HSE:  Shutting the stable Door - The Health & Safety Executive has issued precautionary advice to operators of fuel storage sites following the publication of a progress report by the Buncefield Major Incident Investigation Board on the joint investigation by HSE and the Environment Agency.


HSE has requested that operators with consent to store quantities of oil or other fuels that make them subject to the Control of Major Accident Hazards (COMAH) Regulations 1999, review their operations in the light of information obtained from the investigation to date and report the outcomes of those reviews to HSE by Easter 2006.   HSE inspectors will also be carrying out targeted inspections at those sites over the next three months.


HSE's precautionary advice takes the form of a safety alert issued to all COMAH operators and industry groups:

Press release ~ HSE – Chemical industries website ~ HSE – COMAH website ~ Buncefield Investigation website ~ Interim Report ~ UKPIA ~ CIA ~ BCDTA trade association ~ Chemical and Downstream Oil Industry Forum (CDOIF) ~ Environment Agency


ODPM:  Is it my imagination or is it getting warmer? - Housing and Planning Minister Yvette Cooper has announced that the Government has tightened the time for the building industry to comply with new climate change regulations.  Transitional arrangements have been cut from the usual maximum of three years to just 12 months to speed up take up of the regulations to maximise their impact on climate change.


All new buildings without full building plans approved by 6 April must comply with the new Part L building regulations from 6 April 2006, which increase the energy efficiency of new buildings by 20% from April, and by 40% since 2002.


The revisions to Part L to be implemented in April 2006 will set maximum carbon dioxide emissions for whole buildings.  This performance-based approach will offer designers the flexibility to choose solutions that best meet their needs, and that are cost-effective and practical.  However, the revisions to Part L will raise performance standards to a level that will provide a strong incentive to designers to consider Low and Zero Carbon systems.

Press release  ~ Part L building regulations ~ Energy Performance of Buildings Directive ~ Achieving the 40% House scenario ~ Environmental Change Institute ~ Carbon Trust


English Nature:  I thought I saw something moving - A free guide to the mammals that you can find in your garden has been published by English Nature.  Produced with The Mammal Society and Mammals Trust UK, the guide, illustrated with stunning photographs, has tips on attracting more mammals to your garden and deterring less welcome visitors.


The guide shows how to live alongside the mammals and the benefits they can bring.  For example, moles can be good for your garden by eating harmful insect larvae like leatherjackets and helping to drain & aerate heavy soils. Hedgehogs are also very useful to have around as they consume large quantities of snails and slugs.


Mammals in your garden and 10 other leaflets about gardening with wildlife in mind are available free.

Press release ~ Mammals in your garden ~ Other leaflets in ‘Nature in your Garden’ series ~ The Mammal Society ~ Mammals Trust UK ~ Environment Agency - Mammals ~ UK Mammals - winners and losers? ~ A report to Peoples’s Trust for Endangered Species Mammals Trust UK ~ The Mammal Monitoring Project


Home Office: Back on the Beat - As part of the roll out of neighbourhood policing to all areas of the country, the Home Office has worked with an Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) Neighbourhood Policing Team to establish 43 Basic Command Units (BCUs) one for each force in England and Wales.


Each of these BCUs is supposed to implement & champion neighbourhood policing and provide advice on the best way of adapting neighbourhood policing for their force.  The Government expects half the country to have neighbourhood policing by 2007, with full implementation by 2008.


The Home Office has also:

·         announced the findings of a research report into National Reassurance Policing Pilots (NRPP) and

·         published a literature review of community engagement in policing.

Press release ~ Evaluation report on National Reassurance Policing Pilots ~  Literature review of community engagement in policing - Community Engagement in Policing ~ Reassurance Policing ~ Neighbourhood Policing - your Police; your community; our commitment ~ Home office police reform website ~ Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) ~ National Reassurance Policing Pilots (NRPP)


Industry News:  Clear signals ahead for a sustainable Railway system - Sustainable development, the idea of linking economic growth, social inclusion and protection of the environment to benefit both present and future generations is increasingly one of the biggest ideas around. 


However we have a major problem as, over the past 50 years the capacity of our overall transport system has not increased at anything like the pace needed to keep up with the increased mileage (the average person in 1950 travelled less than 3,000 miles per year, while today it is, excluding international air, nearly 7,000).  


