In the News
MO: Interesting to note that they end with a ‘caveat’ - The upper layer of the world’s ocean has warmed steadily since 1993, indicating a strong climate change signal, according to a new study. The energy stored is enough to power nearly 500 100-watt light bulbs per each of the 6.7bn people on the planet.
“We are seeing the global ocean store more heat than it gives off,” said John Lyman, an oceanographer at NOAA’s Joint Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research, who led an international team of scientists that analyzed 9 different estimates of heat content in the upper ocean from 1993 to 2008.
A warming ocean is a direct cause of global sea level rise, since seawater expands and takes up more space as it heats up, accounting for about one-third to one-half of global sea level rise. According to measurements by an array of autonomous free-floating ocean floats called ‘Argo’ (as well as by earlier devices called expendable bathythermographs or XBTs that were dropped from ships to obtain temperature data) ocean heat content has increased over the last 16 years. The team notes that there are still some uncertainties and some biases.
Newswire – EC: Ironic publication timing given recent floods in Europe - The European Commission has published a report on the progress of Member States in addressing water scarcity & droughts. Despite more rainfall in southern European countries in 2009 than in previous years, greater efforts are still needed to stop & reverse the over-exploitation of Europe's limited water resources.
This new report shows that some Member States have begun to suffer permanent scarcity across the whole country. The problem is not limited to Mediterranean countries. The Czech Republic has reported areas with frequent water scarcity and France & Belgium have reported over-exploited aquifers.
The Commission is launching a number of preparatory activities in view of a 2012 water scarcity & droughts policy review ('Blueprint to safeguard EU waters'). In 2010, the focus will be on efficiency and in particular the potential for savings in buildings, leakage reduction and water efficiency in agriculture.
ScotGov: North Sea Oil could just be a ‘flash in the pan’ by comparison - Scotland's seas could supply domestic electricity needs many times over by 2050, according to a new report out last week. The Offshore Valuation Study (OVS) - a UK led report launched at All Energy in Aberdeen - finds the value of that electricity could be £14bn by 2050. The study was led by the Offshore Valuation Group, a group drawn from across industry & government and chaired by the Public Interest Research Centre (PIRC), a not-for-profit charity.
The OVS is the first comprehensive economic valuation of the UK's offshore renewable energy resources to 2050. The study explores scenarios to develop the UK's offshore resources (wind, wave & tidal) to maturity in order to assess the long-term value from electricity exports, technology exports, jobs, returns to UK investors, and avoided imports.
The Scottish Government has also launched a consultation (closes 16 August 2010) detailing draft plans to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and realise Scotland's multi-billion pound potential in renewables. The Strategic Environmental Assessment and Development Plan for Offshore Wind sets out proposals for the short, medium & long term up to 2020 & beyond.
As part of the consultation process, a series of stakeholder consultation workshops will be taken forward by Marine Scotland in the coming weeks, to help explain the approach used to develop & assess the plan, and to further explore the environmental and sectoral issues raised in the process.
As well as considering the Draft Plan, consultees are invited to consider the proposals in the light of the environmental information set out in the SEA Environmental Report – See also item in ‘Industry News’ section.
Newswire - EC: Not exactly ‘rocket science’ - The Electoral Commission has completed its review into why voters in some polling stations were unable to cast their vote before the 10pm deadline on 6 May 2010. The report sets out what needs to be done to avoid a repeat of the problems 2 weeks ago.
The review found:
* at least 1,200 people were still queuing at 27 polling stations in 16 constituencies at 10pm
* in some areas the numbers of electors allocated to particular polling stations were too high and some polling stations had too few staff
* in all the areas affected there were also local government elections taking place (and, in some, Mayoral elections) which meant it took longer for each voter to vote and arrangements to deal with this were inadequate
* election officials did not identify & respond quickly enough to the problems that emerged on polling day
The reports recommendations include:
* the law should be changed to allow people still queuing at polling stations at 10pm to be able to vote
* local authorities & Returning Officers should make sure they allocate the right numbers of staff & electors to each polling station
The Commission will publish a full report into the UK general election and the English local government elections in July 2010, covering all aspects of the running of these elections. If new information emerges concerning polling station queues, this will be included.
