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The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) is seeking views on the banning of UK sales of ivory.

The proposal is an attempt by the UK Government to bring an end to the ivory trade which is placing elephants at risk of extinction. It is reported that since 2006, the number of elephants in Africa has decreased by 21%. This decrease is primarily a result of poaching for ivory.

A total ban on UK sales of ivory that could contribute in any way to the continued poaching of elephants is proposed. Such a ban would prohibit UK sales of ivory and the import or export of ivory for sale to and from the UK. It will not impact upon the right to own, gift, inherit or bequeath items containing ivory.

As part of the consultation the Government is also seeking evidence on the impacts of the proposed ban, including on elephant conservation and the natural environment, economic impact, cultural impact and on business.

Responding to this consultation

This consultation is open for responses until 29 December 2017.

The way to respond is by using the online survey website at:

For more information, see:

  • the Consultation on Banning UK sales of ivory;
  • Regulation (EC) 338/97 on the protection of species of wild fauna and flora by regulating trade;
  • the Control of Trade in Endangered Species (Enforcement) Regulations SI 1997/1372;
  • Regulation (EC) 865/2006 on the implementation of Regulation (EC) 338/97 on the protection of species of wild fauna and flora by regulating trade;
  • the Control of Trade in Endangered Species (Fees) Regulations SI 2009/496.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has launched a consultation to seek views on proposals to streamline energy and carbon reporting.

It is proposed that companies' mandatory annual reporting and disclosure of energy and carbon data should be submitted with companies annual accounts. This information would be filed with Companies House and available to stakeholders on request. This requirement would apply to certain UK companies registered under the Companies Act 2006 and possibly some limited liability partnerships. The Government proposes the application of energy use or company size thresholds to determine whether this will apply to a business. UK quoted companies who are already subject to mandatory reporting will have to continue to report, regardless of their size.

The consultation also considers whether additional reporting elements could drive further action to reduce energy uses and costs. An example of this would be companies to which the Energy Saving and Opportunities Scheme (ESOS) applies would be required to report on energy efficiency opportunities identified and actions taken on an annual basis.

Responding to this consultation

This consultation is open for responses until 4 January 2018.

The way to respond is by using the online survey available at:

For more information, see the:

Scotland is officially home to the world's first floating wind farm.

Nicola Sturgeon formally opened the £210 million project, located off the coast of Peterhead, on 18 October. Standing at around 600ft and weighing 11,500 tonnes, the wind farm will be able to generate enough electricity to power 20,000 homes.

The project, known as Hywind, has been in development for more than 15 years, and is installed in water depths of up to 129m using mooring lines attached to the seabed. Normally, wind farms positioned in the seabed are generally at depths of around 50m. Norwegian firm Statoil, who developed the project, believe floating turbines have the potential to work in depths of up to 800m.

The development was not without protests however. The RSPB Scotland opposed the project, stating the technology is a positive for energy however the impact on birds could be exceptionally high. They also believe too many offshore turbines in the area have already been approved.

Nicola Sturgeon praised the wind farm, commenting: "This pilot project underlines the potential of Scotland's huge offshore wind resource and positions Scotland as the forefront of the global race to develop the next generation of offshore wind technologies.

"In addition to the green benefits of renewable energy, it also has a very significant contribution to make to our economy."

A High Court Ruling has approved, in part, a judicial review into amendments to Civil Procedure Rules in February 2017 which essentially removed a cap on costs that a person has to pay if they lose a case against a public body.

The case was made by three claimants in the case of R (on the application of Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) v Secretary of State for Justice (The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, Friends of the Earth Limited and Client Earth, all of whom have an interest in protecting the environment). Their main concern was that the amendment allowed the court to vary the cap at any point in the litigation, which may deter others from bringing an environmental case to court for the fear of having to pay extensive costs should they lose the case.

Mr Justice Dove examined the provisions of the Aarhus Convention which, amongst other things, provides for an access to justice in relation to environmental matters. That convention is implemented by each Member State in different ways through domestic law. Under these rules, cases should not be "prohibitively expensive".

Bearing this in mind, Mr Justice Dove ruled, on the Claimants' first Ground, that any decision on a variation of cost capping should be made at the early stage of proceedings, giving a claimant certainty about potential costs. However, further consideration must be given to other matters of the case at a further hearing.

