Defra: The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has published a consultation (closes 23 June 2008) on protecting England's soils for the future through a new Soil Strategy. Our soils are essential for supporting food production, supporting habitats & biodiversity and providing a platform for built development.
Soils also contain huge amounts of carbon and there is some evidence to suggest that carbon levels are declining in some soils, resulting in the release of CO2 into the atmosphere and contributing to climate change, so one of the key aims of the draft Strategy is to halt the loss of soil carbon.
Press release ~ Draft Soil Strategy and consultation ~ Defra - Soil ~ Other related documents ~ Soil Association ~ Soil and Health Library ~ Haughley Experiment - Wikipedia ~ EU-funded Quality Low Input Food project indicates significant nutritional benefits from organic food ~ Environment Agency document ~ State of Soils in England and Wales
CLG: Ministers are consulting (closes 20 June 2008) on proposals to support regional economic growth in England following publication of the Sub-National Review of Economic Development and Regeneration in July 2007, which announced ‘new streamlined regional government’ with the phasing out of Regional Assemblies from 2010.
Under proposed new legislation, top tier councils would be given a duty to assess the economic conditions of their area, including employment & skills needs and the infrastructure needed to support sustainable economic growth - including housing and transport investment.
These councils and Regional Development Agencies would then use this as the basis for regional strategies, covering the future for housing, skills, transport & regeneration, to encourage greater economic growth.
Press release ~ Prosperous Places: Taking Forward the Review of Sub-National Economic Development and Regeneration ~ Review of Sub-National Economic Development and Regeneration ~ England's Regional Development Agencies - BERR
HM TreasuryHM Treasury, the Department for Work and Pensions and The Pensions Regulator (TPR), have launched a consultation (closes 23 June 2008) on updating the Myners principles, a voluntary set of 'comply or explain' principles designed to improve trustee investment decision-making and governance of pension funds.
The consultation responds to last year's National Association of Pension Fund (NAPF) review Institutional Investment in the UK: Six Years On, which recommended updating the Myners principles to ensure the continued spread of best practice among pension schemes.
The consultation proposes a set of refreshed & simplified, higher-level principles and the development of a comprehensive suite of authoritative best practice guidance & tools, which will help trustees to improve investment decision-making and governance.
Press release ~ Updating the Myners principles: a consultation ~ The Pensions Regulator (TPR) ~ National Association of Pension Fund (NAPF) ~ Institutional Investment in the UK: Six Years On
NICE: The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has published a consultation document (closes 1 July 2008) on its website outlining proposed changes to the methods & process that underpin NICE’s clinical guidelines work programme.

The consultation document - The guidelines manual – is a detailed resource intended primarily for those involved in the development of guidelines for the Institute, such as the National Collaborating Centres that are commissioned by NICE to develop NICE clinical guidelines and the Guideline Development Groups that produce the individual guidelines.  The draft manual applies to both NICE’s standard clinical guidelines and short clinical guidelines processes and will replace the existing Guidelines manual published in April 2007.
Press release ~ ‘The guidelines manual’: Consultation on the 2008 update ~ National Collaborating Centres ~ Guideline Development Groups
CLG: Housing Minister Caroline Flint has announced the 15 potential locations for eco-towns that will go forward to the next stage. The government claims that the bids will mean that no new homes would be built on Green Belt land and that more than 30% of the overall new houses will be affordable housing.
Shortlisted locations now face further challenges including public consultation (closes 30 June 2008) and a detailed Sustainability Appraisal which will assess the merits & challenges for each one.  A final shortlist of locations will be published later this year, after which each potential eco-town will need to submit a planning application.
Press release ~ Eco-towns Prospectus ~ CLG – eco-towns ~ Eco-towns: Living a greener future - consultation paper
WAG: Health Minister Edwina Hart has announced proposals for major changes to the NHS structure in Wales to ‘further reduce bureaucracy, remove the internal market and to improve patient care’.  The proposals, which are out to consultation (closes 25 June 2008), include:
* Abolishing the internal market in NHS Wales
* Three options for establishing a Board for Wales, and
* LHBs reduced from 22 to eight, including Powys LHB
Press release ~ Consultation ~ WAG – Health & Social care ~ WAG - NHS Wales
Defra: In accordance with the government’s legislative obligations under section 14a of the Animal Health Act 1981 Defra is inviting comments (by 26 June 2008) on the proposed Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies Regulations 2008.
The proposed new regulations would update & replace the existing Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies (No.2) Regulations 2006, which would be revoked.  They include changes that have been made in response to several developments including reviews of procedure, changes to European legislation, and certain technical changes.
Press release ~ Consultation on the proposed Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies Regulations 2008 ~ SEAC ~ Transmissible spongiform encephalopathy agents: Safe working and the prevention of infection ~ Defra - BSE
MoJ: New proposals - 'Rome I - Should the UK Opt in?' - intended to protect the interests of UK businesses operating in Europe have been published for consultation (closes 25 June 2008) by the Government. It is intended to provide clarity over which law applies if a dispute arises over a contract made between people or businesses from different countries, allowing cross border trade to continue with confidence – See ‘EU legislation, initiatives’ section for more details.
UK–IPO: The UK Intellectual Property Office has published the report it commissioned into the impact on Artist's Resale Rights on the UK art market, which examines in detail both the costs & benefits of the right for both the UK art market and its artists – See ‘EU legislation, initiatives’ for more details.
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