Archive for the ‘Environment’ Category

Is Recycling in Wales a load of Rubbish ?


Wales sees higher recycling targets than the rest of the UK and Northern Ireland at 58%. However in years to come we the public are expected to reduce waste even more due to Welsh Government placing more and more pressure on local governments. There are many issues that are faced by the public as across Wales there are 22 local recycling schemes all of which differ from each other. Question being, is it a load of rubbish? Does it work? Does it penalise people where they cant do any more or see it as a chore to get it right?

Welsh local authorities have mostly introduced a fortnightly collection on refuse waste (landfill) and some are even contemplating a three week collection in attempt to avoid fines for land filling rubbish. Swansea sees a three-bag limit, but no actual physical bin. One must question the sanitation issues that arise i.e. rats and other animals who would strive off such waste. The aim of this reduction is to avoid hefty fines as what will be instigated in the next few years, as a way to make sure councils are doing their part in reducing waste. Though are reduced collections necessary the right answer? I personally believe fortnightly is the max limit as long as other factors are in place i.e bins to place bags in to avoid rats.

The fact that there is 22 local schemes causes an issue to locals, more needs to be done to further a more universal system whether regionally or even nationally. Another huge issue is what can be recycled, many items are not recyclable more needs to be done to ensure that manufactures look to recycle unwanted products from their consumers but also have legislation looking at things that could be made by items that can be recycled. I’m speaking specifically about food products, the mass amount of packaging that goes with food products. To say food is the only one seeing issues, one only has to look at toiletries, toothpaste tube comes in boxes, which in effect is causing excessive waste, even when the cardboard is recyclable why was it used in the first place?

The main issue is locals up and down Wales are being penalised, when in a lot of cases they cannot really be blamed for the confusing systems in action across the country. They cannot be fully blamed for the items they purchase, so it is of my belief that legislation needs to be brought forward, allowing Wales to set the trend in the UK and even potentially have influence the rest of the UK’s ability to recycle. Legislation needs to address both materials products are packaged in, but also address excess packaging on items in the Welsh area. Lets face it Wales has already led the way on plastic carrier bags seeing a huge reduction, benefiting the environment and communities and their through the money raised from the “tax”. Lets see a tax in addressing excessive packaging and none recyclable materials, hopefully this will see consumers applying pressure on business  to change.

The public are already on mass doing what they can, given the circumstances, now its time for local and national (Welsh) government to be bolder in their approach in tackling the issue from another angle. In doing so they need to work better with local authorities in order to make it as easy and effortless for the populace of Wales. A universal recycle list should be initiated to stop confusion amongst local authorities. Thus all in all everyone’s happy and waste is reduced and all are playing their part in reducing land waste, compared to the failed 22 local authority systems as seen in the current day, with none recycling the same. We could effectively beat Germany and Austria’s record targets of 60% by a landslide.




Energy Efficient Homes for students

Swansea University Students’ Union has recently passed a motion which will effectively change the housing stock for students within the Swansea city area. Landlords will be asked  to join the new scheme which will enable the opportunity for landlords to improve the energy efficiency of houses that they own.This will be done by writing a statement/charter which will carry a message that landlords can agree to,said statement/charter will contain the message that landlords are committed and support the campaign to improve the housing stock they own.

The next part of the motion looks at a grading system, the grading system will comprise of different levels including   Bronze,  Silver and Gold. Each level having its own criteria set out and costings of which are considered and taking into play. For example looking at a bronze level, landlords would be expected to  enact  minor changes this can be actions such as applying hippos to toilets, replace any old lightbulbs with energy-saving ones et al. A possible criteria for silver will contain  criteria including grade C or above appliances and heating pipe installation. One main aspect of this is to avoid the usage of plugging in heaters, which many students today use on a day-to-day basis, and of course uses the vast amounts of electricity and due cost to the student. Gold will be the highest level that landlords can achieve, the level will include criteria  such as central heating for those homes that do not already have it, all wall insulation/attic insulation/cladding.

