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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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Rushlight Show Awards

And the winners are......

Immediately after the 2018 Rushlight Show on Thursday January 25th, Eventure Media presented the Rushlight Awards at a lively Awards Party. This was attended by organisations that are leading the way in clean technology innovation and sustainable solution deployment, investors, advisers, specialist and general media, trade associations and government departments.

Mark Taylor, Deputy Director at BEIS and Head of Programme Delivery, Science and Innovation for Climate and Energy, and the guest of honour at the Awards Party, set out his past and the current activities of the department in the cleantech arena.

Clive Hall, Founder of the Rushlight Awards, commented: "Clean innovation is a key driver for growth across our whole economy, helping us find new ways to manage our environmental footprint, reduce costs and help put our businesses on a more sustainable and competitive footing. The progress that has been made over the last 11 years has been achieved in no small part through the successes of organisations such as those we are celebrating and promoting through the Awards."

rushlight awards 2018 airponixThe overall winner was Airponix for their innovative technology that can help to mitigate world hunger by allowing staple food crops to be grown with no soil or agricultural land, less than 15% of the normal water input, no chemicals (organic quality produce), no fossil fuels or heavy plant and yields more than 10 times the output from conventional farming. The breakthrough innovation is its ability to create engineered fogs to feed the roots and foliage, as opposed to mists or sprays which conventional aeroponic systems use, and this is achieved by using the well-proven piezoelectric technology of inkjet printer heads resulting in a greater than 90% saving in energy requirements. Through the use of low-cost growth chambers, the system is resilient to weather extremes and climate change effects.

The group category winners were:
1. Fraunhofer UK Research working with Wind Farm Analytics Ltd and Thales UK (Optronics) Ltd for their Project AMFIBIAL which seeks to commercialise a floating triple beam LIDAR (laser wind measurement) for the offshore wind industry.
2. Reactive Technologies Ltd for GridMetrix, an advanced, cloud-based grid measurement and analytics platform that delivers unique system data and deep insights to help manage electric systems in real-time. It enables grid operators to integrate safely increased amounts of renewable generation and make more efficient and cost-effective grid investment and procurement decisions.
3. Greater Than have developed a technology, based on deep machine learning and Artificial Intelligence (AI), that can analyse driving and assess risk in real-time. The technology (Enerfy) is a platform, which includes a hardware plug-in, the consumer's smartphone, and their cloud-based service with algorithms and AI. With their technology analysing in real-time, the driver gets feedback and information in their smartphone immediately.
4. Heriot-Watt University for the SCORRES Project with 5 other partners – Auraventi Ltd, Scene Connect, Findhorn Foundation College, Auroville Consulting and Auroville Centre for Scientific Research . The project is developing a robust, efficient, affordable and smart irrigation system to help tackle the food, water, energy trilemma. The system combines a highly localised weather forecast with local know-how on irrigation needs and soil conditions, to produce a 'right time, right volume' approach to micro-irrigation. The test system has increased crop yields, reduced labour and composting requirements and reduced water and energy consumption, leading to improved utilisation of power, increased grid stability and potential higher farmer revenues.
5. SteamaCo for their Internet of Things technology which enables companies to sell clean energy in frontier markets. Their Energy Autopilot enables its customers to sell energy anywhere on the planet and is simple, robust and four times cheaper than comparable smart meter platforms.

The complete list of Rushlight Awards winners is set out below:

The Rushlight Award      Overall Winner: Airponix Ltd

Group categories                                           Winner:
Rushlight Natural Energy Award - Fraunhofer UK Research (AMFIBIAL)
Rushlight Clean Energy Award - Greater Than
Rushlight Energy Environmental Award - Reactive Technologies Ltd
Rushlight Resource Innovation Award - Heriot-Watt University (SCORRES)
Rushlight Environmental Management Award - SteamaCo

Rushlight Awards logo on grey cmykDirect entry categories                   Winner:
Rushlight Solar Award - Solapak Systems Ltd
Rushlight Ground & Air Source Power Award - D'Ascanio Research Ltd
Rushlight Wind Power Award - Fraunhofer UK Research (AMFIBIAL)
Rushlight Marine & Hydro Energy Award - Tidal Harness Ltd
Rushlight Bioenergy Award - Argyll, Lomond and the Islands Energy Agency
Rushlight Powered Transport Award - Greater Than
Rushlight Hydrogen & Fuel Cells Award - ITM Power
Rushlight Power Gen and Transmission Award - Reactive Technologies Ltd
Rushlight Fossil Fuels Award - Immaterial Labs Ltd
Rushlight Nuclear Energy Award - DavyMarkham Ltd
Rushlight Energy Reduction Award - Airponix Ltd
Rushlight Energy Efficiency Award - LightFi Ltd
Rushlight Water Treatment Award - Solar Water Plc
Rushlight Water Management Award - Heriot-Watt University (SCORRES)
Rushlight Organic Resource Award - GENeco
Rushlight Resource Recycling Award - Reuseful UK
Rushlight Clean Environment Award - AmbiSense
Rushlight Responsible Product or Service Award - STORM
Rushlight Sust Manufacturing & Services Award - Green Lizard Technologies Ltd
Rushlight Sust Agric, Forestry & Biodiversity Award - Solar Polar Ltd
Rushlight Environmental Analysis & Metrology Award - Green Sea Guard Ltd
Rushlight Sustainability Initiative Award - SteamaCo

In addition to the Rushlight Awards judging, the 2017-18 awards also incorporated a number of other benefits and prizes for entrants and we are very grateful to these generous supporters.

Tmara made an award to the UK market entry they felt had the biggest chance of adoption and breakout potential, unique contribution to the management of the environment and multiple potential applications both commercial and retail of a Product-Market Fit Assessment, Minimum Viable Value Specification and Strategic Alignment Mentoring to NatureMetrics. NatureMetrics is pioneering the use of high throughput DNA sequencing to measure and monitor biodiversity.

rushlight awards 2018 natuermetricsThese new sequencing techniques allow them to identify all the species present in complex biological samples, so they can monitor natural communities at unprecedented scales. They can even sequence water samples to find out what species of fish are nearby. This facilitates evidence-based decision-making in environmental management, routine surveillance for pest and problem species, and detection of ecological changes long before they can be noticed at a landscape level.

Leading Edge Only has offered all awards applicants free promotion on their Global Innovation Marketplace and all of the winners will be given free access to their Cleantech Network, to gain additional exposure to other relevant organisations.

Barking Dog Communications continues to offer all the group winners and the overall winner promotional support in respect of their success at the awards.

Stephens Scown offered to all applicants a 30 minutes telephone initial IP assessment, to include a mini IP MOT and assessment of eligibility for IP audit funding.

Granted Consultancy offered all entrants an assessment of their Executive Summary in relation to securing grant funding and a skype call to discuss relevant grant funding and general funding opportunities for their business, with summaries of grants provided on a following email.

www.rushlightevents.com/rushlight-show