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News round-up 17 June 2010

Report published on making UK zero-carbon by 2030

The Centre for Alternative Technology has published a 380-page report detailing how the UK could become a zero-carbon country by 2030. The report covers energy, transport, land use, the built environment and industry. Each chapter of the report has been written by bringing together the UK’s leading thinkers in their field including policy makers, scientists, academics, industry and NGOs.

A number of universities, think tanks and other organisations have supported this initiative including the University of East Anglia, the Met Office, the New Economics Foundation, the Carnegie Trust UK and Bioregional.

Read the Centre for Alternative Technology press release


Waste strategy review unveiled

Environment secretary Caroline Spelman has announced a review of England’s waste strategy which will look at the most effective ways of reducing waste, maximising the money to be made from waste and recycling, and how waste policies affect local communities and individual households. 

She said: “There is an economic and environmental urgency to developing the right waste strategy. We have been slowly moving in the right direction with recycling rates. The direction of travel is right – it’s the pace that’s the problem. We need to go faster and we need to go further.”

The review will include an examination of the effect of waste policies on local communities and individual households, and how local authorities can best work with people to make the best decisions.

The terms of reference for the review will be published in the next few weeks. The coalition agreement committed the Government to “work towards a zero-waste economy” and “measures to promote a huge increase in energy from waste through anaerobic digestion”.


Garden grabbing moves highlighted by chief planner

Steve Quartermain, the chief planner at Communities and Local Government, has written to all chief planning officers and the Planning Inspectorate drawing attention to the Government’s moves to resist garden grabbing.

Read the letter to chief planning officers


Environment minister makes natural environment a priority

Environment minister Richard Benyon has told MPs that a priority for the new Government is a White Paper on the natural environment. He highlighted this intention during a Commons debate on water charges in southwest England.

Access the Hansard record


Doubts over zero-carbon development targets

Three-quarters of the development industry do not believe that existing targets for zero-carbon development are realistic according to a poll involving 7,000 individuals which was highlighted in a report produced jointly by international law firm Taylor Wessing, the British Property Federation and communication consultancy Spada.

Read the Taylor Wessing press release


UK infrastructure rated at risk by engineers

The UK’s energy sector and local transport networks have fared the worst in a detailed appraisal of the nation’s infrastructure produced by the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE). Both were rated “at risk”.

Read the ICE press release


Marine planning body launched

The Marine Management Organisation (MMO), the Government body responsible for implementing a new marine planning and licensing system, has been formally launched. Its headquarters are in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. It will balance the development of marine industries such as wind farms and oil and gas exploration with the need to conserve and protect marine species and habitats.

Read the MMO press release


Square Mile proposal

Developers Helical Bar have unveiled plans for a 20-storey mixed-use commercial and retail development and the creation of a green square at Mitre Square in the heart of the City of London’s Square Mile.

D-day for transport terminal near St Albans

Communities secretary Eric Pickles has written to interested parties to say that his decision over plans by HelioSlough for a huge rail and lorry terminal in Hertfordshire Green Belt near St Albans will not be announced by 23 June as originally anticipated but will be issued by 8 July.


Sprucefield saga development

A High Court judge has agreed there was a technical breach of the Northern Ireland Executive’s ministerial code over the way the department for Regional Development handled new planning policy over town centre and retail development. However, the judge decided the breach was not serious enough to justify quashing the policy. The issue was raised as part of the long-running saga and legal challenges over proposals for a new John Lewis superstore at an out-of-town location at Sprucefield, near Lisburn.

The Planning Service said it is studying the judgment with its legal advisers and said it cannot comment further at this stage.


Reservoir row

The public inquiry into Thames Water’s draft Water Resources Management Plan, which contains proposals for a controversial new reservoir between Abingdon and Wantage, has started in Oxford. Both Oxfordshire County Council and the Vale of White Horse District Council have argued that the need for the huge scheme had not been justified or its impacts properly assessed.


Core strategy approved

Wandsworth Council’s core strategy has been approved by a planning inspector as sound following minor amendments to policies on tall buildings and affordable housing. The central plank of the planning authority’s Local Development Framework will be formally adopted by the south west London borough later this year.

Read the council’s press release


CPOs and office activity plummet

Planning applications for commercial property developments have fallen by 15 per cent over the last 12 months, according to law firm EMW Picton Howell. Further signs of the economic downturn were highlighted at the Compulsory Purchase Association’s (CPA)  eighth national conference in London which heard from legal firm Dickinson Dees that the use of Compulsory Purchase Orders (CPOs) is down by almost 50 per cent compared to 2008.


Eyesore estate bulldozed

Bulldozers have moved in to demolish 329-council owned flats on a housing estate ranked as Wales’ ugliest eyesore. The properties in Penarth Heights – known as Billybanks – will be replaced by a modern housing development by Crest Nicholson. The site overlooks Cardiff Bay as was voted the ugliest eyesore in Wales by a survey of 5,000 readers of the Beautiful Britain magazine.

Read the council’s press release


Bohemian wrangle

Plans for a residential-led mixed-use development in Otago Lane beside the River Kelvin in Glasgow are meeting determined local opposition from objectors who claim the proposals, which include more than 140 new flats, would destroy the character of one of Glasgow's last “Bohemian” quarters.


Urban quarter takes shape at former hospital site

Watkins Gray International has been appointed by Fairview New Homes as architects and lead consultants for the £70m redevelopment of a former hospital site in Colindale, North London, which has planning permission to become a new urban quarter with more than 700 new homes and flats, car parking, public open space and a community heating scheme.


Call for more Scottish National Parks

Conservationists have called for the designation of at least three more Scottish National Parks, including the country’s first coastal and marine National Park. The Scottish Campaign for National Parks and the Association for the Protection of Rural Scotland are behind this move. To date only two National Parks have been established: for Loch Lomond and the Trossachs and for the Cairngorms.

Read the Association for the Protection of Rural Scotland press release


More development powers for GLA mooted

London mayor Boris Johnson has formally called for the powers of the London region of the Homes and Communities Agency and the functions of the London Development Agency (LDA) to be exercised directly by the Greater London Assembly. In addition, Johnson wants the Olympic Park Legacy Company to become a Mayoral Development Corporation. Primary legislation would be needed to implement these proposed changes.

Read the Greater London Authority press release


Stonehenge centre stalled
The Treasury has announced that as part of the current round of expenditure cuts the £25m funding for a visitor's centre at Stonehenge from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has been withdrawn.

Read the HM Treasury statement [PDF]


Roger Milne

17 June 2010