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May 2005

Ireland Invests Millions in Renewables Research
Ireland has spent Euro 7 million to develop renewable energy projects. The focus of the spending has been on wind and biomass, which have “considerable potential” in Ireland, according to a report from Sustainable Energy Ireland on its administration of a Euro 12 million funding program that was launched in 2002 and will finish next year. The program is designed to stimulate uptake of renewable energy and develop technologies.
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Green Groups Attack New Planning Law
Radical changes to planning laws under consideration by the Scottish Executive have been condemned by environmental organisations. The proposals would make it almost impossible to stop major developments such as nuclear power stations, waste dumps, airports and wind farms. Under the move, public inquiries into such major projects would be limited in scope. If the schemes were deemed as having national strategic importance, it would no longer be possible to challenge the need for them at the inquiries... more
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Electioneering while C02 Emissions Rise
During an election campaign where the environment has been conspicuous by its absence from the political agenda, carbon dioxide emissions will have risen by about 340,000 tonnes. This is equivalent to putting an extra 394,000 cars on the road in the 30 day election period alone. Political leaders of the three main political parties have given only one major press conference about the environment in the general election campaign (Charles Kennedy, 15 April). Despite telling the electorate that they will make significant progress on the key issues of the day, the politicians ignored the potential impacts of climate change on a number of issues.... more   back to top

New Government Needs Tougher Line on CO2
The environmental campaign group Friends of the Earth have warned Tony Blair that he must take bold political decisions to deliver on his manifesto pledge to tackle climate change by making significant cuts in carbon dioxide levels. FOE also suggest the creation of a new government department to deliver annual cuts in UK carbon dioxide emissions. Labour has promised to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 20 per cent from 1990 levels by 2010. However, carbon dioxide levels have risen since the party came to power, and existing government policies will leave the UK well short of its manifesto targe... more  back to top

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LEADER - Nuclear Dawn
With the Labour party firmly back in the driving seat, the nuclear option has again begun to rear its ugly head. We certainly do need to ask ourselves “where is all our power going to come from as oil prices begin to soar due to 'peak oil'." Renewable sources are failing to fill the gap due to the typical short-termism that UK governments tend to follow. Must we always think in four year terms?

Tony Blair cannot be accused of closing down the coal mines but his government also failed to stop the dash for conversion to gas of coal fired power stations. Allowing it to contine helped the government meet the UK’s Kyoto commitment.

The dash for gas was a real 'blooper'. It would seem that just about every other Kyoto signatory has had the same idea and yes, you guessed it, a panic buying bonanza. Perfect for the gas suppliers but bad news for the gas consumers. Next winter we could face shortages in gas for industry and domestic users alike, so not only might we see the lights blinking on and off a bit but also our domestic heating systems affected. Who dishes out this crummy, short-sighted advice to 'our leaders'? If it was their own money they were spending perhaps they would be a bit more cautious. They must have known full well that North Sea gas had pretty well passed its sell-by date.

The rub of all this are the huge sums of taxpayers money that is being dished out to consultants and generators (in grants for conversion) each time we convert our generation equipment between fuels. In any normal business environment bad advice would have a clawback clause built into the contract but our government seems happy to just keep throwing money away.

So what do we do now? Go back to coal? Well, although we have been net importers of coal for some time now, we do still have at least 50 years of this stuff below UK soil. Unfortunately most of the coal mines have now been closed down - more consultants and expense to re-open them .....

So nuclear seems set to be our new saviour. Hindsight eh. If, eight years ago, when Blair came into power, he had made a few sensible decisions and shown a little real leadership on renewable power generation he could have put us in a whole different position and avoided the mess we face now.

Clever really. You could almost claim this was all a big plot on the part of British Energy (someone needs to talk to Trading Standards about the name of this company). But they played the waiting game and we are back - and on our knees.

