Posts Tagged 'UK'

SERIOUS MONDAY: WIND FARMS UNDER THREAT

 

windturbines

Plans for new wind farms to help the UK to meet its renewable energy targets are under threat because of the credit crunch.

Centrica, which owns British Gas, said it is now looking again at proposals for three new farms which it had planned in addition to those off the east coast of England which are due to be in full production by the end of this year.

At the moment, a wind farm can cost up to £3 billion per gigawatt of capacity to build – compared with a gas-fired power station at only £600 million and the cost of a wind farm is even more per gigawatt than a nuclear plant.

Susan

SERIOUS MONDAY: UK’S ANCIENT WOODLANDS UNDER THREAT

 

As regular readers will know, I’m a tree person 🙂

And although I must admit that I rarely hug them, a forest walk is a great delight.  I’m lucky to live in an area with lots of trees – and they provide an ever-changing picture from virtually every window in our house.

(Sadly of course that does mean non-stop collection of fallen leaves at this time of year but I’m bagging them this time and saving them to use in the garden).

Trees play a huge part in the life of our planet  – from offsetting carbon emissions and helping in the fight against climate change, to providing shelter for birds and animals and producing fruit, medicines and food.

And in the words of Archie Miles (author of The Trees that Made Britain), trees provided the foundation of our nation’s heritage.

So I was really concerned to read the results of a survey carried out by the Woodland Trust which shows that over the past decade, we’ve lost 100 square miles of ancient woodland in the UK.

That’s the equivalent of an area around the size of Birmingham – and represents 5 per cent of the remaining ancient woodland we have left.

Following 12 months of research, the trust has discovered that half of the ancient woodland we had in the 1930s has already been destroyed or degraded. HALF of our traditional woodlands – gone!

Ed Pomfret from the Woodland Trust says the UK’s ancient woodland is our equivalent of the rainforest – and irreplaceable. 

Some woodlands have been around since the Ice Age and woolands are the most valuable space for wildlife – and home to more threatened species than any other habitat.

And although in theory, ancient woodlands are protected, there are loopholdes in the system that allow them to be destroyed if a developer can prove “economic need.”  That would never happen with a building of architectural importance – and preserving our trees is just as important. (Many woodlands were around long before any of the buildings that we now describe as ancient.)

The trust’s research shows that the biggest threat is from new roads, followed by utilities and power lines but airport expansion and leisure facilities also pose a threat.

And it says we need to protect our woodlands from further damage because we can’t rely on official bodies to do it for us. So it has set up a campaign called WoodWatch which uses the eyes and ears of the public to stop the destruction.

WoodWatch provides people with information and resources to help save threatened woodland in their area. You can find out more here. You can also locate and update the trust on threats to trees through its interactive map and you can find out about wood under treat NOW in your area by following this link. 

At the moment, the Woodland Trust is involved in over 400 cases of trees under threat in Britain.

Do what you can – trees are SO important 🙂

Susan

SERIOUS MONDAY: NO U-TURN ON CARBON REPORTING !

Campaigners are calling for the public to back the fight to make UK companies come clean about their carbon emissions.

Earlier this year, protestors were celebrating after the government agreed to include mandatory carbon reporting for large companies.

But ministers are now trying to do a U-turn and remove compulsory reporting from the UK Climate Change Bill which is currently making its way through parliament.

Christian Aid is now urging everyone to email Environment Minister, Hilary Benn, demanding that the hard-won amendment is not dropped from the final bill.

The charity argues that although the UK’s “official” carbon emissions account for just 2 per cent of the global total, this jumps to 12-15 per cent when you include the international activities of UK firms.

It says this makes the compulsory reporting rule vital in the fight against climate change.

Former Environment Minister, Elliot Morley, is now proposing a new clause to the bill which would reinstate the reporting rules for companies. If you’d like to support him in this, you need to email your own MP asking for their support.

You can do this through the Christian Aid website here

There’s also a pre-written letter to Hilary Benn about the Climate Change Bill which you can send via the Christian Aid site.  To find out more, log onto here

Once there, you can also back a separate campaign which is calling on the government to set a target of cutting our emissions by 80 per cent, rather than 60 per cent over the next 50 years.

Susan

SERIOUS MONDAY: AN ALTERNATIVE TO NUCLEAR PLANTS


Environmental organisation, Greenpeace, believes it has come up with an excellent solution that could help to meet Britain’s energy needs and reduce C02 emissions.

It has commissioned research into CHP (combined heat and power) which it says shows that industrial sites around the country offer a great opportunity for bulk electricity generation.

According to Greenpeace, power stations in the UK currently waste almost two thirds of the energy they generate – and a massive 20 per cent of our total CO2 emissions come from the fuel which is burned to create this “wasted” heat.

Greenpeace says  the government has so far focused mainly on electricity generation but this accounts for only 17 per cent of our total energy demands whereas almost half of our energy needs are in the form of heat.

It says the government has no heat strategy for the UK and is concentrating on nuclear power which can provide only electricity whereas CHP has the  potential to generate enough power for the annual needs of two thirds of UK households.

