ANOTHER PLANET?

Forest fires are threatening tourist resorts in Greece and around the Mediterranean. On the Greek island of Chios residents of the village of Lithi were forced to seek safety on the beach as fires engulfed the surrounding hillsides. And on the Canary island of Gomera a ten day old blaze has destroyed thousands of acres of vegetation and 5000 people have been evacuated. . The worst hit country is Spain – 140,000 acres of woodland have been destroyed in Catalonia in the Cabaneros and Donana National Parks. Firefighters have also fought large blazes in Portugal, Italy, Sardinia, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Romania and Croatia.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron has come out in support of the Severn barrage, the £30 billion project to generate energy fro tidal flows with a 13 mile tidal barrage which would produce 5% of the electricity needed for British homes. The plan has split the environmental movement – yes, green power – but the scheme, even in a newly revised  form, would have significant impact on legally protected habitats and special areas of conservation for bird life including Shelducks, Beswick Swans, Redshanks and European White Fronted Geese.  Tbe project would create 20,000 jobs and would not need taxpayer funding as it would be a commercial scheme.

The Guardian reports that the growing row over biofuels is ready to flare up again with German researchers claiming to have found evidence that European-produced biodiesel does not meet the sustainability targets claimed by Brussels. Two experts at Friedrich Schiller University in Jena say eight out of their 10 tests on locally produced rapeseed biodiesel failed to show the 35% greenhouse gas savings promised. In most cases it was under 30%. The use of biofuels would be further undermined when the EU emissions target increases, as planned, to 50% in five years’ time. http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/aug/19/biofuel-fails-eu-sustainabilty-test?CMP=twt_fd .

The UK’s 115 universities could save up to £13.8m if they adopted the British Standards Institution’s (BSI) new energy management standard according to – ah – the BSI!  Sheffield Hallam University, one of the largest in the UK and where our good friend Hannah Ross Morris works, implemented the new standard called ISO 50001 in between January and May this year and have saved £50,000 so far.

The kittiwake, one of the World’s most abundant seabirds, is struggling to survive in Britain because of a lack of food caused by climate change. The RSPB says that numbers have halved since the mid 80s with ever steeper declines in the Shetlands Isles and Orkney .

A £23m demonstration programme to encourage UK transport operators to buy and use low carbon commercial vehicles is set to receive over £11m in Government support to promote  alternative and dual-fuel heavy-goods vehicles. Thirteen major companies, including Tesco, the John Lewis partnership, Robert Wiseman Dairies and the BOC Group are leading trials in the programme, with more than 300 low-carbon commercial vehicles involved.

The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) is calling for the public to comment on sustainability reporting guidance geared towards improving the way companies report on greenhouse gas emissions. GRI produces a sustainability reporting framework that is widely used around the world and is now working on the next generation of its Sustainability Reporting Guidelines, called G4. More here https://www.globalreporting.org/reporting/latest-guidelines/g4-developments/Pages/G4-Public-Comment-Periods.aspx .

Edie.net reports that The Government must take urgent action on the UK’s pending raw material crunch and set up a rapid response unit to co-ordinate Whitehall activity on potential resource threats to the economy. The warning comes from a consortium of business and environmental organisations.

Ex-Manchester United player Gary Neville has decided not to install a wind turbine at his ‘eco-home’ after local residents in Bolton contested the plans. That said, Gary’s home will include a ground source heat pump, sustainable rainwater harvesting and photovoltaic cells to generate energy.

More on turbines: Scottish Power Renewables (SPR) may have its plans to install Scotland’s largest offshore wind farm dismissed because of its potential impact on the areas marine life.  Mars Petcare has decided not to progress with a planning application to build a wind turbine in Birstall, Yorkshire, says the company following “mixed views amongst the local community and the council during the planning process, as well as wider business considerations”.

The fabric wrap that surrounds the London 2012 Olympic stadium will be reused as sheltering for vulnerable children in Rio de Janeiro and Uganda.

The UK Government has been called upon to kick-start individual producer responsibility  in the UK by incentivising manufacturers to design electrical and electronic goods that are easier to reuse or recycle including a weighting mechanism for eco-design.

Businesses will be able to manage water sustainably with the help of a new guide called Water For Business published online by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and SustainAbility. http://www.wbcsd.org/waterforbusiness3.aspx

United Utilities gave been accused of polluting and contaminating large streches of the UK’s coastline with the Environment agency saying that in the North West alone, 34 beaches have poor seawater quality and high levels of bacteria meaning they are hazardous for swimmers.  Surfers against Sewage put the blame on a lack of investment to deal with sewage and run-off from farmland after heavy rain (and we get lots of that now!) although United Utilities will not release overflow data – and highlighted problems with beaches at Blackpool, St Annes and Morecombe amongts others which would fail European standards for cleanliness which will be introduced in 2015.  United Utilities made a profit of £594.1 million before tax last year and said it was backing a scheme to get people working on the project, and that it was committed to looking at how we can make overflow data available to the public”.

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