UK signs agreement with China on near zero emmissions coal-fired electricity, December 21 2005 Edit
Environment Secretary Margaret Beckett today welcomed a UK / China landmark agreement on the development of clean coal technology with carbon dioxide capture and storage, which aims to reduce significantly the climate change impact from coal-fired electricity generation. The project aims to demonstrate coal-fired power generation with carbon capture and storage technology in both China and the EU by 2020. It comes at a time when estimates show that carbon dioxide emissions from China's increasing coal use are growing rapidly.
The UK is leading the first phase of the demonstration project with £3.5m of funding from Defra and DTI. The three-year feasibility study will examine the viability of different technology options for the capture of carbon dioxide emissions from power generation for geological storage in China. Chief Scientific Adviser Sir David King formally signed the agreement in Beijing with Minister Xu Guangha, from the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology, which signals the start of the first phase of the near Zero Emissions Coal (nZEC) project. Plans for joint EU-China nZEC cooperation were announced at the EU-China Summit on 5 September as part of the Partnership on Climate Change and Energy. Further information can be found via the Defra website
Carbon capture and storage involve capturing carbon dioxide from the combustion process and storing it underground in geological formations such as aquifiers and depleted oil fields. The technology has the potential to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by some 90 per cent. The European Commission is also preparing a high level agreement on carbon capture and storage which will complement today's agreement. Defra news release / Climate change
'Community Halls for Rural People' online, launched by Defra, December 19 2005 Edit
Defra today launched an information hub ‘Community Halls for Rural People’ on its Rural Affairs website. Developed in consultation with Action with Communities in Rural England, ‘Community Halls for Rural People’ covers the following:
- Funding sources from Defra, National Lottery, local authorities and charitable organisations;
- Rural Community Councils’ Advisory services for running community halls;
- The relevant government bodies for direct advice on regulations;
- Defra’s public consultations; and
- A current news page for other policy or information developments as they occur.
Biodiversity grant scheme launched "working to halt the loss of biological diversity", December 15 2005 Edit
Today Dr Andy Brown, English Nature’s Chief Executive, launched the new Countdown 2010 Biodiversity Action Fund during The World Conservation Union (IUCN) UK committee meeting in York.
This fund will support projects that help achieve the UK government’s commitment to halt the loss of biodiversity by 2010, through delivering the objectives of the England Biodiversity Strategy and Biodiversity Action Plan targets. The commitment to halt biodiversity loss was made by European leaders at the 2001 EU Summit in Gothenburg and Countdown 2010 is a Europe-wide initiative led by the IUCN which seeks to raise awareness of this target.
The Countdown 2010 Biodiversity Action Fund is the new name for the Environmental Action Fund (EAF) biodiversity stream which was previously administered by Defra. Only voluntary conservation sector organisations are eligible to apply for this fund. Grants will be made for two years (2006/07 and 2007/08) and the value of awards will be between £25,000 and £250,000 per year. Application form and guidance notes can be downloaded from www.english-nature.org.uk/about/countdown.htm. The closing date for applications is 19 January 2006. Defra news release / Biodiversity
Sustainable development - how the regions measure up, December 13 2005 Edit
Regional Sustainable Development Indicators 2005 ( see Defra webpage) show how, region by region, England is faring on issues such as health, housing, education and the environment. Environment Minister Elliot Morley: "These are not regional league tables, and there will be just as many differences within regions than between different parts of the country. What the figures tell us is that in every region there have been clear achievements ... but in some areas progress is not meeting people’s needs or hopes. That is why we want to help people have more of a say in how their communities are run and served and to get involved in tackling issues such as climate change and energy efficiency, working together to improve their quality of life." The government is encouraging community groups to have their say in helping to shape the future of their areas - see Defra web page, Defra news release / Sustainability indicators
Holistic approach to Water Environment, December 13 2005 Edit
The Principles for achieving an increasingly holistic approach to managing the water environment are set out in a Defra and Welsh Assembly Government consultation launched today.
This represents a further step towards meeting the challenging demands of the Water Framework Directive (WFD), a Europe-wide plan which considers water not just in terms of individual rivers, lakes or estuaries, but acknowledges its inextricable relationship with ecosystems as a whole.
The consultation focuses on the nine river basin districts in England and Wales, and one of the two cross-border river basin districts in England and Scotland, each of which is required to have a River Basin Management Plan (RBMP). It proposes guiding principles for the Environment Agency in carrying out river basin planning and in particular in developing the RBMPs.
Although the Environment Agency has overall responsibility for drawing up the plans, the WFD requires water management issues to be considered right across the hydrological cycle, and alongside environmental, social and economic priorities. To achieve this the Environment Agency will work in partnership with the public, private and voluntary sector organisations affected by the RBMPs.
