Just a few environmental links to depress you thoroughly before the weekend. Perhaps the most important article to read is Simon Jenkins writing in the Guardian about the Localism Bill, which in essence is just about the single most devastating change to UK planning law in generations:
I have read parliamentary bills all my life, but the localism one is the most wretched capitulation to a single lobby I know. It is a junk heap of cliche. It asserts that building must be allowable “for prosperity … for people … and for places”. It need only be economically, socially or environmentally sustainable – “components to be pursued in an integrated way, looking for solutions which deliver multiple goals”, whatever that means. Development need only show it is “planned and undertaken responsibly”. There is no definition of “responsibly”. Such vagueness puts every rural acre in play as “worth a try”…
This bill is philistine, an abuse of local democracy and an invitation to corruption. Its impact statement accepts that local electors may “resist development proposals that are not in line with their aspirations”, in other words they may opt for conservation. Yet when developers appeal, inspectors are told that their duty is to concede on grounds of overriding national policy. The bias is shameless.
Seriously, read the rest of the article. It’s astounding.
The Ecologist reports how air pollution may air pollution may be ‘health timebomb’ for London’s deprived children:
According to a report commissioned by the Greater London Authority (GLA), 4,267 premature deaths in 2008 were attributed to long-term exposure to air pollution.
With emerging evidence from the US and UK showing air pollution is causing long-term impairment to children’s lungs, it is fast becoming a public health crisis.
The decade-long Southern California Children’s Health study, conducted by the University of Southern California (USC), concluded in 2010 that long-term exposure to air pollution over the lung’s growing period (up to age 18) can reduce lung capacity by ten per cent, while also likely contributing to the development of asthma and heart disease.
I remember studying the subtle effects of air pollution over a decade ago, and still the message doesn’t really get through. It’s not just the classic few pollutants that get you, there are loads more, and the combined effects on the human body are complex. Continuing this theme, Client Earth decides to sue the UK government for failing to protect people from the effects of air pollution:
Bad air quality, chiefly caused by vehicle emissions in our towns and cities, is a national disgrace. Each year 29,000 people die prematurely in the UK because of air pollution – this is more people than die, or sustain serious injuries, in road traffic accidents.
UK and EU law set limits for air pollution based on the scientific analyses of health risks by the World Health Organization. ClientEarth is legally challenging the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) for failing to produce plans that will reduce nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels (to within legal limits by 1 January 2015), and for refusing to consult the public on plans to reduce dangerous airborne particles (PM10) in London – despite ClientEarth reminding them in April of their legal responsibility to do so.
Animal Aid secretly installed four cameras inside Elmkirk (Cheale Meats) Ltd, an Essex slaughterhouse that claims to uphold high standards of animal welfare.
The pictures show pigs hit in the face with bats, incorrectly stunned and dragged by their ears to slaughter.
The campaign group claims the footage shows widespread breaches of animal welfare law and is demanding the Government takes legal action.
But the Department for the Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra) has announced it will not prosecute Cheale Meats, in Brentwood, because campaigners trespassed to obtain the footage.
On the morning of 2 May, police and soldiers reportedly carried out a campaign of retribution against villagers in DRC’s Bumba territory in northwest of the Equator province, after the villagers stood up to workers from logging company SIFORCO, a subsidiary of Swiss group Danzer.