Archive for Caroline Spelman
In the near future it will be easier for UK residents to opt out of receiving unwanted junk mail. A joint initiative launched by the Department of the Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) sees the creation of a free website where people can stop unwanted mail from being delivered. Currently, residents have to apply to three services (the Mailing Preference Service, the Your Choice Preference System and Royal Mail’s Door to Door opt-out service) if they want to avoid junk mail but these will now be phased out in favour of the more simple version. The DMA have said that each household receives as much as 300 items of unaddressed mail every year and only 77 addressed pieces of mail. Caroline Spelman, the environment secretary, said: ”We have all returned home from holidays to be greeted by a mountain of unwanted, unsolicited mail waiting behind the front door, most of which is thrown straight out. These piles of paper irritate householders, waste businesses’ money and are environmentally unsustainable.” The joint initiative is part of a broader agreement between DEFRA and the DMA to help make the UK a zero-waste society.
www.independent.co.uk 1st August 2011
Quoted from source:
‘The fight to stop thousands of badgers being culled has been joined by the campaign group which played a key role in forcing the Government to drop plans to sell off forests. The involvement of 38 Degrees heaps more pressure on the Environment Secretary, Caroline Spelman, to reverse her decision to let farmers shoot badgers in a campaign to stop them infecting cattle with bovine tuberculosis. It also adds weight to Home Office fears that protests against the killing of badgers will attract not just fanatical environmentalists but the weight of Home Counties opinion. In joining the badger campaign, online community group 38 Degrees made clear it is not totally against the possibility of a cull, but believes the case made so far by the Government is unconvincing. A campaigner, Marie Campbell, said on the group’s website: “Some of us believe that if the science really proved shooting badgers could make a real dent in the cow TB problem, it would be a tragic necessity. ”But 87 per cent of us agree on this: the Government’s current plans to shoot England’s badgers simply don’t stack up.” Ms Spelman said bovine TB was expected to cost farmers £1bn in England alone over the next decade.’
www.independent.co.uk 15th June 2011
The Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman has ruled out moves to reduce the 10 million tons of packaging used in the UK each year. Among the plans to reduce the enormous amount of waste produced by the country were a tax on plastic bags, ‘stricter targets on manufacturers’ use of raw materials’, and a bottle deposit scheme that would save councils tens of millions. They were all dropped due to opposition from retailers. In regard to the bottle deposit scheme, which works wonderfully in countries such as Germany, customers would be charged 15p extra on bottles under 500ml and 30p for those over. The extra money would be paid back when the bottle was returned to the store giving an incentive to recycle. David Cameron initially supported the plan last year but it was turned down by the Department of the Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) due to ‘uncertainties’ about the benefits of the scheme when weighed up against others. Industry opposition also made things difficult. The Campaign to Protect Rural England, who have spear-headed the bottle deposit scheme, have estimated that the money saved from such a scheme will easily outweigh costs. £700 million would be needed to run the program but £160 million would be saved from council recycling, £69 million from reduced carbon emissions, and £1.2 billion from economic and environmental benefits of less litter.
www.telegraph.co.uk 10th June 2011
The latest spell of warm weather across the UK has been the declared the driest spring in 100 years, according to the UK’s Environment Agency, causing parts of Eastern England to be given ‘drought’ status. This means farmers may have to stop taking water from local waterways and businesses such as food processors and breweries reduce water use and share resources. Despite this, the Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman has said that a hosepipe ban is not yet needed as reservoirs remain quite full. She did suggest people take showers instead of baths though to save water. Only one water company, Severn Trent in the Midlands, has openly said that a hosepipe ban is likely this summer. Although East Anglia is the worst affected part of the country, areas of the South West, South East, the Midlands, and Wales are designated as having ‘near-drought’ conditions. The WWF have expressed concerns that water companies make take too much water from waterways threatening such species as otters, water voles, and salmon. A spokesman said, “our water supplies have been taken for granted for far too long and now we’re facing a drought that could devastate our wildlife, rivers and crops. Ministers must act to ensure we change the way we use our water instead of wasting it through badly designed buildings and appliances, poor planning and inadequate investment.” Most cereal crops such as Barley and Wheat in East Anglia and the South East have already been lost due to dry conditions but fruits such as strawberries and cherries are having bumper yields.
www.independent.co.uk 30th March 2011
Quoted from source:
‘The Government is being asked to investigate a possible link between a new generation of pesticides and the decline of honey bees. It is suspected that the chemicals may be impairing the insects’ ability to defend themselves against harmful parasites through grooming. The Environment Secretary, Caroline Spelman, will have to answer a question in the Commons from the former Home Office minister David Hanson about whether the Government will investigate if the effect of neonicotinoids on the grooming behaviour of bees is similar to its effect on termites. The pesticides, neonicotinoids, made by the German agribusiness giant Bayer and rapidly spreading in use, are known to be fatal to termites by damaging their ability to groom themselves and thus remove the spores of harmful fungi.’
