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£1.3 billion investment to deliver homes, infrastructure and jobs - Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government and Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy,

Funds to deliver up to 45,000 homes, create up to 85,000 jobs and upgrade skills and infrastructure to help fuel a green economic recovery announced.

  • Over 300 shovel-ready projects in England to share £900 million investment to build homes and infrastructure, and create jobs
  • £360 million investment confirmed to deliver 26,000 new homes on brownfield land
  • Strict accreditation rules for tradespeople involved in the £2 billion Green Homes Grant scheme to ensure homes are of the highest quality

Tens of thousands of new homes and other vital infrastructure projects were given the green light with nearly £1.3 billion of investment confirmed today (4 August 2020) by Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick.

The move is part of the government’s comprehensive plan to deliver upgrades to local infrastructure and boost skills to help fuel a green economic recovery.

Over 300 successful projects in England are being told they will receive a share of the £900 million Getting Building Fund, which was announced by the Prime Minister in June, to invest in shovel-ready housing and infrastructure projects, creating jobs and supporting economic recovery across the country.

The investment is expected to deliver up to 45,000 homes, create up to 85,000 jobs and reduce around 65 million kgs of CO2 emissions across England.

£100m Zoo Animals Fund Goes Live  - BIAZA

BIAZA is pleased to have secured additional funds from Westminster, to support animal welfare in zoos and aquariums facing financial hardship but calls for a clear commitment from Defra to reviewing its’ implementation.

As a result of this decision, funds will also be made available to the devolved nations via Barnett consequentials, and BIAZA is continuing to lobby devolved Governments to ensure these funds are made available to zoos and aquariums in those regions. Today’s [03 August 2020] announcement includes: 

  • £100 million fund to support zoo animals in England providing grants of up to £730,000 for animal welfare costs for licenced zoos and aquariums in financial hardship from Covid-19.
  • A range of animal welfare costs can be claimed for keeper wages, enrichment, feed and maintenance.
  • Animal transport and rehoming costs for collections needing to downsize or even close will also be covered by the fund. 
  • To be eligible, zoos or aquariums must have a licence under the Zoo Licensing Act 1981, individual zoos that are part of a parent company cannot apply.
  • Payments can be received when an organisation hits 12 weeks or less of financial reserves.
  • Coronavirus: £100m Zoo Animals Fund opens for applications

More details and how to apply from defra: The £100m Zoo Animals Fund, announced on 27 June, is now open for applications from zoos and aquariums.

Grants will be awarded on the basis of need where zoos face a shortfall despite doing everything they can to reduce their costs and raise income. This will include money to pay for veterinary care, medicines and animal feed as well as paying for staffing costs for those directly providing animal care.

The fund also offers grants to support rehoming costs in the event that zoos need to downsize or potentially close, and is open to those zoos which have already received support through the £14 million Zoo Support Fund

New charter for open spaces - Open Spaces Society

Today (4/8) we call for a better deal for open spaces. We have published charters and have written to Robert Jenrick, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, and to all of England’s planning authorities and to Julie James, the Minister for Housing and Local Government, and all of Wales’s planning authorities.

We call on government to introduce a national plan and standards for open spaces, and to place a duty on local authorities to ensure that everyone can enjoy good-quality, well-maintained and safe open space within 300 metres of their homes. We say that such spaces should be secured as part of development. Local Green Space must offer greater protection than now, and the process for designating it must be improved.

The society urges planning authorities to adopt robust policies for the acquisition, management and protection of green spaces, to have a budget for them and to dedicate their green spaces as town or village green to ensure their protection.

We recommend communities to get involved in their local planning processes before land is allocated for development, to identify spaces which need protection and to form friends’ groups to champion local spaces.

Says Phil Wadey, our newly-elected chairman: ‘During lockdown people have enjoyed their local spaces and paths as never before, and this use continues beyond the pandemic. We know there is a great disparity in the distribution and quality of open spaces, and that investment in these assets provides excellent value for money by improving people’s health and well-being. We therefore call on government, local authorities and communities to work together to ensure that everyone has access to good-quality green space close to home. This is a vital element of the green recovery after the pandemic. We have made proposals as to how this can be achieved.’

  • Read our charter for England here.
  • Read our charter for open spaces in Wales here.
  • You can see the full press release for Wales here.

England’s 10 biggest landowners must grow more trees - Friends of the Earth

Major landowners, like the Church Commissioners and the Duchy of Cornwall, must use their estates to grow more trees and fight the climate crisis

New analysis by Friends of the Earth shows that some of the biggest institutional landowners in England have levels of woodland cover on their land that is even lower than the weak national average.

The environmental campaign group has produced the first league table of England’s ten largest landowners, ranked by the area of woodland they each own. Nationally, England’s woodland cover stands at 10%.

In last place is the Church Commissioners, the investment arm of the Church of England, whose 105,000-acre estate has just 3% woodland cover. At this year’s General Synod, the Church vowed to reach net zero emissions by 2030.

And despite the Prince of Wales being famed for his interest in environmentalism, his estate, the 130,000-acre Duchy of Cornwall, has just 6% woodland cover.

The Prince and the Church are surpassed even by Highways England, the government department that manages the country’s major trunk roads – but who also have 13,588 acres of woodland growing by the side of motorways, 11% of their total landholdings. Unsurprisingly, the Forestry Commission tops the list, with over 400,000 acres of woods.

Friends of the Earth acknowledges the vital importance of habitats outside of woodland that are also important for supporting nature and fighting the climate crisis, and that some landowners will prioritise restoring such habitats. Recent analysis of unpublished Forestry Commission data found that there is enough suitable land in England to triple tree cover in England, without impacting on other Priority Habitats such as peat bogs.

Surface clean-up technology won't solve ocean plastic problem - University of Exeter

Plastic bag in the ocean (credit Making Oceans Plastic Free.)
Plastic bag in the ocean (credit Making Oceans Plastic Free.)

Clean-up devices that collect waste from the ocean surface won't solve the plastic pollution problem, a new study shows.

Researchers compared estimates of current and future plastic waste with the ability of floating clean-up devices to collect it – and found the impact of such devices was "very modest".

However, river barriers could be more effective and – though they have no impact on plastic already in the oceans – they could reduce pollution "significantly" if used in tandem with surface clean-up technology.

The study – by the University of Exeter, the Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research, the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research, Jacobs University and Making Oceans Plastic Free – focusses on floating plastic, as sunk waste is difficult or impossible to remove depending on size and location.

The authors estimate that the amount of plastic reaching the ocean will peak in 2029, and surface plastic will hit more than 860,000 metric tonnes – more than double the current estimated 399,000 – by 2052 (when previous research suggested the rate of plastic pollution may finally reach zero).

"The important message of this paper is that we can't keep polluting the oceans and hoping that technology will tidy up the mess," said Dr Jesse F. Abrams, of the Global Systems Institute and the Institute for Data Science and Artificial Intelligence, both at the University of Exeter. "Even if we could collect all the plastic in the oceans – which we can't – it's really difficult to recycle, especially if plastic fragments have floated for a long time and been degraded or bio-fouled. The other major solutions are to bury or burn it – but burying could contaminate the ground and burning leads to extra CO2 emissions to the atmosphere.”

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