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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': https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/25-year-environment-plan). 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: www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/608852/ncc-natural-capital-workbook.pdf

    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, www.cranfield.ac.uk

  • 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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Jacopa

Bosker does the Business at Walton-on-Thames WWT

Water industry solutions experts Jacopa have provided a robust and highly-effective Bosker trash rake system to protect the vital pumps abstracting water from the river Thames for Thames Water's Walton-on-Thames water treatment works.

The Bosker system is protecting the four massive centrifugal pumps that abstract water from the river and take it to the Knight & Bessborough - Queen Elizabeth II reservoir. These are each capable of delivering approximately 525 ml/d of water.

The original pump protection methods used at Thames' Walton works were labour-intensive, and involved a degree of manual handling. Equipment that could provide reliable, highly-automated protection was needed to better protect these key assets.

jacopa boskerThe Walton-on-Thames water treatment works, built in the 1920s, is one of Thames Water's flagship water treatment plants. The site pioneered Thames Water's own high-tech CoCoDAFF (counter-current dissolved air flotation and filtration) water treatment system, and is one of five advanced water treatment works that supplies the Thames Water Ring Main.

Water is pumped to the works from the River Thames and stored in one of three raw water reservoirs, of which the 20,000 million litre, 1.28km2 Queen Elizabeth II reservoir is the biggest. The Thames, like most large rivers passing through major urban areas, contains many different types of floating detritus. As a result, the pumps that abstract water from the river and take it to the reservoirs require robust and effective protection to ensure they continuously contribute to the significant quantities of water that London requires.

The project meant removing the existing platform and coarse screen in the main inlet channel, which feeds the huge pumps that supply the reservoir, and replacing them with a Bosker system, a maintenance platform, and a new bar screen.

The new installation adds to the 12 existing, successful Bosker installations that are currently protecting pumping stations and wastewater treatment works within Thames Water.

Jacopa Key Account Manager Mick Burton said: "We are delighted to have been able to provide this further Bosker solution for the Walton treatment works. The Bosker will ensure that these vital pumps are fully protected from the debris found in the Thames.

"The Bosker is a robust and reliable tool, simple to use and install, that protects expensive pumps and fine screens from damage. The technology is also backed by support from our dedicated team of experts and a fast, efficient maintenance and spare parts service."

www.jacopa.com