Margaret Beckett seems to be opposed to the nuclear option but in reality, because of the path that our government has trod (or has been led down), for the past eight years, there probably is no other option. No third way so to speak.  Lights on or lights off.
Keith Hall - Editor

Nuclear Power? Yes Please Says Blair

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Another Day at the Hydrogen Powered Office
The world’s first office block powered by wind, rain and sun is to be built in Scotland in a bid to prove that eco-friendly energy can meet the needs of business. The £3.2 million hydrogen office will generate its own electricity using two wind turbines, solar panels and hydrogen fuel cells. The fuel cells enable excess electricity to be stored in the form of hydrogen made from water - possibly collected in a rain barrel - and then used during dark, windless days. .... more  back to top

London Renewables Toolkit
Several London-based developers, planners, housing associations and designers recently gave the thumbs up to a new Toolkit that aims to help them embrace energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies. The construction industry is under growing pressure to incorporate renewable energy systems in the design and construction of new developments, but this will require a big change in the industry’s current attitudes and ways of working......more   back to top

Prescott Is Not Amused But Will Government act?
The government's environmental record is nothing to shout about, say campaign group Friends of the Earth. Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott, urged campaigners to look at the "ruddy facts" of the government's environmental record. His comments came after an action by Greenpeace who placed solar panels on Mr Prescott's house. Despite commitments to cut carbon dioxide emissions, the government's record is not good. Although New Labour took office with carbon dioxide emissions well below 1990 levels, pollution has now crept up and is higher now than for many years. The increase in emissions last year of 1.5 per cent was caused by increasing emissions from industry... more   back to top

Tories Also Favour Nuclear Power
The Conservatives have paved the way for a new generation of nuclear reactors by backing the controversial energy source as a way to tackle climate change. The party’s stance on nuclear power will also be interpreted as a green light for Labour to put forward proposals for new reactors to parliament....more  back to top 

Human Race Living Beyond its Means
The human race is living beyond its means. A report backed by 1,360 scientists from 95 countries - some of them world leaders in their fields - today warns that the almost two-thirds of the natural machinery that supports life on Earth is being degraded by human pressure. The study contains what its authors call "a stark warning" for the entire world. The wetlands, forests, savannahs, estuaries, coastal fisheries and other habitats that recycle air, water and nutrients for all living creatures are being irretrievably damaged.... more  back to top

Certification Schemes (from the Forum)
Q ...Can anyone point me in the direction of building certification schemes other than BREEAM and Ecohomes? I'm particularily interested in smaller scale schemes.
A ...From the NGO (Non Governmental Organisation) perspective WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature) has come the closest to creating an 'outside the industry' alternative but they seem to have fallen in with BREEAM Ecohomes for the time being.
The AECB is working on an energy standard but this is more likely to be worked into Ecohomes rather than be something new.
As likely as not the American scheme LEED will become the globally adopted scheme as most countries around the world are beginning to pick it up as the scheme of choice.
The Canadian House Building Association (CHBA) were the first to adopt a low energy building scheme and we are starting to see homes built in the UK to this standard -known as 'Super E'
One of the favourites though is Passivhus which is a German scheme... more  back to top



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Eco Living Fair
Go Green at the Eco Living Fair 2005 on Saturday, 14 May at the CREATE Centre, Bristol. Whether it's your home, garden, family or car that needs to be greener, Eco-Living 2005 is the venue for getting the best in environmentally-friendly living advice. An intriguing alternative to more traditional homes and gardens fairs, Eco Living will have 50 stalls promoting a greener lifestyle. Visitors will be able to try and to buy a huge range of natural and sustainable products ... more    back to top

24th 25th May QE11 Conference Centre Westminster, London.
Ecobuild is the forum for the exchange of ideas echoing the environmental themes set out in the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister’s Sustainable Communities plan. It consists of a two-day, high-level conference focusing exclusively on the challenges faced by the planning, building and design community to deliver a “greener” future for Britain’s towns and cities. ... more    back to top

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