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Onshore wind farms ban to be eased following backbench Tory pressure | Climate News

The government is expected to relax an effective ban on new onshore wind farm projects amid pressure from Conservative rebels.

The changes will likely mean new rules for winning planning permission, so instead of requiring complete agreement, projects will instead only have to demonstrate local support.

Sir Alok Sharma, president of the COP26 climate talks in Glasgow in 2021, has led Tory backbench pressure over the issue.

He said he wanted a change to the current rules that allow a single objection to block a new onshore development.

It is understood the changes will be set out in a written ministerial statement today, agreed during passage of the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill, that will come into force with immediate effect.

A government source said: “We are very clear that onshore wind developments should have the consent of, and benefit, local communities.

“However, we want to see the sector thrive and believe that this is an important step forward.”

Sir Alok said MPs who have signed his amendment to the Energy Bill want to see a “much more permissive planning regime” on onshore wind.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We want to see the lifting of the current planning restriction, which means that a single objection to an onshore wind development can block it.

“And of course, allied with this, we want to ensure that local communities who are willing to take onshore wind developments will receive direct community benefits.”

Water company boss blames people working from home for hosepipe ban | UK News

A water company boss has blamed people working from home for a new hosepipe ban. 

South East Water will impose the first hosepipe ban of the summer from Monday, affecting more than two million homes and businesses across Kent and Sussex.

Its chief executive, David Hinton, said in a letter to customers that post-pandemic working from home was a “key factor” behind the ban, as it has “increased drinking water demand”.

File photo dated 23/08/22 of a woman watering her front garden, as a hosepipe ban is set to come in across Kent and Sussex due to a record demand for drinking water, South East Water bosses said.
A woman watering her front garden, as a hosepipe ban is set to come in across Kent and Sussex

He wrote: “Over the past three years the way in which drinking water is being used across the southeast has changed considerably.

“The rise of working from home has increased drinking water demand in commuter towns by around 20% over a very short period, testing our existing infrastructure.”

Mr Hinton also blamed low rainfall since April for leaving water butts empty, as well as pointing to a recent spell of hot weather which he claims led to a spike in demand for drinking water.

“Our reservoir and aquifer stocks of raw water, essential to our water supply but not ready to be used, are in a good position. However, demand for treated mains water, which takes time to process and deliver, was greater than we could meet,” he said.

“Over the past week we have needed to find water to supply the equivalent of an additional four towns the size of Maidstone or Eastbourne every day.”

Greg Clark, the Conservative MP for Tunbridge Wells, told The Times: “Their only job is to deliver drinking water.

UK weather: The latest Sky News forecast

“But in my constituency, they have run out of water twice in six months – once just before Christmas when we had a cold snap, and now after a small and unexceptional heatwave.

“What they’re describing in terms of people working for home is by no means specific to this area.

“There has been for some time a tendency for people to work more from home. A water company should be able to predict and accommodate for this.”

A spokeswoman for the water regulator Ofwat told The Times: “South East Water must do better to predict and manage operational issues, help customers, and engage with them on what is happening and why.

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“Customers will be asking why, for the second time in six months, their water company is being caught out by the weather.”

South East Water’s Head of Service Management, Steve Andrews, defended the ban, saying it was “introduced to ensure that we can deliver drinking water to all our customers consistently”.

He added: “We want to thank our customers for being mindful of their water use and remind them to continue to use water wisely over the coming weekend.”

TikTok prankster Bacari-Bronze O’Garro fined £200 and and given social media video ban after entering family’s home | UK News

A man has been given a criminal behaviour order and told to pay a total of £365 after invading a family’s house for a TikTok prank.

Bacari-Bronze O’Garro, 18, from Hackney, appeared at Thames Magistrates’ Court in a black hoodie and face mask.

He admitted one count of failing to comply with a community protection notice he was issued with last year.

Prosecutor Varinder Hayre said it stated he should not trespass on private property, but that he’d entered a home on 15 May to film a video.

“He went to the home address of the victim,” she said.

“The door of the property was open. Mr O’Garro walked into the property and immediately walked down the stairs.

“He was stopped by the home owner. He went into the living room. He sat down on the sofa and said ‘Is this where the study group is?'”

