General News

ScotGov: With the start of the 2008 bathing season, which officially began on June 1, Minister for Environment Michael Russell announced the number of designated bathing waters has risen by a third to a total of 80. This figure of 20 includes 19 new coastal locations stretching from north of Scotland to the south west and one new freshwater site at Loch Morlich in the Cairngorms.

Sites for inclusion were supported by the independent Bathing Water Review Panel, established by Ministers to advise on Scottish bathing water designation policy.  As well as the twenty new sites, the Panel was also asked to consider six existing sites for de-designation on the basis of low usage.
Press release ~ ScotGov – Bathing Waters ~ SEPA – Bathing Waters ~ Bathing Water Review Panel
 
MoD: The government has signed a £635m PFI contract with Ascent, a joint venture of Lockheed Martin and VT Group, to work with MoD to deliver the UK Military Flight Training System (UKMFTS) designing, delivering & managing ground and flying training across multiple locations in the UK.
 
The UKMFTS programme will cater for the different training needs of the entire flying element of the UK front-line, ranging from fast-jet pilots and weapons systems operators, through helicopter and multi-engine pilots to all the rear crew personnel.  It will encompass all flying training for students following selection, up to the point they are ready to fly operational aircraft such as Typhoon, Chinook and C17.
Press release ~ Ascent ~ History of No. 1 Flying Training School ~ Flight Simulation and Synthetic Trainers Integrated Project Team
 
CLG: Communities Secretary, Hazel Blears, has announced an expansion of Planning Aid, which works with community groups to develop their understanding of the planning system so that they can communicate their views more effectively.  Free advice is available to all callers and more detailed help to eligible individuals & groups.  
 
It specifically helps those on benefits, pensioners, or people whose household income is low and also provides planning advice to small charities, voluntary and community groups, tenants' organisations, social enterprises and other not-for-profit businesses.  The full range of planning issues are covered ranging from planning applications, through local authority planning policies, to regional spatial strategies and national consultations.
Press release ~ Planning Portal ~ Planning Aid website ~ Planning Aid: Community Planning ~ Community Planning (Scotland) - What is Community Planning? ~ Planning Aid for London ~ Planning Aid Concordat ~ Planning Inspectorate's film (Requires Adobe Flash player) ~ The Planning Inspectorate ~ DCLG – Reform of the planning system
 
TfL: Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has announced funding of £1m to trial low carbon technology in London's taxi fleet.  The funding is to be provided jointly by Transport for London (TfL), through its Climate Change Fund, and Cenex, the UK's National Centre of Excellence for Low Carbon and Fuel Cell Technologies.
 
The funding will be used to introduce a low carbon taxi demonstration project in London and the PCO has issued a Contract Notice to the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) inviting motor manufacturers to register their interest in supplying low carbon taxis.
 
Suitable low carbon technologies might include stop-start or 'micro-hybrid' technology where the engine cuts out automatically when the vehicle stops and starts up again when the accelerator is pressed.  London's taxis spend about 40% of their time waiting at taxi ranks, at traffic signals, or waiting to pick up or drop off passengers.  A micro-hybrid taxi is expected to reduce fuel consumption and carbon dioxide & other emissions by 10 – 15%, as well as producing less noise and fewer harmful air pollutants.
Press release ~ Cenex, the UK's National Centre of Excellence for Low Carbon and Fuel Cell Technologies ~ TfL's Public Carriage Office (PCO) ~ Taxi Emissions Strategy
 
LDA: Hotels & B&Bs in London can now benefit from a new online package which gives practical advice on improving quality of service, making the most of 2012 Games and tapping into new markets.  The London Development Agency’s (LDA) Capital Stay ‘e-book’ is part of its commitment to improving the quality of accommodation in the capital.

Capital Stay is a one stop online package of advice, worksheets and video clips to help accommodation businesses in the capital stay a step ahead.  It offers advice and useful tips on:
* Getting to know your customer
* London 2012
* Improving your business
* 60 second fact sheets
Press release ~ Capital Stay ‘e-book’ (scroll down)
 
CEL: The Centre for Excellence in Leadership (CEL) is pleased to announce that ten candidates have successfully completed and achieved the Principals qualifying programme, just 12 months after they started the programme (80 others are progressing through the course).  The programme arises from the government’s reform of further education & training and is intended to support principals and chief executives in leading transformational change in the sector.
 
Offering high quality leadership development on a par with that provided for top executives in other parts of the public & private sectors, the Principals qualifying programme is highly personalised and uses reflective practice & experiential learning to strengthen leadership practice.  Its flexible design enables principals to undertake the programme at their own pace.
Press release ~ Centre for Excellence in Leadership (CEL) ~ Principals qualifying programme
 
HMRC: A new free podcast offering advice for travellers on what can, and can't be, brought back into the UK is now available. In the latest audio offering from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC), customs expert Mark Fuchter explains what items carry restrictions when bringing them into the UK, or are banned altogether.  It covers everything from food, plants and wildlife souvenirs to prescription drugs, counterfeit goods and offensive weapons.
Press release ~ HMRC podcasts
 
STFC: A prototype exhibit of the ‘From the Earth to the Universe’ project heralds the wide range of events planned in celebration of the UNESCO’s International Year of Astronomy in 2009.  The dazzling display of images will take viewers deep into the Universe from 7-29 June 2008 and will be held at the Albert Dock in Liverpool, UK.

