The UK Government has lost a legal challenge in the High Court over plans to reduce the ‘Feed-in Tariff’ (FIT) for home generated electricity after the court ruled it was wrong to scrap the promised financial returns before a pre-announced consultation period had come to a close. The UK Government hopes to save £700 by 2014-2015. Green energy campaigners have criticised the Government for putting thousands of jobs at risk. The National Trust has now announced that it is putting twelve of its planned fourteen solar panel projects on hold on its buildings as the rate is slashed from 42p per kwh to just 20p. The National Trust chairman Simon Jenkins said the cut was a ‘blow’ to our plans’ and that several proposed schemes for green energy were no longer viable. And the UK Government is wrong to cut the Feed-In Tariff in the way it did but bad practice in the solar industry needs addressing, according to a new report. The Consumer Focus report Keeping FIT is published on the day the subsidies are cut by about 50%. While the report finds many problems with the way the Government has cut FITs it also voices concerns about ‘misleading’ sales practices, a ‘lack’ of information from some solar panel installers and raises issues about the difficulties it found in registering and payment process for the tariff itself. However Solar energy in the UK will continue to be a “viable financial venture for investors”, according to one of the largest international manufacturers of solar modules, which unveiled investment plans. Phono Solar, which produces monocrystalline and polycrystalline silicon solar modules for the international market, said it will continue to invest in the UK market and is confident of its future, despite the planned cuts to Feed-in Tariffs (FITs).
A legally binding deal was signed at COP17 after concerns by major emitters India, China and the US were eased. The deal has been hailed by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) as a ‘breakthrough on the future’ of the international emissions and backed by the UK’s government. But the limited agreement only goes some way to address concerns and UK Energy Secretary Chris Huhne said that a legally binding deal on global emissions cannot be achieved by the European Union alone. And International condemnation then followed when Canadian Government announced a decision to pull out of Kyoto in the wake of COP17. The Canadians crushed the small glimmer of optimism that came out of COP17 talks as the country moved to protest its large fossil fuel reserves. The decision shows while the United Nations backed climate talks can produce legally binding deals there’s little they can do if a country’s government decides it will simply pull out.
Edie.net reports that the South African Government has pledged to back an increase in wind power as its Department of Energy announced the winning bids from the first round of tenders for renewable energy projects. Announced at COP17, the South African’s said they plan to install 630MW of wind projects and a similar quantity of solar PV. According to the Department for Energy a further 2200MW of renewable projects will be announced over the coming two years.
The Environment Agency (EA) plans to crack down on illegal waste sites with a new environmental crime taskforce. The taskforce, which will target sites in England and Wales, has received £5m funding for the next two years. The EA has identified some 600 active illegal waste sites and estimates that over 300 of them are within 50m of schools, homes or sensitive environmental sites. The team, which includes former police detectives, will work closely with enforcement partners to gather intelligence and act quickly to close any sites that are operating illegally. The taskforce will be supported by Environment Agency funding for the first two years.
Recycling can benefit the economy in several ways by providing raw materials, creating jobs and encouraging business opportunities, according to a new study from the European Environment Agency (EEA) which examined the economic benefits of recycling in the context of building a green economy and found that the sector can help meet the material demands of economic production by preventing the environmental impacts associated with extracting and refining virgin materials. The study also found that revenues from recycling are substantial and growing fast. From 2004 to 2008 the turnover of seven main categories of recyclables almost doubled to more than 60bn euros in the EU.
Product reuse will grow in importance as the issue of resource security becomes more critical, according to WRAP’s chief executive Liz Goodwin. Speaking at a Green Alliance/CBI conference in London today, Goodwin said that by pursuing opportunities for reuse, the UK could reduce its reliance on raw materials, including rare earths, by as much as 20% by 2020. WRAP estimates that around 600m tonnes of products and material enter the UK economy each year, with only around 115m tonnes being recycled. “Rare earth metals account for just 1,600 tonnes of this flow, but they are found everywhere – from vehicles, TVs, computers and ceramics, fuels, energy generation, and pharmaceuticals,” Goodwin told delegates. More than £220m could be generated from almost a quarter of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) thrown out each year, according to a report from WRAP and WRAP has also announced a £500,000 fund to encourage best practice in commercial food waste. The money, which will be issued over the next three years, will be used to support demonstration projects in England whereby collected food waste is recovered either through anaerobic digestion or in-vessel composting.
Clothing industry leaders Marks and Spencer and Levi Strauss back plans for more sustainable cotton in the traditionally chemical and water intensive industry. The businesses were talking for the first time in London of their support for the Better Cotton Initiative. The drive, which began two years ago, aims to make sure cotton is grown sustainably and its farmers are paid a fair price.
McDonald’s has pledged to tackle litter in Glasgow by lending its support to a scheme which is encouraging businesses to sign up to a major clean-up campaign. The initiative – National Spring Clean 2012 – is being headed up by environmental charity Keep Scotland Beautiful and will run for two months, between April and May 2012.
Thames Water has been hit with a huge fine after it allowed sewage to leak and kill up to 22,000 fish. The company, the largest water and wastewater business in the UK, has been fined and ordered to pay costs totalling £61,049 following the damage to two rural brooks in Hampshire and Berkshire. The firm has already pleaded guilty to causing sewage sludge to enter the Silchester Brook, in Hampshire and the Foudry Brook, in Berkshire, in July 2010 and asked for a breach of its condition to discharge treated effluent to be taken into consideration. In Manchester a doll’s house, giant Guinness hat and wrestling DVD have been some of the more unusual objects collected from the city’s waterways as part of a clean-up project. The most common objects it found are shopping trolleys, footballs, lorry tyres, metal fences and traffic cones, with Lucozade bottles featuring as the most littered item.
Big Six’ energy giant E.ON has unveiled plans for a 73 turbine 219MW array in the north of England. The Humber Gateway project will be built 8km off the East Yorkshire coast, just north of the mouth of the river Humber. Further works at the site will begin in March, after E.ON announced the plans last week, with construction of the onshore substation the plan is to complete the scheme in spring 2015. The project aims to create up to 1,000 jobs during construction and a further 30 roles to operate and maintain the wind farm when it is operational.
The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) has unveiled three energy roadmaps to 2050 focusing on the benefits of the country moving to a smart-grid. The plans, which focus on increasing energy from wind, are designed to meet more of the country’s energy needs, in particular for heat and transport.
Edie.net reports that the Mayor of London Boris Johnson is calling on Londoners to recycle their Christmas waste in a bid to save the capital £2.7m. According to waste group Recycle for London (RFL), backed by the mayor and WRAP, over the festive period Londoners will generate an extra 29,000 tonnes of household waste – using enough wrapping paper to stretch around the equator, while about one million Christmas trees will decorate London’s homes.