Peppa Pig producers pamper to parents panic!
Published: 01 Feb 2010
A cartoon character whose seemingly innocuous adventures has this month fallen foul of health and safety fears after parents complained that the five-year old animated figure was seen travelling in her father's car without a seatbelt. Now the creators of Peppa Pig are reported to be spending three months adding belts some of the 105 episodes which have already been made, and in any future shows Peppa and her brother George will be firmly strapped into their seats.
Animation firm Astley Baker Davies said it had originally toyed with the idea of adding seatbelts to the cartoon car when it created Peppa Pig in 2004, but it feared it would limit the family's range of expressions and decided it was not necessary. Producer Phil Davies commented, "We thought, this is a family of bloody pigs for God's sake." However, the programme has since sparked complaints from parents, with one mother writing to Nickelodeon to say that her daughter had refused to wear a seatbelt because she wanted to be like Peppa.
On online forums parents have been responding in their droves to the announcement that the cartoon was being redrawn. One user wrote, "What next? Will Sponge Bob have to stop living under the sea because some kid won't wear armbands in the water because Sponge Bob doesn't need to?" Another branded Peppa as a "cartoon scapepig", commenting that, "The Pig family live on top of what is clearly a hill and I have not once seen Daddy Pig put his handbrake on when he pulls up! Unbelievably irresponsible driving."
However, Professor Marie Messenger Davies, director of the Media Studies Research Institute at the University of Ulster said Peppa and her parents were "surrogates" for a human family and television producers would want to ensure that no bad examples are set.
This is not the first time popular cartoons have sparked health and safety controversy. In 2006 Ofcom launched an investigation into Tom and Jerry after receiving a complaint about a scene which showed a cat smoking a cigarette. Early episodes of Sesame Street which were released on DVD in 2007 also carried a warning that they may not be appropriate for children. Scenes of the Cookie Monster smoking and eating too many biscuits were among those which prompted the warning. Perhaps more disturbing is that now the Cookie Monster still eats cookies, but the producers have changed the content of recent shows so that he learns about "anytime foods" such as fruit and "sometimes foods" like cookies.
Ozone Depleting Substances
Published: 01 Feb 2010
New legislation Regulation (EC) 1005/2009, on substances that deplete the ozone layer. It revokes and replaces Regulation (EC) 2037/2000, on the same subject, and continues to make provision with regard to the substances that can damage the Earth’s ozone layer if they escape into the upper atmosphere, such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), halons and hydrochloroflurocarbons (HCFCs).
The main aim of the Regulation is to phase out and control remaining uses of ozone depleting substances. The previous Regulation phased out 99.5% of such substances, including the complete phase out of CFCs and halons, although some essential uses still remain. Many applications of HCFCs have also been phased out with the remainder to be phased out between 2010 and 2015.
The scope for further environmental gains to be achieved by further production controls is therefore limited, so the new Regulation has simplified existing provisions and addresses future policy challenges relevant to ozone recovery. This includes identifying measures to stop the considerable quantities of ozone depleting substances in existing products and equipment escaping into the upper atmosphere.
Sherwood Forest fly-tipper is not a merry man
Published: 01 Feb 2010
A Nottinghamshire man caught by a hidden camera set up by the Environment Agency in March last year, pleaded guilty at Mansfield Magistrates' Court on 27 January 2010, to two charges of illegally dumping waste.
Baulker Lane which borders Sherwood Forest had become a fly-tipping hotspot due to its "isolated location". The Agency launched "Operation Maid Marion" catch people dumping waste at the site. In March last year a Ford Transit van was recorded driving into the Sherwood Forest area with a lorry-load of waste, including PVC window frames and timber. It was then filmed again 30 minutes later leaving the area with no waste on board. Later that month the same vehicle was filmed returning to the site carrying a wooden table, PVC window frames, plastic bags and other waste.
The driver of the vehicle refused to cooperate with the Agency and was eventually arrested by Police on 27 May 2009. In mitigation he told the court he was "sorry for his actions" and had taken steps to remove the illegally dumped waste.
As well as having his lorry crushed, he was ordered to pay £200 in costs and given a three year conditional discharge.
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No la dolce vita for SITA
Published: 01 Feb 2010
SITA Metal Recycling, a Norfolk based company, has become the first company to be prosecuted for breaching the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Regulations SI 2006/3289 (the WEEE Regulations), more than two and a half years after the legislation first came into effect.