This first event displays majestic photographic taking viewers on a colourful visual journey through the wonders of the Universe and allows them to travel more than 13bn light-years into the vast expanse of space.
Press release ~ From the Earth to the Universe’ project ~ Picture gallery ~ UNESCO’s International Year of Astronomy in 2009 ~ International Astronomical Union (IAU) ~ Astronet ~ The Albert Dock ~ Liverpool, the European Capital of Culture 2008
 
MCA: A European funded (INTERREG IIIA Programme) project to survey the seabed off the northern coast of Ireland, parts of which have not been surveyed since Victorian times, has started to provide some spectacular results showing underwater cliffs, reefs, caves and what may have been a lagoon.  The wreck of a ship which sank in 1918 has also been discovered.
 
The Joint Irish Bathymetric Survey (JIBS) Project is being led by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency in partnership with the Marine Institute of Ireland.  Rob Spillard, Hydrographic Manager MCA and leader of the project said: "From the data received, we have developed a 3D 'fly through movie' which enables viewers to 'fly' across the seabed and see all the features."
Press release ~ Joint Irish Bathymetric Survey (JIBS) Project ~ Maritime and Coastguard Agency ~ Marine Institute of Ireland ~ The Joint Irish Bathymetric Survey (JIBS) 3D fly through movie
 
MoD: The Ministry of Defence is holding an official service to honour members of the UK Forces and civil servants who lost their lives or were injured in Northern Ireland.  It will also pay tribute to over 300,000 personnel who served in the Province on Operation Banner, the official title for military operations in Northern Ireland, between 1969 and 2007.
 
There are 2,000 tickets available for people to attend the event, which is being held on Wednesday 10 September 2008 at St Paul's Cathedral, London.  The closing date for ticket applications is 13 August 2008 and the MOD aims to contact all successful applicants by 27 August 2008.  Each application will receive two tickets
Press release ~ Application forms ~ Armed Forces Memorial, Staffordshire ~ Veterans Day 27 June 2008
 
WAG: A carbon free minibus powered by three different green technologies – the first of its kind in Europe – was unveiled & officially launched in Wales on World Environment Day.  The clean, green emission free tribrid bus is the result of an international collaboration, led & co-ordinated in Wales by the University of Glamorgan with funding from the Energy Savings Trust, sponsorship from the Welsh Assembly Government and the support of industry.

The minibus, which will be a commercially available prospect in the near future, benefits from three types of power delivery. A fuel cell system provides the low to medium constant power delivery and a lead acid battery provides medium constant power.  Finally ultra-capacitors delivery the massive, instantaneous power demands, which is ideal for high load acceleration and regeneration of braking power.

Intelligent power switching methods then allow the charging strategy to be mapped to the fuel cell’s optimal performance which results in the vehicle automatically using the most appropriate form of power and level. The clean, green and silent vehicle is emission free and has a range of approximately 150 miles based on a city centre drive cycle and a top speed of 55mph.
Press release ~ WAG – Business and Economy ~ WAG - Transport ~ World Environment Day ~ Energy Savings Trust - Wales ~ Baglan Energy Park ~ London CUTE bus project
 
PCSPublic and Commercial Services (PCS) members working for the National Museum of Science and Industry (NMSI) have overwhelmingly voted for strike action in a dispute over below inflation pay.  71% of those taking part in the ballot voted for strike action whilst 85% indicated that they would be willing to take part in industrial action short of strike.
 
Staff are ‘furious’ that a below inflation pay offer for 2007/08 and 2008/09 has been imposed on them at a successful time for the museum. The pay offer which was delayed by over a year means that most PCS members will receive less than the headline amount of 3% for both years.
 
Starting salaries in the NMSI are as low £11,342 and staff employed by the NMSI trading company are on worse terms & conditions than museum staff, including having no access to civil service pensions.
Press release ~ PCS Union ~ National Museum of Science and Industry (NMSI)
 
YF: Led by Yorkshire Forward, some of the UK’s largest energy and industrial companies have produced a study showing how a unique Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) network for the region could be developed. Yorkshire & Humber is home to some of the country’s largest power plants and has long held a reputation as the powerhouse of the UK.  Up to 60m tonnes of the carbon emissions produced each year by burning fossil fuels could be liquefied & then pumped out to depleted gas fields under the North Sea.
 
The study shows how a network could evolve using existing & new infrastructure in the region to connect major producers of carbon emissions.  These emissions would then be liquefied & pumped out to depleted gas fields in the southern North Sea - where the properties of the rock deep under the sea would prevent the carbon dioxide from escaping.
Press release ~ Yorkshire Forward ~ Study Report on Carbon Capture (4Mb file) ~ Powerfuel Power Ltd ~ Government’s CCS demonstrator competition ~ WWF: Carbon capture and storage: is the UK ready? ~ Storing CO2 under the North Sea Basin ~ CO2GeoNet Network of Excellence ~ Near Zero Emissions Coal (NZEC)
 
Newswire – Work Wise:  Defra has become the first government department and public sector organisation to be awarded the Work Wise Mark of Excellence. The award recognises Defra’s achievements in introducing smarter working practices, such as home working, flexible working (including condensed hours and nine-day fortnights), mobile & remote working, across the organisation.

The Work Wise Mark of Excellence and the Work Wise Standard provide a framework both for organisations that have already introduced smarter working practices and wish to go further, or those that are just realising the benefits and want to start reforming their working practices.
Press release ~ Work Wise Standard ~ Right to request flexible working: a review of how to extend the right to request flexible working to parents of older children ~ BERR - Flexible Working ~ Acas – Flexible working ~ 2007 Work-Life Balance Employer Survey ~ Flexible working and work-life balance: an introduction : Directgov ~ Benefits of flexible working - Business Link ~ Employees working from home - Business Link ~ Working Families ~ Work and Families Act 2006 ~ TUC Changing Times website ~ e-Hampshire ~ Worksmart from the TUC ~ TfL guide to smarter working ~ Wales Audit Office – Smarter ways of working
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