“The UK’s Urban Parks Could Store As Much Carbon As A Tropical Rainforest”

“London’s Hampstead Heath isn’t just a great place to hang out in during the summer, it’s also a vital tool for preventing global warming.

According to a new study by University College London, the UK’s urban forests such as Hampstead Heath can actually store the same amount of carbon as a tropical rainforest.

The remarkable findings will be vital for city planners who are hoping to create the next generation of sustainable cities.

The study was carried out using airborne LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) data collected by the UK Environment Agency, combined with ground-based LiDAR measurements.

Together the University was able to generate a map of the carbon stored in an estimated 85,000 trees in the London Borough of Camden.

Using that data they found that green areas such as Hampstead Heath were able to store up to 178 tonnes of carbon per hectare. This is in comparison to the median value for rainforests which can store up to 190 tonnes of carbon per hectare.

“Urban trees are a vital resource for our cities that people walk past every day. We were able to map the size and shape of every tree in Camden, from forests in large parks to individual trees in back gardens.” Explained lead author of the study, Dr. Phil Wilkes….”

https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/the-uks-urban-parks-can-store-as-much-carbon-as-the-amazon-rainforest_uk_5b3213a7e4b0b5e692f12d9c?guccounter=1

Rental properties can be very cold – but not icy, icy cold!

Rented properties energy rated F or G (properties are rated A = best, G = worst) have been told to bring their properties “up” to at least an E rating. This could cost landlords up to £1,400 per property.

Surely we should be looking for rented properties to be AT LEAST a Grade C!!!

However, of course the unintended (or is it intended?) consequence is that, landlords will raise rents to cover (or even over-cover) the costs involved.

Renters 1 – Landlords 101!

https://www.mirror.co.uk/money/300000-rented-homes-cheaper-bills-12302246

More than 2,000 deaths due to cold snap Ministers were warned about 3 months ago

Fuel poverty – does our CCG take this into account when sending people home with a “care package” – no. And we are the 6th richest country in the world.

“The death toll from Britain’s big freeze could rise to more than 2,000, as it emerged the Met Office had warned ministers a month ago about the cold snap.

The number of people who have died in cold homes in the UK might reach 100 per day this winter, a charity warned in an analysis of Office for National Statistics figures. …

But amid the expected lift in most travel restrictions on Monday, experts have begun to assess the health impacts of the cold snap.

The estimated rise in deaths, compared to a five-year average, comes as thousands face broken down boilers and fuel poverty, preventing them from heating their homes to safe temperatures.

Campaigners claimed that public health officials had been too slow in warning the public – particularly the vulnerable and elderly – of potential health risks so they could protect themselves. …

Peter Smith, director of policy for National Energy Action, said that the weather would likely see an average of as many as 100 people per day perishing in cold homes this winter, compared to a five-year average of 80 people per day.

The total number of cold-home deaths due to the “Beast from the East” cold front is therefore estimated to be more than 2,300.

At least ten deaths have so far been attributed to the cold weather, but the true death toll is likely to take longer to emerge due to the increase in strokes and heart attacks linked to cold weather.

Mr Smith’s analysis is based on ONS data from previous years and a comparable period of cold weather in the winter of 2010-11.

The World Health Organisation estimates that an overall proportion of 30 per cent of excess winter deaths are due to cold homes. … “

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/03/04/uk-weather-big-freeze-death-toll-could-rise-2000-emerges-met/

Productivity, weather, climate change and – robots!

Our LEP says we can double productivity in Devon and Somerset by 2030. But can we do this given recent weather/climate activity that has apparently already cost Devon £200m?

https://www.devonlive.com/news/business/snow-storm-emma-cost-south-1289777

To recap: the only 2 main roads into and out of Devon (M5 and A303) were both impassable at the same time, the rail service collapsed in Dawlish and London, Exeter airport was closed and rural bus services were all cancelled. Devon came to a standstill. At a time when there were threats to cut gas supplies to larger, non-strategic businesses.

Good quality and quantity infrastructure is essential to get productivity growth, and now the cold weather has – yet again – shown how bad our infrastructure is, and that the current government has under invested – almost certainly because the south-west is generally a set of safe seats – so there is no need to invest – need as defined by political election need not citizen need.

So LEP claims to double productivity would be extremely optimistic / challenging in the best of circumstances, with great infrastructure, but with crumbling infrastructure, struggling under the weight of homes growth, and subject to the vagaries of the weather and lacking in desperately needed investment, there is not a hope of getting anywhere close. And indeed, we might ask, with the woeful infrastructure we currently have, and no investment, should we expect a decline in productivity rather than an increase?

And we have another problem. Productivity = output. so, with robotics does that mean more or less employment – and if less, and no one wants to move here, who are going to live in all these new homes and how will they afford to keep them?

Even Greggs the bakers are now using robots to make sausage rolls and pasties:

https://www.dailystar.co.uk/news/latest-news/685288/Greggs-to-cut-hundreds-of-jobs-sausage-roll-doughnut-robot-UK

“Hinkley Point: the ‘dreadful deal’ behind the world’s most expensive power plant”

This is a VERY long article, but well worth reading.

Our LEP is throwing all OUR eggs into this disgraceful basket, decorated with white elephants by French and Chinese companies. But, at least those members of the LEP with nuclear, construction industry and recruitment and training of those servicing our nuclear warheads will be happy!