NA: It’s all there in ‘black & white’ - While it may be decades before many government documents see the light of day, the UK Government Web Archive already contains more than a billion documents - instantly available to the public - which together comprise a comprehensive digital record of Labour’s time in power.
The web archive captures some of the most dramatic moments of recent times including government websites’ response to national emergencies, such as Swine Flu and the heightened security threat following the 2006 plot to bring down several aircraft in mid-flight.
Since 1997 there has been an explosion in web usage and government began using the new technology to distribute more of its information online. But there was a serious risk of this valuable historic record disappearing into a cyber graveyard. In response, The National Archives started archiving websites in 2003 and now trawls more than 1,500 government websites 3 times a year, capturing & preserving their contents for the digital archive of the future.
This year for the first time, the wealth of online government information circulated in the weeks leading up to & immediately after the general election has been systematically documented. The National Archives has been capturing key government websites, including the Number 10 site, before & after the election to ensure nothing was lost as a result of a change in government.
Forthcoming Event: Enterprise Architecture Conference Europe 2010, 16-18 June,
London - The 11th Annual Enterprise Architecture Conference is
Europe ’s leading independent and longest established conference on Enterprise Architecture. It is neither analyst led nor vendor led. It brings together the EA community’s foremost leading-edge thinkers and experienced practitioners from around the world:
Please Click Here to view the full conference programme.
- Keynote Speakers include John Zachman, Mike Rosen and world renowned business guru Don Tapscott
- Case studies and contributors include ABN Amro, BNP Paribas, The Open Group, Norwegian Tax Administration, Department for Work and Pensions, Ministry of Justice, Office for National Statistics, National Policing Improvement Agency, Sogeti Nederland, Aljazeera Network, NASA and many more….
- Delegates can choose from 4 conference tracks and 8 pre-conference tutorials
- The event is structured to accommodate delegates at all levels, whether you are just getting started in architecture, re-appraising your approach, or working to fine tune your performance
For information on other forthcoming public sector events please click HERE to visit the WGPlus Events Calendar
Newswire – WWF: As industrial boats prepared to set sail recently for the annual Atlantic Bluefin Tuna fishing season on the Mediterranean Sea, WWF urged all fishing countries to keep the fishery closed this year until a scientifically based management plan is in place that bans destructive industrial fishing.
This will underscore commitments to follow scientific advice in fisheries management made in Doha, Qatar in March by several governments invested in the bluefin tuna fishing industry at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna & Flora (CITES), the largest international wildlife trade convention meeting.
Newswire – BHF: Youngsters are blindly eating salty lunches packed with saturated fat, according to the results of a new lunch survey. The Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH) found some kids were leaving school at lunchtime and choosing to eat unhealthy meals from nearby burger bars & kebab shops.
Environmental Health food teams found some takeaway meals sold near schools contained more than one and a half times more salt and three times more saturated fat than an adult’s maximum daily recommendations.
The British Heart Foundation have plenty of tips for parents wanting to serve up tasty & healthy lunches, including nutritious lunchbox ideas for the week.
WAG: Deputy Minister for Children, Huw Lewis, has launched a new National Advocacy & Advice helpline for children & young people in Wales, with the help of Radio 1 presenter Aled Haydn Jones. The helpline – called Meic – is the first of its kind in the UK to be rolled out on a national basis.
Children & young people under 25 can get in touch with Meic by free phone (080880 23456), free text (84001) or instant message seven days a week. Initially, Meic will run for 8 hours a day (12-8pm) before becoming a 24 hour service.
Policy Statements and Initiatives
HO: Immigration Minister Damian Green has announced that children of failed asylum seekers will no longer be held overnight at Dungavel Immigration Removal centre.
Families detained in Scotland may undergo initial health & welfare screening at the facility, but will then be moved to Yarl's Wood centre in Bedfordshire which has specialist facilities & support services.
DFID: An immediate freeze on new funding for ‘awareness projects’, in a drive to refocus aid spending, has been announced by DFID Secretary of State Andrew Mitchell.
