Consultation on RIDDOR is ending
Published: 23 Oct 2012
28 October 2012 is your last chance to have a say on the Proposals to Revise the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR) 1995 - CD243.
The consultation is part of the Health and Safety Exective's (HSE) aim to make it easier for businesses and other users to understand what they need to do to comply with health and safety law, following recommendations made in Professor Löfstedt's "Reclaiming health and safety for all: An independent review of health and safety legislation."
The proposals also seek to implement the changes recommended in the 2010 Government Report, "Common Sense, Common Safety", by re-examining whether RIDDOR is the best approach to providing an accurate national picture of workplace accidents.
28 October 2012 is your last chance to have a say on the Proposals to exempt from health and safety law those self-employed whose work activities pose no potential risk of harm to others - CD242.
The consultation sets out the proposals the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has identified to give effect to the recommendation in Professor Löfstedt's report "Reclaiming health and safety for all: An independent review of health and safety legislation", to exempt from health and safety law those self-employed whose work activities pose no potential risk of harm to others.
Badger cull culled
Published: 23 Oct 2012
Highly controversial Government plans to cull thousands of badgers are set to be delayed until next year, after further questions were raised over the cost and effectiveness of the scheme.
The Guardian have today reported that the last-minute delay is the result of a survey which revealed there were twice as many badgers as previously thought in West Somerset and West Gloucestershire (the areas where the cull was planned). This has drastically raised the cost of the cull, which farmers have claimed is necessary to tackle TB in cattle, despite fierce opposition from wildlife campaigners.
Shadow environment secretary Mary Creagh said, "The Government's handling of the badger cull has been incompetent and shambolic. Labour has warned the Government for two years that a cull was bad for farmers, bad for taxpayers and bad for wildlife, and it is right that it has been delayed."
The RSPCA, which has long campaigned against the cull, welcomed the delay but said it must be more than a temporary reprieve. The animal welfare charity's chief executive Gavin Grant said, "This is good news for badgers, cows, dairy farmers and animal-lovers alike. Hopefully it marks the beginning of the end for these unscientific, foolish and cruel plans to cull badgers. We welcome this postponement, but this must not be a temporary reprieve, but must mark an end to all cull plans."
He continued, "Science, the public and MPs from all parties have said very clearly that a cull is no answer to bovine TB. The RSPCA stands ready to play a full part working with farmers, land-owners, Government and conservationists to move forward rapidly and constructively to tackle this dire disease in cattle and wildlife."
Cost of badger cull not so black and white
Published: 22 Oct 2012
Controversy surrounding the badger cull which is to take place in Gloucestershire and Somerset continues as there are now worries over the cost of the cull.
Speaking in Parliament, farming minister David Heath told shadow environment secretary, Mary Creagh, "The best estimate for the number of badgers within each pilot area is: west Gloucestershire, 3,600; west Somerset: 4,300." However, the environment department's original, generic estimates were 2,000-3,000 for cull zones of that size. Therefore, the figures show killing costs have as much as doubled in the case of Somerset.
A Whitehall source said that Peter Kendall, president of the National Farmers' Union (NFU), feels the cull may now be too expensive to carry out, given the new higher badger numbers. The Government's own impact assessment had already shown that carrying out the cull will cost more than it saves.
Professor John McInerney of agricultural policy at the University of Exeter claims that for every 150 sq km zone where badger culling takes place, the total costs will come to around £1.55m while the total savings in terms of TB prevention in cattle will amount to about £970,000.
Of the £1.55m spent on the cull, £215,000 is the cost to farmers of paying for shooting the badgers, while the cost to the public purse for the likes of licensing and policing amounts to £1.335m.
"Overall it's not a good deal," Prof McInerney said. "It's a good deal for farmers, given how much they pay towards it, but it's a bad deal for taxpayers in strict economic terms."
The Whitehall source added, "Everyone in the department is scrambling with increasing desperation to make an unworkable policy work, so Paterson doesn't look like the failure David Cameron and Nick Clegg saw his predecessor Caroline Spelman as being." Paterson has been holding daily meetings on the cull.
Licences to begin the cull were issued by Natural England on 17 September for Gloucestershire, and on 4 October for Somerset, yet the cull has not begun and time is running out before winter weather means the badgers lie low in their setts.
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Christmas starts early for 'elf and safety police
Published: 19 Oct 2012
A town in Gloucestershire is getting ahead of the rest of Britain by beginning to put up their Christmas decorations in October!
The team of highly-spirited volunteers in Coleford, Gloucester, will leave no stone unturned by rigorously testing each bulb and fitting.
Kevin Wilkins, 44, of the Coleford Christmas Lights Committee shone a light on the reason behind the early start, "There are over 160 illuminations and everything has to be checked for safety. When people moan we just say "Merry Christmas". We are down on volunteers at the moment and if we had more we could start later."
Town clerk Annie Lapington said the council relied on residents rather than contractors to put up the decorations because it was "more cost-effective".
She said, “We give a grant to the group so our Christmas lights are much more cost-effective than other towns. Our Christmas lights are done by a group of volunteers who only work on a Sunday. They have six Sundays in which to put up a fantastic display before they are switched on, on the last Friday in November. They are moving to totally LED lights which are much more environmentally friendly."
Committee claims wildlife crime laws are "a mess"
Published: 18 Oct 2012
The Environmental Audit Committee, an influential committee of MPs, has said that laws which tackle wildlife crimes are "a mess". The Committee claims that confusion over wildlife laws means that criminals often go unpunished.
They found that wildlife legislation is so complex that prosecutions fail, the lack of sentencing guidelines means some offenders are not punished and the Crown Prosecution Service is failing to train prosecutors to handle complex wildlife cases.
Its concerns surrounding wildlife laws are particularly focussed around gamekeepers and the use of poison to kill birds or prey.
Carbofuran, a chemical used by rogue gamekeepers to kill raptors, is extremely toxic to birds as it breaks down their nervous system. The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said that they had banned possession of the chemical, but the MPs say it has not.
The Committee has said that in order for the ban to be legally watertight, Defra would have to change existing legislation. Without the change, those using the poison could escape punishment in England and Wales. Scotland, however, has already changed their laws.
The committee chairwoman, Joan Walley MP, said, "I challenge the Government to examine the overwhelming evidence on this and make this simple change by the end of the month."
To further add to the problems, the police's National Wildlife Crime Unit's funding is due to expire in March.
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