General News

BERR: A fully-fledged quality mark scheme has been established to give consumers confidence in the standards they can expect from green energy products and installers. Building on a 2-year development phase the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) will be opened up to a number of certification providers to give the industry more options when seeking approval for products and services.
Plans have also been approved to appoint a new administrator for the MCS.  The initial 2-year contract with the Building Research Establishment (BRE) comes to an end this September. The MCS aims to build a sustainable microgeneration industry based on quality & reliability, to provide consumer confidence that products & installers meet and continue to meet robust standards. Nearly 450 installer companies and over 30 product manufacturers have already registered under the development phase of the scheme.
Press release ~ Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) ~ Building Research Establishment (BRE) ~ BRE Global Ltd.
YFYorkshire Forward is investing £165k in Leeds based Nonwovens Innovation & Research Institute (NIRI) to develop a fabric that will have many commercial uses ranging from medical to protective clothing.  Hydrospace is a new & unique non-woven fabric which has channels running throughout, that can be filled with liquids, gels or solid particles.
Hydrospace fabrics are made using a process called ‘hydroentanglement’ which involves fibres being blasted with high pressure water jets which bonds them together.  Hydrospace’s novelty lies in the ability to create & fill channels inside the fabric.
The commercial potential of this new fabric is vast with applications in numerous fields including:
* Wipes – for, household, medical, cosmetic, baby, industrial and domestic use
* Filters – for the filtration of blood, air, gas, petrol, chemical, etc.
* Protective – clothing, shields and blinds
* Insulation - acoustic and thermal
Press release ~ Nonwovens Innovation & Research Institute (NIRI) - Hydrospace ~ Yorkshire Forward
Socitm: Local authorities will be able to identify the costs of providing access to services through their web, phone & face-to-face channels and identify potential savings from shifting customers to ‘self-service’ via the web, thanks to a new service from the Society of IT Management.

The Channel Value Benchmarking Service, which will launch formally with a workshop in London on 17 September, will enable councils to see whether their ‘costs-to-serve’ are in line with those experienced by other similar councils and to assess whether active channel management – for example encouraging customers to ‘self-serve’ via the web – could save them money.
Press release ~ Channel Value Benchmarking Service ~ Channel Value Benchmarking promotional leaflet ~ Customer Access Improvement Service (CAIS)
QCA: Further to previous statements and ongoing discussions, the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) has announced that the National Assessment Agency (NAA) is to take over the management of the reviews process for this year's key stage tests with immediate effect.
Where schools were unable to submit review applications before the end of the summer term they should be submitted by 10 September 2008 and, at the latest, 10 days after the start of your term, or after receipt of both scripts & results, whichever is the later.  It is important that schools wait for both results and a complete set of scripts before applying for a review.
Press release ~ Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) ~ National Assessment Agency (NAA)
TfL: As the Tour de France finished in Paris at the weekend, excitement has begun to build around the return of the Tour of Britain to the streets of central London on Sunday, 7 September 2008.  This year’s Tour of Britain, which is part of the Mayor’s Summer of Cycling, promises to be a vintage race, with many of Britain’s top cycling stars, such as Mark Cavendish - who has just put in the most successful British Tour de France performance in history - expected to take part.

This year the Tour of Britain is starting in the Capital, and will see 96 professional cyclists racing 86 kilometres on a 8.6 kilometre circuit that takes in some of London’s most iconic sites – including Big Ben, Cleopatra’s Needle, Somerset House and the Tower of London.  A free to view event, the London stage of the Tour of Britain will be a fantastic day out for all Londoners.
Press release ~ Tour of Britain ~ TfL - cycling in London ~ Visit London ~ Events for London (EfL) ~ Summer of Cycling
WAG: A £6m package to help bring contaminated land back into use has been announced by Environment, Sustainability and Housing Minister, Jane Davidson. The available funding - £2m a year over three years - will go to Local Authorities and the Environment Agency for projects across Wales that investigate and take remedial action on contaminated land.