5 existing projects will be stopped at once, saving over £500k, while all other UK-based projects will be scrutinised in an urgent review. A further stop has been put on projects totalling more than £6.5m, with immediate effect.
Projects will be tested to ensure they are providing maximum value for money, with a halt on funding for any project that fails to meet tough results-based criteria. Funding will be redirected to areas where it will have a greater impact on global poverty.
DH: A new independent commission will be established to advise the Government on the future funding of long-term care and the NHS will be reformed to improve patient outcomes, Health Secretary Andrew Lansley announced last week.
The Government has also announced that it will not be commencing the provisions in the Personal Care at Home Act, 2010 relating to free care at home. However, the Government will be considering what more can be done on re-ablement and carers' breaks in the light of available resources.
TfL: Transport for London (TfL) has launched a statutory public consultation (closes on28 June 2010) to include larger vans & minibuses in the Low Emission Zone from January 2012. The proposal would require the oldest, most polluting larger vans, minibuses and other specialist vehicles to meet the Euro III standard for particulate matter (PM) in order to drive, without charge, in the Low Emission Zone from 3 January 2012.
These vehicles were originally due to be included from 4 October 2010. The new date will be confirmed & published well ahead of implementation to allow vehicle operators time to take any necessary action.
FSA: The Food Standards Agency’s expert advisory committee on novel foods is consulting on its draft opinion on a company’s application to market chia seed in the UK.
Chia (also known as Salvia hispanica) is a summer annual herbaceous plant belonging to the mint family. It is grown commercially in several Latin American countries and Australia, but the chia seed has not been consumed to a significant degree in the EU and is therefore considered to be a ‘novel food’.
A novel food is a food or food ingredient that does not have a significant history of consumption within the European Union (EU) before 15 May 1997. The company intends to limit the use of its chia seed to bread products at a maximum level of 5%. This is consistent with authorisation given to the South American-grown chia seed in 2009.
Any comments on this draft opinion should be emailed to the ACNFP secretariat at email@example.com by Saturday 29 May 2010. The comments will be passed to the committee when it concludes its assessment of this novel food ingredient.
MLA: Museum professionals have an opportunity to give their views to help shape the final Accreditation standard. Individuals or organisations can comment on the revised scheme. The new way forward for Museums, Libraries and Archives Council's (MLA) flagship Accreditation scheme is entering its final stages with a revised standard to be announced in autumn 2010.
Museum professionals now have an opportunity to give their views (by 25 June 2010) to help shape the final standard. Individuals or organisations can comment on whether the requirements are achievable & useful; and to suggest training & support needed to roll out the revised scheme.
Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides
Newswire – FC: New advice for woodland owners worried that their oak trees might be suffering from acute oak decline disease has been published by the Forestry Commission. The condition can kill a tree in as little as 4 or 5 years and it has been found affecting hundreds of trees across central & south-east England and parts of Wales.
In response to increasing public concern, they have written a guide, entitled ‘Managing Acute Oak Decline’, which gives advice, based on the knowledge they have gained so far, on how to recognise the disease, what to do about it, and how to minimise the risk of spreading it.
MCA: A consortium led by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) has launched - The Human Element: a guide to human behaviour in the shipping industry - a major new Guide for the shipping industry which explains how human behaviour lies at the centre of both the profits & the losses of the shipping industry – and what companies can do about it.
Put together by organisational psychologists, the Guide shows how human behaviour is at the heart of the shipping industry, generating its successes & its failures. The Guide provides insight, explanation & advice to help everyone involved in the global shipping industry manage the human element more safely, more effectively, and more profitably.
NICE: The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence guidance on mental wellbeing in the workplace could help to keep employees healthy, as latest figures from MIND reveal that the recession has left British workers stressed & depressed.
NICE: NICE has recently announced that it has recommended 2 treatments (infliximab & adalimumab) for people with severe Crohn’s disease. The guidance approves use of the drugs for people who have not responded to, who are intolerant of, or are unable to take more commonly used therapies to treat the condition. This final guidance now replaces local recommendations across the country; the NHS has 3 months to start implementing this new guidance.
