A new report published today from Green Alliance and the National Trust  state that farmers may benefit from a new scheme that aims to give millions of pounds towards farming methods that provide clean water, restore wildlife and reduce flooding.
Green Alliance and the National Trust have proposed a new model for green farming, which it is hoped will create new markets for sustainable land management. Under the scheme groups of farmers working together would sell flood protection and clean water to water companies and public authorities downstream.
Called Natural Infrastructure Schemes, the new model could see savings for organisations currently facing high costs from poor water quality and flooding.
Green Alliance calculates the cost of river flooding and water contamination to water companies, local authorities, public agencies and infrastructure operators at just under £2.4 billion a year. Contracting to avoid just a quarter of these costs could release as much as £120 million for each of England’s 100 catchments over a 20-year catchment scale scheme .
Sue Armstrong-Brown, policy director at Green Alliance, said: “The old CAP subsidy-and-grant approach is inadequate to deal with the pressures on land and the realities of farm economics. The potential market for environmentally-beneficial farming could be worth millions – far more than the £400million available to farmers through government agri-environment schemes. We need to make farming part of the way the environment is returned to health, and that means making good environmental management pay.”
Green Alliance and the National Trust will be working alongside leading landowners and businesses over the next 12 months, preparing to introduce pilot Natural Infrastructure Schemes in the UK.
Today’s report follows the National Trust’s call in August that restoring the natural environment should be at the centre of any replacement to the Common Agricultural Policy . The conservation charity believes a focus on protecting and enhancing the ‘natural assets’ on which food production depends will open farming to new environmental markets that make it profitable and rewarding to manage land sustainably.
Patrick Begg, rural enterprises director at National Trust, said:
Farmers should be paid fairly for producing great food in a way that supports the long term health of our farmland.
“The Natural Infrastructure scheme is about creating a market for services from farming that today go unrewarded – reducing flood risks, improving water quality and creating homes for wildlife, while at the same time opening up new revenue opportunities for farmers.”
Welcoming the report, Christopher Price, director of policy at CLA, said: “Every day, alongside agricultural production farmers and landowners deliver valuable environmental services such as reducing flood risk and helping tackle climate change. If we can connect, via markets and incentives, those who benefit with the land managers who do the work then there is a real opportunity to grow this type of work and to amplify the benefits it delivers. We welcome this useful contribution to the important natural capital discussion and we look forward to working with Green Alliance, the National Trust and other groups to explore opportunities for further investment in environmental services.”
Angela Francis, senior economist at Green Alliance, said: “In many places natural filtration and flood risk management are already cheaper than hard engineering. Once you have a good that can be supplied for a price that a buyer wants to pay, you have a market. Natural Infrastructure Schemes put these factors together and provide an opportunity for us to start restoring nature now.”
The Natural Infrastructure Scheme could benefit upland farmers who are struggling to make ends meet.
Chris Clark, who farms at Nethergill Farm in the Yorkshire Dales, said: “As we prepare to leave the CAP, diversifying how we make money from our land makes good business sense. Setting up marketing groups for our green services would offer a great deal for farmers and for our customers. The appetite exists for doing things differently, if we can make it pay.”
The report will be launched this morning at the Royal Society in central London. Representatives from business, local government and the third sector will debate how natural markets can benefit businesses and the environment .
Speaking at the event will be David Elliott, group strategy and new markets director at Wessex Water.
Ahead of the event, David Elliott said: “Water companies understand the value of resilient catchments for our business and our customers. We are already exploring long-term partnerships with our upstream farmers. Building markets for natural infrastructure would be a significant step towards bringing these approaches into the mainstream.”
Build, Buy, Or Retrofit? 3 Green Housing Considerations
Green housing is in high demand, but it’s not yet widely available, posing a serious problem: if you want to live an eco-friendly lifestyle, do you invest in building something new and optimize it for sustainability, or do you retrofit a preexisting building?
The big problem when it comes to choosing between these two options is that building a new home creates more waste than retrofitting specific features of an existing home, but it may be more efficient in the long-run. For those concerned with waste and their environmental footprint, the short term and long term impacts of housing are in close competition with each other.
New Construction Options
One reason that new construction is so desired among green living enthusiasts is that it can be built to reflect our highest priorities. Worried about the environmental costs of heating your home? New construction can be built using passive solar design, a strategy that uses natural light and shade to heat or cool the home. Builders can add optimal insulation, build with all sustainable materials, and build exactly to the scale you need.
