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ANOTHER PLANET

The UK’s government is facing a unprecedented attack from environmental and wildlife groups and countryside campaigners over its ‘stunning disregard’ for the environment. At the heart of the attack by groups including the RSPB, Greenpeace, The Green Party and the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England is George Osbourne’s recent Autumn Budget statement introducing tax support for energy intensive energies as well as cuts to solar energy subsidies and moves to change planning laws.  The Government had promised to be the “greenest ever” but is now considered “the most environmentally destructive government to hold power this country” by opponents including the Green Party.  Labour claimed that the Conservative party were undergoing ‘retoxification’ after being elected. The leader of the Green Party Caroline Lucas has slammed the Government’s Autumn Statement as “dangerously colour blind on the green economy” and for providing a “cash boost for big polluters” and a “bias towards big business” and WWF head of public affairs Margaret Ounsley said: “It’s deeply disappointing to see this government continuting to see environmental protection as a burden and rewarding high carbon infrastructure. This is a myopic, short term strategy.

In a move described by the company as ‘off-season spring cleaning’, Google has announced on its blog that it is scrapping its ‘Renewable Energy Cheaper than Coal’ initiative as part of an ongoing rationalisation process, now in its third round, which has seen projects which “haven’t had the impact we’d hoped for” shut down.  The initiative launched four years ago, aimed to produce one gigawatt of renewable energy capacity that was cheaper than coal. Speaking at the time, Google co-founder Larry Page said: “We have gained expertise in designing and building large-scale, energy-intensive facilities by building efficient data centres,” said Larry Page, Google co-founder. We want to apply the same creativity and innovation to the challenge of generating renewable electricity at globally significant scale, and produce it cheaper than from coal.”

Bah humbug! Businesses are being urged rethink the increasing financial burden and carbon intensity of lighting as costs soar to illuminate Christmas shopping. New research by the Carbon Trust claims there’s £700m to be saved and 4.4m tonnes of CO2 to be cut every year by rethinking the way approach shops and high streets approach lighting.

And more new research by the Carbon Trust claims that the Government’s goal of cutting carbon emissions by 25% from its central estate by 2015 is “realistic and achievable”. Figures from the Trust’s latest study into public sector carbon targets have revealed that public sector carbon targets have almost doubled in the past five years from 16% to 28%.  As a result, the Trust is calling on the Government to extent its 25% carbon target across the whole public sector.
Police swooped on a group of protesters who attempted to blockade the offices of a UK Government building. The protesters blocked the door of the Department for Transport (DfT) building in central London.  Activists from campaigning group Greenpeace, using chains, plywood boards and cars blockaded entrances, with the aim of stopping any deal that would see petrol refined from tar sands oil being sold at UK petrol pumps.

Ireland will pay a further 10m euros towards fighting climate change in the developing world.  Minister for the environment, Phil Hogan, has proposed adding the funding to this year’s fast start finance commitment. The drive aims to help the least developed countries tackle the effects of climate change.

Edie.net reports that an American consortium has begun injecting CO2 into the first test storage project in the country. The Midwest Geological Sequestration Consortium (MGSC) has begun work, today (November 28), on the site more than a mile beneath the state of Illinois.  The work is led by the Illinois State Geological Survey (ISGS), part of the Prairie Research Institute at the University of Illinois.  The CO2 is being captured from the fermentation process used to produce ethanol at Archer Daniels Midland Company’s (ADM) corn processing complex.

A replica of London’s iconic Marble Arch has been built from litter collected from the streets of Westminster – notably Oxford Street, Regent’s Street and Bond Street in one day – a total of 120 bags. Artist Miguel Romo, who has 10 years of producing art projects involving recycling and reclaimed objects, built the mini arch, where it will remain on public view for 10 days. Westminster City Council, with the help of partners the New West End Company and Veolia, commissioned the piece to launch its ‘Your Streets’ Campaign to make people more responsible and aware for their own litter.

Over a third of Scottish councils are recycling over 50% of the household waste they collect, as the national average rate hits 43.6%, according to figures from the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA).

Pub chain Wetherspoon’s has teamed up with Biffa to run a food waste recycling trial in a bid to reduce its waste and boost environmental performance. The pilot is being operated at 28 Wetherspoon’s sites for an initial trial period. Much of the food waste collected from these sites will be taken to Biffa’s anaerobic digestion (AD) plant in Poplars, West Midlands.  The waste contractor already collects glass for recycling and general waste for the chain throughout the country. 

Soft drinks manufacturer Britvic has launched its first on-the-go national recycling pilot in conjunction with Recoup, at the Ankerside Shopping Centre in Tamworth, which aims to encourage shoppers to reduce the amount of waste they throw away.

United Utilities has been fined £27,000 and ordered to pay £1,702 in costs after raw sewage overflowed into watercourses near Keswick, Lake District on two occasions. The company pleaded guilty to both charges at Workington Magistrates Court for the incidents which took place between December 26 2010 and start of January 8 2011, after a member of the public reported that raw sewage was overflowing from the Portinscale pumping station. An investigation by the Environment Agency (EA) found evidence that sewage effluent had discharged from the station on two separate occasions, entering a field and a ditch along the site’s boundary which drains into a Beck and causing pollution to watercourses in the area.  EA officers concluded that the incident was caused after pumps intended to pump sewage to Keswick Waste Water Treatment Works stopped working.

An international hydropower project to review the effectiveness of hydroelectric plants in Africa and Europe has been completed by a Scottish Water engineer. The project,  ‘Harnessing Hydropower In Africa & Europe: Environmental Observations of Hydropower Plants’ conducted by environmental engineer Claire Chapman, aimed to find out about the environmental impact of modern hydropower sites, with a view to applying similar schemes in Scotland.

New Zealand is to start recycling the rubble generated from the Christchurch earthquakes in what is thought to be one of the biggest aggregate recovery projects in the Southern Hemisphere.

A new £7m water recycling facility is set to turn Londoner’s wastewater into non-drinkable water for flushing toilets and irrigating gardens at the London 2012 Olympic Park. The Old Ford water recycling plant was officially opened by secretary of state for environment, food and rural affairs Caroline Spelman with the aim of helping the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) exceed a 40% water-efficiency target for the site.

The Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) has awarded conservation charity the Woodland Trust £60,000 to help it increase awareness of the role trees play in managing water and flood management

And finally, former Beatle Sir Ringo Starr has designed a boot in a bid to raise money for WaterAid through a charity auction on ebay. The limited-edition boot, which will only come in Ringo’s own show size – a men’s size eight – went on sale on ebay at a starting bid of $250 a pair.  The auction is part of the ‘Canvas that Cares ‘initiative, set up by clothing and shoe brand Timberland, which aims to raise funds for non-profit organisations through the sale of custom-designed, limited edition Earthkeepers footwear.