Ofcom: If you’re confused by call charges or don’t know your 03 from your 0845 numbers, then Ofcom have the perfect guide for you. Their guide looks at some of the common numbers in use today, what they are used for and how much it costs to call them from a BT landline.
Newswire – ROSPA: The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents is leading a new initiative which will reduce employers’ confusion about which H&S qualifications workers need to hold and which training courses they need to undertake.
Unveiled at Safety and Health Expo, the National Core Competence Benchmark (NCCB) is a collaborative initiative supported by a wide range of trade associations and is open to any training course provider. One of its innovative elements will be a website which lists courses and qualifications that are accredited by trade, safety or examination bodies and ranks them against recognised training frameworks.
Legally, employers are wholly responsible for judging who is, or is not, competent. This is an onerous duty that is hampered by the lack of any clear standards. The website will include a tool for establishing development needs for employees holding specific positions, and it benchmarks the relative level of courses.
ScotGov: New guidance is being issued to Scotland’s health boards which will bring in a uniform national policy on introducing newly-licensed medicines. All boards will have to follow the same guidance when considering whether to make drugs available on the NHS.
The guidance covers all medicines, including drugs which have either not been approved or not yet considered by the Scottish Medicines Consortium - which approves drugs for general use on the NHS.
The guidance will apply wherever a clinician makes an individual request to a board for a drug not approved by the SMC to be used for a patient. Health boards will also be expected to make their policies public and to help patients through the process on request.
CRC: Last week saw the publication of the National Association of Local Councils’ (NALC) new communications toolkit aimed at local (parish & town) councils. Supported by the Commission for Rural Communities (CRC), the toolkit offers local councils a wealth of information on which to base their communications strategies.
CQC: A major survey of 69,000 NHS hospital inpatients points to big improvements in cleanliness and adecline in mixed-sex accommodation, says the Care Quality Commission. CQC said many of the survey questions relate to essential standards of quality & safety that trusts must meet under the new registration system that came into operation on 1 April 2010. The information is used to monitor performance in the NHS.
The Commission said progress was disappointing in some important aspects of care and in some cases the experience of patients had got worse. The survey also showed significant room for improvement around the information given to people about medicines.
General Reports and Other Publications
WAG: A major report suggesting how more money can reach education front line services has been published by Education Minister Leighton Andrews. The report calculates the cost of administering education across Wales.
It considers the numbers working in administering the education system and, crucially, identifies opportunities to move resources from administration to the delivery of front line services.
The report analyses £4.1bn of the annual expenditure on the education system in Wales of which direct funding for learning & teaching and other education expenditure accounts for 68% of the total. The remaining 32% is made up of support services, such as service management & financial administration.
The report identifies key opportunities for exploration grouped under two key themes.
* The first, Simplifying Governance, includes continuing to look for opportunities to simplify the structure of grant schemes
* The second, Standardising and Sharing Provision, includes exploring the opportunity for further development of more regional consortia sharing educational support
EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.
Newswire – EC: EU Member States should grant standard social protection, including at least 14 weeks' maternity leave allowance, for self-employed women and for wives or life partners of self-employed workers, says the EU Parliament in a binding proposal to update an EU directive.
Compromise amendments agreed with Council say it should be up to Member States to decide whether paying for membership of social insurance schemes (covering maternity leave, sickness, invalidity and old age) must be mandatory for self-employed women or whether they can access this system voluntarily.
The Council is set to adopt these amendments on 24 June 2010. Member States will then have 2 years to implement all these changes to the directive (or up to 4 years ‘if Member States find difficulties’ in finding the way to grant standard social protection to self-employed workers or spouses and partners of the self-employed).
Charity and Voluntary Sector
BIG: Young people at risk of being caught up in gang violence, young runaways and also young dads, are among those being helped by funding announced last week by the BIG Lottery Fund. More than £4m in Lottery 'good cause' money is going into work with marginalised young people, including investment in fresh training & job opportunities.
The grants come from BIG’s Reaching Communities programme which aims to help those most in need and build stronger communities.