Ms Hayre said the owner had asked O’Garro to leave multiple times, causing the family “a lot of distress” and that the mother had believed it was an attempted burglary.

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Teenager charged after investigation

“It was discovered that he had filmed the entire incident for a TikTok trend about walking into random houses,” she told the court.

Defence solicitor Lee Sergent said O’Garro – known online as Mizzy – had apologised to the family.

He said he’d had an “extremely difficult childhood” and was raised by a single parent.

“He is an intelligent young man and a young man with some potential,” he told the court.

He said O’Garro received Universal Credit and was not in work or education.

Judge Charlotte Crangle issued a two-year criminal behaviour order that states he must not publish social media content without the consent of the people included.

He also mustn’t trespass or go to the Westfield shopping centre in Stratford, east London.

O’Garro was fined £200, and told to pay a victim surcharge of £80 and costs of £85.

Bouncy castle ban reversed by council after backlash | UK News

A Scots council has reversed its ban on bouncy castles following a backlash.

Highland Council put a “regrettable pause” on the hiring of inflatables across its vast estate amid health and safety concerns.

The council claimed the region’s size made it difficult for staff to get to its many venues – including more than 200 schools – to carry out thorough risk assessments and quality checks.

The decision was made to “safeguard attendees” until structures were in place to meet the requirements.

It was hoped that families attending upcoming fairs would “enjoy the day with the other activities on offer”.

However, bosses reversed the decision on Wednesday after councillors were called into action following concerns raised by businesses and locals.

Inverness-based Mascot Madness Entertainment was one of the firms calling on the council to fully explain its decision.

Announcing the U-turn, a Highland Council spokesperson said: “The council has had further discussions about the health and safety requirements of inflatable lets bookings at its properties.

“The council’s approach seeks to balance the mitigation of risk with acting in a way that does not impact unnecessarily on community activities.

“Consequently, the council can confirm that new conditions of let requirements have been produced for the safe use of inflatable devices on council and High Life Highland premises.”

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The updated conditions will allow the council to ensure the inflatables meet all required safety standards; that operators and contractors can show they have carried out appropriate risk assessments; and that they hold the appropriate insurance to cover any risk to users or any other risks that may arise from them being used on council premises.

The council spokesperson added: “With these assurances in place, the council will be able to permit appropriate contractors to fulfil these bookings on Highland Council and High Life Highland operated lets on facilities owned by the council.”

Councillor Isabelle MacKenzie said she was “delighted” with the decision.

She said: “A number of school events this summer would have been a bit deflated.

“Having spent many years involved with parent council events, much needed funds are raised for schools. Bouncy castles are a huge treat for kids.”

Hosepipe ban extended in Cornwall and Devon and won’t be lifted until December ‘without drought-breaking rainfall’ | UK News

A hosepipe ban has been extended to include more of Cornwall and parts of Devon as the region continues to experience lower than average levels of rainfall.

South West Water said it was taking action to “break the cycle of drought”, with reservoir levels falling to their lowest recorded level last year and some water storage already lower than this time in 2022.

It said it hoped the ban would be lifted on 1 December “or sooner”, if the area received “drought-breaking rainfall”.

In a statement on its website, it said said: “Our water resources across the region remain under pressure and as we go into the summer period we have taken the necessary action to safeguard supplies and break the cycle of drought following lower than average levels of rainfall last year and throughout February.”

Grand National ‘a disgrace’: Animal rights groups call for jump racing ban after three horses die at Aintree | UK News

Animal rights campaigners are calling for jump racing to be banned after three horses died at Aintree – with one suffering a broken neck during the Grand National.

Protesters had tried and failed to stop yesterday’s race from going ahead, and a total of 118 people were arrested.

Animal Aid says action must be taken to prevent the “brutal horrors” at Aintree Racecourse from happening again.

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Grand National protester arrested

Dene Stansall, the campaign group’s horse racing consultant, said: “Innocent racehorses’ lives taken from them in the name of entertainment and gambling.

“Aintree, the worst of all racecourses, is a disgrace and the Jockey Club and British racing should hang their hands in utter shame at what we have seen over the past three days.”