Despite the sustainable advantages of rail it only has some 6%-7% of the passenger (but this is four times larger in London) and 10% of the freight market.  To some extent the reason is that rail presents a more specialist transport means than the car.  It is not much good on ultra-short journeys (25% of all car journeys are under 2 miles) and running between places where it is hard to aggregate reasonable levels of demand. 


But there is a deeper reality in that the car is seen to have liberated us.  However, the reality is that this is a liberation that has increasingly proved to be illusory.  The only way our major cities can be made to work sustainably is by having adequate rail systems, both heavy & light and, of course, underground where appropriate. 


There is a strong environmental case for rail - Short-haul aircraft can emit up to ten times more carbon dioxide emission than high-speed trains per passenger carried.


There is a challenge to reduce infrastructure costs but all the signs are pointing downwards.  To a significant extent the high cost levels are a consequence of the roller-coaster ride of the industry since privatisation.  If we can settle down to a long-term plan with the aim of getting more out of our railways the industry will be in an even better position to play an increasingly important role in Britain’s sustainable development future.

Full article  ~ Railway Forum ~ The Association of Train Operating Companies ~ The Railway Industry Association ~ Network Rail ~ Passenger Transport Executives ~ Transport for London ~ DfT – Road Transport and congestion data ~ Rail transport: The sustainable alternative for air travel in Europe ~ Energy Efficiency Technologies for Railways


Forthcoming Event: Leading the drive for success - The National School of Government is hosting the Efficiency and Performance Improvement Conference 2006 on Tuesday 28th and Wednesday 29th March 2006 at the Victoria Park Plaza hotel, London.

In its 10th year, the conference will focus on both the Efficiency and Delivery & Reform Agendas, while underpinning the conference theme and woven into many of the presentations & workshops will be Sir Gus O’Donnell’s’four ‘Ps’, the universal concepts of:

·         Pride

·         Pace

·         Passion and

·         Professionalism


Keynote Speeches include:

·         Mobilising Public Leadership in the Drive for Success

·         What do we mean by Success?

·         The Sunningdale Institute – how can we help?

·         Developing Professional Skills

·         Turning Policy into Delivery

·         Efficiencies through Modernisation – Driving Cultural Change through Organisations

·         Emerging Directions in Healthcare Improvement

·         Leading the drive for success

·         From Strategy to Delivery


Parallel Sessions/Workshops will support the keynote speeches. These sessions will be conducted by either practitioners or those with a special knowledge of the tools, techniques and tactics that really work.

Full details  ~ National School of Government ~ Sunningdale Institute ~ Government Skills (the SSC for Central Government) ~ NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement ~ Prime Minister’s Delivery Unit ~ Home Office Police Standards Unit ~ European Centre for Business Excellence ~ Gershon’s review of Public Sector Efficiencey ~ Delivery & Reform Group ~ Four ‘Ps’ ~ The relationship between central delivery toolkits ~ Other events



General News

DH:  Chief Medical Officer Sir Liam Donaldson, John Broughton, Assistant Chief Constable, Essex Police and Sandra Caldwell, Director of Field Operations at the HSE, have launched a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to help ensure that investigations into serious patient safety incidents are conducted in a consistent & well-coordinated manner that leads to effective learning.


The protocol forms part of the guidance promised to the NHS by the Chief Medical Officer in his report Building a Safer NHS for Patients (2001) and will take effect in circumstances of unexpected death or serious untoward harm, involving NHS patients being treated in either NHS or independent sector hospitals, requiring investigation by the police, HSE or the police and the HSE jointly.

Press release ~ Memorandum of understanding: Investigating patient safety incidents involving unexpected death or serious untoward harm ~ Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) ~ HSE Health Services website ~ Building a Safer NHS for Patients ~ Seven steps to patient safety ~ Patient Safety Research Portfolio ~ Wristbands - simple technolgy for safer practice


Big Lottery Fund:  Children’s happiness and healthy development is at the centre of a £15 million partnership between the Big Lottery Fund and the Children’s Play Council (CPC).  The grant is the first to be awarded through the Lottery good cause fund’s £155 million Children’s Play initiative, which is focused on improving and developing play opportunities for children in all areas of England.


