In case you missed it - key stories over the Christmas break
- Generation ,
- Conventional ,
- Renewable ,
The holiday period saw the publication of a slew of consultations and reports. We cover the most eye-catching announcements below.
A new report from the Wildlife Trusts found that more than 10% of the 6,590 local wildlife sites it monitored have been lost or damaged in the past five years. Forty-five of the trust's partnerships reported that they urgently need more resources to ensure the effective identification, management and protection of local wildlife sites in their area and to combat the causes of neglect, inappropriate management and development pressures that threaten them.
Plans to give local planning authorities responsibility for approving and maintaining sustainable urban drainage systems (SuDS) were confirmed by government, despite more than two-thirds of consultation respondents expressing concerns about the change. The new rules will apply to major development only. The DCLG has published a consultation on whether lead local flood authorities should be statutory consultees on planning applications for developments with implications for surface water drainage. The consultation also proposes making water companies statutory consultees on applications for shale oil and gas developments.
The government has published its latest plans for reviewing local authority air quality monitoring requirements. The changes, detailed in a consultation, include removing the need for local authorities to report on obsolete pollutants, such as lead and benzene, and giving councils a responsibility for reducing PM2.5. Local authority reporting on air quality will be streamlined by replacing separate assessments with a single, annual “status” report. The details of this will be consulted on after the regulatory changes are complete, the government says.
The government announced the provisional outcome of the capacity market, which enables power generators to secure contracts worth almost £1 billion in public subsidy. Analysis by think-tank the IPPR found that, of the £956 million available capacity payments’ in 2018, £153 million will go to existing nuclear power stations, £451 million to existing gas stations, and £173 million to coal plants, including some now fuelled by biomass. Measures that use smart technology to match electricity demand with available supply received 0.5% of the total pot. The payments will add £11 per year to household bills.
More than 125 million Europeans could be exposed to levels of road traffic noise above legal guidelines, according to a report by the European Environment Agency. Traffic noise “annoys” almost 20 million Europeans and disturbs the sleep of an estimated eight million. Environmental noise is also linked to approximately 43 000 hospital admissions, 900 000 cases of hypertension and up to 10 000 premature deaths per year, the agency estimates.
Official energy statistics for the third quarter of 2014 show that electricity generated from renewables rose by 24% compared to the same period in 2013. Renewables provided 17.8% of the UK’s electricity over this period, an increase of over four percentage points on the previous year’s figures. Electricity generation from coal was down 43% over the same period. The figures also revealed a fall in electricity demand of 2.8%.
Demand for fossil fuels will peak by 2025 if all national net-zero pledges are implemented in full and on time, the International Energy Agency (IEA) has forecast.
The Green Homes Grant is set to deliver only a fraction of the jobs and improvements intended, leading to calls for more involvement from local authorities in future schemes.
COVID-19 recovery packages have largely focused on protecting, rather than transforming, existing industries, and have been a “lost opportunity” for speeding up the global energy transition.
Half of the world's 40 largest listed oil and gas companies will have to slash their production by at least 50% by the 2030s to align with the goals of the Paris Agreement, new analysis has found.
None of England’s water and sewerage companies achieved all environmental expectations for the period 2015 to 2020, the Environment Agency has revealed. These targets included the reduction of total pollution incidents by at least one-third compared with 2012, and for incident self-reporting to be at least 75%.
The UK’s pipeline for renewable energy projects could mitigate 90% of job losses caused by COVID-19 and help deliver the government’s ‘levelling up’ agenda. That is according to a recent report from consultancy EY-Parthenon, which outlines how the UK’s £108bn “visible pipeline” of investible renewable energy projects could create 625,000 jobs.
Billions of people worldwide have been unable to access safe drinking water and sanitation in their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a progress report from the World Health Organisation focusing on the UN’s sixth Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 6) – to “ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all by 2030”.