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New bans and restrictions on polluting single-use plastics come into force - Defra

Some of the most polluting single-use plastic items banned from 1 October

Government action to tackle the scourge of litter and protect the environment from plastic pollution ramps up this weekend (Sunday 1 October), with bans and restrictions on a range of polluting single-use plastic items coming into force.

No business – whether retailer, takeaway, food vendor or part of the hospitality industry – will now be able to sell single-use plastic cutlery, balloon sticks nor polystyrene cups and food containers in England. The supply of single-use plastic plates, trays and bowls has also been restricted. The new regulations were announced in January and extensive work has taken place throughout 2023 to provide further guidance on the ban for businesses.

Plastic pollution takes hundreds of years to break down and inflicts serious damage on our ocean, rivers and land. It is also a source of greenhouse gas emissions, from its production and manufacture to the way it is disposed.

Research shows people across England use 2.7 billion items of mostly plastic single-use cutlery and 721 million single-use plates every year, but only 10% of these are recycled. If 2.7 billion pieces of cutlery were lined up, they would go round the world more than eight-and-a-half times.

Environment Minister Rebecca Pow said: “This new ban is the next big step in our mission to crack down on harmful plastic waste. It will protect the environment and help to cut litter – stopping plastic pollution dirtying our streets and threatening our wildlife. This builds on world-leading bans on straws, stirrers and cotton buds, our single-use carrier bag charge and our plastic packaging tax, helping us on our journey to eliminate all avoidable plastic waste by 2042.”

Summit to sea nature restoration continues at Ben Wyvis - NatureScot

A yellow CAT digger on open peatland with a brooding sky in the background
Peatland restoration at Ben Wyvis ©Albamontane

More than 200 hectares of peatland has now been restored on the mountainside at NatureScot’s Ben Wyvis National Nature Reserve (NNR) as part of landscape-scale habitat restoration stretching from summit to sea.

The large area of heavily eroded peat hags and gullies on the eastern slopes of the mountain, near Inverness, has been sensitively restored to re-vegetate the peat, halt erosion and allow the peatland to function properly.

The work, funded by NatureScot Peatland ACTION, has also included blocking historic man-made drains in order to re-wet the site and encourage the growth of sphagnum mosses to form new peat.

In total, 227 hectares has been restored by local contractors Albamontane at the site, which is also a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and Special Area of Conservation (SAC).

NatureScot Nature Reserves Manager Ian Sargent said: “In Scotland’s Climate Week we want to shine a light on some of the success stories that offer real inspiration and hope in the face of the twin crises of biodiversity loss and climate change. Ben Wyvis NNR is one such success story, where a combination of investment and the hard work of many individuals and organisations pulling together is bringing about real and dramatic change - nature restoration on a landscape-scale that stretches from mountain summit to sea shore. It’s a great example of what can be achieved when we take positive action to protect, restore and value nature, with all the benefits that brings for people as well.”

The work will not only have wide benefits for storing carbon, but also for a variety of species that live on the slopes of Ben Wyvis, as well as wider nature restoration work along the burns and rivers that flow off the hill to the sea at Dingwall.

Revealed: UK ‘woefully under-prepared’ to face increasing threat of wildfires - Fire Brigades Union

  • New report uncovers absence of UK-wide strategy and planning for wildfires
  • Cuts and under-resourcing leave fire service at risk of breaking in face of threat
  • Fire Brigades Union demands urgent action and investment to protect lives and property

A new report into UK wildfire resilience has been published by the Fire Brigades Union, uncovering a ‘dangerous’ lack of UK-wide strategy, planning and investment.

The report reveals the extent of the fragmentation and under-resourcing of fire and rescue services. Along with a lack of national standards or plans, this has already resulted in firefighters stretched beyond limits at incidents according to reports between 2011 and 2022. During the last decade, almost 12,000 firefighter jobs have been cut while wildfire risk has increased, impacting UK-wide resilience.

None of England’s Fire and Rescue National Frameworks have referred explicitly to the risk of wildfires, despite wildfires being listed as a threat to national security on the National Risk Register since 2013.

Research has found that wildfire preparation remains a ‘postcode lottery’, with no statutory obligation for including the risk in local strategies.

The publication follows the hottest June on record in the UK and record-breaking September temperatures. The union argues that devastating wildfires across Europe this summer must be taken as a warning to prepare for rising temperatures over the coming years.

The union calls for a UK wide strategy and standards to prepare for wildfires; a statutory duty on the government and fire and rescue authorities to prepare; central government investment in the fire and rescue service; and funding for necessary wildfire training and PPE.

Matt Wrack, Fire Brigades Union general secretary said: “As the climate changes, global temperatures are fuelling increasingly devastating wildfires. Understaffing and cuts mean that the fire service is woefully under-prepared for the task ahead. Firefighters are already being pushed to breaking point responding to wildfires across the UK.”

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