There's a lady in them thar hills
Published: 04 Sep 2012
Opencast mining is an industry that has long caused environmental problems. The scarring left by the mining is often unsightly and measures to restore the land once it is finished with can often be expensive, challenging and imaginative.
Nowhere is this more true than in Cramlington, Northumberland, where rock and waste from a surface mine has been used to create a 396 foot long naked lady in the landscape. The reclining sculpture will officially be opened by the Princess Royal following two years of construction which has cost £3 million.
The so-called "Northumberlandia" sculpture, designed by Charles Jencks and paid for by the Banks mining group, was designed to be a lasting legacy to compensate the area for the disruption caused by coal extraction. Northumberlandia will not only be a sight to behold; members of the public can use the many paths that outline the lady's figure and enjoy an alternative countryside walk.
Katie Perkin of the Banks mining group said, "People have already taken Northumberlandia to their hearts. There was no intention to make a Pagan figure or mimic any ancient fertility symbols, despite her breasts which rise almost 100ft above the ground."
She added, "Charles Jencks, the American artist who designed her, saw the far-off Cheviot Hills which look like a reclining woman. He has borrowed from the landscape and drawn those curves and lines into the form."
For more information, see:
Everyone in the concert, don't put your umbrellas up
Published: 30 Aug 2012
Excited JLS fans, many of whom only have one shot to see the boys perform live, were left soaked when they were told by security staff to leave their brollies outside of the open-air concert.
The same incident occurred both at the Brighton concert, as well as the Scarborough date, and led to ice-cream parlour worker Paige Taylor, 17, being unable to speak or swallow the morning after the concert.
Luckily for the boys, they didn't feel what the fans felt, as the stage was covered by a section of the roof.
One security staff member at the Brighton concert said, "It is for health and safety. There are a lot of children here and if you were dancing with an umbrella it could hurt them."
When a reveller was asked his opinion on the no umbrella policy, he replied, "I cannot talk - I have to look through this pile of umbrellas for mine."
A spokesman for Spin Publicity, which organised the event, said, "We do not allow umbrellas in. It is a health and safety issue. The first bank of brollies that go up mean that every one behind them cannot see. Also if you opened one in a crowd you could take an eye out. That's the long and short of it."
However, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) reacted quickly to the accusation that health and safety was to blame, stating that there are no laws preventing umbrellas being used at outdoor concerts. The HSE further challenged the concert organisers by stating, "If there are concerns about people being poked in the eye, then it would follow that umbrellas should not be allowed on a busy high street or even used at all. Nobody would advocate that!"
When it comes to dampening myths, the HSE have struck again!
Good practice guide for wind farm launched
Published: 30 Aug 2012
Scottish Energy Minister, Fergus Ewing, has launched a new good practice guide in relation to onshore wind farms. It is part of† the "Good Practice Wind" project, which is a Scottish-led EU project looking at the barriers to the development of wind energy and ways of reconciling renewable energy objectives with environmental concerns.
One of the main objectives of the project was to build evidence based support for the design, planning and implementation of projects which are sensitive to environmental and community concerns.
The good practice guide that was launched on the GP Wind website contains some useful information about minimising the environmental impact of wind farms and is divided into three different sections:
- minimising environmental impact;
- optimising social acceptance; and
- optimising spatial planning.
Mr Ewing said, "The Scottish Government wants to see the right developments in the right places, and this guidance will help to ensure that - while also making sure there are fewer unsuitable applications and that communities are properly consulted and informed."
The good practice guide can be found on the GP wind website, available at: http://cedr.ec/df.
Who ya gonna call?...Myth Busters!
Published: 24 Aug 2012
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has published its top 10 examples of instances in which organisations have attempted to "hide behind the term health and safety" instead of giving real reasons for their decisions.
Since April, the HSE has been calling on people who think they were subject to a "ludicrous ruling" to submit examples to them for professional assessment.
Through its Myth Busters Challenge Panel, the HSE seeks to draw attention to inaccurate claims that health and safety forbids certain activities when no such rules exist.
Judith Hackitt, chairman of the HSE and of the panel, said, "The panel has seen some blatant and disturbing examples of people using health and safety as an excuse in the last few months, ranging from a smokescreen for a whole host of unpopular decisions to completely nonsensical interpretations of what the law requires."
The Myth Busters Challenge Panel picked the following as the top 10 examples of situations when health and safety has been incorrectly cited as the reason for a decision:
- a boot supplier claimed that it was banned from accepting dirty boots for return;
- cafes and restaurants refusing to heat up baby food;
- a golf club told players that golf buggies were not health and safety authorised;
- a hospital refused the use of a microwave on a ward;
- a gym-goer was told he could not lift weights without wearing trainers;
- a woman was banned by her boss from wearing sandals in the office in summer;
- a passenger was refused a blanket on a flight but told she could buy one;
- a campsite banned sleeping in a camper van;
- a primary school's treehouse had to be located away from the premises because of a risk to children;
- a council banned a nursery teacher from taking children to an allotment.
Mind change on climate change?
Published: 24 Aug 2012
The results of a climate change survey carried out by the Department of the Environment for Northern Ireland (DoE NI) show that of those persons in Northern Ireland who believe in climate change, 50% are concerned about its effects. This represents a fall of 7%, from the last survey, conducted back in 2009.
It is also much lower than the 65% recorded as being concerned in a similar study in Great Britain this year.
The survey revealed that 61% of respondents believe a combination of human activity and natural processes is to blame for climate change, with only 3% saying that climate change does not exist. Fewer people now think that human activity on its own is the main cause of climate change, falling from 22% in 2009 to 17%. In addition, more than half believe that making changes to their lifestyle will help to reduce climate change.
Other key points of the survey include:
- a belief that natural processes alone is the main cause of climate change;
- an agreement that changes to the climate had a direct impact on them;
- the main concerns for people are: increased energy costs, an increase in the number of severe weather events, increased flooding, damage to natural environment and wildlife, a more polluted atmosphere, and higher food costs;
- the most common actions that respondents have taken to combat climate change include: recycling as much as possible, switching off lights and having low energy light bulbs installed in their homes;
- since 2009, there have been notable improvements in the number of respondents installing loft insulation, turning down their heating, growing some of their own food and making fewer car journeys to help combat climate change.
For more information, see:
Brighton beach rubbish
Published: 23 Aug 2012
Brighton and Hove City Council has urged those visiting Brighton's beach to take their rubbish with them when they leave. The Council had gone to the effort to install 60 extra bins along the sea front, although it did not stop visitors to the beach leaving an astonishing 23 tonnes of litter behind on the beach at the weekend!
Councillor Ollie Sykes said, "last weekend it was wonderful that so many people came, but very depressing that the beaches looked so awful at the end of it." He added, "the beaches looked like landfill sites. They [the beach goers] wouldn't do this to their own streets and their own back gardens."
For more information, see the: