Fly-tipping – many councils not using their power to fine

Maybe because the cost of going to court outweighs the income from the fine? But the article says that clearing fly-tipping costs councils £50 million per year.

Councils (including ours) reduced the number of rubbish collection centres as austerity cuts. Time for a rethink?

“Councils have collected more than £750,000 from thousands of fly-tipping fines in the first year of a crackdown on illegal waste dumping, figures show.

Local authorities across England handed out more than 4,600 fixed penalty notices and collected at least £773,000 for the offence in the year after the Government gave them new powers to issue “on the spot” fines in May 2016.

But many have not used the powers, which allow councils to issue penalties of between £150-£400 to those caught in the act of fly-tipping instead of having to take them to court, a Freedom of Information request by the Press Association found.

Of 297 English councils who responded with figures, more than two fifths (43%) said they had not issued any fly-tipping notices between May 9, 2016 when the powers were first launched, and May 8 2017. …”

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. …”

London Mayor asks car manufacturers to contribute to anti-pollution measures

Why stop at London?

Greater Exeter is already polluted by cars streaming into and out of the cities and towns it covers. Who is going to tackle that?

Not our Local Enterprise Partnership, or the Greater Exeter partners that”s for sure – they both want more houses and more roads.

The scandal of “pseudo-public space” – coming soon to a development near you?

”City administrations in Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, Leeds, Glasgow and seven others decline to outline the spread of privately owned public areas, or their secret prohibitions – which may include protesting or taking photos.

Many of Britain’s largest cities are refusing to reveal information regarding the private ownership of seemingly public spaces, the Guardian has discovered, fuelling concerns about a growing democratic deficit within local city government.

A Guardian Cities investigation earlier this summer revealed for the first time the spread of pseudo-public space in London – large squares, parks and thoroughfares that appear to be public but are actually owned and controlled by developers and their private backers – and an almost complete lack of transparency over secret restrictions imposed by corporations that limit the rights of citizens passing through their sites.

The Guardian has since requested data on pseudo-public spaces, which are sometimes known as privately owned public spaces (Pops), from the country’s biggest urban centres beyond the capital. …

… Following the Guardian’s initial investigation, national political leaders including Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn, the Liberal Democrats’ Vince Cable and Caroline Lucas of the Green Party all spoke out on the subject.

Shortly thereafter, a motion was passed in the London Assembly urging Khan to take a firm stance on the issue.

“Being able to know what rules you are being governed by, and how to challenge them, is a fundamental part of democracy,” said Sian Berry, a London Assembly member for the Green Party who proposed the motion.

“Increasingly, London’s public space is in private hands and there is very little transparency around which individuals and groups can have access,” added Labour’s Nicky Gavron. “These are Londoners’ outdoor living rooms and it is appalling that access can be restricted.”

Several assembly members pointed out that City Hall itself is located on open but private land controlled by the sovereign wealth fund of Kuwait, which refuses to allow journalists to operate in the area without corporate permission.

The Mayor of London has vowed to establish new guidelines covering privately-owned “public” sites, designed to “maximise access and minimise restrictions, as well as enabling planners to establish potential restrictions at the application stage for new developments.” …

… Ultimately, some experts conclude, any widespread challenge to the spread of pseudo-public spaces may come from citizens themselves rather than top-down institutional leaders.

“The planning process is supposed to be democratic,” Adam Fineberg, an expert adviser on public services, observed. “The people responsible for drawing up planning policies and sitting on planning committees are elected representatives. So if citizens are concerned about this issue in their local areas, they can campaign and put pressure on representatives through the ballot box and try to ensure that future planning applications by developers are required to meet clear and strong conditions regarding public access and open governance. There’s nothing stopping planning authorities making approval dependent on those conditions being met. It’s a question of local democracy.” “

UK “best place in the world” to flog nuclear projects thanks to “supportive government”

“Under pressure from Brexit and the declining costs of renewable energy, Britain‘s nuclear industry is increasingly relying on supportive government policy to plough on with high-profile — and controversial — projects.

With four big projects due for completion by 2025, the country is at the forefront of a global industry left shaken by the 2011 disaster at the Fukushima nuclear site in Japan.

“The UK is the best place in the world to build nuclear” as the sector does not face the political opposition found elsewhere, David Powell, Hitachi’s Europe vice-president for nuclear power plant sales, told AFP on the sidelines of a conference in London this month.

Britain’s Conservative government has made the decommissioning of the country’s coal-fired power stations and ageing nuclear reactors — many of which were built in the 1950s — a pillar of its energy security policy and low-carbon commitments.

Only one of Britain’s 15 existing reactors is expected to be in use by 2030.

But British anti-nuclear campaigners have denounced the government’s steadfast commitment to nuclear power, urging it to focus instead on renewable sources like wind and solar.

“The contrast between the nuclear industry and the renewables industry could not be starker,” said Doug Parr, policy director at Greenpeace UK.

“Offshore wind, in particular, is dramatically falling in cost and rapidly improving in technology,” he said.

“It is clear that new nuclear will only be built with substantial government support not required by renewable energy technologies like wind and solar.”

Two new windpower projects announced last week appeared to confirm that it has become cheaper to harness energy from wind than nuclear.

But Tom Greatrex, chief executive of the Nuclear Industry Association, says he is not convinced, and that harnessing atomic energy still has its advantages.

“For nuclear energy, as with offshore wind, the more you build the more the price falls,” he told AFP at the conference, which was also attended by senior delegates from the French giant Areva, China’s CGN and the US group Westinghouse.

“Nuclear delivers what offshore wind can’t deliver, which is constant, always available power. It does not matter what the weather is like,” he said.

Nuclear ‘must have its place’

But the industry also faces an entirely different obstacle in the form of Brexit, with Britain having to decide on whether to remain in Euratom, the European nuclear regulator.

In recent written evidence submitted to the UK parliament, French energy group EDF warned continued access to skilled labour from the EU, and the development of an alternative regulatory framework for Britain, would both be necessary for major projects like Hinkley Point to go ahead.

Last March, the first pouring of concrete at the Hinkley Point C power plant in western England brought the vision of a nuclear future for Britain one step closer to reality.

The site’s two reactors, due to be built by 2025 in conjunction with EDF and China’s CGN, will be Britain’s first in more than two decades.

EDF is also considering building a reactor at Sizewell in eastern England as a counterpart to Hinkley, while CGN has its eyes on a similar project nearby.

Elsewhere, two reactors being built in Wales by the Japanese conglomerate Hitachi are expected to gain regulatory approval before the end of the year.

Increased demand for electric cars, trains and heating are contributing to the growing electricity demand, meaning a surge in new capacity is required, according to industry experts.

“No one says it should all be nuclear, but it must have its place,” Greatrex said.

But the competition from wind and solar power threatens to severely test the viability of British nuclear projects across the board in the coming years.

Official figures show nuclear energy represented 21.2 percent of Britain’s energy production last year, compared with 24.4 percent from renewable energy sources.”