Planning Court now operational

The Planning Court came into being on the 6th of April, with the responsibility for handling certain cases of judicial review. These include applications to the High Court to challenge the validity of various planning decisions, such as planning permissions and other development consents. One its first deliberations has been the recent case of a legal challenge to the proposed Grantham relief road…

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DECC launches domestic Renewable Heat Incentive Scheme

The Department for Energy and Climate Change has recently announced the opening of its new domestic RHI (Renewable Heat Incentive) Scheme. The scheme commenced on the 9th April 2014 and offers incentives to encourage home-owners and private or social landlords to install renewable heating systems. The incentive takes the form of quarterly payments to property owners, payable over a period of seven years, and intended to offset the installation costs. The tariffs vary according to the technology used, and have been set at a level that reflects the expected cost of renewable heat generation over a period of twenty years.

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Defra Reports – Reforming Environmental Guidance

Defra has published a report that outlines its progress in implementing the Red Tape Challenge. The Red Tape Challenge was announced by the Prime Minister in April 2011 and heralded moves to reduce regulatory guidance and make it easier for business to operate. On its website, the department says it has reviewed 1,200 regulations since that announcement and that regulatory guidance will be reduced by 80% as part of its reforms. 350 obsolete regulations will be removed, whilst 428 regulations are subject to 336 reform proposals, “mainly through simplification or consolidation.”

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Environmental Change Network – Anniversary Symposium

Scientists from the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology have organised a symposium to commemorate 20 years of the Environmental Change Network. The Environmental Change Network is a long-term programme of environmental monitoring based on a number of sites across the UK. The monitoring involves regular measurements of air, soil and water together with a range of flora and fauna, the aim being to determine how and why the natural environment is changing. The measurements cover a wide range of physical, chemical and biological variables, and the programme’s multidisciplinary approach enables the analysis of important relationships between environmental variables.

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New environmental satellite is launched

The European Space Agency has recently launched the first Copernicus environmental satellite. The aim of the Copernicus global monitoring programme is to improve our management of the environment and to monitor and manage the effects of climate change by providing key information services for a wide range of applications. UK Environment Minister Lord de Mauley has been quoted as saying: “The valuable data from this satellite will deliver a wide range of benefits for the UK through improved flood forecasting, building greater productivity and efficiency within the agricultural industry and helping monitor biodiversity across Europe better.”

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Contaminated Land – CIRIA publishes guide to asbestos  risks

CIRIA (the Construction Industry Research and Information Association) has recently published a guide to understanding and managing the risks from asbestos in soil and made ground. The guide is the culmination of a research project which began in December 2011 and is co-authored by Dr Paul Nathanail, Professor of Engineering Geology at Nottingham University, Dr Alan Jones and Dr Alastair Robertson, both of the Institute of Occupational Medicine, and Dr Richard Ogden of Land Quality Management Ltd.

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Planning News – Changes Ahead

On the 6th April, new ‘permitted development rights’ come into force. The measures will modify the current system of applying for planning permission for a ‘change of use’ to existing buildings, with some changes of use deemed to be permitted development. Permitted development is, however, subject to certain conditions, and it is important to note that the developer is expected to apply to the local planning authority before beginning the development “for a determination as to whether the prior approval of the authority will be required” for such things as contamination risks and flood risks in relation to the building.

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Climate Change – The IPCC Report

This week, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published its second report on the global impacts of climate change. The first report was published in 2007 and, in summarising the latest report, the authors point out that the evidence for climate change has almost doubled in the interim. Michel Jarraud, Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization, has said that the report was based on more than 12,000 peer-reviewed scientific studies…

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EEA – Water pollution is ‘decoupling’ from economic growth

Data published by the European Environment Agency (EEA) shows that, despite a growing population, European households are generating lower levels of nutrient pollution in water. Levels of some pollutants from the manufacturing and agricultural sectors of the European economy have also fallen, while at the same time the sectors have grown in terms of economic productivity…

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ESI at Sustainability Live 2014

ESI’s Steve Buss will be at Sustainability Live next week, giving a joint presentation with Jodie Whitehead of Severn Trent Water on catchment management and public water supply. The title of the presentation: Is catchment management feasible for securing good quality public water supply from groundwater? The presentation will be delivered on Day Two of the event…

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Wetter winters could increase pollution in the UK’s rivers, say scientists

A research team, led by Professor Philip Haygarth of Lancaster University, has concluded that wetter winters could increase pollution in the UK’s rivers. The researchers are working on a project called “Nutrients in Catchments to 2050″ and the team also includes researchers from Bangor University, Liverpool University, and the Met Office. The aim of the project is to investigate how climate change combined with changes in agricultural practice are likely to affect the UK’s water bodies.

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Water Bill – House of Lords debates abstraction reform

The government’s Water Bill has reached report stage in the House of Lords. Day One saw a discussion of a number of government amendments regarding abstraction reform. In the course of the debate, members of the house discussed upstream competition, a national affordability scheme and sustainable development. A proposal to align the timetables for upstream competition and abstraction reform was defeated…

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