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ANOTHER PLANET

England’s worst drought for 30 years looks like having a potentially catastrophic on wildlife and trees in the East, South and South East. The Wildlife Trust and teh RSPB have identified dragonflies, water voles, tadpoles, frogs, toads, newts, lapwings, redchanks, avocets and curlews, as well as freshwater fish as high risk species as streams, rivers and pods dry up, alongside trees such as birch and beech which will suffer in a drought along with an increased risk of forest fires. Some parts of the country have suffered their driest 18 months since records began and a spokeswoman for the Wildlife Trust said that reduced human consumption could avert an ‘absolute disaster’.

BRE Global, the organisation that runs the BREEAM award scheme (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method),  has assessed more than 7000 projecrts in 2011, more than double the number in 2009, with  more buildings being awarded the ‘Outstanding’ mark than ever this year. Pack leader is the Dogs Trust in Shrewsbury which provides a comfortable environment for dogs awaiting rehousing: it has a 750 square metre green roof, harvests rainwater for washing the kennels, has solar panels and ceiling tiles and fencing that reduces noise.  Another outstanding building is the Lancaster Institute for Contemporary Arts which has a pre-fabricated timber frame in a building set in woodland at Lancaster University with roof mounted solar panels and rainwater harvesting, there are low water use sanitary fittings, a 75% efficient thermal heat recovery and has live digital displays. Other winners include Houghton Primary School in Sunderland (again with solar panels, a wind turbine and a ground source heat pump) , One Silk Street London (where Linklaters LLP have cut energy use by 40% since 2001), St Johns Vicarage Wembley (high thermal performance PV panels, groundsource pump and mechanical heat recovery system) , Waitrose in Straford, London, which sends all waster food to a anerobic digestion, has low carbon lighting and hot and cold air management, and Harold Hill Fire station which uses 42% less energy than an average fire station in London and has lighting provided by ‘sun pipes’ bringing light into the station even on a cloudy day.

France and Spain (which has the EU’s biggest fishing fleet) have responded to an online campaign by UK chef and campaigner Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall by reviewing their plans to carry on with the policy of ‘discards’ – simply throwing dead fish overboard once fishing quotas are met. A policy which is no good for fish – and no good for fishermen – and no good for consumers.  More than 130,000 Tweets and Facebook messages were sent to ministers. The pressure is now on for the EU to phase out discards over the next 4 years. More at  http://www.fishfight.net/. And Hugh’s Nig Fish Fight has one a Royal Televison Society Award in the UK in the Popular Factual and Features category. The  programe was made by Keo Films for Channel 4 and was described by the the judges as “An interesting, watchable and accessible series of clever and effortless campaigning. The presenter is an amazing advocate, demonstrates admirable tenacity and gains unbelievable access. The series is also distinctive in terms of online innovation and activity.”

A Black Wednesday for the Environment’ is Greenpeace staffer and Plane Stupid campaigner Joss Garman’s take on the UK’s budget – and its a damning account of the short sighted economic policies that Chancellor George Osbourne is following in the name of economic recovery. It’s all in the Independent on Sunday  (18th March 2012) here http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/joss-garman-a-black-wednesday-for-the-environment-7576245.html

UK Chancellor George Osborne has said that the ‘cumbersome and bureaucratic’ Carbon Reduction Commitment scheme could be replaced by “alternative environmental tax” by the autumn in his Budget statement. The Chancellor has also said that renewable energy will play a “crucial part in Britain’s energy mix” but said that they needed to be both ‘environmentally sustainable’ and ‘fiscally sustainable’. However, it is gas that will receive the biggest investment as the largest single source of energy in the coming years. The sector will be boosted by a “major package of tax changes” for North Sea oil and gas extraction and a new gas generation strategy to be set out this autumn. Unsurprisingly, the Government’s pledge to be the “greenest ever” has been dealt a humiliating blow with just 2% of the public saying they believe it has fulfilled this goal. The YouGov Poll of more than 1,700 British adults, commissioned by Greenpeace and the RSPB, found that 53% of respondents believed the Government was ‘about average’ when it came to environmental policies.

The London NHS Trust has reduced its water consumption by more than 30% – cutting more than 100m litres from its operations since 2009.

Frozen food giant Birds Eye is targeting zero waste to landfill for its manufacturing operations by 2014 under revised plans, a year ahead of its original target. And Nairn’s Oatcakes is making good progress on a zero waste to landfill ambition – achieving a recycling rate of 90% for waste generated from its Edinburgh manufacturing sites.

Extreme weather caused by climate change could increase electricity bills for UK businesses by £335m a year in by 2030 – with the retail sector hit hardest. In the past week the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has warned that the annual electricity bill for the business sector could rise by hundreds of millions of pounds by 2030 as a result of climate change. And in open letter published in the run up to the Budget, some of the UK’s largest businesses and green groups have called on the Chancellor to deliver on the Government’s commitment to be ‘the greenest ever’ by implementing a credible growth strategy that catalyses investment in renewables and energy efficiency, spurring the economic recovery.

4out of 10 farmers surveyed by Lloyds TSB Scotland are disappointed with the performance of their wind power investments which they say are producing less income than expected.

Edie.net reports that Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman has unveiled plans to shake-up environmental regulations – by scrapping more than 50 ‘obsolete’ regulations following a red tape review.  Announcing the outcome of the Government’s ‘Red Tape Challenge’ for environmental regulations Ms Spelman denied it was about “rolling back environmental safeguards” or “cutting regulation to stimulate growth”.  Instead, she argued that “simpler and smarter” environment regulations will provide savings to businesses of more than £1bn over five years, as well as protecting the environment by making regulations cheaper and easier for companies to follow.

Nearly two-thirds of local authorities in England and Wales now collect food waste, or are planning to, but service provision remains patchy with strong regional variation.

An energy recovery park is predicted to deliver a £1.5bn boost to the Northwest economy once it goes live in three years’ time A report into the economic benefits of the Ince Park development located at the Manchester Ship Canal estimates that during the first 25 years of its operation, revenue generation could amount to £3,350m, with half of this secured within the local region.  The eco-park will house energy-from-waste (EfW) and biomass facilities and is a joint venture between Peel Environmental and Covanta Energy. The study by Urban Mines also predicts the site could generate up to 2,350 direct jobs with a further 914 indirect vacancies according to Edie.net.