Many may ask about the pricing and cost which may be placed on landlords, or be afraid to ask the landlords, they needn’t be as there is many funding  pots out there that are accessible to both students and landlord. For students, and the general public, there is a new scheme called the Green Deal, what this entails is a loan which stays with the house not a person, it allows changes to the house which will enable a more efficient household to both seats and energy usage with no extra cost to the individual. The reason why there is no extra cost to the individual, is due to the fact what ever is saved through the usage of the changes, is sent to pay off the loan. So in regards to student households, as many of you already know students leave their houses in June,  they needn’t worry that the loan will follow them, as said it would stay with the house not the individual. Landlords can not refuse a request to  enact change according to the Energy Bill 2010, unless the house is already scheduled to have changes done to it according to Green Deal.

Landlords may receive funding from various locations, more in particular for Attic insulation/wall insulation/cladding on houses and this can be found from various sources. There will be a guidebook created which will reference reference relevant information for landlords in Swansea, thus landlords will be able to find out where they may receive such funding and hopefully enact change for the benefit of students within the city. The process may take a while as you probably imagine we are not considering an overnight change, however Rob Abrams and myself are committed to provide the stepping stones for this new exciting opportunity that we have now been given.

Chris Huhne’s Response to the F.I.T Letter (against cuts) Written by DECC YAP

January 27, 2012 1 comment
Categories: Environment, UK Politics

The Swansea Green Makeover


Swansea’s People and Planet in conjunction with Rob Abrams (Environment and Ethics Officer) are launching “The Big Green Makeover”. The People and Planet website describes the scheme as being “a home energy saving project, which aims to help students and staff to make their homes warmer, more cosy and cheaper to live in”. The project laid its foundation stones through its first meeting (5th Oct) where the main emphasis was to recruit volunteers who could assist fellow students lower their domestic energy consumption.

Mr Abrams highlighted the fact that over £900 million worth of energy is wasted in the UK by leaving appliances on standby. Most students coming through the higher education system in the UK are young people moving out and living on their own for the first time in their lives. It is at this point, that they learn skills and pick up habits that stick with them for the rest of their lives. Bad habits can cost their own streched funds, as well as the planet. Simply leaving appliances on standby wastes over £900 million worth of energy every year The Big Green Makeover has been brought to Swansea University to help create these changes.

Students who volunteer will be given the training and support needed to run energy advice clinics for other students, as well as members of staff. The programme will also involve visiting the homes of participating students and staff to carry out assessments and give practical advice on improvements. It is hoped, that as we carry out this initiative, changes in behaviour will be supported, monitored, and continues to grow well in to the coming year.

For more information Please contact

DECC Youth Advisory Panel write to Chris Huhne at their disgust of the news that the Solar Feed- in -Tariff (FiT) is to be cut in half

Dear Rt Hon. Chris Huhne,

Re: Solar Feed In Cuts Threaten the UK’s Green Economy

We are writing as the DECC Youth Advisory Panel, the panel set up to bring a youth perspective to  the Department of Energy and Climate Change and its decision-making.

We are extremely shocked and concerned by the recent news that the Solar Feed-in-Tariff (FiT) will be cut in half in December.  We are deeply concerned this is happening without proper public consultation and the cuts are so rapid and so deep.

This is already having a direct impact on grassroots renewable energy projects. We know of one school in London under refurbishment over the next two years which was due to benefit from the Feed in Tariff generating funding to directly improve outcomes through added value programmes for students, a  project which will now be scrapped.  One of our panel members is working on the ‘Go Green Plus’ programme for small businesses in London, within which many small family-run businesses, from newsagents to pubs, were hoping to install solar panels using the FiT.  All these small businesses are now being forced to scrap their plans to install solar, even though they wanted to become more sustainable, because the incentive will be too low.  It will also perhaps fatally damage thriving localised renewable energy programs by regional and local governments.

The Feed in Tariff was introduced to boost the UK’s solar industry after years of consultation and research on its impacts in Germany.  Although the Feed-in Tariff rates are similar in the UK and Germany now, in Germany the solar FiT was stable for many years before major changes were made to its successful scheme.  Britain must follow Germany’s example and take extra care not to damage its bold, but fledgling, solar industry in these initial years.  The UK’s deep and sudden cuts threaten the UK solar industry’s future and could destroy thousands of jobs in this time of instability, threatening 2000 jobs in the South West alone.

