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Expert Witness : Environment

Climate change committee outlines concerns over gas statements

On 13 September the Committee on Climate Change, an independent committee of leading academic experts and peers, published a letter it has sent to Energy Secretary Ed Davey expressing concern over a recent statement on the continued use of gas as a primary energy source beyond 2030.

The letter, which is 'CC'd' to, among other Government leaders, the Chancellor George Osborne, states: "Extensive use of unabated gas-fired capacity (ie without carbon capture and storage technology (CCS)) in 2030 and beyond would be incompatible with meeting legislated carbon budgets."

The letter goes on to say: "Unabated gas-fired generation could therefore not form the basis for Government policy, given the need under the Climate Change Act to set policies to meet carbon budgets and the 2050 target."

Last Updated on Friday, 14 September 2012 14:42


Water Bill raises more hackles than spirits

Picture for Expert Witness water storyIn July the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (defra) published the Draft Water Bill. Under the proposals, which have been published for pre-legislative scrutiny, all businesses and public sector bodies in England will be able to switch their water and sewerage suppliers, allowing them to obtain more competitive prices, improve their efficiency and tender for services better suited to meet their individual needs.

According to defra, evidence suggests that opening up the water market and allowing businesses to switch supplier could deliver benefits to the economy of £2bn over 30 years. In Scotland, after similar reforms were introduced, the public sector alone is set to save around £20m over the following three years.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 21 August 2012 12:54


Protests as National Grid announces pylon route for Welsh windfarms

Nat GridNational Grid has announced the route corridor and substation site to connect proposed new windfarms in Mid Wales to the high-voltage electricity network in Shropshire. Cefn Coch in Powys has been identified as the preferred area for the substation and the 'red north' route via Llansantffraid to Lower Frankton in Shropshire as the preferred route corridor.

According to the announcement, on 31 July: "Listening to local views has played an important part in this decision. National Grid has consulted extensively with local people and specialist bodies, and has weighed up issues such as landscape, flooding, heritage, ecology, tourism and transport. The selection also takes into account the proposed connections from the windfarms to the new substation by ScottishPower Energy Networks (SPEN) and SSE Renewables (SSE)."

Last Updated on Tuesday, 07 August 2012 11:12


Wildlife review gets underway

Picture of a forest for expert witness environment storyThis month sees the start of a periodic review of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 by the UK's statutory nature conservation organisations. The review is carried out every five years and is known as the Quinquennial Review (QQR). It is carried out by a working group of the various agencies – Natural England, Countryside Council for Wales and Scottish Natural Heritage – led by the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC). This review is the 6th QQR.

The review decides whether any additions or amendments are justifiable to Schedules 5 and 8 of the WCA. Species may be added to the schedules if new evidence has come to light on their decline, and if protection is thought useful in conserving the species in question. Conversely, species can be removed if protection is no longer necessary.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 17 July 2012 12:04


Fines cut for bin mistakes

Your Expert Witness wheelie binHefty fines of more than £100 mistakes such as leaving a bin-lid open have been cut under changes to the law brought in by Defra. New rules that came into effect on 30 May reduce the maximum fines under the fixed penalty notice system that councils can give out to householders for overfilling their bin or accidentally putting their rubbish out an hour too early.

The fines have been reduced from a maximum of £110 to £40 for early payment.

Announcing the changes, Environment Secretary, Caroline Spelman, said: "The threat of a £110 fine for a simple mistake such as putting your bin out an hour early suggests the punishment doesn't fit the crime. Today is the first step towards a return to common sense. People should be encouraged to do their bit by putting out their rubbish in the right way, but hefty fines are not the way to do it."

Last Updated on Thursday, 28 June 2012 10:41