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Brexit Would be Damaging to UK’s Environment, Warn Senior Experts

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A high powered group of environment and conservation experts, including four former chairs of UK environment agencies, have written to the Defra Secretary of State Liz Truss, to voice their concerns about the risks to the environment if Britain leaves the EU.

The fourteen signatories have extensive professional experience of the role of EU agreements on the UK and include Baroness Young, former chief executive of the Environment Agency, Dame Fiona Reynolds, former director-general of the National Trust, Professor Sir John Laughton, former chair of the Royal commission on Environment and Pollution, Lord Chris Smith and Sir John Harman. They highlight that EU policy “has had a hugely positive effect on the quality of Britain’s beaches, our water and rivers, our air and on many of our rarest plants and animals and their habitats.”

They add that “It is very unclear which elements of existing European environmental policy would continue to apply to the UK… We would no longer be able to shape EU policy and our influence on the environmental performance of other member states would decline very sharply once we were no longer at the negotiating table.”

Comments from some of the signatories:

Baroness Barbara Young, former chief executive of the Environment Agency and RSPB:
“Environmental quality, clean air, healthy oceans and rich natural resources can only be secured by collaboration across national boundaries and common EU standards promote new technologies and businesses. Brexit would halt and even reverse four decades of progress.”

Dame Fiona Reynolds, former DG of the National Trust and chair of Green Alliance:
“Many of our greatest achievements come through collaboration, and the EU has enabled some very powerful co-operation on the environment.  We need to be part of a bigger community to meet the challenges to the health and quality of our natural environment, which is why I see Brexit as a real risk to all that I value about the countryside and environment of Britain.”

Professor Sir John Lawton CBE FRS, former chair of the RCEP, former CEO NERC:
“Never mind what you think of the EU generally, you have to be very careful what you wish for in terms of the impact of Brexit on UK natural habitats and landscapes. UK politics has a tendency to be short term and see the natural environment as an impediment to economic growth, and EU agreements help mitigate this by encouraging us to be more long term in our public policy.”

Dr Helen Phillips, former CEO of English Nature:
“Nature knows no boundaries so a mechanism for negotiating between nations is essential if we are to continue to improve the health of our environment. The EU provides that and if it didn’t exist we’d have to reinvent it.”

Mr Paol Christensen, former chair, Natural England:
“I can’t believe that anyone who cares about the environment or farming could contemplate leaving the EU.”

Professor Paul Ekins OBE, professor of resources and environmental policy, UCL:
“Britons have benefited greatly from EU environmental policy and Britain inside the EU has also been able to shape it. We would lose this ability if we were to leave the EU, while it is very likely that we would still have to follow EU environmental laws if we wished to retain access to the EU’s single market. This would effectively reduce UK sovereignty rather than increasing it. Paradoxically, perhaps, membership of the EU is an essential condition for the UK to exercise some sovereign influence over the European forces that affect it.”

Professor Andrew Balmford FRS, professor of conservation science, University of Cambridge
“The EU is vital to increasing the UK’s voice in global environmental policy.  Individual nations can have limited influence, but working through the EU greatly enhances our potential to tackle transnational issues such as climate change, deforestation and unsustainable wildlife harvesting.”

Lord Chris Smith, former chair, environment agency
“It’s vital to recognise that virtually the entire legal protection for our environment here in Britain derives from European safeguards.  Our air, water and land are kept clean by European laws.  And rightly so, because pollution knows no national boundaries.  We ignore these protections at our peril.”

Energy

Is Wood Burning Sustainable For Your Home?

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sustainable wood burning ideas

Wood is a classic heat source, whether we think about people gathered around a campfire or wood stoves in old cabins, but is it a sustainable source of heat in modern society? The answer is an ambivalent one. In certain settings, wood heat is an ideal solution, but for the majority of homes, it isn’t especially suitable. So what’s the tipping point?

Wood heat is ideal for small homes on large properties, for individuals who can gather their own wood, and who have modern wood burning ovens. A green approach to wood heat is one of biofuel on the smallest of scales.

Is Biofuel Green?

One of the reasons that wood heat is a source of so much divide in the eco-friendly community is that it’s a renewable resource and renewable has become synonymous with green. What wood heat isn’t, though, is clean or healthy. It lets off a significant amount of carbon and particulates, and trees certainly don’t grow as quickly as it’s consumed for heat.

Of course, wood is a much less harmful source of heat than coal, but for scientists interested in developing green energy sources, it makes more sense to focus on solar and wind power. Why, then, would they invest in improved wood burning technology?

Homegrown Technology

Solar and wind technology are good large-scale energy solutions, but when it comes to small-space heating, wood has its own advantages. First, wood heat is in keeping with the DIY spirit of homesteaders and tiny house enthusiasts. These individuals are more likely to be driven to gather their own wood and live in small spaces that can be effectively heated as such.

