News

The Environment Agency is seeking views on the Draft National Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management Strategy for England.

This highly complex Consultation sets out the proposals that aim to help England become resilient to flooding and coastal change, including shorter-term developments in the next 10-30 years as well further ambitions for the change needed by 2100.

Scope

The draft strategy that is the subject of this Consultation is split into three high-level ambitions.

Climate resilient places

This includes:

  • work to explore and develop standards for flood and coastal resilience;
  • plans by 2050 to adapt to flooding and coastal change across a range of climate futures;
  • between now and 2030, all those involved in managing water will embrace and adapt approaches to enhance the resilience of our environment to future flooding and drought;
  • between now and 2030, risk management authorities will enhance the natural, built and historic environments so we leave it in a better state for the next generation;
  • risk management authorities by 2030 will use funding and financing from new sources to invest in making the nation resilient to flooding and coastal change.

Today's growth and infrastructure - resilient to tomorrow's climate

This sets out that:

  • between now and 2030, all new development will contribute to achieving place based resilience to flooding and coastal change, as well as seek to support environmental net gain in local places;
  • risk management authorities will contribute positively to local economic regeneration and sustainable growth through the investments in flooding and coastal change projects by 2030;
  • by 2050 places affected by flooding and coastal change will be "built back better" and in better places;
  • infrastructure owners have responsibilities to support flood and coastal resilience in places;
  • by 2050 the Environment Agency and risk management authorities will work with infrastructure providers to ensure all infrastructure investment is resilient to future flooding and coastal change.

A nation of climate champions, able to adapt to flooding and coastal change through innovation

This details plans:

  • for improving the education of young people on the impacts of flooding and coastal change and how to take action;
  • by 2030 for people to receive consistent and co-ordinated support from all those involved in response and recovery from flooding and coastal change;
  • by 2030 for England to become the leader in managing flooding and coastal change, as well as developing and attracting talent to create resilient places.

Responding to this Consultation

This Consultation is open for responses from 9 May 2019 until 4 July 2019.

The best way to respond is by completing an online survey on the Environment Agency's website.

Alternatively, written responses can be sent via e-mail to FCERMstrategy@environment-agency.gov.uk.

The Consultation portal also contains a number of supporting documents, which aim to help to understand the key elements to the proposed strategy, including a strategic environmental assessment (SEA) report.

For more information, see the:

Electrical Safety First warned that an inadequate public charging infrastructure for electric vehicles is forcing drivers in the UK to take risks by opting for dangerous alternatives at home.

According to a survey by the Charity, three-quarters of those who resort to charging from their home mains supply admit to "daisy-chaining" multiple extension leads plugged into one another, to reach their car. This is despite it being advised against in all circumstances due to electrocution and fire.

The Charity are urging the Government to expand the national network of public charging points, as its findings reveal the growth rate of licensed plug-in vehicles is overtaking the number of charging points available.

Analysis of data from the Department for Transport (DfT) and website Zap-Map has revealed the growth rate of licensed plug-in vehicles to be almost six times faster over the last five years than that of public charging-point locations in the UK.

In the survey of 1,500 electric vehicle owners, including all-electric and hybrids, 74% of respondents said the shortage of public charging points near their home had led them to use domestic multi-socket extension leads, not suitable for outdoor use, to charge from the mains in their home.

This is despite almost nine out of 10 respondents admitting they were aware that these should not be used outdoors. Over half of electric vehicle users who charge using an extension lead also said they had left cables running to their vehicle in the rain.

The latest figures reveal the number of charging point locations ranges from 147 per 100km2 in London (2.6 per 10,000 residents) to 1.55 per 100km2 (1.03 per 10,000 residents) in Wales.

Electric vehicles are seen as key to Government plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and pollution, with the aim of all cars to by effectively zero emissions by 2040.

Electrical Safety First urges consumers to take advantage of Government grants to help fund the cost of a specifically designed home charging point, which is safer than charging from the mains.

A DfT spokesperson said "drivers should be able to charge their electric vehicles on a network that is accessible, reliable, affordable and safe, and almost 1,000 public connectors have been installed in the last 30 days alone".

"Nearly 120,000 charge points have been installed across the UK to date and we are continuing to accelerate the growth of infrastructure through a range of initiatives, including up to £500 off the upfront cost of residential installations".

For more information on this subject, see:

Officers from the Environment Agency and HMRC visited more than 50 suspected illegal waste sites across the East of England in a single day, confirming illegal activity at more than two dozen sites across Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire, Cambridgeshire and Leicestershire.

Officers found:

  • four sites where waste had been burnt illegally;
  • four sites which were actively and illegally treating and transferring waste;
  • a number containing construction and demolition waste, vehicle parts and household waste.

Among the rubbish, officers observed shredded plastics, soil, rubble, scrap metal, tyres, pallets, and at one site, a number of discarded toilets.

Some of the sites contained overflowing skips and more than 5,000 tonnes of waste being stored illegally.

A total of 54 sites were visited by officers, of which half were found to be operating within the law. Those that weren't will receive written guidance from the Environment Agency clarifying the steps they must take, and follow-up visits will be arranged to make sure the site operators comply.

Pete Stark, Environment Agency Enforcement team leader, said "we will be following up on every single site where we've found illegal activity so we can put a stop to activities that blight our neighbourhoods, our environment and our economy".