The CPC, part of the National Children’s Bureau, has been awarded the grant to deliver the Play England Project, a major five-year development, to help local agencies in planning for play across their area by setting up a national support and development infrastructure across the regions.


The Big Lottery Fund has already announced allocations totalling £124 million for local authorities in England under the Children’s Play programme.   

Press release ~ BLF – Children’s Play ~ Children’s Play Council ~ Q&As ~ National Children’s Bureau


Scottish Executive:  All Scottish schoolchildren are to have an individual identity number as part of a new child protection strategy.  The unique pupil ID numbers, known as Scottish Candidate Number (SCN), are intended to allow pupil records containing key information to be quickly shared between schools and councils.  


Numbers will be available to issue to all new pupils starting primary one or entering into the Scottish education system from the summer of this year.


One ‘beneficiary’ will be the Children Missing Education project, launched last year to help find children who have disappeared from the education system, which has already traced 114 children referred to them by councils.

Press release ~ Scottish Candidate Number (SCN) (current use) ~ Safe and well: Good practice in schools and education authorities for keeping children safe and well ~ DfES Information sharing Index

Policy Statements and Initiatives

Countryside Agency:  The Natural England partnership of the Countryside Agency, English Nature and Rural Development Service, were asked by Defra to undertake fact-finding work on the current coastal situation and the types of access that would be most useful for the public and beneficial to wildlife & the coastal landscape.   Initial studies took place in 2005 near Brighton, Durham, the Essex estuaries, Lincolnshire, North Cornwall and Sefton.


The Natural England partners have now selected four further study areas to cover coastline areas with good or poor access provision, different levels of tourism and proximity to large population areas


 Work will take place along the Suffolk Coast, Southern Cumbrian Coast and Morecambe Bay, County Durham and Hartlepool Coast and North Devon, Exmoor and West Somerset Coast during March and April this year and the Countryside Agency will report to Defra on the outcome of this work in May, in preparation for the launch of a public consultation in October 2006.

Press release ~ Countryside Access – Coasts section ~ Countryside Agency ~ Natural England ~  ‘Access to the English Coast’ project ~ ICZMap project


DH:  Health Minister Rosie Winterton has announced that eight 'pioneer' health communities have been chosen to help the NHS deliver a maximum wait of 18 weeks from GP referral to treatment.  The eight will become test-beds for innovative new ways to speed up access to care and show the rest of the NHS how to make long waiting times history.


According to the government, it will require a transformation of the way that waiting times are measured and for the first time will include the 'hidden waits' for diagnostics.

Press release ~ Picture Archiving and Communications System (PACS) ~ National Programme for IT in the NHS ~ DH – Waiting times ~ Diagnostic waits


ODPM:  Ten schemes from 15 local authorities have been awarded £126 million over three years in a new Government programme intended to boost the economies of some of the most deprived areas in England.  The Local Enterprise Growth Initiative (LEGI) is a joint neighbourhood renewal programme between the ODPM, HM Treasury & the DTI that aims to:

·         increase entrepreneurial activity in the local population

·         support the growth & reduce the failure rate of locally-owned businesses

·         attract appropriate inward investment & franchising

·         making use of local labour resources

Press release ~ LEGI website ~ Local Authority Business Growth Incentives (LABGI) scheme ~ Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) UK report


Defra:  New proposals to reduce red tape while continuing to protect human health & the environment have been published by Defra, the Welsh Assembly Government and the Env. Agency.  The consultation (closes 15 May 2006) proposes to combine two major environmental systems: the Pollution Prevention & Control System and the Waste Management Licensing system


Defra estimates that a single streamlined permitting system will yield administrative savings of approximately £70m over 10 years for industry & regulators, with potential for additional economic benefits.  Defra also claims that this new approach will also create the potential to simplify other permitting systems in the future.

