Environment news: 17th July
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Environment, Food & Rural Affairs
The Environmental Audit Committee has launched a new inquiry on protecting and enhancing biodiversity. The inquiry launch comes at a time when biodiversity is declining faster than at any time in human history, and 15% of species in the UK are threatened with extinction. The inquiry will consider how ecosystems can be protected, and also how nature-based climate solutions can complement biodiversity. It will have concluded by the time of the now-postponed Biodiversity COP. Read more about the session here.
DEFRA has revealed its long-term plan to tackle the risks of flooding and coastal erosion. New measures include including investment of £5.2 billion to create around 2,000 new flood and coastal defences to better protect 336,000 properties in England by 2027. The plans also include £200 million for innovative projects such as sustainable drainage systems and nature-based solutions like temporary or permanent water storage areas which also boost wildlife. Read more about the plan here.
The Government is to relax planning legislation to make it easier to construct large batteries to store renewable energy from solar and wind farms across the UK. Removing barriers for energy storage projects could treble the number of batteries serving the electricity grid. The UK has the world's largest installed capacity of offshore wind, however energy can sometimes be produced when it is not needed and then lost. Read more about the announcement here.
The Government has launched a review into enacting further deployment of offshore wind, to help reach net-zero. The review, launched by Energy Minister Kwasi Kwarteng, will seek to accelerate the delivery of offshore wind transmission infrastructure. This follows the CCC’s call for government to ‘develop a strategy to coordinate offshore wind farm networks and their connections to the onshore network, and also bring forward any legislation necessary to enable coordination’. Read about the review here.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has said that Covid-19 offers a unique opportunity to accelerate the development of clean technologies within transport. Speaking at the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership, he said that the public supports radical policy prescriptions for 'greening' road transport. Potential policies favoured by expert stakeholders at the meeting are ending subsidies on fossil fuel production; regulation of the sale of petrol/diesel vehicles; and the introduction of road user charging and carbon pricing. Read more about the meeting here.
The DfT has opened a new consultation into plans for a CO2 emissions regulatory scheme for heavy-duty vehicles. It aims to ensure continuity to the regulation of CO2 emissions from new heavy-duty vehicles when they are first registered in the UK. The Department is seeking views on drafted implementation plans and also operational procedures. You can contribute to the consultation here.
The Education and Training Foundation has announced its support for the Climate Action Roadmap for further education colleges. The roadmap will co-ordinate action across the education sector to tackle to the climate emergency by the end of 2020. Contributors say that responding to the climate crisis will require action across teaching, research, buildings and infrastructure along with community cohesion. Read more about the roadmap here.
The Institute for Public Policy Research has released a report calling for ambitious investment to deliver low-carbon home improvements. With the worst employment crisis in a generation looming, this would provide rapid job creation as well as other public benefits such as lower carbon emissions and greater energy security. For households across the country it would also mean lower energy bills, warmer homes and better health outcomes. Read the full report here.
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