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  • Opinion: Plastic distraction - where now for Government's 25 year Environment Plan? Politics
    Opinion: Plastic distraction - where now for Government's 25 year Environment Plan?

    Former Environment Agency boss Professor Paul Leinster and Professor Leon Terry wonder where all the attention on plastic pollution has left the 25 year Environment Plan.....

    The 25 year Environment Plan was long-awaited, and much needed in terms of setting out a vision and direction, a spur to firm planning and action ('A Green Future: Our 25 Year Plan to Improve the Environment': There's a bold statement of intent, for us to become: "the first generation to leave the natural environment in a better state than that in which we found it".

    Paul LeinstermainBut it's now come and gone, mostly submerged beneath the attention paid to the 'war on plastics'. The launch successfully tapped into the popular consciousness via the Blue Planet factor, but where does this approach leave all the major aims and objectives of the Plan?

    Most significantly, there's the central concept of 'natural capital' - the nation's stock of land, minerals, forests, rivers and oceans - which needs wide understanding and support. The Plan itself fully embraces the idea, recognising the importance of ensuring the natural environmental assets that we all depend on are properly accounted for, and the assessment is used to inform the country's economic activities, including industry, infrastructure, land management and spatial planning. In the context of setting out post-Brexit priorities, for example, this is the opportunity for the UK to develop a farming and land management payment system, with the protection and improvement of natural assets at its heart.

    This is going to take a shift in attitudes from across the range of stakeholders, including the general public. We need to stop thinking of the environment as the provider of free services. These services are dependent on underpinning natural assets that, at an aggregate level, are declining in value. They will not be able to sustain a given level of services without environmental, health and economic impacts. We also need to move past the typical attitude of the environment as the obstacle to development, as the problem requiring conciliation and concessions, but as one of the assets we're working with and benefiting from.

    Leon Terry cropped2 copyNatural capital requires systems and integrated thinking for opportunities to be identified. So, for example, why shouldn't farmers be paid for allowing their land to act as flood plains, diverting water away from homes and businesses? In this way they are providing 'public goods' of a particular value, that have the potential to make huge savings for public services and individuals. If landowners are incentivised to restore peatlands and uplands then there can be less soil erosion, reduced amounts of nutrients in water systems, and less need for water treatment.

    Of course, organisations and landowners can't be paid to comply with the law - this is something different, a recognition that protecting and improving natural assets can lead to tangible benefits with a clear and measurable economic return.

    Natural assets need to be included on balance sheets in the same way as any other assets an organisation has. There should also be an associated risk register and action plan to ensure that these assets are properly maintained. Natural assets often provide multiple benefits and these can be location dependent. For example trees provide timber, areas for recreation, contributing to health and wellbeing, carbon sequestration and flood risk reduction.

    An important aspect in taking forward the 25 year Environment Plan will be to identify what success looks like in 25 years' time and how this will be measured. It will also be important to identify associated intermediate milestones that will provide check points on the progress being made, and there's robust governance to oversee the implementation.

    A number of Pioneer projects testing the principles of a natural capital approach have been running since 2016: a river catchment (Cumbria), an urban area (Manchester), a landscape-based area (north Devon) and marine areas (Devon and Suffolk), all of which have delivered insights into how the theory works in practice and a template for moving forward. A workbook has been created for planners, landowners, councils and communities:

    No-one would deny the seriousness of the amount of plastic wastes ending up in the world's oceans, but this is only one of the challenges that needs to be addressed if the Government's central pledge is to be realised.

    • Article by Professor Paul Leinster, Professor of Environmental Assessment, Cranfield University (member of the Natural Capital Committee and former Chief Executive of the Environment Agency) and Professor Leon Terry, Director of Environment and Agrifood, Cranfield University,

  • MPs yearn for climate change talks but constituents unconcerned Politics
    MPs yearn for climate change talks but constituents unconcerned

    A university and think tank study of MPs has found that the issue of climate change rarely features amongst their constituents, who nevertheless respond to issues such as plastic pollution in the oceans following the BBC's Blue Planet II series or Sky Ocean Rescue initiatives. The study outlines approaches that may change this situation.