The chief executive of the British Horseracing Authority – Julie Harrington – said the sporting body works “tirelessly” to improve safety records and reduce risk.

Offering her condolences to those linked to the horses who died this week, she added: “Every incident is reviewed by the BHA alongside the racecourse and other bodies.

“As a sport, we have for years shown great determination and commitment to improve welfare standards by taking measured scientific, evidence-based, regulatory and education-based steps.”

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But given 62 horses have died at the Aintree Festival since 2000 – with 16 killed in the Grand National – critics argue that the safety measures in place don’t go far enough.

The League Against Cruel Sports also wants whips to be banned because they push horses beyond what they can safely do, and says this weekend’s events show change is needed.

Spokesperson Emma Judd said: “One death is too many. Animal welfare needs to be put before gambling profits and entertainment, and steps need to be taken to end this carnage which is occurring year after year.”

She went on to call for an independent regulator that prioritises horse welfare.

Other animal welfare groups – including Peta UK – described the Grand National race as “one of the longest and most hazardous in the world”.

It is now urging the public to put pressure on the event’s sponsors so they withdraw financial support.

In a statement, Peta UK said notorious fences such as the Chair, Becher’s Brook and the Canal Turn cause “horrific and often fatal injuries” almost every year.

“Every time horses are forced to jump over these excessively high obstacles, it puts tremendous pressure on their slender front legs and they risk broken legs, necks and backs,” it added.

“Even those who make it off the track alive are likely to suffer. Thousands of horses – including ‘spent’ thoroughbreds and those who don’t ‘make the grade’ – are discarded like used betting slips every year.”

Envoye Special died on Thursday, followed by Dark Raven in an early race on Saturday. Hill Sixteen was put down after suffering serious injuries during the flagship event.

Dickon White, who runs Aintree Racecourse, said: “Hill Sixteen was immediately attended by expert veterinary professionals during the Grand National, but sadly sustained a fatal injury. Our heartfelt condolences are with his connections.”

Animal Rising – which spearheaded Saturday’s protest – has suggested that its work is only beginning, and that it intends to start an “unignorable national conversation”.

About 15 of its demonstrators managed to delay the start of the race by 12 minutes, while others caused extensive traffic by gluing themselves to the M57 motorway.

Animal Rising activists attempting to invade the race course ahead of the Randox Grand National Handicap Chase

Some racegoers have said they disagree with the group’s tactics.

Alice Pocock, from Berkshire, said: “Every horse here is born and bred to race. I think the protesters are putting themselves at harm and they don’t understand the racing industry.”

Date set for ban on wide range of single-use plastic items in England | UK News

The ban on a range of plastic cups, cutlery, and food containers will take effect in England this October.

Shops and restaurants will not be able to sell many single-use plastics, including polystyrene containers, leaving businesses to source alternative biodegradable products, like paper cups or wooden cutlery.

The ban will not include the plastic found in pre-packaged supermarket meals, and follows similar moves in Scotland and Wales.

According to estimates, 2.7 billion items of single-use cutlery, most of which are plastic, are used in England each year, but only 10% are recycled.

In July last year, a project launched by Greenpeace and Everyday Plastic, found that households across the UK, throw away almost 100 billion pieces of plastic every year.

Plastic pollution takes hundreds of years to break down and millions of tonnes are poured into the ocean every year, with fatal consequences for marine animals.

The government launched a public consultation, which found an overwhelming majority of people were in favour of prohibiting plastic items, but the changes could hit the hospitality sector particularly hard, when costs are already spiralling with inflation.

Warning of ‘considerable difference’ in prices

Edit Shahin is the manager at Cafe Bueno in Romford, East London.

“Absolutely every piece of stock, every item of food has risen in price in the last year, so this [ban] might seem like something small, but it’s not,” he said.

“We do sell a lot of takeaway containers, plastic spoons and plastic cups, so it will make a considerable difference [in price].”

Cafe Bueno already stocks some aluminium foil trays for takeaway meals, and Mr Shahin says they are more expensive than polystyrene containers and wants the government to reduce the price of plastic alternatives for businesses.