"Working closely with HMRC to investigate these reports from local communities has helped us strengthen our working relationship, identify sites of interest, and prevent and disrupt crime that puts people, wildlife and legitimate businesses at risk".

Evidence gathered from the visits will be used against those breaking the law followed by further enforcement action. This could include working with local authorities, the police, and HMRC to prevent and disrupt crime, the serving of notices to have waste removed from land, and prosecution of offenders.

If convicted of illegal waste activity, offenders face unlimited fines and up to five years in prison.

Illegal waste activity is estimated to have cost more than £600 million in 2015 in England alone, but the Environment Agency has been tackling waste crime, with more than 5,400 stopped between 2011 and 2017 and an average of two sites being shut down everyday.

A major UK study has concluded that working night shifts is not linked to an increased risk of breast cancer.

The study was funded by Breast Cancer Now, and analysed 102,869 women over a 10 year period by examining extensive details of women’s night shift work, finding those who worked night shifts were no more likely to develop breast cancer than those who had not.

In 2007, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) stated that shift work disrupting the body's sleep-wake cycle was "probably carcinogenic". However, a review on those findings are due this summer. Breast Cancer Now claims their latest research is the most comprehensive to date. Michael Jones, co-author of the study and staff scientist in genetics and epidemiology at the Institute of Cancer Research, in London, commented:

"A possible link between exposure to electric light at night and an increased risk of breast cancer was first proposed more than 30 years ago, but research has so far been inconclusive.

"In our new study we found no overall link between women having done night shift work in the last 10 years and their risk of breast cancer, regardless of the different types of work they did involving night shifts, and the age at which they started such work."

Breast cancer affects around 55,000 women and 350 men every year, and is the UK's most common form of cancer. Previous research conclusions have varied on the impact of shift work, particularly the 2009 IARC research which has been challenged due to the older average age of participants, and the limited details it contained on the nature of women's shift work. The average age in this week's study was 45 years, with 17.5% of participants being regular night shift workers within the last 10 years. The shift data was again followed up six years later.

Researchers observed that 2,059 out of 102,869 women went on to develop invasive breast cancer. Taking into account confounding risk factors, no overall association with night shift work was found.

There was also no significant difference in risk relating to the type of night shift work, the age when the work started or whether it began for or after a first pregnancy. The only statistically significant trend was found with average night hours worked per week, but researchers said it was not supported by previous evidence or any proposed biological explanation.

Baroness Delyth Morgan, Chief Executive at Breast Cancer Care and Breast Cancer Now, said:

"We hope these findings will help reassure the hundreds of thousands of women working night shifts that it’s unlikely their job patterns are increasing their risk of breast cancer.

"This question has been widely debated in recent decades and has understandably caused concern, and it’s encouraging that the evidence now suggests night shift work has no impact on breast cancer risk. We now await the IARC’s review of the global evidence to gain even more clarity on this issue."

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) is preparing to publish a draft Bill which will implement the key legal changes required under the post-Grenfell Hackitt reforms.

The legislation would establish a new regulatory body for higher risk residential buildings (HRRBs) and potentially other buildings, and create new duty-holders (building safety managers) with specific duties in law. There are also plans for a new "competency" framework for all professionals involved in HRRBs. Such changes are likely to be modelled on the Construction (Design and Management) (CDM) Regulations SI 2015/51.

The Draft could be published by the end of May / early June for consultation, after which it would return to parliament in late 2019 / early 2020, before being passed into law and taking effect in 2021.

The Bill is being developed by a team of 180 civil servants in the MHCLG's Building Safety Group, a number greatly contrasted with the diminishing presence of fire safety experts in Government prior to the Grenfell tragedy.

As mentioned, it is likely to place a legal duty on duty-holders to hire "competent" advisers, contractors and installers. The aim is to achieve this without a Government-mandated scheme. Instead, industry is proposing a new overseeing competence body, that will make sure any schemes put in place for designers, contractors and building safety managers are sufficiently rigorous and accountable.

12 working groups are currently examining this issue, amongst others, with a final consensus report also planned for consultation by the end of May. It is hoped that this will go hand-in-hand with the Government consultation on post-Hackitt legislation.

For more information, see the Briefing paper:

A supplier and a flooring company have both been sentenced following the death of floor-layer in London.

Westminster Magistrates' Court heard that on 4 September 2015, the 30-year-old floor-layer was found deceased on the bathroom floor by the owner of the house. The adhesive used to fix the flooring contained a large amount of toxic substance.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that T Brown Group Ltd had not implemented any systems or procedures adequately to control the risks to its employees from working in an enclosed space with a substance known to be hazardous to health.

The decision on whether to wear respiratory protection such as face masks, or what type of protection should be worn was left up to employees. When the floor-layer's body was found he was wearing a completely ineffective face mask.

Altro Limited, the flooring company who supplied the adhesive, was found not to have ensured so far as reasonably practicable that the product supplied was safe to use at all times.

Both companies pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and were fined the following:

  • T Brown Group Ltd was fined £250,000 and ordered to pay full costs of £23,936;
  • Altro Limited was fined £500,000 and ordered to pay full costs of £34,773.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Peter Collingwood said "this tragic incident which has had a devastating effect on a young family was wholly avoidable. It is important that companies have an appreciation of their duties, (whether to its employees or its customers) and have effective systems and procedures in place to ensure those duties are fulfilled".


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