Monthly Archives: December 2011

ANOTHER PLANET

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.

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Eavis plans poo power

Glastonbury festival organiser Michael Eavis has announced that he plans to run the next edition of the iconic festival on waste from his farm and wind power. Eavis plans to install a bio-digester at Worthy Farm in partnership with a neighbouring farm – and animal waste including cow dung as well as waste food and other organic material will be used to produce gas which can be converted into sustainable power and also harvest the wind with turbines.  The Festival boss is quoted as saying this in Bloomberg “The big thing is the bio-digester that we’re looking at to turn the cow manure into energy… We’re planning a bio-digester at the moment. We’re joining the two farms together and building a big one with the farm next door so we’ll get a lot of electric from that, which will be day and night. It’s very good stuff, fossil- free electricity.” Eavis also said that he is planning a 10-kilowatt wind turbine at the site in a bid to make the festival the greenest ever. Back In 1994 the festival first had a wind turbine beside the main stage. Eavis has already installed 1,100 solar photovoltaic modules on the roofs off his cow barns producing electricity for 40 homes.. The Bloomberg article also reveals that the festival uses tractors running on 100 per cent biodiesel, solar showers and composting toilets.

The next Glastonbury festival will be in 2013 after a year off to rest Worthy Farm.

More here http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-12-19/glastonbury-plans-to-use-cow-manure-wind-to-power-music-festival-in-u-k-.html

Neville launches Sustainability in Sport

In sport, England’s most capped right back, footballer Gary Neville, has joined up with Dale Vince, renewable energy boss of Ecotricity and chair of England’s most sustainable football club, Forest Green, to launch Sustainability in Sport. The pair say that sustainability in sport is a big issue and that sport and sporting events have a big impact on the environment and that “Sustainability in Sport is an organisation created and run by a group of people with a passion for sport, community and the environment. Our primary objective is to support the continuing growth of sport within UK communities, whilst reducing the associated environmental impacts”. Forest Green already has 180 solar panels on its grandstand roof and has plans for an organic pitch.

www.sustainabilityinsport.com

Image

Merry Christmas

Christmas lights in Keswick 2011

For all of our friends, readers, musicians, event organisers, students, crew and  festival goers – in fact to anyone who celebrates Christmas – can we wish you a very very merry festive season 2011.

And to everyone of whatever their religion, creed, beliefs or code, can we wish you a happy and healthy 2012.

“Live long and prosper”. 

Phot0 (c) Ben Challis 2011

Ben and Will get the wood

Following on from a similar announcement from Plan B, who is going on a tour of the UK’s forests next year, Will Young has confirmed that he too will be performing in various areas of British woodland as part the Forestry Commission’s annual live music initiative saying “The forest gigs have a great reputation for their atmosphere so I’m really looking forward to performing my songs in such unique settings”.

Will Young:

15 Jun: Nottingham, Sherwood Pines Forest
16 JunL Suffolk, Thetford Forest
22 Jun: Gloucestershire, Westonbird Arboretum
23 Jun: Bedgebury Pinetum & Forest
29 Jun: Yorkshire, Dalby Forest
30 Jun: Staffordshire, Cannock Chase Forest
6 Jul: Cheshire, Delamere Forest

Plan B is appearing as follows:

15th June Thetford Forest, Nr Brandon, Suffolk.
16th June Sherwood Pines Forest, Nr Edwinstowe, Notts.
22nd June Bedgebury Pinetum & Forest, Nr Tunbridge Wells, Kent.
23rd June Westonbirt Arboretum, Nr Tetbury, Glos.
29th June Cannock Chase Forest, Nr Rugeley, Staffs.
30th June Dalby Forest, Nr Pickering, North Yorks.
7th July Delamere Forest, Delamere, Cheshire.

http://www.forestry.gov.uk/music

ANOTHER PLANET?