Woolas - Local Strategic Partnerships key to improving quality of life, December 8 2005 Edit
Government launches consultation on Local Strategic Partnerships (LSPs)
A new consultation promoting collaboration as the only way to achieve efficient and coherent service delivery - rather than simply being 'an addition to the day job' - was launched today by Local Government Minister Phil Woolas. The consultation positions LSPs as central to the delivery of effective Local Area Agreements, the development of strong local leadership and devolved decision-making, and a key driver of community engagement.
According to The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, "Local services are increasingly being delivered in partnership - with local authorities working with other public sector agencies, businesses, and the voluntary and community sectors. LSPs, established over the past five years, are the vehicle for co-ordinating this way of working. Therefore it is critical that LSPs are able to fulfil the increasing expectations being placed on them."
Local Government Minister Phil Woolas: "Communities - quite understandably - don’t always make the distinction about who's responsible for delivering their local services. What people want to see is a joined up approach, with high quality public services delivered according to local needs and priorities. LSPs are the cornerstone of that tailored approach, but as they take on an increasingly prominent role, we must ensure that they are fit for purpose, and capable of driving forward genuine improvements."
"The challenge now is to develop LSPs, and ensure that they are well equipped with the right framework and the right powers to be able to realise their significant potential. By rooting Sustainable Community Strategies in firm evidence of what a local area needs, being robust enough to set the agenda for local priorities, and securing agreement between different bodies within a particular community, LSPs can help to bring about a real improvement in local quality of life." ODPM News Release 2005/0270 / Local Strategic Partnerships - UK government consultation, December 2005, Community involvement, Regeneration
Campaigners welcome plans to make developers pay towards communities, December 5 2005 Edit
Following the Pre-Budget Statement today, Transport 2000 welcomed plans to expand the contribution of developers to communities through the Planning Gain Supplement. The environmental campaigning group also embraced the boost for UK biofuels, but said it was amazed that, in the week of the Montreal talks on climate change, the Government had not announced more dramatic new measures to tackle growing carbon emissions from traffic.
Transport 2000's Stephen Joseph, although welcoming the proposed Planning Gain Supplement said: "We must make sure that this money funds the right things. Currently transport investment in many development areas is overwhelmingly roads based. It would be a shame if this new fund led to even more tarmac over the South-east. Instead it should fund extra capacity on the overcrowded rail networks, better bus services and high quality street design to make walking and cycling safe and attractive."
Transport 2000 sounded a further note of caution over a proposed review of the planning system which objectors fear could remove the right to object to developments. A previous attempt to redraw planning rules focused on trying to bypass local opposition to national projects such as airport expansions and trunk roads, but the proposals were defeated after strong opposition from environmental groups.
Stephen Joseph: "Environmentalists are usually blamed for holding up development, but all the analysis we’ve done suggests that the delays are caused elsewhere. The current Thames Gateway Bridge inquiry has had to be stopped for months because Transport for London admitted all its traffic figures were wrong. In practice, the present planning system gives people very few rights to object to development. What’s needed is earlier and better public involvement in the planning process." Transport 2000 / Reduced dependence on cars, Urban & village design
New climate campaign partnership, December 5 2005 Edit
The Co-operative Bank and Friends of the Earth today announced that they will be working in partnership throughout 2006 on a joint climate change campaign. The Bank and Friends of the Earth will work together on a range of new projects, communications and awareness raising activities. The Bank is also backing Friends of the Earth’s climate campaign ‘The Big Ask’, now supported by a large number of environment, development and social groups, as well as businesses involved in sustainable energy solutions. The campaign, launched by Friends of the Earth, challenges the Government to bring in a new climate change law, the Climate Change Bill. The law would force the Government to take responsibility for the UK 's contribution to global warming by reducing carbon dioxide emissions by three per cent every year. The Bill is supported by over 300 MPs. www.thebigask.com, FoE press release / Climate change
"Tomorrow's Climate, Today's Challenge", December 1 2005 Edit
A new three year drive to communicate the threat of climate change and the need for everyone to tackle the problem was launched by Environment Secretary Margaret Beckett and Climate Change Minister Elliot Morley today. The announcement unveils a series of new communication resources that tell the story of climate change and seek to inspire people to get involved in the campaign.
It will include a new identity for the campaign "Tomorrow's Climate, Today's Challenge" which will unite efforts by Defra, and its key delivery partners - the Carbon Trust, Energy Saving Trust, Environment Agency and UK Climate Impacts Programme - to communicate the issue. Details of how private sector groups, organisations and charities can apply for money from a £6m fund over three years are also announced.
Among the elements launched in the grass-roots campaign today are:
- a two minute film telling the story of climate change, which will be distributed as a filler for television and will also be viewable and downloadable from the website
- radio adverts for commercial stations focusing on the fact that climate change is a here and now issue, downloadable from the website
- a climate change guide, designed to help local authorities, NGO's, the business community and successful fund applicants explain climate change and communicate the main concepts
- a new website portal - www.climatechallenge.gov.uk . This will hold the guide, further information about understanding and communicating climate change, fund criteria, a timeline for applications and case studies