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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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Crowcon

Gas-detection specialist Crowcon provides DB Breweries with CO2 detectors as the drinks industry continues to acknowledge urgent need for gas detection monitoring

Many do not fully appreciate that CO2 is toxic.....

This is possibly because it occurs naturally in the atmosphere, albeit at very low concentrations – around 400 parts per million (ppm). It is used or produced in the brewing and pub industry both during production and in the bar or restaurant, and we even produce it when we breathe out. We breathe CO2 out because it is toxic, of course, and great care is needed when working in environments where it may be present at elevated levels.

DETECTION
"Products which are specifically designed to detect hazardous gases are widely used within the oil and gas, marine and steel industries, and a similar picture is developing in the brewery industry,"
says Crowcon's Melina Ho. "So, when Manukau-based DB Breweries approached us to provide a gas detection solution, we were delighted to support."

Crowcon BreweryMelina explains: "Brewery industry employees who enter drinks storage areas without adequate gas monitoring equipment are potentially entering a life-threatening environment."

Crowcon was initially asked to provide a quotation by the company's health and safety advisors, a trend which is increasing within the food & beverage industry as the industry is currently upgrading its gas detection policies. This, along with the New Zealand Government's initiative to reduce workplace accidents in the manufacturing sector, is driving demand for a gas detection solution with food and beverage as it proactively addresses the potentially catastrophic outcomes of workers becoming exposed to dangerous levels of CO2 gases.

If workers are equipped with personal monitors before they enter a risk zone, gas levels can be monitored. In DB Breweries case, Crowcon's single-gas Gasman CO2 IR was selected largely due to its infrared sensors. Infrared sensors tend to have a faster response time and longer active life than other CO2 sensor technologies, as well as performing better at the lower temperatures that can be encountered in cellars. As part of the gas detection solution, service and calibration of instruments is provided.

HAZARD
CO2 is heavier than air. It is a hazard throughout the manufacturing process, right through to packaging and bottling, and even to the bars and eating establishments where the drinks are served. If CO2 escapes, it will tend to sink to the floor, where it can form deadly, invisible pockets. It collects in cellars and at the bottom of containers and confined spaces, such as tanks and silos.

crowcon logoDB Breweries spokesperson, Hamish Clentworth, explains: "One of the key factors in selecting Crowcon was the flexibility of its device. The ability to select the alarm function to best suit the working conditions whilst ensuring safety, is paramount, as it ensured minimal disruption when our sales teams visited bars, restaurants or retail outlets. Furthermore, the response time when increased CO2 levels are present was impressive, which meant our employees are alerted of the possibility high levels of CO2 in good time.

"Crowcon is one of the most popular choices across New Zealand and Australia, specifically within our industry and this proven track record was a deciding factor in our selection. Ultimately, our company has a duty to protect our employees from exposure to hazardous CO2 gases. Early detection can be the difference between life and death."

Even when gas detectors are deployed; maintaining protection for every employee can be a challenge as CO2 can be present in several areas; gas detection devices must be an integral part of an employee's daily routine.

Crowcon concludes, "We understand DB Breweries has made it company policy that employees use personal CO2 detectors at all times and we are hopeful this vital safety practice will be adopted more widely across the entire brewing and wine industry in the future."

www.crowcon.com