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HS2 could increase flood risk, MPs fear

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Two senior conservative MPs have raised fears that the controversial HS2 rail line will increase the risk of flooding for homes along its route.

Coming after months of severe flooding in many areas of the UK, these latest concerns are unlikely to be well received by critics of the high-speed rail project.

After seeing his constituency affected by recent flooding, David Lidington, the MP for Aylesbury, has written to transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin asking for reassurance that HS2 would provide protection against flooding. 

He expressed concern that the project would involve building on farmland that currently acts as natural flood defences.

“You will not be surprised to hear the residents are very fearful that the construction and operation of HS2 across the floodplain close to their homes will add significantly to the flood risk,” he wrote. 

“It is indisputable that both construction and operation will require farmland to be taken which for now soaks up surface water and which ought to act as natural flood protection for my constituents.

“People in this part of Aylesbury are sceptical about the assurances from HS2 that they will design in effective flood protection measures,” he added.

Cheryl Gillan, the conservative MP for Chesham and Amersham, has also written to the British Geological Survey to ask for more information about the potential impact of HS2 in her area. 

Speaking after floods minister Dan Rogerson admitted that the flood risk caused by HS2 has not been fully assessed, she said, “You begin to worry what the risks associated with this development are.

“You would have thought that [a flood risk assessment] was a basic part of any environmental investigation.”

The proposed route for the first phase of HS2, which will run from London to Birmingham, runs through a number of flood plains and will require seven rivers to be diverted.

The company behind HS2 has said that it plans to mitigate an increase in flood risk through the use of water management techniques and viaducts.

A project spokesperson said, “During the recent wet weather we have been carrying out visual inspections where the planned line between London and Birmingham crosses watercourses. We will continue with these types of surveys where access has been made available as part of the route development.

“HS2 will be designed to remain operational during a one in 1,000-year flood event. Put simply, that means the railway is being built so that it can withstand just the sort of extreme weather that we have seen up and down and the country recently.”

Opponents of the HS2 project also hold a number of other concerns about its potential environmental impact.

Campaigners have said that the official environmental impact assessment of the project demonstrates a shocking disregard for England’s woodland and wildlife. 

These comments came after it was revealed 43 areas of ancient woodland would be threatened by the development, although this figure has now been revised by the Woodland Trust to be 49.

Critics have also refuted claims that the rail line will help the UK lower its carbon emissions, pointing to a paper by HS2 Ltd that says carbon emissions caused by the line will outweigh carbon savings over the first 60 years of operation. 

However, supporters have claimed that the north of England will be badly affected if the project does not go ahead. Some MPs have argued that only HS2 can provide the increased capacity that UK’s rail lines need.

Last month, a legal bid to put the project under further scrutiny was rejected by the Supreme Court.

More reading:

MPs call for HS2 money to repair railways in flood-battered south-west

The north will ‘underperform economically’ without HS2, says chair

HS2: opponents to high-speed rail link defeated in Supreme Court

UK must press on with HS2 rail network, MPs urge

HS2 hybrid bill sheds light on the rail network’s environmental impact

Environment

How Climate Change Altered this Engineer’s Life

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how climate change affect our lives
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Living the life of an engineer likely sounds pretty glamorous: you are educated and highly regarded, typically have high paying gigs, and with the breadth of knowledge and array of fields of specialty, your possibility for jobs is usually immense.  But what if there was something else that needed your attention? Something bigger than just being an engineer, going to work every day and doing the same technical tasks typically associated with the profession?

For Kevin McCroary, that is exactly how it played out.  A successful engineer, gainfully employed in a prosperous job, a simple trip to the Philippines made him see that there was a bigger issue at hand than using his engineer training in a traditional profession.  This bigger issue was that of climate change.  And working as a volunteer for underprivileged children in the Philippines, he saw first-hand the extensive pollution and poverty that existed here and that impacted the livelihood of these kids and their families.

Upon returning home, from his trip to the Philippines he had a new perspective of the impact we as individuals and as humanity have on the earth, and more than that Kevin wanted to know more.  He started to do some research and study these human-environmental interactions, and shortly thereafter ended up in Greenland.  There, he spoke to a man who had lost his home in a tsunami, and, who, through consistent weather tracking could indeed confirm that the current weather trends were “strange:” there was undeniably a general warming tendency happening in the arctic, causing an array of negative effects.