Business and Other Briefings
HMRC: Six FREE toolkits to help agents avoid common errors when filing clients’ returns for 2009/10 have been published by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC). The toolkits are part of a wider HMRC approach to improving tax compliance which is increasingly focused on help & support to ensure that returns are correct. There is a dedicated section on the HMRC website which holds information, guidance and news specifically for agents
This Revenue & Customs Brief sets out details of an agreement reached with the business travel sector about invoicing supplies under 'hotel billback'.
Newswire – ROSPA: Employers can now opt for RoSPA-led (Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents) workshops linked to a project that investigated the training needs of young drivers who get behind the wheel as part of their jobs.
To complement FREE online resources for firms running their own in-house Young Drivers at Work Workshops, RoSPA has now launched options for organisations that would benefit from the safety charity leading the sessions.
The RoSPA Assisted Workshop involves a RoSPA trainer working alongside a staff member to prepare and deliver the session. It is ideal for firms that wish to train someone to conduct future sessions and also allows organisations to hear first-hand the issues encountered by their drivers.
ScotGov: First Minister Alex Salmond officially launched E.ON's new P2 Pelamis wave energy converter last week, formally naming it the Vagr Atferd (Norse for ‘wave power’). It is capable of generating 750kW of renewable energy and will be installed & tested at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Orkney.
The installation at EMEC will be the first time that the P2 machine has been tested anywhere in the world and also represents the UK's first commercial supply contract within the marine energy sector. The device is 180 metres long - or as long as the Gherkin building in London is tall - and weighs approximately 1,500 tonnes - See also item in ‘In the News’ section.
Newswire – UKSA: The UK Space Directory is an authoritative source of information on space capability within the UK. The Directory assists in raising the profile of the UK Space community (both industry & academia) and will promote the capabilities of individual organisations to stakeholders both inside & outside of the UK.
OS: Fully customisable, mid-scale mapping that has been specifically designed for the Web has now arrived in OS OpenData, with the release of OS VectorMap District, which is now available for developers to download, order on disc & view via Ordnance Survey’s FREE mapping portal. It is available through the OS OpenData ‘view’ & ‘supply’ options and will be added to the OS OpenSpace API within the next few weeks.
The new dataset has been specifically designed for use online & created to support the aims of Data.gov.uk, offering a clear & customisable background on which to display a whole range of other information. OS VectorMap District has been released as an ‘alpha’ product, meaning it will be developed and enhanced over time in line with user feedback.
OS: Ordnance Survey has launched its own blog to provide a new way to communicate with customers, stakeholders and the public. The site (blog.ordnancesurvey.co.uk) includes posts on a range of topics, from walking guides & product news to how geographic information (GI) plays a role in people’s lives.
Ordnance Survey also sees the blog as a chance to help raise awareness of its role in the digital economy and the value of GI. An independent assessment has valued its contribution to the UK economy at around £100bn, but many people still see the organisation as solely the maker of leisure maps.
EA: FCRM10, the UK’s leading flood & coastal risk management conference, will be held at the International Conference Centre, Telford (29 June – 1 July 2010). Now in its 45th year, the joint Defra & Environment Agency flood conference is the leading event of its kind for flood & coastal management professionals.
The 3-day long conference will cover the spectrum of flood and coastal erosion issues, with a strong emphasis on the need to adapt to a changing climate and balance new initiatives with increased efficiency & financial responsibility.
It will also provide UK flood management professionals with an international perspective on flood risk management, as Peter Rabbon (US Army Corp of Engineers) will give insight into flood risks & management practices in the US, and how lessons learnt across the Atlantic can be applied in the UK.
STFC: ‘Talking Science’ is a series of popular science lectures that take place around STFC sites across the country. They offer a chance to hear about & discuss some of the hottest areas of science with some of the leading experts. You don’t need to be an expert or even a scientist to come, they’re aimed at everyone.
The next talk is on Thursday 17 June at 6.00pm: 'Fusion star power' – with Dr Kate Lancaster, who will lead us into the world of fusion, how it was responsible for life on earth and how scientists plan to harness the incredible power of the stars as a future energy source here on earth. Attendance is free but places must be booked in advance.
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