Are you a "Green-Thinker?"
Published: 30 Apr 2013
Are you interested in debating how to create a sustainable future in your organisation or community and the economic implications?
If you are then you need to get yourself along to the Green-Thinkers Bookclub, a new event in Newcastle which is hosted by colleague and good friend of Cedrec, Marek Bidwell. On the agenda this spring, is the bold and provocative "Prosperity Without Growth: Economics for a Finite Planet " by Tim Jackson, who is a top sustainability adviser to the UK Government.
The group will be meeting on 6 June 2013, at 6:30pm at the Bridge Hotel, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 1RQ.
Places are already going, so to book your seat email email@example.com. It will only cost you £5, and you get chips and a sandwich!
UK species endangered
Published: 23 May 2013
According to a recent report, one in ten British animal and plant species could disappear. The State of Nature Report was compiled by 25 wildlife organisations and collated assessments of 3,148 species. It pulls together data from individual reports published in recent years charting the fortune of bees, birds, moths and mammals in the UK.
Over the last 50 years, some 60% of British animal and plant species have declined. Amongst those which have fallen the most are turtle doves, water voles. red squirrels and hedgehogs.
According to the document, reasons for the decline are "many and varied" but include rising temperatures and habitat degradation.
Sir David Attenborough, who launched the report, said, "This ground-breaking report is a stark warning - but it is also a sign of hope. We have in this country a network of passionate conservation groups supported by millions of people who love wildlife."
However, Sir David warned that there was no single solution to the problem - "What you have to do to help bats differs from what you have to do to help frogs or butterflies or pond life. Yet each one of these has an organisation which is knowledgeable and willing to help anybody who wants to know how to support these species that they're concerned about."
Defra launch "Smarter Guidance and Data"
Published: 17 May 2013
Defra have launched plans for "smarter guidance and data" - which they hope will make it easier, quicker and clearer to understand what environmental rules apply and simpler to report essential information.
It is an outcome of the Red Tape Challenge and over the next 12 months, Defra and its regulators aim to make significant progress to reform environmental guidance. The findings so far have highlighted that there are over:
- 6,000 environmental guidance documents issued by the Government, and over 100,000 pages, making it incredibly difficult to work out what you need to do;
- 250 separate data reporting requirements which businesses have to report to different places, at different times, in different formats and with varying degrees of duplication.
Public feedback is critical to the success of these reforms, and Defra want to hear your views on what you need from guidance in the following areas:
- wildlife protection;
- waste management and control;
- wildlife management and control;
- land management;
- marine management;
- freshwater management;
- horticultural plant health;
- plant varieties and seeds;
- bee health;
- environmental permits;
- access and landscape;
- general environmental rules (controlling local air emissions, noise and other nuisance issues, effluent, run-off, storing oil and managing chemicals);
- sustainability and energy efficiency;
- flood management and coastal change;
- emergencies, pollution incidents and environmental hazards;
- enforcement and sanctions;
- water management;
- chemicals and biotechnology;
- development (includes Environmental Impact Assessments, contaminated land and land use planning);
- energy, carbon and other greenhouse gases.
The programme will run from May 2013 to spring 2014. Feedback on this initial exercise must be in by 5 July 2013.
For more information, see:
- Smarter Environmental Regulation Review - Phase 1 report: guidance and information obligations;
You can also follow @defraregs on Twitter for the latest news.
Downturn for Abbey
Published: 16 May 2013
An engineering firm based in the Midlands has been fined £133,000 after its emergency plans failed to prevent contaminated fire-fighting water and chemicals from polluting the River Anker.
In April 2010, a large fire broke out at Abbey Metal's Nuneaton metal finishing works. Tackling the blaze resulted in a "cocktail of hazardous substances" being washed into the river, killing some 27,000 fish. Birmingham Crown Court heard that the company's emergency measures were inadequate and that no plan had been made to access the sewerage system for the emergency storage of contaminated water.
Despite the fire service using pollution prevention equipment, water from the site containing cyanides, copper and cadmium from metal treatment processes reached the river running along the back of the site.
The fire qualified as a major incident under the Control of Major Accident Hazards (COMAH) Regulations SI 1999/743, which the firm pleaded guilty to breaching, along with three offences under the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations SI 2010/675.
An Environment Agency officer commented, "The Agency expects high standards from COMAH establishments. Where accidents are foreseeable, the operator must plan to prevent or mitigate them. This is what Abbey Metal failed to do."
Carbon dioxide levels break threshold
Published: 14 May 2013
Scientists have warned that action must be taken on climate change after carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere have broken through a symbolic threshold. A US Government agency lab, which feeds its numbers into a continuous record of gas concentrations, said that its daily carbon dioxide readings have topped 400 parts per million for the first time.
The last time carbon dioxide levels were regularly this high was three to five million years ago, before modern humans existed. This news should "jolt governments into action" according to Sir Brian Hoskins, the head of climate change at the UK based Royal Society.
Ministers in the UK have claimed global leadership in reducing carbon dioxide emissions, and have urged other nations to follow suit. But the Climate Change Committee have argued that that UK's total contribution towards heating the climate had increased because it is importing goods that produce carbon dioxide in other countries.
Professor Sir Brian Hoskins said, "Before we started influencing the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, over the last million years it went between about 180 and 280 parts per million. Now, since the Industrial Revolution and more in the last 50 years, we've taken that level up by more than 40% to a level of 400 and that hasn't been seen on this planet for probably four million years."
He added, "But around the world, there are things happening, it's not all doom and gloom. China is doing a lot. Its latest five year plan makes really great strides."
For more information, see the:
Man saved by landing in pig waste
Published: 14 May 2013
An employee who had only been working at a solar panel installation firm for two weeks had a lucky escape when he fell through the roof of a pig shed onto a soft layer of animal waste, avoiding severe injury.
The employee was working for Solar Fit PV Ltd by installing solar panels on the roof of a pig shed at an East Yorkshire farm when he suddenly heard a crack and the roof gave way. A soft layer of animal waste softened the four metre fall, but the man suffered a radial fracture to his left elbow and bruising to his legs. He has since recovered and found work elsewhere.
York Magistrates’ Court was told that the farm owner spoke to the firm’s director on-site because he was unhappy with the way they had been working on the shed roof. He warned that the two roofs were fragile and no work should take place without using crawl boards, which he made available.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found Solar Fit took no action as a result of this advice and both the director and the inexperienced employee carried on working unsafely on the roof. The director then left the site and instructed the man to level the rail already on the roof and chop further rails for the panels.
Also, no precautions had been taken to prevent falls through the fragile roof and there was no edge protection along the ridge or to the left of the roof. A hand rail to the right of the roof only extended partway.
Solar Fit PV Ltd was fined a total of £6,000 and ordered to pay £6,585 in costs after admitting two breaches of the Work at Height Regulations SI 2005/735.
After the hearing, HSE Inspector Andy Denison said, "This worker was extremely fortunate not to have suffered more severe injuries in a fall of four metres. It could even have proved fatal. Solar Fit PV Ltd failed to assess the risks before this job started and therefore failed to plan it properly and ensure it was carried out safely. They then chose to ignore the farmer’s warnings and use the crawlboards he had left for their use.
The company left an inexperienced worker alone to work on the roof without suitable safety measures in place, having told him to walk on the purlins – which is extremely dangerous. Falls through fragile roofs and rooflights account for some 22% of falls from height in the construction industry – or seven deaths and around 300 major injuries a year."
For more information, see the:
- INDG401 - The Work at Height Regulations 2005 (as amended) - A brief guide.