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High Court refuses permission to challenge UK Government’s bee-harming pesticide decision

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Friends of the Earth expressed disappointment and concern after the High Court today refused its application for a judicial review of the Government’s decision to allow banned bee-harming neonicotinoid pesticides to be used on oil-seed rape seeds in some parts of England this autumn. The environment group is now considering taking the case to the Court of Appeal.

Today’s High Court ruling relates to the legal process surrounding the Government’s decision in July this year – specifically whether it had satisfied the criteria for the temporary authorised use of the banned pesticide set out in European law. It does not concern the scientific basis for the restrictions on neonicotinoids, or the evidence of their harm to bees. Indeed there is clear and growing evidence that neonicotinoid pesticides are a significant threat to bees and other pollinators.

The High Court ruled that the evidence and advice provided to the Secretary of State for the Environment was sufficient for her to legally take a decision lawfully to grant the authorisations and that Friends of the Earth could not challenge this decision. But the judgment did not decide whether she had taken the right decision.

Reacting to the decision, Friends of the Earth bee campaigner Dave Timms said: “It’s extremely disappointing that our application to challenge the Government’s decision to allow the use of banned, bee-harming pesticides has been turned down. We believe this ruling is flawed, ignores important facts and gives too much credibility to pesticide industry evidence to support the use of its own products. We are now considering an appeal.

“Our legal challenge has revealed fundamental flaws with the decision-making process for these emergency authorisations, which was shrouded in secrecy until the government was forced to provide crucial papers to us.

“The Government’s decision was too dependent on evidence provided by the pesticide firms, who have a direct commercial interest in these chemicals and seeing the ban on neonicotinoids lifted. The Government must urgently address how it has handled its approval of the use of these chemicals or risk further undermining public confidence in its ability to safely regulate pesticides to protect bees and our environment.

“The delays in getting vital information from the Government to bring this case to court means that that even if we had gained permission to proceed, it would have been too late to prevent the seeds form being sown and bees from being exposed to risk this year.

”We can only hope that by next year, when the NFU and chemical companies say they intend making more applications to use bee-harming pesticides, the Government will have radically revised its process to ensure complete transparency, and will have read the latest scientific papers. We are certainly not ruling out further legal challenges in future.”

Friends of the Earth’s legal challenge raised a number of significant concerns about the decision-making process on pesticide authorisation, including:

• The limited extent to which non-chemical ways to control pests were considered. The court ruled that evidence provided by Syngenta and the NFU was sufficient to meet the legal requirements.

• That the advice of the DEFRA Chief Scientist that neonicotinoid treated seeds should only be given to farmers who had tried other non-chemical ways to control pests, was ignored.

• Whether, after having its initial application refused, the NFU was given advice by civil servants about how to write an application which would be acceptable and allow the government to meet the legal criteria set out by Europe.

• The court did not properly address Friends of the Earth’s concern that there was no safeguard to stop farmers who did not have a pest problem from using the treated seeds and ignored evidence that farmers are often not using all the available techniques to avoid the need to use bee-harming pesticides.

• That the choice for which parts of the country should receive neonicotinoid treated seeds (Suffolk, Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire) was taken by the NFU and the pesticide firms and not chosen or examined by the DEFRA Chief Scientist or the government’s Expert Committee on Pesticides (who both recommended the application be accepted).

Economy

A Good Look At How Homes Will Become More Energy Efficient Soon

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energy efficient homes

Everyone always talks about ways they can save energy at home, but the tactics are old school. They’re only tweaking the way they do things at the moment. Sealing holes in your home isn’t exactly the next scientific breakthrough we’ve been waiting for.

There is some good news because technology is progressing quickly. Some tactics might not be brand new, but they’re becoming more popular. Here are a few things you should expect to see in homes all around the country within a few years.

1. The Rise Of Smart Windows

When you look at a window right now it’s just a pane of glass. In the future they’ll be controlled by microprocessors and sensors. They’ll change depending on the specific weather conditions directly outside.

If the sun disappears the shade will automatically adjust to let in more light. The exact opposite will happen when it’s sunny. These energy efficient windows will save everyone a huge amount of money.

2. A Better Way To Cool Roofs

If you wanted to cool a roof down today you would coat it with a material full of specialized pigments. This would allow roofs to deflect the sun and they’d absorb less heat in the process too.

Soon we’ll see the same thing being done, but it will be four times more effective. Roofs will never get too hot again. Anyone with a large roof is going to see a sharp decrease in their energy bills.

3. Low-E Windows Taking Over

It’s a mystery why these aren’t already extremely popular, but things are starting to change. Read low-E window replacement reviews and you’ll see everyone loves them because they’re extremely effective.

They’ll keep heat outside in summer or inside in winter. People don’t even have to buy new windows to enjoy the technology. All they’ll need is a low-E film to place over their current ones.

4. Magnets Will Cool Fridges

Refrigerators haven’t changed much in a very long time. They’re still using a vapor compression process that wastes energy while harming the environment. It won’t be long until they’ll be cooled using magnets instead.

The magnetocaloric effect is going to revolutionize cold food storage. The fluid these fridges are going to use will be water-based, which means the environment can rest easy and energy bills will drop.

5. Improving Our Current LEDs

Everyone who spent a lot of money on energy must have been very happy when LEDs became mainstream. Incandescent light bulbs belong in museums today because the new tech cut costs by up to 85 percent.

That doesn’t mean someone isn’t always trying to improve on an already great invention. The amount of lumens LEDs produce per watt isn’t great, but we’ve already found a way to increase it by 25 percent.

Maybe Homes Will Look Different Too

Do you think we’ll come up with new styles of homes that will take off? Surely it’s not out of the question. Everything inside homes seems to be changing for the better with each passing year. It’s going to continue doing so thanks to amazing inventors.

ShutterStock – Stock photo ID: 613912244

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Economy

IEMA Urge Government’s Industrial Strategy Skills Overhaul To Adopt A “Long View Approach”

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IEMA, in response to the launch of the Government’s Industrial Strategy Green Paper, have welcomed the focus on technical skills and education to boost “competence and capability” of tomorrow’s workforce.

Policy experts at the world’s leading professional association of Environment and Sustainability professionals has today welcomed Prime Minister Teresa May’s confirmation that an overhaul of technical education and skills will form a central part of the Plan for Britain – but warns the strategy must be one for the long term.

Martin Baxter, Chief Policy Advisor at IEMA said this morning that the approach and predicted investment in building a stronger technical skills portfolio to boost the UK’s productivity and economic resilience is positive, and presents an opportunity to drive the UK’s skills profile and commitment to sustainability outside of the EU.

Commenting on the launch of the Government’s Industrial Strategy Green Paper, Baxter said today:

“Government must use the Industrial Strategy as an opportunity to accelerate the UK’s transition to a low-carbon, resource efficient economy – one that is flexible and agile and which gives a progressive outlook for the UK’s future outside the EU.

We welcome the focus on skills and education, as it is vital that tomorrow’s workforce has the competence and capability to innovate and compete globally in high-value manufacturing and leading technology.

There is a real opportunity with the Industrial Strategy, and forthcoming 25 year Environment Plan and Carbon Emissions Reduction Plan, to set long-term economic and environmental outcomes which set the conditions to unlock investment, enhance natural capital and provide employment and export opportunities for UK business.

We will ensure that the Environment and Sustainability profession makes a positive contribution in responding to the Green Paper.”

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