Read the rest of the article in The Independent here.
www.independent.co.uk 18th February 2011
Quoted from source:
‘Caroline Spelman issued an extraordinary apology yesterday as she scrapped plans to sell off England’s forests, telling MPs: “I’m sorry, we got this one wrong.” The Environment Secretary’s act of public contrition helped to calm the political storm the Government provoked with its controversial scheme to offload 637,000 acres of woodlands from public ownership. Tory MPs, who had joined a national protest campaign that united countryside groups and all shades of political opinion, rallied around the embattled minister as she confirmed the policy U-turn. Just 24 hours after David Cameron condemned the sell-off plans, she said she was halting the public consultation into the scheme, which had been due to run for another nine weeks, and was setting up an expert panel to look into forestry policy. She told the Commons: “I am doing so because it is clear from the early responses to the consultation that the public and many MPs are not happy with the proposals we set out.” Ms Spelman, who said she took full responsibility for the bungled scheme, received Mr Cameron’s backing yesterday as Downing Street said he had full confidence in her and that she had not offered to resign. She was supported on the Government front bench by several senior ministers, including the Chancellor, George Osborne. Ms Spelman said the retreat, and her Commons appearance to announce it, was “not a question of humiliation – it is my choice”. She added: “Humility is a good quality in a politician.”
www.independent.co.uk 28th January 2011
The Coalition government of the UK has announced that the vast majority of the country’s state-owned woodland, around 637,000 acres, is to be sold off to the private sector to raise funds for the cash-strapped economy. Despite a recent poll showing 84% of the public disagree with the decision, Caroline Spelman, the environment secretary, claimed that the mass sell-off would raise £250 million over the ten years the sale would take place. The government seemed to cede to public pressure however with a series of rigorous safeguards that would protect public access to woodland and protect wildlife within it. Also, more ‘commercially valuable’ woodland would not be sold freehold but for leases of 150 years. Timber companies will have strict rules concerning their purchasing power and woodland will also be available to local authorities, communities and civil society. A further olive branch was extended towards those who are concerned with so-called ‘heritage forests’ such as the New Forest and the Forest of Dean. These will not be sold off but given to a charity to manage. The most likely candidate is The Woodland Trust but the board of the charity have insisted that they will not take on these duties unless they receive government funding to do so.
12th November 2010
On the 24th October, the Guardian newspaper reported that, in order to yet further reduce the nation’s deficit, the coalition government is to sell off half of Britain’s forests. If such a move went ahead then it would be the greatest change of land ownership since the second world war. In response to the article, Caroline Spelman, the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, has written a retort in the same paper explaining the details of the government’s decision. In it she explains that rather than a mass sell-off of a valuable national asset, the government is seeking to decentralise environmental management in a new and innovative way. Read her explanation here.
www.independent.co.uk 3rd October 2010
Initial results from new research by the Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (Teeb) project has calculated that the economic loss of biodiversity through deforestation alone costs the global economy £2.8 ($4.5) trillion a year. This equates to roughly $650 for every person on the planet. The research is ground-breaking in that it is the first study to calculate the economic potential of the world’s environment in an attempt to encourage governments and businesses to act on conservation. A former banker Pavan Sukhdev has been hired to head the study. Other statistics include the $320 billion worth of genetic resources used by the pharmaceutical industry. The results of the report coincide with the Convention of Biological Diversity in Nagoya, Japan. Headed by the UK government and Brazil, and supported by the UN and the World Bank, biodiversity has been pushed into the diplomatic agenda. Britain and Brazil hope that the convention of the 18th October will produce a treaty that ‘would ensure that regions rich in natural resources, including South America, Asia and Africa, receive the benefits enjoyed by developed countries.’ With a quarter of the world’s original biodiversity already extinct by the beginning of the millennium, and with a further 11% expected to disappear by 2050, an agreement is vital. By explaining the extent of the problem in economic terms, the Teeb hope to encourage governments to act.Speaking for the UK, Caroline Spelman, the Environment Secretary, said: “We are losing species hand over fist. I would be negligent if I didn’t shout from the rooftops that we have a problem; the loss of species will cost us money and it will undermine our resilience in the face of scientific and medical research.”
Sources: www.independent.co.uk 12th September 2010
The Coalition Government has announced a change in how Britain is to deal with climate change steering away from preventative measures towards preparing for the inevitable changes in climate. The Conservative Secretary of State for the Environment Caroline Spelman has outlined, through a series of dramatic visual aides, how the UK must adapt to handle such disasters such as floods, increased temperatures and droughts in the future. Measures such as building hospitals and fire stations on higher grounds to escape flood waters and skyscrapers reflecting sunlight are included in the package of ideas that should allow the UK to prevail in a ‘survival of the fittest scenario’. The government’s comments contrast to the stance taken by the Labour Party who believe that ‘tackling a challenge on the scale of climate change requires state intervention and global co-operation, and cannot simply be left to the free market and private business.’ Ms. Spelman’s statement has been supported by the Adaption Sub-Committee (ASC) of the Climate Change Committee.
How the present government hopes to implement these plans though is uncertain as no extra money has been put forward to sponsor them and Ms. Spelman’s department is to experience cuts of around 40%. It is the responsibility of individual companies to protect themselves.