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Glimmer of hope for abandoned Severn barrage project

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David Cameron has asked government ministers to rethink plans for a barrage to be built across the river Severn, which could see one of the largest tidal projects in Europe given the nod.

The £30 billion development, led by former Labour minister Peter Hain – who quit his shadow cabinet role earlier this year to promote it – promises to generate 5% of the UK’s electricity and create 50,000 jobs. It would also be expected to be operational for more than 120 years.

Originally turned down by the coalition government back in September 2010, former energy secretary Chris Huhne said that were other low-carbon options available that represent “a better deal for the taxpayer and consumers” than the Severn project.

But now, David Cameron appears to have had new thoughts on its potential, with an aim to acquire private funding important to the development.

Not a penny of taxpayers’ money would be needed for this £30 billion investment, which would be transformative for Wales”, Peter Hain told the BBC.

It would create 20,000 jobs in construction and another 30,000 in activity around the barrage.”

It is felt that private investors from the Middle East will fund some percentage of the development.

The Severn estuary has the second largest tidal range in the world with 42ft (12.8m) tides. The project would cover a range of over 10 miles, with the dam stretching from Somerset to south Wales.

In a letter to the prime minister, Hain detailed the lifetime of the project and what consumers can expect.

It is worth noting that after 25-30 years, when the price support drops away, the barrage will produce electricity virtually for free for at least another 90 years; this compares favourably with the lifespans of nuclear plants (35 years) and wind turbines (20-25 years)”, he wrote.

With uncertainly as to the preservation of the indigenous wildlife key to those opposing the scheme, it is far from clear as to whether the project would harm the existing wildlife population.

Hain added, “The consortium has focused from the outset on mitigating the environmental impact.

The revolutionary very-low-head turbines spin slowly and are fish friendly, and preserve an estimated 60% more intertidal habitat than previous schemes, thereby reducing the impact on birdlife.”

However, Mark Robins, senior policy officer for the RSPB in the south west, has voiced his concerns over the project.

A barrage like the one proposed between Cardiff and Western Super-Mare would not only destroy huge areas of estuary marsh and mudflats used by 69,000 birds each winter and block the migration routes of countless fish, it would also dramatically increase the risk of flooding to residential properties”, he said.

Concerns over the impact to tourism partner those who feel the project should remain decommissioned.

According to the Welsh Assembly’s Severn Estuary Tidal Power: Supplemental Information report from 2010, bird watching at the Slimbridge site attracts approximately 200,000 visitors per year. The report stated, “It is likely that the predicted reduction in water bird numbers within the Severn estuary will have a negative impact on the popularity of the location.”

In response to these concerns, former shadow Welsh secretary Hain said, “Turbine design has been reconfigured to be fish friendly and the ebb and flow of the mechanism to be used will enable the Severn estuary above the barrage to be maintained at a much more stable level.”

Other anxieties exist over the time scale of the barrage build. Gordon James, director of Friends of the Earth Cymru, said the barrage would have be “too expensive” and take “too long […] to deliver the energy we need”, due to its size and location.

James suggested alternatives to the Severn tidal power scheme, including tidal lagoons, which he feels offer better energy opportunities for consumers without harming the thriving wildlife located around the Severn.

Joseph Iddison is a student about to start his final year of an English degree at the University of Leicester. He intends to do a master’s in geographical information science and human geography. Outside of his academic studies, he loves the two Fs – Fulham FC and Roger Federer.

Further reading:

Severn estuary: the tidal barrage debate continues

Joseph Iddison is a master's student at the University of Leicester. Having graduated from the same institution in July 2013 in English, Joseph will start the global environmental change course in September.

Environment

4 Common Items That Can be Reused Again and Again

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reuse reduce recycle plastic bottles etc
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Vanatchanan | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/vanatchanan%20buahom

As a society we are getting much better at taking our obligations to the world and environment around us more seriously. This is undoubtedly a good thing! The effects of climate change are beginning to manifest across the world, and this is turning the issue from an abstract threat into a very real danger. Trying to introduce some greener, more eco-friendly practices into your life isn’t just a great way of doing something beneficial for society and the world around you. It is a wonderful way of engaging positively with the world and carries with it numerous psychological benefits.

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Being a greener, more ecologically friendly person doesn’t require any dramatic life changes. Breaking or making a few small habits is all it takes to make your life a greener one. In this article we look at one of the easiest, yet most effective green practices to get into: reusing everyday items.