The Draft Pollution Prevention and Control (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2017 have been published, and will amend the following, in order to add provisions relating to medium combustion plants:

  • Pollution Prevention and Control (Scotland) Regulations SSI 2012/360;
  • Air Quality Standards (Scotland) Regulations SSI 2010/204.

Background

Directive 2015/2193/EU on Medium Combustion Plants aims to fill the gap at EU level between large combustion plants (over 50 megawatts) covered by the Industrial Emissions Directive 2010/75/EU and smaller appliances (less than 1 megawatt) covered by the Ecodesign Directive 2009/125/EC.

Medium Combustion Plants (MCPs) are used to generate heat for large buildings (like office blocks, hotels, prisons and hospitals), industrial processes and for power generation.

Combustion plants in the MCP range (1-50 megawatts) are a significant and currently unregulated source of emissions and air pollutants, particularly nitrogen dioxide, fine particulate matter and sulphur dioxide. The Medium Combustion Plants Directive was designed to address this issue, and requires all MCPs to be registered or permitted, and sets limits on the levels of pollutants that these plants can emit, depending on their type, size, age, fuel type and operating hours.

It also establishes monitoring requirements, to show compliance with the emission limits.

It is estimated, that implementation of the Directive across the UK will provide some 24% and 9% of sulphur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide emissions, respectively, that are required to meet the UK 2020 national emission ceilings.

Aim of the new Regulations

The Pollution Prevention and Control (Scotland) Regulations SSI 2012/360 provide a regime for the regulation of certain industrial activities in Scotland.

These Draft Regulations will amend that regime to add provisions relating to MCPs. Some MCPs were already in scope, so in those cases, additional requirements will be imposed.

New MCPs

It will be prohibited for an MCP to be brought into operation after 20 December 2018 without a permit or being registered.

Existing MCPs

MCPs already operating on 20 December 2018, with a thermal input above 5 megawatts, will come under the regime on 1 January 2024. Those between 1-5 megawatts will be regulated from 1 January 2029.

In all cases, MCPs will have to comply with emission limit values for sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and fine particulate matter, subject to specific exemptions.

Air Quality Standards amendment

A minor amendment will also be made to the Air Quality Standards (Scotland) Regulations SSI 2010/204. This is to ensure that when preparing an air quality plan, the Scottish Ministers consider measures imposing lower emission limit values for MCPs than those set out in the Medium Combustion Plants Directive, if doing so would improve air quality.

A long-delayed blueprint for how the UK will hit its binding target of cutting emissions by 57% by 2032 has been published by Ministers. It includes a range of policies supporting everything from low-carbon power and energy savings to electric vehicles and keeping food waste out of landfill.

Millions of the UK's draughtiest homes will be insulated by 2035, which could save families up to £300 a year on their energy bills. Energy efficiency for businesses and householders is at the heart of the 164-page Clean Growth Strategy. Although there is an aspiration that all houses will be brought up to the minimum of energy band C by 2035, there is no definite plan of how this is to be achieved. Existing schemes to improve insulation will be extended until 2028.

The Government has also guaranteed a further £550m of subsidies for offshore wind farm developers, which experts believe could enable the UK's existing offshore wind capacity to be doubled. New nuclear power stations are to be encouraged, but will only go ahead if developers can do so at competitive prices. There was tentative support for solar power.

Launching the plan, the Business Secretary, Greg Clark, claimed: "This government has put clean growth at the heart of its industrial strategy to increase productivity, boost people’s earning power and ensure Britain continues to lead the world in efforts to tackle climate change."

The Climate Minister, Claire Perry, said there would be a new 'triple test' for whether the Government backed clean technologies. They would have to maximise the amount emissions are reduced, show that they can become cheaper in the future, and be an area in which the UK can lead the world. 

The plan was mostly welcomed by green campaigners, industry groups and businesses, but some said it needed more ambition and lacked detail in certain areas. Although there is £120 million of funding for research on carbon capture and storage (CCS), this is only a fraction of the £1 billion government competition on the technology that was axed two years ago.

The plan lacks detail on how the UK will cut emissions from heating, and despite the wide-ranging policies, the strategy concedes that the UK is still not on track to meet its legally binding carbon targets. Campaign group ClientEarth said it is weighing its options, as the UK government is in breach of the Climate Change Act 2008. The UK's statutory advisers on the targets, the Committee on Climate Change, will pass its verdict in January after analysing the plan.


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