Press release ~ Environmental Permitting Programme ~ Consultation documents ~ Defra's Five Year Strategy - Delivering the Essentials of Life ~ Simplification Plan - Lifting the Burden ~ Waste legislation and licensing: Applying for a Waste Management licence


WAG: The Welsh Assembly Government has published for consultation (closes 31 March 2006) a new strategy for managing Wales’ coastal resources sustainably.  WAG has taken forward preparation of the Wales strategy in conjunction with the Wales Coastal and Maritime Partnership, on which key interests from the public, private and voluntary sectors are represented.


In May 2002 the European Union adopted a Recommendation on Integrated Coastal Zone Management and this requires Member States to develop ICZM strategies by 2006.   

Press release ~ Consultation documents ~ Carmarthen Bay and Estuaries ~ Wales – Integrated coastal zone management ~ Wales - Coastal and Maritime Partnership ~ Defra - Integrated coastal zone management ~ EU - Integrated coastal zone management ~ A review of worldwide practice


DCMS:  An Independent Review of European Football that will examine the way the game is run and make recommendations to improve its governance has been launched in London.  The review was established in order to best implement the Nice Declaration on the Specific Characteristics of Sport, which says that member states 'must take account of the social, educational and cultural functions inherent in sport.'


The review has a dedicated website where fans and football organisations will be able to contribute to the review (by 13 March 2006).   A public consultation hearing will take place on 29 March 2006 (location & time to be confirmed).  If you represent a stakeholder of European football and you are interested in participating and/or speaking at this public consultation hearing, email your details to consultation@independentfootballreview.com by no later than 15 March 2006.

Press release ~ Nice Declaration on the Specific Characteristics of Sport


Ofwat:  Ofwat is consulting (closes 17 May 2006) on its new duty to contribute to sustainable development in carrying out its work in regulating the water industry in England and Wales.  It is asking those with an interest in its work how the organisation can make a successful contribution to ensuring that 'the quality of life of future generations is not compromised’.


In the consultation Ofwat sets out its thinking on sustainable development including:

·         An initial interpretation of what sustainable development means to Ofwat

·         How Ofwat believes it can contribute to sustainable development

·         What Ofwat thinks will be the key issues for the 2009 price review and beyond


The response to the consultation will be considered by the Water Services Regulation Authority, which succeeds the Director General as the industry's economic regulator on 1 April 2006.

Press release ~ Contributing to sustainable development - a consultation on Ofwat's approach


HM Treasury:  The Gowers Review of Intellectual Property issued a ‘call for evidence’ (by Friday 21 April 2006) as part of its commitment to consult widely.


The ‘call for evidence’ consists of a letter from Andrew Gowers, with an accompanying paper that provides details of the scope of the Review and sets out a number of general & specific issues on which the Review would particularly like to gather evidence. It also invites respondents to highlight other issues for consideration.

Press release ~ Gowers Review of Intellectual Property ~ Intellectual Property website ~ IP Crime Strategy document ~ International Intellectual Property Institute (IIPI) ~ British library Business and IP Centre ~ Creative Industries website

Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides

DH:  NHS and social care organisations are being given guidance in helping millions of people with long term conditions manage their health better and stay out of hospital in a new guide - Supporting people with long term conditions to self-care.

Press release ~ Supporting people with long term conditions to self-care ~ DH: Long-term care website ~ Supporting People with Long Term Conditions: An NHS and Social Care Model to support local innovation and integration ~ NSF for Long Term Conditions (neurological) ~ Self Care - A Real Choice (Self Care Support - A Practical Option) ~ Supporting people with long term conditions: Liberating the talents of nurses who care for people with long term conditions

Annual Reports

Defra:  UK expertise & backing is making it possible is protect wildlife & habitats and support communities from Latvia to Las Perlas, according to the annual report of the Darwin Initiative, which aims to help countries that are rich in biodiversity, but have limited financial resources to conserve their wildlife and use it sustainably.


Projects investigating mass flamingo death in Kenya and developing innovative techniques to detect the presence of the notoriously elusive Jerdon's Courser in India were among the 107 practical, hands-on projects in 70 countries funded by the Darwin Initiative in the past year and described in the report.

Press release ~ The Darwin Initiative ~ Eighth Annual Report ~ Convention on Biological Diversity ~ Eighth Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity

General Reports and other publications

ONS:  ‘Ethnicity’ is highlighted in the new edition of Social Trends published by the Office for National Statistics.  It shows that the experiences of UK ethnic groups are as different as their origins, with diversity within groups as well as between them.


