Poots pools partnerships
Published: 01 Jun 2010
A Partnership Agreement between the Association of Rivers Trusts and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency has been launched by the NI Environment Minister, Edwin Poots.
The new Rivers Trust Partnership Agreement has set out how river trusts, like the Ballinderry River Enhancement Association and the recently formed Six Mile Water Trust, and Northern Ireland’s Government departments can work together to protect and enhance the water environment, through the sharing of information, resources, skills and learning.
Speaking at the launch in Cookstown, Minister Poots said, “This new River Trust Partnership Agreement will ensure local issues are identified and prioritised with local people. My Department can only achieve good water status by 2015 through working in partnership with local residents and community groups to improve the current water status.”
Geoff Nuttall, Director of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Northern Ireland said, “We welcome this new agreement between the rivers trusts and Government to work with local people to identify local challenges in achieving the EU’s requirements for good water status for our rivers by 2015.”
Flying ban makes plane sense
Published: 01 Jun 2010
Environment Agency staff will no longer be allowed to fly anywhere in England and Wales and will now have to journey by train. Flights to Paris and Brussels are also banned.
However, in recognition of the slow and expensive rail service, staff will be allowed to travel to Edinburgh and Glasgow by plane in exceptional circumstances.
The organisation in charge of protecting the UK’s environment has already reduced business car mileage by 24 per cent (11 million miles) over the last four years and is expected to save approximately 30 tonnes of carbon a year through its new policy.
Environment Agency Chief Executive, Dr Paul Leinster said staff would only travel when necessary. He stated, "We aim to lead the way on environmental performance. Our restriction on domestic air travel builds on previous and continuing action on business mileage, energy use, waste to landfill and renewable energy generation. It's another important step in reducing our carbon emissions. Reducing energy use, carbon emissions and waste can all help to reduce operating costs and environmental impacts.”
The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has been criticised for allowing staff to take more than 1,000 domestic flights, including 26 return flights to Manchester that can be reached in two-and-a-half hours by train.
Environmental groups welcomed the Environment Agency’s action and said other Government agencies must now implement a similar policy.
Published: 01 Jun 2010
David Cameron has made a pledge to cut carbon emissions by 10% in the first 12 months of the new coalition Government. Speaking at the Department of Energy and Climate Change, Cameron stated that, “There is a fourth minister in this department who cares passionately about this agenda and that is me, the Prime Minister”.
However, in the election campaign, fellow Tories didn't have the same enthusiasm for the environment as Cameron, with a large amount of Tory candidates placing “reducing Britain’s carbon footprint” as the least important of 19 issues presented to them. Therefore, Cameron downplayed his environmental plans during the election, but the opportunity to work with Lib Dems allowed Cameron to revive his enthusiasm, the first offer he made during the post-election negotiations was to build a low-carbon economy.
As a result of the green Lib Dem manifesto, the coalition agreement has at least 20 environmental commitments, with particular attention being given to the low-carbon economy, promoting energy saving and renewable energy over fossil fuels and high-speed rail and electric cars over air travel. Heathrow’s third runway will now be scrapped, no new ones will be built at Stanstead or Gatwick, and there will be tougher restrictions on coal-fired power stations.
Transparency is also going to be increased in carbon emission cuts made by Government departments who will publish their energy used. The introduction offive-year fixed term Parliaments to deal with environmental issues will also allow long-term goals to be properly executed.
Liberal Democrat Chris Huhne, the new secretary for Energy and Climate Change has been given three main areas to concentrate on in his new appointment which include the green economy, climate change and energy security. Unlike Labour, Chris Huhne is sceptical about atomic power which the Government have said they will deny subsidy for, indicating that new nuclear power stations are less likely to be built.
However, the promise of “the greenest government ever” has been met with scepticism by Deborah Doane, director of the World Development Movement. She emphasised the need to take the scale of the problem seriously rather than government simply “turning off its lights at nights”. She also expressed concern that the coalition agreement and the Conservative manifesto did not say anything about the post-Copenhagen climate negotiations.
EU meets recession halfway
Published: 01 Jun 2010
A report by the European Environment Agency (EEA) shows the EU is more than halfway to its target of cutting emissions by 20% from 1990 levels by 2020. The report reveals that emissions across the 27-nation bloc fell by 11.3% during 2008. The EEA accepts that the global economic downturn played a key role in the reduction.
Notwithstanding the apparent progress towards reaching the 2020 target, campaigners are calling on the EU to set more ambitious targets in order to tackle climate change. EEA executive director Professor Jacqueline McGlade said, “Although we are expecting an even sharper decline in 2009, caused mainly by the recession, we need to ensure that the downward trend in emissions continues and that Europe boosts its climate investments."
Europe's new Climate Action Commissioner Connie Hedegaard recently argued that the EU should commit itself to a unilateral cut of 30% by 2020.
Currently, EU policy is to adopt the 30% goal only if other major emitters, such as the US and Japan, agree to make similar reductions.
Although Damien Morris from Sandbag, a carbon trading campaign group, is supportive of the push for the higher target, he added that target-based policies were scientifically incoherent. He explained that, "The problem is the amount of CO2 entering the atmosphere along the way to any target." He said campaigners were calling on policymakers and politicians to switch from a target-based policy to schemes that focused on carbon budgets.
Furthermore, Mr Morris said the latest EEA figures were unimpressive since a huge slice of the 11.3% reduction was achieved long before the Emissions Trading Scheme got underway (the EU's main mechanism to reduce emissions).
Mr Morris observed that much of the reduction was made even before the Kyoto Protocol was ratified and that improvements in energy efficiency were driven by financial reasons, not environmental policies. For example, he said companies were reducing their expenditure on rising energy costs in order to protect profit margins.
For more information, see:
- Decision 2002/358/EC, concerning the approval, on behalf of the European Community, of the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
UK construction sites fail to show the way
Published: 01 May 2010
Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspectors have been making unannounced visits to construction sites across the UK in an initiative to underline the importance of having safety signs in place.
Unfortunately almost a quarter of all sites failed the checks last month.
The HSE assessed a total of 2,014 sites during the month and issued 691 enforcement notices at 470 of them. In addition, the inspectors ordered that work be immediately stopped in 359 cases, mainly due to poor safety precautions for employees working at height or a lack of “good order” at sites.
Philip White, the HSE's chief inspector for construction said, "There are still a small number of employers or contractors who continue to put their own and other people's health and safety at risk. This is unacceptable. I want to make it clear to these operators that we will not hesitate to take action where standards of health and safety are endangering workers lives and livelihoods."
For more information see the:
- Health and Safety (Safety Signs and Signals) Regulations SI 1996/341.
Health and safety fees for Great Britain
Published: 01 May 2010
The Health and Safety (Fees) Regulations SI 2010/579, which came into force on 6 April 2010.
They update and set out the fees which must be paid to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), in respect of approvals, applications, licenses, notifications, medical examinations and surveillance, as well as various other requirements under certain legislation, which includes:
- Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations SI 1981/917;
- Classification and Labelling of Explosives Regulations SI 1983/1140;
- Control of Explosives Regulations SI 1991/1531;
- Work in Compressed Air Regulations SI 1996/1656;
- Ionising Radiations Regulations SI 1999/3232;
- Control of Lead at Work Regulations SI 2002/2676;
- Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations SI 2002/2677;
- Manufacture and Storage of Explosives Regulations SI 2005/1082;
- Control of Asbestos Regulations SI 2006/2739;
- Notification of Conventional Tower Cranes Regulations SI 2010/333.