How is the UK’s pledge to cut emissions by 80% by 2050 to be met if essential support for renewable energy is cut?  These cuts threaten prospects of green growth in the UK and contradict the UK government’s own climate change commitments.  Furthermore at a time when everyone is faced with rising energy bills, the solar FiT was one of the only ways for householders to make a smart investment and avoid crippling energy costs.  This lifeline has now been removed.

The Youth Advisory Panel would like to see better government support for community projects that help engage the public with renewable energy and increase installed capacity.  With this in mind we support the proposal that a separate FiT definition be given to community energy projects, with a view to offering them a higher FiT rate in the future.

As young people we are deeply concerned about the growing threat of climate change and energy security on our future.  We are therefore deeply shocked that the UK government is going back on its own green promises by implementing these sudden cuts.  We urge the government to urgently re-think the proposal.

Yours Sincerely,
DECC Youth Advisory Panel

Signed By:  Helena Wright (Young Friends of the Earth), Elizabeth Anderson (Chair of the DECC Youth Advisory Panel),  Tom Youngman (DECC YAP),  Edward Byers, Ella Sivan, George Harper, Heather Kitt,  Jade Mitchell, Joshua Snape, Mairi McInnes,  Reuben Chesters,  Sasha Pratt,  Stephen Marshall (DECC YAP),  Tom Mower (People & Planet, Groundwork Leeds), Rose Wilson, Unkha Banda,  Zain Awan

The Green Deal

The Green Deal is an initiative being planned by the Coalition Government which will operate across the housing and commercial property sectors in the UK, it  is part of the wider The Energy Bill 2010. The UK Government has developed the idea of the Green Deal as a way to address the current lack of investment in energy saving measures in both domestic and non-domestic property.

It attempts to encourage home owners to consider making their homes greener, the scheme will enable those interested to take out a special loan in order to carry out work like loft insulation or solar panels etc. The loan would not be attached to a person but to a property and would be paid back through the savings such work would provide. Instead, payments for the improvements will be recouped through a charge in instalments attached to the customer’s energy bill and repaid over a number of years. The relevant energy company will be responsible for collecting repayments through energy bills and passing it on to the appropriate organisation responsible for providing the finance.  As such, this is not a conventional loan and is attached to the property and the person responsible for paying the energy bill. This will mean that the obligation to pay the loan will pass to the new occupier or bill payer if the current customer moves on.

The Bill is in its last stages going through parliament and is expected to become effective at the end of this month (Oct 2011) while the actual implementation of the bill or seeing the first “Green Deals” will, it is estimated not to start until October 2012 at the very least. The law will apply to the whole of the United Kingdom and will not see the devolved areas needing to administer the scheme within their area.

Home owners, housing associations and others across the UK will be able to take advantage of the opportunities presented by the Green Deal, once it becomes available.  Any Green Deal will commence with an assessment of the property and recommendations for measures for improvement.  This assessment will be undertaken by an accredited Green Deal Assessor, prior to agreeing a formal Green Deal Plan with a Green Deal Provider. It is proposed that a Green Deal Plan will include the detail of the energy efficiency improvements to be made, the installation itself and the financial package that supports it.  The Green Deal provider will be responsible for all aspects of the Green Deal Plan including arranging the installation, the finance package and warranties for products and services.

The Energy Bill contains specific provisions relating to  encouraging the Private Rented Sector (PRS) to take up Green Deal and improve the energy efficiency of property.  Two main provisions have been made

1    By 2016 reasonable requests made by tenants to landlords for Green Deal type improvements cannot be refused by landlords

2    By 2018 the minimum standard for any PRS property that is let must be E (unless a Green Deal has been taken out, all possible measures installed and the property still falls below E).  These improvements must have occurred by 2018 and 2018 is the end point/deadline not the starting point.

More information can be found via

[Thanks to staff at the Welsh government for providing some of the information.]

Decc – MY2050 -Can you balance energy supplies by 2050 ?

October 7, 2011 5 comments

The Department of Energy and Climate Change have launched an online tool named as My2050,  which allows the user to control an interesting set of issues to address in order to ensure efficient  energy generation by the year 2050.

To Access this and try and achieve a low carbon Home/City and Country please follow this link

Categories: Environment, UK Politics