The research carried out for Greenpeace by leading energy experts Poyry, claims that this potential could be harnessed by siting combined heat and power plants at existing industrial sites.

And it has identified nine sites around the country where CHP plants could be installed to meet the heat and power needs of local industry and supply electricity back to the national grid.

The proposal also offers substantial cost benefits since an industrial CHP plant is much quicker and cheaper to build than a nuclear power station. (Greenpeace cites the example of a CHP development at Immingham which supplies two refineries in Humberside with heat, steam and power. It is being expanded at the moment and is eventually expected to have the same generating capacity of  Sizewell B power station!)

You can read a summary of the report here

If the statistics stand up, it sounds like the obvious way forward but if it really is that simple then it begs the question – why hasn’t anyone thought about this before now ????

Susan

SERIOUS MONDAY: SOLAR PANEL BREAKTHROUGH

New rules have been introduced to make it easier for households in the UK to reduce their carbon footprint.

The government is keen to encourage people to use alternative technologies such as solar panels and wind turbines in a bid to lower our carbon emissions – but in the past, local councils have often refused permission for the installations.

Now the government has stepped in and changed the rules – which means that from this month, you won’t need planning permission for microgeneration equipment like solar panels.

The government estimates that the energy used to run our homes accounts for more than a quarter of the UK’s carbon emissions so it’s obviously keen to see new technologies being used to reduce that figure.

So, if you have been considering solar panels, you can now go ahead without the complications of town hall red tape or planning fees.

If you’d like to find out more, check out this video about a family who invested in solar panels.

The government is hoping  to extend the new legislation to cover small wind turbines on detached properties but is waiting for the European Commission to sanction this.

Energy Minister, Malcolm Wicks, said: “The fight against climate change is not just about multi-million pound  renewable energy projects. Solar panels, biomass and heat pumps also have a vital role to play.”

It may  be possible to get a grant towards the cost of installing the equipment. Various schemes are available including the government’s Low Carbon Buildings Programme.

Susan

SERIOUS MONDAY: CLIMATE CHANGE WARNING

Researchers in the UK claim that a number of “tipping points” in the fight against climate change could be reached this century.

The research, involving the Universities of East Anglia, Newcastle and Oxford describes a “tipping element” as a critical threshold where only a small change in human activity could have long-term consequences for the Earth’s climate system.

And the researchers have drawn up a shortlist of nine tipping elements – all of which could reach tipping point within the next 100 years.

The events, along with the time it could take them to undergo a major transition are:

• Melting of Arctic sea-ice  (approx 10 years)
• Decay of the Greenland ice sheet (more than 300 years)
• Collapse of the West Antarctic ice sheet (more than 300 years)
• Collapse of the Atlantic thermohaline circulation (approx 100 years)
• Increase in the El Nino Southern Oscillation (approx 100 years)
• Collapse of the Indian summer monsoon (approx 1 year)
• Greening of the Saharal and disruption of the  African monsoon
(approx 10 years)
• Dieback of the Amazon rainforest (approx 50 years)
• Dieback of the Boreal Forest (approx 50 years)

Professor Tim Lenton, who led the study, said: “Society must not be lulled into a false sense of security by smooth projections of global change.

“Our findings suggest that a variety of tipping elements could reach their critical point within this century under human-induced climate change.

“The greatest threats are tipping of the Arctic sea-ice and the Greenland ice sheet.”

But he says it should be possible, in principle,  to set up early warning systems to alert us to the tipping point using real-time monitoring and modelling.

Susan

SERIOUS MONDAY: COULD THE UK GET ALL ITS POWER FROM SCOTLAND?

Scotland’s first minister claims that Scotland could produce enough power from renewable resources to provide electricity for the whole of the UK.

Speaking at a conference in the USA, Alex Salmond said he wants Scotland to become a global advocate for renewable energy and he announced that the Scottish government is putting an incredible £10 million towards a worldwide prize for innovation in marine-generated power from waves or tides.

But there are strings attached to the huge Saltire Prize – the winning entrant must have developed the solution in Scotland.

Mr Salmond says Scotland may be a small nation but it doesn’t need to think small and it has the potential from renewables to create more than 10 times its peak energy demand.

There are already many renewable projects in Scotland. Check out plans for this one – which people in Fintry are keen to take part in.

Meanwhile, it has just been announced that the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions dropped 2% in 2007, keeping it on track to meet Kyoto Protocol targets.

The reduction has been attributed to lower fossil fuel consumption by both household and industry and the switch from coal to natural gas for electricity generation.

Environment Secretary Hilary Benn said: “That’s 11 million tonnes less CO2 from the UK in the atmosphere. But we need to do more, and we need to make absolutely certain that we will deliver the reductions we need.”

He said we still need to see major changes across the whole of the UK economy if we are to meet the ambitious emissions reduction targets set in the Climate Change Bill.

And to help in this, the government will develop carbon markets and promote the development of low carbon technology, while continuing to work to get international agreement on global emissions targets.”
Susan hunt