In fact, scale is a serious concern for new home buyers and builders alike. Individuals interested in green housing will actively avoid building more home than they need – scaling to the square foot matter because that’s more space you need to heat or cool – and this is harder to do when buying. You’re stuck with someone else’s design. In this vein, Missouri S&T’s Nest Home design, which uses recycled shipping containers, combines the tiny home trend with reuse and sustainability.
The Simple Retrofit
From an environmental perspective, there’s an obvious problem with building a new home: it’s an activity of mass consumption. There are already 120 million single-family homes and duplexes in the United States; do we really need more?
Extensive development alone is a good enough reason to intelligently retrofit an existing home rather than building new green structures, but the key is to do so with as little waste as possible. One option for retrofitting older homes is to install new smart home technology that can automate home regulation to reduce energy use.
Real estate agent Roxanne DeBerry sees clients struggle with issues of efficiency on a regular basis. That’s why she recommends tools like the Nest Thermostat, which develops a responsive heating and cooling schedule for the home and can be remotely adjusted via smartphone. Other smart tools for home efficiency include choosing Energy Star appliances and installing water-saving faucets and low-pressure toilets. These small changes add up.
Ultimately, the most effective approach to green housing is likely to be aggressive retrofitting of everything from period homes to more recent construction. This will reduce material use where possible and prevent further aggressive land use. And finally, designers, activists, and engineers are coming together to develop such structures.
In the UK, for example, designers are interested in finding ways to adapt period houses for greater sustainability without compromising their aesthetics. Many have added solar panels, increased their insulation levels, and recently they even developed imitation sash triple glazed windows. As some have pointed out, the high cost of heating these homes without such changes will push these homes out of relevance without these changes. This is a way of saving existing structures.
Harvard is also working on retrofitting homes for sustainability. Their HouseZero project is designed for near-zero energy use and zero carbon emissions using geothermal heating and temperature radiant surfaces. The buildings bridge the gap between starting over and putting up with unmanageable heating and cooling bills.
It will take a long time to transition the majority of individuals to energy efficient, green housing but we’re headed in the right direction. What will your next home be like? As long as the answer is sustainable, you’re part of the solution to our chronic overuse – of land, energy, water, and more.
How the Auto Industry is Lowering Emissions
Currently, the automotive industry is undergoing an enormous change in a bid to lower carbon emissions. This has been pushed by the Government and their clean air plans, where they have outlined a plan to ban the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2040.
Public Health Crisis
It is said that the levels of air pollution lead to 40,000 early deaths in the UK, with London being somewhere that is particularly bad. This has led to the new T-Charge, where heavy polluting cars will pay a new charge on top of the existing congestion charge. Other cities have taken action too, with Oxford recently announcing that they will be banning petrol and diesel cars from the city centre by 2020.
It is clear that the Government is taking action, but what about the auto industry? With the sale of petrol and diesel plummeting and a sharp rise in alternatively fuelled vehicles, it is clear that the industry is taking note and switching focus to green cars. There are now all kinds of fantastic eco-friendly cars available and a type to suit every motorist whether it is a small city car or an SUV.
Of course, it is the cars that are currently on the road that are causing the problem. The used car market is enormous and filled with polluting automobiles, but there are steps that you can take to avoid dangerous automobiles. It is now more important than ever to get vehicle checks carried out through HPI, as these can reveal important information about the automobile’s past and they find that 1 in 3 cars has a hidden secret of some kind. Additionally, they can now perform recall checks to see if the manufacturer has recalled that particular automobile. This allows people to shop confidently and find vehicles that are not doing as much damage to the environment as others.
With the rise in sales of alternatively fuelled vehicles, it is now becoming increasingly more common to see them on UK roads. Public perception has changed drastically in the last few years and this is because of the air pollution crisis, as well as the fact that there are now so many different reasons to switch to electric cars, such as Government grants and no road tax. A similar change in public opinion has happened in the United States, with electric car sales up by 47% in 2017.
The US is leading the way for lowering emissions as they have declined by 758 million metric tons since 2005, which is the largest amount by far with the UK in second with a decline of 170 million metric tons. Whilst it is clear that these two nations are doing a good job, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done in order to improve the air quality and stop so many premature deaths as a result of pollution.
With the Government’s plans, incentives to make the change and a change in public perception, it seems that the electric car revolution is fully underway.