“It’s understandable, they [the government] are trying their best to help the environment,” he said.

“But there’s thousands of businesses in the UK, takeaway shops mainly, who all use plastic cups, plastic takeaway containers, so it will affect the whole of the UK, not just us. It’s just pretty much damaging small businesses.”

Mr Shahin also worries that it will be hard to find suitable non-plastic materials for some drinks they serve, like smoothies, which could leak through a paper cup.

‘We have listened to the public’

Environment Secretary Therese Coffey says the ban builds on previous policy changes.

She said: “We have banned microbeads, restricted the use of straws, stirrers, and cotton buds and our carrier bag charge has successfully cut sales by over 97% in the main supermarkets.

“We all know the absolutely devastating impacts that plastic can have on our environment and wildlife.

“We have listened to the public, and these new single-use plastics bans will continue our vital work to protect the environment for future generations.”

But conservation charities want the government to go further.

“We really need to see the plastic pollution tap turned off,” says Amy Slack, head of campaigns and policy at Surfers Against Sewage.

“What we’re seeing now is essentially policies that are bailing out the bath water, and we need to see those policies implemented in a strategic coordinated approach across all of the nations within the UK.”

Labour pledges to ban fracking ‘once and for all’ with opposition day motion | Politics News

Labour has pledged to ban fracking “once and for all”, calling it “an unjust charter for earthquakes”.

The party is working to bring forward an opposition day motion to maintain the ban on the controversial gas extraction method, after Liz Truss said she would lift it as part of her energy security plan.

The moratorium on fracking was imposed by the Conservatives in 2019 after a series of tremors, and their manifesto that year said they would not support it “unless the science shows categorically that it can be done safely”.

Fracking involves injecting liquid at high pressure into subterranean rocks and boreholes to force open existing cracks and extract oil or gas.

A government-commissioned report by the British Geological Survey at the time said more data was needed, but despite the lack of scientific progress, Ms Truss’s administration has torn up the manifesto commitment.

Ed Miliband, the shadow climate secretary, will visit Bassetlaw, Nottinghamshire, on Friday to meet the party’s candidate Jo White and residents to listen to concerns about the possibility of fracking in their area.

“Labour will stand with communities in opposing the Conservatives’ dodgy plans to impose expensive, dirty, and dangerous fracking on the British people,” he said.

“Fracking would make no difference to energy prices, and could risk the health of local communities, nature, and water supplies.”

The government has insisted that future fracking applications will be considered where there is local support, although it is not clear how that will be measured.

Previous fracking attempts have faced significant public opposition.

Ms Truss said she was “setting a new ambition for our country” when she announced the fracking ban would be lifted as part of a plan to make the UK a net energy exporter by 2040.

However, Labour says that shale gas extracted by fracking would make no difference to gas prices, and is a more expensive alternative to renewables, which the party says is nine times cheaper than gas.

Hitting out at what he called Ms Truss’s “unjust charter for earthquakes”, Mr Miliband said Labour would stand up to her plan to “outsource decisions about local consent to fracking companies”.

The party intends to work with MPs who oppose fracking to force the government to maintain the ban, one of several issues to divide the Conservatives since Ms Truss became leader.

The government’s environmental commitments have come under scrutiny in recent weeks, and the prime minister has been criticised for giving the green light to the expansion of oil and gas operations in the North Sea and after reports suggested she is opposed to the installation of solar panels on productive agricultural lands.

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The shadow climate change secretary says the government is ‘setting its face against renewables’

Mr Miliband will also visit a solar farm on Friday, and is expected to set out his party’s opposition to any plan that would block new solar projects.

“If Liz Truss blocks solar power she will be declaring unilateral energy disarmament – undermining our energy security and forcing the British people to accept decades of higher energy bills,” Mr Miliband said.

“Only Labour can deliver lower energy bills and energy security for the UK, with our plans for clean power by 2030 – including trebling solar power – and GB Energy, a publicly-owned, clean energy company, to make Britain an energy independent superpower.”

Government warned to reinstate eviction ban to prevent people from losing homes during cost of living crisis | UK News

The eviction ban must be reinstated in England to ensure no one loses their home during the cost of living crisis, a new report has warned.

