News Headlines

  • 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.

v ecohouse button

baxi button web

web mossborough spud field copy

The Rushlight Show

The Rushlight Show is a marketplace that brings together cleantech developers and sustainable solution providers, with investors & financiers and businesses looking to source suppliers and partners for an improved level of sustainability in their supply chain and operations.

It takes place on Thursday 25 January 2018 at Royal Geographical Society, 1 Kensington Gore, London.

Sponsored by Innovate UK, BEIS, Flanders Investment & Trade, Carbon Limiting Technologies, Sage, Granted Consultancy, Venner Shipley and Smith & Williamson, it is now in its 9th year and is expected to attract over 500 cleantech CEOs and entrepreneurs, investors and financiers, advisers, corporate customers and others involved in the sector.

rushlight awardsIt is a leading event for anyone involved in cleantech and sustainability, with the following highlights:

Cleantech: 40 companies presenting in the Innovation Showcase of the Cleantech Conference, opened by Claire Perry, Minister of State for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy; over 120 cleantech companies presenting and in the Exhibition, including the Innovate UK Energy Catalyst Round 4 Showcase and the Rushlight Awards poster exhibition.
Energy: UK Energy: Analysis & Vision Seminar where John Loughhead, Chief Scientific Adviser at BEIS, will be providing an update on BEIS's vision for energy in the UK, how it will be supported and how the trilemma will be achieved.
Sustainability: Heads of sustainability and sustainable procurement participating, including A2C Services and WRc; the Sustainability Solutions Market Panel with a range of leading sustainability professionals from corporates, including NHS, Nestle, Vinci, Unite Students, John Lewis, NSG Group and Heathrow Airport, and the very latest market-ready sustainable solutions.
Resource: over 20 leading participants in the circular economy, including representatives from WRAP, Ellen Macarthur Foundation, Innovate UK, BEIS, DEFRA, Circularity Capital, Advance London, local authorities and waste partnerships, participating in the Resourceful Conference together with presentations by companies with circular economy solutions and those looking for partners and other support.

rushlight pic web2018The Show comprises:

1. An Exhibition of over 120 of the latest innovations in cleantech, including a number of entrants to the Rushlight Awards and the Innovate UK Energy Catalyst Round 4 Showcase.

2. The Cleantech Conference, including the Innovation Showcase of some 40 companies presenting their cutting edge new technologies, with input from BEIS and Innovate UK.

3.The Resourceful Conference, in association with LCRN and the Circular Economy Club, which this year highlights some of the main innovations and looks at the progress and key issues in rolling out the circular economy.

4. The Sustainable Solutions Market Panel, where cleantech companies present their market-ready products and services directly to a panel of leading sustainability and procurement representatives.

5. UK Energy breakfast seminar, which will set out the current state of play in the UK energy system and provide a platform for BEIS to present their strategy to address the trilemma and achieve the binding targets for renewables.

6. A cooked breakfast, lunch and networking opportunities throughout the day.

With standard delegate places for the whole Show at £150 plus VAT, and a range of discounts available which reduce that to £80 or £100 plus VAT, this event is designed to be both informative and exceptional value for money. If you wish to attend just the UK Energy Breakfast Seminar, the cost is £45 plus VAT, whereas the breakfast seminar event is free for those registered for the whole day.

For more details of the Show please go to http://www.rushlightevents.com/rushlight-show/ and TO REGISTER, CLICK HERE for credit card payments and HERE if you wish to be invoiced.

The Rushlight Awards Party follows after the Show.