ANOTHER PLANET?

ONews that West Cumbria, and in particular part of the Lake District National Park, might be used as a nuclear repository – basically a site to bury nuclear waste – has sparked widespread outrage. Sellafield is situated on the West Cumbrian coast and has historically been an important part of the local economy, which has been hard hit by the recession and there is a real need for local jobs.  But the Lake District is an area of outstanding beauty, a National Park and attracts millions of tourists each year. A crucial meeting of the three councils potentially affected – Cumbria County and Allerdale and Copeland District councils – will decide on 30th January whether to agree to full-scale preliminary planning for a repository whose underground facilities would cover an area larger than the nearby town of Workington. The three councils are the only ones in the UK still considering a government request to provide underground nuclear storage, but Cumbria’s fractured geology has already narrowed potential areas to limited parts of the western coast, including the Ennerdale valley in the National Park.

OMany think the council’s  ‘consultations’ are just window dressing and the councils, or rather their cabinets, particularly Copeland Council (like local MP Jamie Reed (Labour)), see the need for jobs and economic benefits as more important than the widespread environmental damage and possible damage to local tourism that would be caused by the scheme.  Mr Reed has already said he wants the plans to proceed to the next stage – Stage 4, but other local MPs are not all so sure. There were “gasps” at public meetings in November when mock-ups of the possible construction project were shown. The projections, based on a French scheme, showed how construction and surface maintenance buildings might irrevocably scar the beautiful foothills of legendary fells such as Great Gable and Pillar. Eskdale has also been identified as having suitable granite rock formations. At a meeting in Keswick last week the hundreds attending  overwhelmingly opposed the scheme, with just three people supporting it.  Stage 5 would involve 60,000 holes bring drilled and dynamited, involving 16 drilling pads each the size of a football pitch, and Stage 6 the actual construction of the repository. More at http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2013/jan/16/cumbria-tourism-chiefs-oppose-nuclear-waste-burial  and see http://blog.38degrees.org.uk/2013/01/17/stop-nuclear-waste-plans-for-the-lake-district/ and http://www.in-cumbria.com/mp-focus-on-west-cumbria-nuclear-waste-dump-facts-1.1028712?referrerPath=news-archive.

nissan leaf 2013The latest model of the Nissan Leaf electric vehicle will be made in the U.S. and priced 20 percent cheaper than last year’s model, and according to Nissan making it the most affordable five-seater available.

Search the internet for “human-electric hybrid” and you will see many attempts to satisfy  the dream of a sustainable vehicle: a weather-proof car that can carry two, compete with fossil-fueled traffic, and provide the opportunity to get a workout while extending our range. But does it exist! Would it surprise you to learn that there is one such vehicle on the market, available for sale today, street legal in Europe and North America? And that this vehicle is approaching 20 years of road-proven use by hundreds of sustainable-vehicle fans who have made the leap to a completely new lifestyle with a human-electric hybrid? Yes, its the TWIKE, the only human-electric hybrid currently mass-produced.

One in five people in the UK are confused about what to buy under the upcoming Green deal, according to a survey conducted by the Energy Saving Trust (EST).   he survey also revealed that 47% of respondents have an interest in installing an energy efficient boiler, 52% are interested in installing double glazing and 21% are “very interested” in fitting insulation.  http://www.edie.net/news/6/Confusion-reigns-over-Green-Deal/23843/nl

A qualitative study of 100 participants, carried out by the Glasgow University Media Group and Chatham House, found that most respondents showed only a vague understanding of climate science. There is “widespread public confusion” over climate change coupled with a growing lack of interest in the issue, according to new research. Media reporting on the topic is in part contributing towards this trend as journalists tend to treat it as “a topic riven by uncertainty”, resulting in an overall message of inconsistency, researchers say.  This is further compounded by the continuing politicisation of climate change – as the topic falls down the media agenda, this encourages the view that it deserves a lower priority than economic problems, which are seen as more urgent.

Technology giants Apple and Google have both announced investments in renewable energy projects, focusing largely on wind energy. Yesterday, Google made an approximate $200m (£125m) equity investment in the Spinning Spur Wind Project, a 161 megawatt facility located in Oldham County, Texas and built by EDF Renewable Energy.  Meanwhile, Apple put forward plans to develop a wind turbine that converts rotational energy into heat, which is then used to generate electricity.

Edie.net reports that delegates in charge of handling the £100m London Green Fund have not found any commercially viable community-led projects to invest in, questioning revealed yesterday at City Hall. The fund was set up in 2009 to invest in projects in the capital with a positive impact on the environment and it is hoped that returns from the loans and investments can then be reinvested into future schemes.  The Assembly’s Health and Environment Committee heard that so far about 20% of the fund, which must be invested by the end of 2015, had been allocated and that other projects were still under consideration.

If you want to look at some AMAZING images of animals and humans living in peace together – take a look at Ashes and Snow by Gregory Colbert here  http://vimeo.com/29498902

food wasteNews that half the world’s food supply may be going to waste has raised serious questions around our ability to manage this most essential subsistence at every point in the value chain and means that emerging economies must build waste minimisation thinking into supporting infrastructure and logistics around food production to cope with rising global demand for food supply.  With Pressure is mounting on finite resources of land, energy and water used in crop harvest and manufacture, as much as 2 billion tonnes of the world’s food production is going to waste each year according to research released today by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.  The wide-ranging study estimates that 30% to 50% (1.2 to 2 billion tonnes) of this food never reaches a human stomach.

The NFU is urging farmers to build resilience into future water availability on farms so that they are in a better position to face the next drought. Following two consecutive dry winters in 2010/11 and 2011/12 that prevented many farmers from filling their reservoirs, discussions between the NFU and Environment Agency resulted in the adoption of a ‘flexible approach’ to licensing to improve water availability.  This allowed many farmers to fill reservoirs when river flows permitted, irrespective of the calendar date or the conditions on the licence.  http://www.edie.net/news/4/NFU-calls-for-long-term-water-security-on-farms/23844/nl

Ennderdale photo (c) 2010 Jane Challis

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