  • NE English £9.8m demo project set to incentivise rapid impact of electric vehicles on grid Transport
    NE English £9.8m demo project set to incentivise rapid impact of electric vehicles on grid

    Successfully managing the electric grid impact of the rapid growth of electric vehicles, anticipated in the UK, has come a step closer with the announcement of a £9.8 million Government funded Vehicle-to-Grid demonstrator project, led by Nissan and including energy firms and academia - which offers incentives to fleet and private owners.

  • Food waste superstore opens fifth outlet in Merseyside Food
    Food waste superstore opens fifth outlet in Merseyside

    A need for North West England's food manufacturers to tackle their edible waste has led to Company Shop, the UK's largest redistributor of surplus food and household products, opening its 5th new superstore in St Helens, Merseyside.

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New ABB CEMS analyser offers all-in-one multiple measurement solution for combustion applications

New multi-component analyser offers expanded all-in-one measurement capabilities for combustion gas stream monitoring

ABB has extended its range of continuous emissions monitoring systems with the launch of the ACF5000 for combustion applications. Using FTIR technology, the ACF5000 enables accurate measurement of exhaust gases through the simultaneous analysis of up to 15 different gas components including SO2, CO2, CO, NH3 and VOCs.

The ACF5000 combines the advantages of an FTIR (Fourier Transform Infra-Red) spectrometer with zirconia oxygen measurement and optional flame ionisation (FID) technology. The high resolution FTIR spectrometer performs sensitive and stable measurement of active gas molecules, ensuring highly accurate quantification of gas components. Where the FID module is included, the ACF5000 can also be used to measure unburned hydrocarbons at ppm levels to help improve combustion efficiency.

abb webThe ACF5000's proven hot / wet extractive measurement technology removes the need for sample dilution, enabling it to provide accurate measurement of oxygen levels of up to 25 percent of the sample volume.

Further accuracy can also be achieved by using an optional blow-back unit, which enables uninterrupted measurements in high dust applications.

Completely self-contained, the ACF5000 offers a turnkey combustion process monitoring solution suitable for municipal, industrial and hazardous waste incineration and power plants using coal, oil or waste. The system offers a small footprint, opening up new possibilities for installation in confined spaces. This is achieved by the use of a single sample inlet for all sample gases, together with a stream switching function that allows for monitoring of two streams sequentially.

The ACF5000 has been designed to minimise operating and maintenance costs. Its modular design enables it to be easily upgraded to meet changing requirements when adding extra equipment such as the optional FID module.

Additional features include an in-built validation unit, which uses internal references to enable cost effective monitoring and validation of the FTIR spectrometer. Films and gas cells for all FTIR components are used as a surrogate for test gases, eliminating the expense associated with using test gas cylinders. By enabling on-going system validations, the validation unit satisfies BS EN 14181 QAL3 requirements for maintaining and demonstrating the performance of CEM systems during normal operation.

Further operational savings are achieved by the inclusion of a maintenance-free injector pump for passing gas samples through the system.

Expanding the ACF5000 to handle additional gas measurements is also simple. Where extra IR-components need to be added, the ACF5000 can be readily upgraded on-site with new software, minimising disruption.

For added security, the ACF5000 enables operators to remotely monitor the system from an external PC or control system, with diagnostics, configuration and maintenance data, including QAL 3 quality data, automatically being relayed via Ethernet, Profibus or Modbus.

The ACF5000 is certified to relevant leading standards, including EN 14181 QAL1, QAL2 and QAL3 and is MCERTS certified for use in process plants for applications including DeNOx and DeSOx plant optimization and HCL scrubber monitoring.

ABB has been a pioneer in FTIR CEMS systems since 1993 and has over 20 years' experience in the design, manufacture and supply of FTIR spectrometers for process gas analysis applications.

For more information about the ACF5000, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 0870 600 6122 ref. 'ACF5000'.