The Kerslake Commission on Homelessness and Rough Sleeping warned that inaction could lead to a “catastrophic” homelessness crisis, with the government failing to meet its manifesto pledge to end rough sleeping.

Its new report calls on the government to temporarily bring back the eviction ban – mirroring what was announced in Scotland earlier this month.

The report calls for a pause in benefits deductions and for benefits to be increased immediately – not next April as planned.

It urges the government to take a “two-pronged” approach to get people off the streets and ensure vulnerable tenants do not end up on them.

The commission was set up to examine the lessons from the public health emergency response to rough sleeping during the pandemic. It is chaired by former head of the Civil Service Lord Bob Kerslake and comprises 36 experts from the health, housing and homelessness sectors.

Its latest report includes new recommendations on the cost-of-living crisis and says “the cost of not acting now is too great, as we stand on the precipice of a new emergency”.

Lord Kerslake said the government’s responses to the pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis “must be equally urgent”.

He added that failure to act could see this become a “homelessness as well as an economic crisis” and that the results could be “catastrophic”.

The National Residential Landlords Association said it was right to call for improvements to the benefits system, but that preventing failed tenancies from ending would be “catastrophic” and would not address people’s hardships.

Chief executive Ben Beadle said: “There is a very real danger that an eviction ban would give free rein to tenants committing antisocial behaviour and those deliberately not paying their rents, knowing they will face no consequences and the bill will be picked up by others.”

The government did not say whether it was considering a temporary ban.

A spokeswoman said: “We are giving councils £316 million this year to ensure families are not left without a roof over their heads.

“This is alongside the action we are taking to support families with the cost of living this winter through our £37 billion pound support package.

“This includes £1,200 this year for the most vulnerable, helping them to pay their bills and stay in their homes.”

South East Water announces hosepipe and sprinkler ban for customers in Kent and Sussex | Business News

South East Water has announced a ban on hosepipe and sprinkler use for its customers in Kent and Sussex.

The ban will start on 12 August, with an end date that has yet to be decided.

It comes just days after Southern Water announced the first hosepipe ban of the year for customers in Hampshire and Isle of Wight. That ban starts on Friday.

South East Water said its ban is necessary to make sure there is enough water for essential use and to protect the environment, adding that the ban would reduce the amount of water taken from “already stressed local water sources”.

It said: “This has been a time of extreme weather conditions across the UK.

“Official figures show this is the driest July on record since 1935 and the period between November 2021 and July 2022 has been the driest eight-month stint since 1976.

“During July in the South East, we have only seen 8% of average rainfall for the month, and the long term forecast for August and September is for similar weather.”

It added: “The demand for water this summer has broken all previous records, including the COVID lockdown heatwave.

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“We have been producing an additional 120 million litres of water a day to supply our customers, which is the equivalent of supplying a further four towns the size of Maidstone or Eastbourne, daily.”

South East Water supplies 520 million litres of water every day to 2.2 million customers.

The water is drawn from more than 250 boreholes, six rivers, and six reservoirs.

The company’s website said that all customers in Kent and Sussex will be affected by the ban except those on the priority service register.

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Customers in Berkshire and Hampshire will not be affected, it said, adding: “Whilst demand in our supply areas in Berkshire and Hampshire has also increased considerably, we have not suffered from the same water supply issues as experienced in Kent and Sussex.

“For the time being, we are in a position that we can continue to ask our customers to apply voluntary restraint on the amount of water they use at home.

“We are continuing to monitor the situation, and will advise customers if circumstances change.”

The ban means it is forbidden to use a hosepipe that is connected to a mains water supply, including garden sprinklers.

Breaking the rules could result in a fine of up to £1,000.

Shuja Khan, chief executive of data company Arqiva, said having a water smart meter can help people control their use.

He said: “Most people have no idea how much water they use every day because it can be really hard to conceptualise.

“For example, for every 10 minutes of use, the average hosepipe uses 170 litres of water, or almost 19 flushes of a toilet in the same timeframe.

“If people knew that just one hour of hosepipe use was equivalent to the same amount of water that the average family of four consumes over two days, they might reconsider their gardening patterns.”