in Great Britain clearly understand messages about recycling their waste, but are confused and ill informed when it comes to lowering their energy use. An Ipsos MORI survey, conducted for INCPEN, found that when asked to choose up to three options from a list of things that people can do to help improve the environment, over half (52%) chose ‘recycle bottles, cans, paper and other materials’, the highest number of responses. By contrast, just 15% of respondents chose ‘turn down the home heating’ and only 22% chose ‘make fewer car journeys’ and ‘use public transport’. Men were also significantly more likely (18%) than women (13%) to choose ‘turn down home heating’.

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage restaurants have been rated the most sustainable in the UK, thanks in part to its waste reduction initiatives. The River Cottage chain was awarded the accolade by the Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA), with waste management scoring top marks on its star rating system. The chain now recycles all its waste including food and waste oil, which is turned into biofuel which is then used by the local community college. Food preparation waste is turned into compost that is then used to grow vegetables and customers are offered ‘doggy’ bags to take home unfinished food to further limit waste.

Orbiting solar energy plants could be providing energy for homes within 10 years  Scientists plant to put satellites covered with solar panels into orbit where energy can be captured five times more efficiently than on the ground and for 24 hours a day. Energy is sent back to earth as laser or microwave beams.  But Space Based Solar Power still faces a
number of hurdles, not least the cost of the proposals.  And a Swedish firm, Minesto, has developed a new type of marine power based on an underwater kite that drives a marine turbine – harnessing the sea’s tidal power. Minesto has raised E4 million from private investors and E1 million from Governments to develop the project.

Barclays claims a third of the UK’s estimated 200,000 farmers (37%) will invest in renewable energy as it launches a new £100M fund to bankroll potential projects.  The funding, which has been planned with support from organisations including the influential National Farmers Union (NFU), is aimed at helping farmers install all renewable technologies with Barclays including projected feed-in-tariffs (FITs) when assessing each loan

Edie.net reports that scientists have made a breakthrough by finding a bacterial strain which can produce butanol from old paper – opening the way for a new energy source from waste. The team from Tulane University in New Orleans, in the US, have the dubbed the bacteria ‘TU-103’ and have been testing it using old copies of a local paper from the city. 

Photovoltaic (PV) manufacturing is worth almost $2bn to the US solar industry and accounts for 99% of exports, according to new figures.  Both China and Germany were the biggest importers on American sourced PV components with the US to China market worth more than $240M alone, according to the figures which are for 2010. 

Questions have been raised In Scotland over whether companies are doing enough in relation to their producer responsibility obligations. The report says that producers of packaging, electronic equipment and vehicles could play a more effective role in the responsible management of these items at the end of their lifecycle.  The Scottish Government is now exploring the feasibility of setting Scotland-specific packaging recovery targets to drive up recycling rates on a local level, as well as introducing deposit return schemes for drinks packaging. 

Edie.net reports that the quality of waste legislation has been called into question as new research indicates certain policies are too complex, making them difficult to access, understand and apply.  The report, published jointly by the UK Environmental Law Association and King’s College London, has found that there is a perceived lack of understanding in practice about key legislative concepts.  These include the definition of waste and what constitutes ‘equivalent’ amounts of electronic waste under the WEEE regulations. Differences in policy approaches between England and Wales are also causing problems in waste regulation, such as cross-border market barriers.  

Wastewater recycling produces more greenhouse gases than traditional water treatment processes but is still worth continuing, research has concluded. The study found wastewater recycling plants emit around three times more nitrous oxide than traditional water treatments because of the high levels of denitrifying bacteria present. Despite the production of nitrous oxide, the report concluded that wastewater recycling is still a good idea and proposed that recycled wastewater should be used to supplement drinking water supplies. 

A coffin, a sailing boat, and giant polystyrene snowman are just some of the wacky items people have dropped off at Surrey County Council’s community recycling centres. Other notable items included two van loads of stamps, a grand piano, a caravan and diving equipment including an oxygen tank, wetsuit and fins. The news comes as the council announced it had reached a 50% household waste recycling rate for the county – with the aim of 70% by 2014

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