The UK’s government is facing a unprecedented attack from environmental and wildlife groups and countryside campaigners over its ‘stunning disregard’ for the environment. At the heart of the attack by groups including the RSPB, Greenpeace, The Green Party and the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England is George Osbourne’s recent Autumn Budget statement introducing tax support for energy intensive energies as well as cuts to solar energy subsidies and moves to change planning laws.  The Government had promised to be the “greenest ever” but is now considered “the most environmentally destructive government to hold power this country” by opponents including the Green Party.  Labour claimed that the Conservative party were undergoing ‘retoxification’ after being elected. The leader of the Green Party Caroline Lucas has slammed the Government’s Autumn Statement as “dangerously colour blind on the green economy” and for providing a “cash boost for big polluters” and a “bias towards big business” and WWF head of public affairs Margaret Ounsley said: “It’s deeply disappointing to see this government continuting to see environmental protection as a burden and rewarding high carbon infrastructure. This is a myopic, short term strategy.

In a move described by the company as ‘off-season spring cleaning’, Google has announced on its blog that it is scrapping its ‘Renewable Energy Cheaper than Coal’ initiative as part of an ongoing rationalisation process, now in its third round, which has seen projects which “haven’t had the impact we’d hoped for” shut down.  The initiative launched four years ago, aimed to produce one gigawatt of renewable energy capacity that was cheaper than coal. Speaking at the time, Google co-founder Larry Page said: “We have gained expertise in designing and building large-scale, energy-intensive facilities by building efficient data centres,” said Larry Page, Google co-founder. We want to apply the same creativity and innovation to the challenge of generating renewable electricity at globally significant scale, and produce it cheaper than from coal.”

Bah humbug! Businesses are being urged rethink the increasing financial burden and carbon intensity of lighting as costs soar to illuminate Christmas shopping. New research by the Carbon Trust claims there’s £700m to be saved and 4.4m tonnes of CO2 to be cut every year by rethinking the way approach shops and high streets approach lighting.

And more new research by the Carbon Trust claims that the Government’s goal of cutting carbon emissions by 25% from its central estate by 2015 is “realistic and achievable”. Figures from the Trust’s latest study into public sector carbon targets have revealed that public sector carbon targets have almost doubled in the past five years from 16% to 28%.  As a result, the Trust is calling on the Government to extent its 25% carbon target across the whole public sector.
Police swooped on a group of protesters who attempted to blockade the offices of a UK Government building. The protesters blocked the door of the Department for Transport (DfT) building in central London.  Activists from campaigning group Greenpeace, using chains, plywood boards and cars blockaded entrances, with the aim of stopping any deal that would see petrol refined from tar sands oil being sold at UK petrol pumps.

Ireland will pay a further 10m euros towards fighting climate change in the developing world.  Minister for the environment, Phil Hogan, has proposed adding the funding to this year’s fast start finance commitment. The drive aims to help the least developed countries tackle the effects of climate change.

Edie.net reports that an American consortium has begun injecting CO2 into the first test storage project in the country. The Midwest Geological Sequestration Consortium (MGSC) has begun work, today (November 28), on the site more than a mile beneath the state of Illinois.  The work is led by the Illinois State Geological Survey (ISGS), part of the Prairie Research Institute at the University of Illinois.  The CO2 is being captured from the fermentation process used to produce ethanol at Archer Daniels Midland Company’s (ADM) corn processing complex.

A replica of London’s iconic Marble Arch has been built from litter collected from the streets of Westminster – notably Oxford Street, Regent’s Street and Bond Street in one day – a total of 120 bags. Artist Miguel Romo, who has 10 years of producing art projects involving recycling and reclaimed objects, built the mini arch, where it will remain on public view for 10 days. Westminster City Council, with the help of partners the New West End Company and Veolia, commissioned the piece to launch its ‘Your Streets’ Campaign to make people more responsible and aware for their own litter.

Over a third of Scottish councils are recycling over 50% of the household waste they collect, as the national average rate hits 43.6%, according to figures from the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA).

Pub chain Wetherspoon’s has teamed up with Biffa to run a food waste recycling trial in a bid to reduce its waste and boost environmental performance. The pilot is being operated at 28 Wetherspoon’s sites for an initial trial period. Much of the food waste collected from these sites will be taken to Biffa’s anaerobic digestion (AD) plant in Poplars, West Midlands.  The waste contractor already collects glass for recycling and general waste for the chain throughout the country. 