Jars and Containers

Glass and metal are widely recycled, and recycling is a good thing! However, consider whether any containers you buy, whether it’s a tub of ice cream or a jar of coffee, can be washed out and reused for something else. Mason jars, for example, can be used to store homemade pasta sauce and can be washed for future use. Once you start thinking about it, you will find endless opportunities to reuse your old containers.

Soda Bottles

An ice-cold soda is a wonderful treat on a hot day, but buying soda can get expensive, and the manufacturing and distribution of the drinks themselves isn’t great for the environment. However, by holding on to your old soda bottles and repurposing them as water bottles, you can save money on drinks, or use them to measure out water for your garden.

Plastic Bags

Most of the time groceries come in paper bags, which are better for the environment than the plastic alternatives, but they are less durable and thus harder to reuse. Whenever the store places your items in a plastic bag, hang onto it so you can reuse the bags again. If you want to take it one step further, consider looking into buying some personalized recycled bags. These bags are designed to last for a long time and are made of recycled materials. They look striking and unique, they’ll turn heads, and maybe even attitudes!

Seeds

If you’re a keen gardener, then you will already probably know how to reseed your plants in order to ensure a fresh crop after each plant’s lifecycle. If you have space in your garden, or haven’t yet tried your hand at gardening, then consider planting a small vegetable plot. Growing your own veggies means that you’ll be helping to cut back on the emissions generated by their transport and production. The best part about growing your own food in this way is that, by harvesting properly and saving the seeds, you can be set up with fresh vegetables for life!

Reusing and recycling common household items is an easy way to make your world a little bit greener. Once you start looking for these opportunities you’ll realize that they’re everywhere!

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Environment

These 5 Green Office Mistakes Are Costing You Money

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eco-friendly green offices
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Stokkete | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/cyano

The sudden interest in green business is very encouraging. According to recent reports, 42% of all companies have rated sustainability as an important element of their business. Unfortunately, the focus on sustainability will only last if companies can find ways to use it to boost their ROI.

Many businesses get so caught up in being socially conscious that they hope the financial aspect of it takes care of itself. The good news is that there are plenty of ways to go green and boost your net income at the same time.

Here are some important mistakes that you will want to avoid.

Only implementing sustainability on micro-scale

The biggest reason that brands are going green is to improve their optics with their customers. Too many businesses are making very minor changes, such as processing paperwork online and calling themselves green.

Customers have become wary of these types of companies. If you want to earn their business, you are going to need to go all the way. Bring in a green business consultant and make every feasible change to demonstrate that you are a green organization from top to bottom.

Not prioritizing investments by long-term ROI

It isn’t realistic to build an entirely green organization overnight. You will need to allocate your capital wisely.

Before investing in any green assets or services, you should always conduct a long-term cost benefit analysis. The initial investment for some green services may be over $20,000. If they don’t shave your cost by at least $3,000 a year, they probably aren’t worth the investment.

Determine which green investments will have the best pay off over the next 10 years. Make these investments before anything else. Then compare your options within each of those categories.

Implementing green changes without a plan

Effective, long-term planning is the key to business success. This principle needs to be applied to green organizations as well.

Before implementing a green strategy, you must answer the following questions:

  • How will I communicate my green business philosophy to my customers?
  • How will running a green business affect my revenue stream?
  • How will adopting green business strategies change my monthly expenses? Will they increase or decrease them?
  • How will my company finance green upgrades and other investments?

The biggest mistake that too many green businesses make is being overly optimistic with these forecasts. Take the time to collect objective data and make your decisions accordingly. This will help you run a much more profitable green business.

Not considering the benefits of green printing

Too many companies believe that going paperless is the only way to run a green organization. Unfortunately, going 100% paperless it’s not feasible for most companies.

Rather than aim for an unrealistic goal, consider the option of using a more environmentally friendly printer. It won’t be perfect, but it will be better than the alternative.

According to experts from Doranix, environmental printers have several benefits:

  • They can process paper that has been completely recycled.
  • They consume less energy than traditional printers.
  • They use ink that is more environmentally friendly.

You want to take a look at different green printers and compare them. You’ll find that some will meet your needs as a green business.

Poorly communicating your green business strategy to customers

Brand positioning doesn’t happen on its own. If you want to run a successful green business, you must communicate your message to customers as clearly as possible. You must also avoid the appearance that you are patronizing them.

The best approach is to be clear when you were first making the change. I’ll make an announcement about your company‘s commitment to sustainability.

You also want to reinforce this message overtime by using green labels on all of your products. You don’t have to be blatant with your messaging at this stage. Simply provide a small, daily reminder on your products and invoices.

Finally, it is a good idea to participate in green business seminars and other events. If your community has a local Green Chamber of Commerce, you should consider joining as well.

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