Jane Davidson said:  “The Assembly Government has made available the funding in recognition of the statutory duty; namely Part 2A of the ContaminatedLand Regime placed primarily upon local authorities to deal with contaminated land that is not picked up through regeneration schemes”.
Press release ~ Contaminated land ~ Environment and countryside ~ Brownfield Land Development Information ~ Brownfield Land Redevelopment: Position Statement
TfL: The Transport for London (TfL) Board has announced that if diesel prices hit 154p per litre between now & February 2009, taxi fares in London will go up by 50p per trip to help drivers meet the increased costs of running a taxi.  The cost of fuel has risen by 27% since TfL determined 2008 taxi tariffs, following its annual review of fares.
If fuel prices don’t hit the 154p litre mark before February, the increased cost of fuel over the course of 2008 and the financial burden taxi drivers have faced as a result will be reflected in the April 2009 fares revision.
Press release ~ Public Carriage Office ~ Transport for London (TfL) – Taxis and minicabs)
BGS: Have you ever wondered what our world would look like stripped bare of all plants, soils, water and man-made structures?  Well wonder no longer; images of the Earth as never seen before have been unveiled in what is the world's biggest geological mapping project ever.
Earth and computer scientists from 79 nations are working together on a global project called OneGeology to produce the first digital geological map of the world.  This project is doing the same for the rocks beneath our feet that Google does for maps of the Earth's surface.  OneGeology is supported by UNESCO and six other international umbrella bodies and is the flagship project for UN International Year of Planet Earth 2008.
Press release ~ OneGeology ~ UN International Year of Planet Earth 2008 ~ British Geological Survey
STFC: Production and quality control of medicines could soon be quicker, more accurate & cost effective than previously possible.  Pharmaceutical companies are one step closer to being able to peer inside a capsule or tablet and analyse its exact composition, at high speed and whilst still in the packaging.
LiteThru Ltd, a spin out company of the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), has successfully secured a £750k investment, enabling the company to commercialise the patented technology, which enables non-invasive, accurate analysis of capsules, tablets, powders and solutions in less than one second.
Press release ~ LiteThru Ltd ~ Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) ~ SORS: A New Method for Disease Diagnosis and Quality Control of Pharmaceutical Products ~ Central Laboratory Innovation and Knowledge Transfer Limited (‘CLIK’) ~ Rainbow Seed Fund ~ Oxford Technology Enterprise Capital Fund
TDA: 70% of people responsible for the professional development of staff in schools lack awareness of the range of continuing professional development options available, according to new research from the Training and Development Agency for Schools (TDA).
The National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) carried out research among over 1,500 Continuing Professional Development (CPD) leaders to better understand their role and what they need to carry out effective CPD in schools.  When questioned, 35% of those surveyed suggested they would find toolkits for training & development the most helpful to support them.
Press release ~ TDA: Continuing professional development ~ National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) ~ TDA's professional standards
DfT: Young Londoners have got just a few days left to get creative online and enter the Transport for London (TfL) and Bebo competition to find the next generation of cutting edge talent. Closing on the 14 August, ‘Talent Lives’ can be found at the Bebo website which houses TfL’s digital television show ‘Debutantes’.
Users are invited to upload their own creative work – from music and photographs to writing, fashion design – or anything!  Over 35,000 people have visited the page, part of TfL’s ongoing ‘Don’t Die Before You’ve Lived’ teen road safety campaign, since its launch at the beginning of the summer holidays.
Press release ~ Talent Lives ~ TfL Road Casualties in Greater London 2007
WAG: The culture and traditions of Wales will be celebrated for the next 10 days at the International Celtic Festival.  It is officially the ‘Year of Wales at the Lorient Interceltic Festival 2008 in Brittany, with Welsh art, music & dance set to gain international recognition.  The event runs from 1st to 10 August.
In total 200 Welsh artists will be performing at venues across the city during the festival, ranging from the traditional to the very contemporary.  These include Catrin Finch, Crasdant, Meinir Heulyn and Dowlais Male Choir.
Press release ~ Lorient Interceltic Festival 2008 in Brittany ~ WAG - Arts ~ National Eisteddfod of Wales ~ Wales Arts International
Monitor: There are now 105 NHS foundation trusts in total, of which 31 are mental health NHS foundation trusts.  The new total follows an announcement from Monitor, the independent regulator for NHS foundation trusts, which has confirmed the following foundation trusts have been authorised from 1 August 2008:
* Alder Hey Children’s NHS Foundation Trust
* Partnership NHS Foundation Trust
Press release ~ Monitor
DSA: Improving standards for professional drivers and increasing road safety measures mean that bus, coach & lorry drivers will, from 4 August 2008, be tested on 100 questions and need to correctly answer 85 of the100 to pass the multiple choice part of the test.  Currently drivers get 60 questions and need to score 51 out of 60 to pass.  The number of hazard perception clips will also increase from 14 to 19 and the pass mark will increase from 50 out of 75, to 67 out of 100.
The other theory test change, which is being made at the request of the industry, is to split the test into two parts.  This will allow candidates to take the multiple choice element separately from the hazard perception element; and in either order.  This change aims to avoid potential recruits being put off entering the industry due to the length of the test as a single event.
This theory test upgrade comes in preparation for the introduction of the Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) which is a qualification aimed at raising the standard of drivers entering the industry.  Driver CPC will be implemented on 10 September 2008 for the bus & coach industry, and 10 September 2009 for the lorry industry.
Press release ~ DSA – Lorry and Bus Drivers ~ Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC)
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