The company pleaded guilty to four offences in relation to errors made when issuing WEEE recycling evidence between July 2007 and December 2008. The first of which related to WEEE treated by the company which was subsequently exported through a non-approved exporter - contrary to the WEEE Regulations. The three other offences involved the company logging evidence notes in March 2009 for treating WEEE that was received prior to SITA Metal Recycling being an approved authorised treatment facility. This resulted in the company again breaching the WEEE Regulations, with it not securing approval to issue evidence until April 2008.
The prosecution told the court that the offences and errors made by SITA, which came to light during an audit carried out by an officer from the Environment Agency's Norwich office, "showed a lack of management focus". In mitigation it was claimed the errors were a genuine mistake and had occurred during a period of management change. Furthermore, the company did not benefit commercially from their actions and there was no direct impact on the environment.
A spokeswoman for SITA said, "SITA UK was taken to court by the Environment Agency for four charges with respect to breaches to WEEE Regulations. Apart from minor administration oversights, we had complied with our interpretation of the legislation, which the Agency challenged in court. The fine imposed by the Judge was very low, reflecting the courts view of the breach. Nonetheless, we have worked with the Agency and our teams to better understand the Regulations and adhere by all administrative points in the future".
SITA Metal Recycling was ordered to pay £4,000 in fines and a further £4,456 in costs.
Dirty laundering made public
Published: 01 Feb 2010
Four men have been arrested this month after fuel laundering plants costing the Government £3.5 million a year in lost tax were dismantled in Northern Ireland.
Nine premises were raided in County Tyrone, where customs and police uncovered two mobile laundering units and a third one being built. During the searches in Coalisland, Sixmilecross, Carrickmore, Pomeroy and Dungannon more than 70,000 litres of fuel, five vehicles, tanks and pumping equipment were recovered. Eight tonnes of a bleaching agent used to shift dyes and markers from diesel was also impounded.
John Whiting, assistant director of criminal investigation for Northern Ireland revenue and customs, said the mobile plants were a crude attempt to avoid detection but also very dangerous. "Transporting fuel in this way poses a risk to anyone in the vicinity, with illegal profit the sole motivation. The fact that unsecured tanks full of flammable fuel are being driven around on our roads shows utter contempt for the safety of other people."
In an unconnected raid, a large laundering plant was dismantled in the Randalstown area of County Antrim. Authorities removed 1.5 tonnes of toxic waste and equipment from the site which was equipped to produce three million litres of fuel a year. Michael Hatch from the Northern Ireland Environment Agency said almost 20 tonnes of toxic waste was removed. "This by-product is highly polluting and grossly harmful. It contaminates land but is particularly toxic when it enters rivers or lakes as it can travel far and cause contact damage to the skin. It can also enter the food chain."
Batteries legislation in force
Published: 01 Feb 2010
In January 2010 new legislation came into force that require retailers selling batteries to provide collection and recycling facilities for their eventual disposal. Some town halls, libraries and schools will voluntarily offer the service, typically in the form of a cardboard box by the door.
The rules, part of the EU's Batteries Directive 2006/66/EC, are meant to deal with the thousands of tonnes of harmful metals that pollute the environment when used batteries are burned or put into landfill. We use 600 million batteries every year - an average of 21 per household - but the UK has a dismal record in recycling them. The overwhelming majority, 97 per cent, are thrown into domestic bins and end up in landfill, where their toxic metals lead, cadmium and mercury leach out into ground and pollute water courses.
The legislation states that those who manufacture, import or produce one tonne of batteries or those who place products containing batteries onto the UK market will be responsible for the collection, treatment and recycling of the waste batteries in proportion to their market share. The system has been made as easy as possible for consumers to recycle their batteries. Everything from AAA cells to mobile phone batteries and button cells used in hearing aids and watches, must be separated from household rubbish and placed into designated recycling bins in shops or other recycling points.
Bob Mead, the Environment Agency's project manager said, "The retailers themselves are required to do nothing more than provide a point where one of these collection bins can be placed. They have no responsibilities themselves in treating or recycling the batteries they collect. They merely have to phone up one of the compliance schemes and say I've got some batteries so come and take them away from me." This allows retailers to get the recycled batteries collected for free by an approved Battery Compliance Scheme.
The Waste Batteries and Accumulators Regulations SI 2009/890 is the latest attempt, following the Landfill and WEEE Directives, to transform the UK into a greener society which dumps fewer materials and implements the EU Batteries Directive, which set a series of targets for the recycling of portable batteries used to power toys, torches and other gadgets. In 2007 we saw just 3% of batteries being recycled and the rest going to landfill. The UK is aiming to meet targets of 25% recycling of batteries by 2012 and 45% by 2016. The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) estimates that hitting the 2016 target could save 12,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions annually.