The combination of these observations, as well as his own research, led Kevin to conclude that something had to be done.  With that in mind, he launched his project Legend Bracelet.  The mission is simple: create a reminder of the legacy we are leaving behind.  As individuals and as humanity, we are leaving behind an imprint on the earth, and the magnitude of it is something that needs to be brought to the forefront of public awareness.  The idea is to have a bracelet that can serve as a daily reminder of the impact on the earth that each of us can have every day, regardless of how big or small.  The bracelet has two capsules: the first is filled with sand or earth, and the second is empty.  As the owner, you are to fill the empty one with your own earth, carrying it with you as a reminder and symbol of your connection and commitment to helping look after our environment.

We are all impacted by climate change, and we all have a responsibility to help.  And it can start with something as simple as putting on a bracelet.  Support Kevin on his Kickstarter campaign for Legend Bracelet, tell others about it, or take action in your own way and play your part in slowing down the effects of climate change.  You may think “but I’m just one person!” You are indeed.  But so is he.  Every change starts with one.

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Lifestyle

5 Things You Can Do Yourself to Improve the Value of Your House

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home renovation and improvement
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Whether you want to own it or list it, every once in a while, a house needs a facelift. This will not only improve quality of your life but will capitalize your home’s value significantly, too.

The best way to improve home value by yourself is to upgrade only what is necessary and nothing more. For instance, why would you buy a new bathroom door when a little retouch and a coat of fresh paint will suffice? By taking this approach, you are allowing yourself to make several small improvements instead of venturing just one or bigger ones. Select projects thoughtfully and know when you should stop.

Pitch in for the kitchen

If you really want a return on investment one day, start in the kitchen. By many, the kitchen still represents the heart and the soul of the house, the central hub of a property and it will all on its own add colossal value to your home. Moreover, the kitchen can be a breaking point in selling the house, so you should not hold on to your wallet in this area.

There are many little things you can do to spruce up the overall image of your kitchen. You may paint the kitchen cabinets, replace old door handles, add additional storage space with a sliding wall or a kitchen island if there is enough room for it. In addition, you may open the living space up by taking a kitchen wall down. Possibilities for do-it-yourself are many.

Add an attic or a basement bedroom

Properties are usually valued by two things: land size and the number of bedrooms. The price range between a three to four-bedroom home is two to four hundred thousand. Since you can’t change the size of your land, you can at least increase the number of bedrooms.

If you are prepared to go full-scale, converting the attic or the basement into the bedroom is another especially favored project that will by far boost up your home’s value once you decide to put it on the market. Until you decide to list it you will enjoy in your own extra space for entertainment, living, sleeping, playing, exercising, or whatever you fancy.

Transformation with paint

If your walls have scrapes and stained paint, a vintage color or shabby wallpaper, several cans of paint can make a striking distinction. In order to increase the value of your home, it is recommended to go with neutral colors that will unify the whole house and make the space visually bigger.

transformation with paint

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Bottom line, nothing can transform a home like a cast of fresh new paint. It is the number one way to beef up a property value of any budget. Additionally, painting the house is still one of the easiest, fastest and highest value drivers.

Secure with style

All of your effort and money would be wasted if you can’t protect the investments you made. A good security door costs as little as a few hundred dollars but if it saves you just once from being robbed it instantly pays itself off. People avoid putting security screens on windows because they mostly do not look stylish enough, but there are other options, such as installing shutters. There are so many elegant and cool shutter options that we found at Independent Blinds & Awnings that it’s really hard not to find something for you.

Basic maintenance for a worry-free mind

A clean house is a healthier house for you and your family. By making a clean house your number one on the list for improving, you accomplish a couple of things at once.

First, you stay on track with maintenance issues and, consequently you are able to recognize future problems before they become costly ones. Secondly, you don’t allow dirt and garbage to pile up over time. Thirdly, smudged, dirty windows can have a bad impact on the overall perception of the house. Same as eyes are windows to the soul, windows are for the home. Therefore, you need to wash them properly.

Spice up the landscaping

Big backyard is an all Australian dream and still, it is more often than not the most ignored area of the house. However, landscaping is really important as it frames a property from every corner.

Simple, low budget cosmetic changes in the front yard including installing garden beds, adding plants, pebbles or mulch, and paving or painting the front walls will positively lift the curb appeal as well as the property value. As for the backyard, you may span a lawn to create more open space for you and your family to move freely, cut and reduce unruly trees and vegetation, and fix the fence if needed.

Adding value to your home through a cosmetic or structural renovation is an actual way to quickly enhance your money invested in a property. In the end, you need to make sure that if you will continue to live in the house and renovate, that your renovations will contribute to a good lifestyle and that it will give the impression of a “ready to move in” property once you decide to list it.

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