Wood heat is also very effective on an individual scale because it requires very little infrastructure. Modern wood stoves made of steel rather than cast iron are built to EPA specifications, and the only additional necessary tools include a quality axe, somewhere to store the wood, and an appropriate covering to keep it dry. And all the wood can come from your own land.

Wood heat is also ideal for people living off the grid or in cold areas prone to frequent power outages, as it’s constantly reliable. Even if the power goes out, you know that you’ll be able to turn up the heat. That’s important if you live somewhere like Maine where the winters can get exceedingly cold. People have even successfully heated a 40’x34’ home with a single stove.

Benefits Of Biomass

The ultimate question regarding wood heat is whether any energy source that’s dangerous on the large scale is acceptable on a smaller one. For now, the best answer is that with a growing population and limited progress towards “pure” green energy, wood should remain a viable option, specifically because it’s used on a limited scale. Biomass heat is even included in the UK’s Renewable Heat Initiative and minor modifications can make it even more sustainable.

Wood stoves, when embraced in conjunction with pellet stoves, geothermal heating, and masonry heaters, all more efficient forms of sustainable heat, should be part of a modern energy strategy. Ultimately, we’re headed in the direction of diversified energy – all of it cleaner – and wood has a place in the big picture, serving small homes and off-the-grid structures, while solar, wind, and other large-scale initiatives fuel our cities.

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Energy

7 Benefits You Should Consider Giving Your Energy Employees

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As an energy startup, you’re always looking to offer the most competitive packages to entice top-tier talent. This can be tough, especially when trying to put something together that’s both affordable but also has perks that employees are after.

After all, this is an incredibly competitive field and one that’s constantly doing what it can to stay ahead. However, that’s why I’m bringing you a few helpful benefits that could be what bolsters you ahead of your competition. Check them out below:

Financial Advising

One benefit commonly overlooked by companies is offering your employees financial advising services, which could help them tremendously in planning for their long-term goals with your firm. This includes anything from budgeting and savings plans to recommendations for credit repair services and investments. Try to take a look at if your energy company could bring on an extra person or two specifically for this role, as it will pay off tremendously regarding retention and employee happiness.

Life Insurance

While often included in a lot of health benefits packages, offering your employees life insurance could be an excellent addition to your current perks. Although seldom used, life insurance is a small sign that shows you care about the life of their family beyond just office hours. Additionally, at such a low cost, this is a pretty simple aspect to add to your packages. Try contacting some brokers or insurance agents to see if you can find a policy that’s right for your firm.

Dedicated Time To Enjoy Their Hobbies

Although something seen more often in startups in Silicon Valley, having dedicated office time for employees to enjoy their passions is something that has shown great results. Whether it be learning the piano or taking on building a video game, having your team spend some time on the things they truly enjoy can translate to increased productivity. Why? Because giving them the ability to better themselves, they’ll in turn bring that to their work as well.

The Ability To Work Remotely

It’s no secret that a lot of employers despise the idea of letting their employees work remotely. However, it’s actually proven to hold some amazing benefits. According to Global Workplace Analytics, 95% of employers that allow their employees to telework reported an increased rate of retention, saving on both turnover and sick days. Depending on the needs of each individual role, this can be a strategy to implement either whenever your team wants or on assigned days. Either way, this is one perk almost everyone will love.

Health Insurance

Even though it’s mandated for companies with over 50 employees, offering health insurance regardless is arguably a benefit well received across the board. In fact, as noted in research compiled by KFF, 28.6% of employers with less than 50 people still offered health care. Why is that the case? Because it shows you care about their well-being, and know that a healthy employee is one that doesn’t have to worry about astronomical medical bills.

Unlimited Time Off

This is a perk that almost no employer offers but should be regarded as something to consider. According to The Washington Post, only 1-2% of companies offer unlimited vacation, which it’s easy to see why. A true “unlimited vacation” program could be a firm’s worse nightmare, with employees skipping out every other week to enjoy themselves. However, with the right model in place that rewards hard work with days off, your employees will absolutely adore this policy.

A Full Pantry

Finally, having a pantry full of food can be one perk that’s not only relatively inexpensive but also adds to the value of the workplace. As noted by USA Today, when surveying employees who had snacks versus those who didn’t, 67% of those who did reported they were “very happy” with their work life. You’d be surprised at how much of a difference this could make, especially when considering the price point. Consider adding a kitchen to your office if you haven’t already, and always keep the snacks and drinks everyone wants fully stocked. Doing so will increase morale tremendously.

Final Thoughts

Compiling a great package for your energy company is going to take some time in looking at what you can afford versus what’s the most you can offer. While it might mean cutting back in other areas, having a workforce that feels like you genuinely want to take care of them can take you far. And with so many different benefits to include in your energy company’s package, which one is your favorite? Comment with your answers below!

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