Soft drinks manufacturer Britvic has launched its first on-the-go national recycling pilot in conjunction with Recoup, at the Ankerside Shopping Centre in Tamworth, which aims to encourage shoppers to reduce the amount of waste they throw away.

United Utilities has been fined £27,000 and ordered to pay £1,702 in costs after raw sewage overflowed into watercourses near Keswick, Lake District on two occasions. The company pleaded guilty to both charges at Workington Magistrates Court for the incidents which took place between December 26 2010 and start of January 8 2011, after a member of the public reported that raw sewage was overflowing from the Portinscale pumping station. An investigation by the Environment Agency (EA) found evidence that sewage effluent had discharged from the station on two separate occasions, entering a field and a ditch along the site’s boundary which drains into a Beck and causing pollution to watercourses in the area.  EA officers concluded that the incident was caused after pumps intended to pump sewage to Keswick Waste Water Treatment Works stopped working.

An international hydropower project to review the effectiveness of hydroelectric plants in Africa and Europe has been completed by a Scottish Water engineer. The project,  ‘Harnessing Hydropower In Africa & Europe: Environmental Observations of Hydropower Plants’ conducted by environmental engineer Claire Chapman, aimed to find out about the environmental impact of modern hydropower sites, with a view to applying similar schemes in Scotland.

New Zealand is to start recycling the rubble generated from the Christchurch earthquakes in what is thought to be one of the biggest aggregate recovery projects in the Southern Hemisphere.

A new £7m water recycling facility is set to turn Londoner’s wastewater into non-drinkable water for flushing toilets and irrigating gardens at the London 2012 Olympic Park. The Old Ford water recycling plant was officially opened by secretary of state for environment, food and rural affairs Caroline Spelman with the aim of helping the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) exceed a 40% water-efficiency target for the site.

The Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) has awarded conservation charity the Woodland Trust £60,000 to help it increase awareness of the role trees play in managing water and flood management

And finally, former Beatle Sir Ringo Starr has designed a boot in a bid to raise money for WaterAid through a charity auction on ebay. The limited-edition boot, which will only come in Ringo’s own show size – a men’s size eight – went on sale on ebay at a starting bid of $250 a pair.  The auction is part of the ‘Canvas that Cares ‘initiative, set up by clothing and shoe brand Timberland, which aims to raise funds for non-profit organisations through the sale of custom-designed, limited edition Earthkeepers footwear.

 

Durban conference reaches last minute climate change compromise

Representatives of the World’s nations have managed to cobble together  something out of the UN Climate Change Conference in Durban, South Africa, which was aiming to replace the existing Kyoto Agreement on greenhouse gas emissions with something the whole world, including the three big polluters India, China and the USA, would sign up to.  Europe and a coalition of 120 countries had been making progress towards a new treaty but talks stalled, and eventually the conferences was extended by an additional 24 hours giving exhausted delegates, including the UK’s Climate Secretary Chris Huhne and the EU Climate Change Commissioner Connie Hedegaard, a chance to reach a compromise agreement. What the warming World is left with is an agreement to set a framework to begin to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from 2020 and a fund of $60 billion to help poorer developing nations cope with climate change. As Mohamed Aslam, chief negotiator for the Maldives pointed out, their islands are at real risk from flooding if sea levels continue to rise which will ultimately destroy their nation. With that in mind, a group of delegates from small island states and Africa protested inside the conference hall calling for ‘Climate Justice’. The march was stopped.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the set of decisions, saying they represent a significant agreement that will define how the international community will address climate change in the coming years highlighting that the Durban Platform will include the launch of a protocol or legal instrument that would apply to all members, a second commitment period for the existing Kyoto Protocol and the launch of the Green Climate Fund. In a statement Mr. Ban said the new accord is “essential for stimulating greater action and for raising the level of ambition and the mobilization of resources to respond to the challenges of climate change.” Mr. Ban also welcomed the agreement to establish a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, stating it will “increase certainty for the carbon market and provide additional incentives for new investments in technology and the infrastructure necessary to fight climate change.”