ANOTHER PLANET?

A rather worrying reform to the UK’s planning law would mean that fracking companies could drill under your house – and you wouldn’t know anything about it – as the frackers wouldn’t have to tell you – let alone be able to take action. A Government spokesperson said the planned reforms would ‘add clarity’. Greenpeace says ministers are helping fracking firms ‘side step’ homeowner’s property rights.

gm crop 2Environment Secretary Owen Paterson has been having a go at the anti-GM food lobby – saying that the sabotage of a crop of ‘golden rice’ – enhanced to fight blindness – means that “little children” will be allowed to “go blind and die because of a hang up of a small number of people about this technology”. Paterson points to the wide spread use of GM crops now – opponents point to the use of GM crops in intensive farming and that GM only benefits large agricultural business that sell the technology and GM seeds.

London restaurant Grain Store has been named Sustainable Restaurant of the Year 2013, by our friends at the Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA). The restaurant in Kings Cross, which opened in July, achieved the highest score and beat 100 restaurants after the SRA rated its sourcing, water, waste and energy saving initiatives, as well as its commitment to treat and engage responsibly with its staff, customers and community. Grain Store gives vegetables equal billing with meat and fish and the SRA found all the food to be “impeccably sourced”. Where possible, the meat served is organic or free range and it adheres to a strict sustainability policy when it comes to fish.

Edie.net reports that Global progress on energy efficiency has slowed down despite more countries implementing policies to drive improvements, according to a new report by the World Energy Council. The report, World Energy Perspective: Energy Efficiency Policies, shows that more and more countries are now involved in energy efficiency policies, but highlights factors that have affected energy efficiency progress across 85 countries, representing more than 90% of global consumption. Produced in collaboration with France’s energy and environment agency, ADEME, the report finds that Europe’s progression is being offset by the high energy intensity of countries such as China, Africa and the Middle East.

Credible and consistent carbon pricing must be the cornerstone of government actions to tackle climate change, according to a new OECD report. Releasing the report, Climate and carbon: Aligning prices and policies, OECD Secretary-General, Angel Gurria, said that a transformation of the global energy system is needed if countries hope to limit climate change to a 2ºC temperature increase, as agreed by the global community.

EU1The European Union reduced emissions by approximately 18% between 1990 and 2012 and is on track to meeting its 20% emissions reduction target by 2020, according to a new European Environment Agency (EEA) report. Considering EU progress in meeting greenhouse gas emission reduction, renewable energy and energy efficiency targets, the report, Trends and projections in Europe 2013, shows that the EU is also on track towards its common target for renewable energy consumption. Renewables contributed 13% of final energy consumption in 2011, which should increase to 20% by 2020.

Local authorities will have to collect some recyclables “by way of separate collection” under new EU waste laws, the government has confirmed. In a letter to local authorities, parliamentary under secretary Lord DeMauley attempts to clarify the amended waste regulations that will come into force in 2015 and what it means for recycling collections. The letter reminds local authorities of the amended Waste Frame Workwork Directive, which will mean that comingled collections of dry recyclables will not be permissible in all circumstances.

The smart cities industry has been valued at more than $400bn (£250bn) globally by 2020, with the UK expected to gain a 10% share, according to a new report. The report, The Smart City Market: Opportunities for the UK, looks at how ‘smart technologies’ could help address some of the challenges of urbanisation by helping to optimise resource consumption and improve services through better management of demand and supply.

Emperor_Penguin_Manchot_empereurThe Southern Ocean is home to more than 10,000 species including most of the world’s penguins. A new attempt to protect it hangs in the balance – fishing and drilling for oil could be banned across more than two million square miles off Antarctica in a historic attempt to preserve the pristine seas. Now a coalition of more than 30 environmental groups including Greenpeace and WWF are backing negotiations for a 1.25 millon km ‘no take’ zone that covers much of the Ross Sea, plans put forward by Germany and backed by Britain to bar fishing in the Weddell Sea and plans for a new  collection of small zones of the Eastern Antarctic totalling 1.9 sq km. 24 countries have political or financial interests in Antarctica and the seas around the icy continent  .

The UK Green Investment Bank (GIB) is investing £58.6m in the world’s largest offshore wind farm, the London Array.

With domestic energy prices ever rising in the UK, Prime Minister David Cameron has said that green levies necessary to fund wind and nuclear power. With British Gas saying prices will rise 10.6%, green levies have come under fire – SSE partly blames 8.2% price hike on state-imposed subsidies but David Cameron has defended ‘necessary’ green subsidies on energy prices.

The Environment Agency (EA) has claimed that its two-year crusade to identify and shut down legal waste sites is paying off, saying that that 1,279 sites were closed in 2012-13. In 2011-12 the agency closed 670 such operations. Construction and demolition waste was found at 25% of the sites, with a similar number carrying old vehicles. The courts also confiscated over £1.3m last year from waste criminals under the Proceeds of Crime Act, while the Agency has spent £17m in the past year tackling waste crime.

Farmers have been given access to a £3m pot of funding to help them build anaerobic digestion (AD) plants. The government-funded loan scheme, which opens today, will allow farmers to apply for up to £400,000 from the ‘AD Loan Fund’ to help them finance on-site AD technology.

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