Just a flavour of the article:

“… But the irony of Hinkley Point C is that by the time it eventually starts working, it may have become obsolete. Nuclear power is facing existential problems around the world, as the cost of renewable energies fall and their popularity grows. “The maths doesn’t work,” says Tom Burke, former environmental policy adviser to BP and visiting professor at both Imperial and University Colleges. “Nuclear simply doesn’t make sense any more.”

The story of Hinkley Point C is that of a chain of decisions, taken by dozens of people over almost four decades, which might have made sense in isolation, but today result in an almost unfathomable scramble of policies and ambitions. Promises have been made and broken, policies have been adopted then dropped then adopted again. The one thing that has been consistent is the projected cost, which has rocketed ever upwards. But if so many people have come to believe that Hinkley Point C is fundamentally flawed, the question remains: how did we get to this point, where billions of pounds have been sunk into a project that seems less and less appealing with every year that passes? …”

…”Andrew Stirling believes that there was a crucial, largely unspoken, reason for the government’s rediscovered passion for nuclear: without a civil nuclear industry, a nation cannot sustain military nuclear capabilities. In other words, no new nuclear power plants would spell the end of Trident. “The only countries in the world that are currently looking at large-scale civil power newbuild programmes are countries that have nuclear submarines, or have an expressed aim of acquiring them,” Stirling told me.

Building nuclear submarines is a ferociously complicated business. It requires the kind of institutional memory and technical expertise that can easily disappear without practice. This, in theory, is where the civil nuclear industry comes in. If new nuclear power plants are being built, then the skills and capacity required by the military will be maintained. “It looks to be the case that the government is knowingly engineering an environment in which electricity consumers cross-subsidise this branch of military security,” Stirling told me. …”

“… Given its commitment to building Hinkley Point C, the government had no choice but to make EDF an offer that was too good to resist. It offered to guarantee EDF a fixed price for each unit of energy produced at Hinkley for its first 35 years of operation. In 2012, the guaranteed price – known as the “strike price” – was set at £92.50 per megawatt hour (Mwh), which would then rise with inflation. (One Mwh is roughly equivalent to the electricity used by around 330 homes in one hour.)

This means that if the wholesale price of electricity across the country falls below £92.50, EDF will receive an extra payment from the consumer as a “top-up” to fill the gap. This will be added to electricity bills around the country – even if you aren’t receiving electricity from Hinkley Point C, you will still be making a payment to EDF. The current wholesale price is around £40 per Mwh. If there had been no inflation since 2012, the consumer would be paying an EDF tax of around £52.50 per Mwh produced at Hinkley. However, because it is linked to inflation, the strike price has already risen since 2012. (The price will be reduced by £3 if EDF develops another new reactor in Sizewell in Suffolk, as it is planning to do.) …”

https://www.theguardian.com/news/2017/dec/21/hinkley-point-c-dreadful-deal-behind-worlds-most-expensive-power-plant

Utility companies move into battery storage, not nuclear

Our Local Enterprise Partnership still puts all OUR eggs in the Hinkley C basket (case).

“Britain’s switch to greener energy will take another significant step forward this week with the opening of an industrial-scale battery site in Sheffield.

E.ON said the facility, which is next to an existing power plant and has the equivalent capacity of half a million phone batteries, marked a milestone in its efforts to develop storage for electricity from windfarms, nuclear reactors and gas power stations.

The plant, housed in four shipping containers, is the type of project hailed by the business secretary, Greg Clark, as crucial to transforming the UK’s energy system and making it greener.

At 10MW, the Blackburn Meadows battery is one of the biggest in Britain so far, but will soon be eclipsed by much larger plants.

Centrica, the parent company of British Gas, is building a 49MW facility on the site of a former power station in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, while EDF Energy is working on one of the same size at its West Burton gas power station in Nottinghamshire.

David Topping, the director of business, heat and power solutions at E.ON, said: “This is a milestone for E.ON in the new energy world and an important recognition of the enormous potential for battery solutions in the UK.”

The utility-scale batteries are being built in response to a request from National Grid, the owner of Britain’s power transmission network, for contracts to help it keep electricity supply and demand in balance, which is posing an increasing challenge for the grid as more intermittent wind and solar comes online. …”

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/oct/09/uk-first-mega-battery-plant-come-online-sheffield-eon-renewable-energy

A test for our LEP: offshore wind power now vastly less expensive than Hinkley C

The Local Enterprise Partnership for Devon and Somerset (Heart of the South West LEP) is investing heavily in Hinkley C nuclear power station in Somerset.

This is not surprising, as many of its members are making money, now and in the future, in providing services and infrastructure for the massively expensive French/Chinese project. Making THEIR money with OUR money – whether the white elephant gets built or not.

Now we hear that the infrastructure costs of offshore wind power have plummeted – making it much more cost-effective than nuclear power, particularly Hinkley C nuclear power:

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/sep/11/huge-boost-renewable-power-offshore-windfarm-costs-fall-record-low

Now, solar energy is operating at zero subsidy and onshore costs for wind power are also falling – and energy storage batteries are also becoming nearer to cost-neutral for homeowners.

So, what is/was our LEP’s Plan B for this eventuality?

Er ….. they don’t need one or want one, because THEIR profits aren’t based on what’s best for us, or what costs least but what’s best for them.