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The UK's first Energiesprong homes

A pioneering new pilot project in Nottingham aims to make select households ultra-low carbon and fit for the future by renovating them using the 'Energiesprong' techniques used in the Netherlands.

The Challenge

There is an ambition in the UK to ensure that all buildings are low or zero-carbon buildings by 2050. However, a study by the Association for the Conservation of Energy found that the UK is amongst the highest in Europe for fuel-poverty and has one of the most energy-inefficient housing stocks on the continent.

With more than 26,000 homes, Nottingham City Council believes it has a “commercial imperative” to find ways to retrofit existing houses to a near-zero emission standard in a way that is affordable and easily replicated for potential new builds.

Post-Brexit farm payments to be used to help the environment

Environment Secretary Michael Gove wants to end direct payments based on the amount of land farmed

Up to £150m in support payments could be shifted from the richest farmers to environmental schemes after Brexit, under government plans.

The UK Government has published a consultation on its plans for agriculture after the UK leaves the EU. The consultation entitled ‘Health and Harmony: The Future for Food, Farming and the Environment in a Green Brexit’ proposes that public money will no longer be given to farmers for the amount of land they own. Instead it will be allocated for the delivery of sustainable production, environmental enhancement, animal welfare and trialling new technologies to name a few. This will be a significant shift from the current EU funded Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) as DEFRA Secretary of State Michael Gove seeks fund contributions towards habitat management, flood protection and climate change mitigation.   

Ireland 2040: €22bn to turn State into low–carbon economy

The Government’s new national development plan envisages a radical overhaul of how the State tackles climate change, allocating €22 billion – one fifth of the entire budget – to a series of measures that will turn Ireland into a low–carbon economy by 2050.

The measures are primarily aimed at transport, agriculture and the built environment, and include a plan to stop burning coal to produce electricity at the ESB’s Moneypoint plant, the State’s single largest carbon emitter, by 2025.

On transport, there will be ban on the purchase of all petrol and diesel vehicles by 2030, a decade ahead of the UK, while there is also a target of having at least 500,000 electric vehicles – a third of the State’s private transport fleet – on the road by the same date. 

Starbucks trial 5p cup charge in bid to reduce plastic waste

Starbucks have started charging 5p for disposable coffee cups in 35 London stores as part of a three-month trial. Starbucks’ announcement comes weeks after MPs called for a general 25p latte levy on disposable coffee cups.

Starbucks has introduced a 5p charge for single-use cups in its central London locations in an attempt to help tackle a plastic waste epidemic plaguing the UK. 

Customers who bring their own mug will not have to pay the extra 5p in 35 Starbucks branches for the duration of the three-month trial which began in February 2018. If it’s successful the company may roll it out to other outlets, the Seattle-based coffee giant said.

A European Strategy for Plastics

Plastics are an important material in our economy, and modern daily life is unthinkable without them. At the same time however, they can have serious downsides on the environment and health.

Action on plastics was identified as a priority in the 2015 Circular Economy Action Plan, to help European businesses and consumers to use resources in a more sustainable way.

Measuring Up - Review of UK progress on SDGs

Work begins on the first comprehensive assessment of the UK’s performance against the UN Sustainable Development Goals

Work has begun on UKSSD’s plan to drive action on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the UK. The project looks at each of the 17 Goals and 169 targets and analyses the UK’s performance. It outlines the opportunity the Goals offer and the type of actions needed if we’re to achieve them by 2030.

UKSSD has now reached an important milestone as the initial research is complete and their draft findings are ready for stakeholder review.

UKSSD are calling for organisations to volunteer to review the findings and contribute their own expertise to help shape the recommended actions for how the UK can achieve the Goals by 2030.

Blog: Fed up with Belfast traffic? It's more than just delaying your day

By Katie Brown

Dream deal agreed with mattress recycler and NIEA

A new deal to recycle more mattresses, carpets and furniture and save them from the nightmare of landfill has been secured by the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) and social enterprise recycler Usel.

The agreement will see Belfast-based Usel (Ulster Supported Employment Ltd) work with NIEA to expand their recycling facilities and help protect and enhance our local environment.

David Small, Head of NIEA said the Prosperity Agreement with Usel would mean an increase in the amount of material they recycle.

“This agreement is great news for both the environment and the local economy. Usel plans to work with the Housing Associations and recycle their carpets, diverting nearly 7,000 tonnes of waste carpets from landfill - enough carpet to cover up to 750 football pitches.

Ards and North Down Council bans single use plastics

Discarded bottle caps are a big problem (Image: Natasha Ewins)

More than 700 items of rubbish have been collected across every 100 metres of Northern Ireland beach in September 2017 alone.

But one council is now leading the way on the single use plastics plaguing our beaches, seas and outdoor spaces with a ban.

Ards and North Down Borough Council adopted the motion on plastics from Green Party councillors Rachel Woods and John Barry in November 2017. In it they called on colleagues to recognise the importance of reducing waste, our increased reliance on plastic and the amount of plastic that ends up in our oceans and on our beaches.

Green Key Awards Launch in Northern Ireland

Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful introduces “Green Key” eco-certification to Northern Ireland

Local environmental charity Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful has launched Green Key in Northern Ireland. Green Key is an internationally recognised eco-certification for the hospitality sector, thereby boosting the local tourism and hospitality industry and championing sustainable best practices.

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