This year's feature report is on the ethnic & religious diversity of the UK population, looking at the labour market & educational achievements of the different ethnic and religious populations.

Press release ~ National Statistics – Social & Welfare website ~ Ethnicity website ~ Social Trends 36

Legislation / Legal

ODPM:  The Government is claiming that its reforming measures, included in the Housing Act 2004, has entered the next phase with the laying of seven Statutory Instruments in Parliament.  Measures that will come into force in April 2006 include those that are intended to: bring long-term empty homes back into use, improve landlord management of their properties through licensing and increase the health & safety of dwellings


Further measures under the Housing Act to safeguard tenants' deposits are scheduled to come into force in October.

Press release ~ Housing Act 2004 ~ Commencement dates for provisions of Act

EU legislation, initiatives, etc.

HMRC:  Responding to recent European Court of Justice decisions in the linked cases of Halifax, BUPA and the University of Huddersfield, Paymaster General Dawn Primarolo said:

"The Government welcomes these decisions, in which the European Court has underscored our determination to tackle artificial VAT avoidance schemes. These decisions will ensure fairness in the VAT system”.

 Press release ~ HMRC ~ Background article ~ European Court of Justice Judgement


Defra / CA: The UK has signed the Council of Europe's European Landscape Convention which deals with protection, development & sustainable landscape management.  Parliament will have 21 days in which to consider whether it wishes to hold a debate on the Convention.   If the UK does ratify the Convention, it will enter into force on the first day of the month following the expiry of a period of three months after the date of the deposit of the instrument of ratification.


The Natural England partnership welcomes the Government’s decision to sign the Convention as it provides a basis for recognising the importance of landscapes and sharing experience across Europe.


The UK is already putting much of the principles of the ELC into practice. For example the concept of landscape character – what gives a location its unique sense of place and identity – is already used to help manage & monitor changes in rural land use.

Defra press release ~ Countryside Agency press release ~ European Landscape Convention (ELC) ~ Defra landscape protection ~ Character Map of England – Landscape, Wildlife, Natural and Cultural Features ~ Landscape Character Assessment: Guidance for England and Scotland guidance ~ Comparing alternative landscape classifications ~ Landscape as an integrating framework for rural policy and planning ~ GIS Digital boundary datasets

Charity and Voluntary Sector

CC: In the past it's been difficult to get a quick & easy picture of what difference charities are actually making. That's all set to change with the launch of an on-line database from the Charity Commission.  The SIR (Summary Information Return) database will hold details of all the biggest charities' achievements and lets them tell their story to everyone, whether potential volunteers, donors or committed givers.


There are currently over 700 SIRs in the database, but this will grown to over three and a half thousand as the deadline for charities sending their returns into the Charity Commission arrives. All charities with an income of over £1 million must now send in an annual SIR.

Press release ~ SIR database ~ Progress on Charities Bill

Business and other briefings

HMRC:  The Government says that it will introduce legislation in the Finance Bill 2006 to amend the UK loss relief rules, following the ECJ judgement on 13 December 2005 in the case of Marks & Spencer plc v David Halsey.


As part of this, measures will be introduced to deny loss relief where there are arrangements which either:

·         result in losses becoming unrelievable outside the UK that were otherwise relievable, or

·         give rise to unrelievable losses which would not have arisen but for the availability of relief in the UK, if the main purpose or one of the main purposes of those arrangements is to obtain UK relief.


The proposed legislation will be effective from 20 February 2006.

Press release ~ Changes to Company Tax Loss Relief Following European Court of Justice (ECJ) Judgment ~ Press article ~ Advocate General’s Opinion in Case 446/03


HMRC   Employers, payroll agents and accountants in London are being offered free payroll advice by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) when the EmployerTalk event comes to the Barbican on Thursday 2 March.


EmployerTalk offers everyone involved in payroll the chance to talk in confidence face-to-face with HMRC experts and to hear about the latest news and developments on a range of technical and legislative topics.  Small employers can hear about the £250 incentive on offer if they file this year's Employer PAYE returns online.

Press release ~ EmployerTalk – Register online

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