WAG: First Minister Rhodri Morgan has praised a Welsh scientist responsible for groundbreaking new research into Alzheimer’s disease (part funded by the Welsh Assembly Government). Professor Julie Williams led an international team in discovering 2 new genes associated with Alzheimer's disease.
Previously only one gene, APOE4, had been shown to be a risk factor for Alzheimer's disease. This study reveals two further genes, CLU and PICALM, are related to Alzheimer's disease.
Press release ~ Alzheimer's Research Trust ~ MRC guidance on proposals for Genome Wide Association Studies (GWAS) ~ Nature Genetics ~ WAG - Older people ~ Consultation on ‘National Dementia Action Plan for Wales’ ~ Dementia Awareness Week
NE: Research by Natural England (NE) and the RSPB reveals that the bittern – one of the UK’s most threatened birds – has enjoyed its best ever year for at least 120 years, continuing this formerly extinct British bird’s dramatic recovery. The bittern is one of 52 species of bird to be placed on the Red List of Birds of Conservation Concern.
The bittern – a relative of the grey heron – is confined in Britain to tracts of extensive reedbed, especially sections of East Anglia, pockets of northern England and, more recently, the Somerset Levels & Moors. Researchers estimate the UK bittern population by listening for the male bittern’s booming song, which the birds use to establish territories and attract females. The boom can be heard up to 3km or more away.
The bittern – a protected species in Europe – has been subject to two EU Life projects, funded by the European Commission, since 1997. The annual bittern monitoring initiative is a partnership between NE and the RSPB under the Action for Birds in England programme.
Press release ~ RSPB – Bittern Ecology ~ Action Plan for Bittern Botaurus stellaris ~ Natural England ~ Red List of Birds of Conservation Concern ~ The bittern in Europe: a guide to species and habitat management (VLF 15Mb) ~ LIFE Co-op project (LIFE2003NAT/CP/D/000009) ~ Bitterns.org.uk ~ Developing a strategic network of SPA reedbeds for Botaurus stellaris
MoD: A Royal Marines duo have successfully navigated the central section of the Arctic’s notorious North-West passage, in a 17 foot open boat. Lieutenant Colonel Kevin Oliver (42) and Major Tony Lancashire (36) have taken 42 days to sail & row their 17-foot boat Arctic Mariner 1,400 miles through Canada’s Northern provinces. The adventurers used the latest Canadian ice charts to weave their way through the hostile Arctic seas & landscape, braving freezing storms, pack ice, charging bears and curious whales.
A year in the planning, the duo’s expedition was conceived to raise awareness of the charity ‘Toe in the Water’ for which they have raised in excess of £10K. The charity is dedicated to inspiring injured servicemen & women to move beyond their disability through competitive sailing - an extension of Headley Court’s rehabilitation programme.
MoD: A new Surveillance and Target Acquisition (STA) Package, part of the Future Integrated Soldier Technology (FIST) programme, has been ordered from Thales UK under a £150m contract. The new thermal sights will allow soldiers to conduct surveillance and engage targets in all weather & light levels, including zero light, where normal night sights would be rendered ineffective.
Thermal imaging has the added benefits of improving the ability to see through optical camouflage; it will also enhance the soldiers’ ability to conduct low level change recognition of tell tale thermal signatures of concealed weapons and IEDs. Deliveries of the new kit will begin at the end of 2010 and the first equipment will be given to troops for training, prior to being deployed to Afghanistan, in early 2011.
Press release ~ Future Integrated Soldier Technology (FIST) programme ~ Defence Sales Exhibition International (DSEi) ~ Dismounted Soldier Systems (DSS) ~ Qioptiq: Design,Deliver,Support
Ofgem: Ofgem has announced the creation of a new business unit, Ofgem E-Serve, as part of a major restructuring of the regulator to meet the challenge of helping to deliver a low carbon economy. Ofgem E-Serve will focus on administering environmental programmes and the delivery of sustainability projects like offshore wind, smart meters, the proposed carbon capture & storage levy and feed-in tariffs.
Ofgem E-Serve already runs £3.9bn of Government environmental programmes and offshore transmission, up from £150m in 2001. The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has also given the organisation a key role in the introduction of smart meters to Britain’s 26m homes and in setting up feed-in tariffs for microgeneration. In addition, DECC is proposing that Ofgem E-Serve is responsible for the carbon capture & storage levy.
HMT: From this month onwards, children who turn seven will get a £250 birthday boost to their Child Trust Fund account. The extra money will benefit 700,000 children per year, with children in lower income families also receiving a further £250. A further payment of £250 will also be made to the accounts of 7-year-old children in lower-income families, and children in care.
ACE: Arts Council England has made a third round of awards from its £40m Sustain fund for organisations under pressure as a result of the recession. The awards announced are worth around £6.2m over 2 years and will help a further 18 arts organisations maintain artistic excellence during the economic downturn.
A total of 136 applications have been received to date and applications requesting £31m are still under consideration. Further awards will be announced by early October 2009. All awards from the Sustain fund are one-off and are made to cover the period 2009 – 2011.
WAG: First Minister, Rhodri Morgan has performed the official opening ceremony for Wales’ first commercial scale biomass plant, in Port Talbot. The £33m Western Wood Energy Plant, which is now fully operational, generates enough electricity to power the equivalent of 31,000 homes a year.
The 14 Megawatt plant uses only wood as the fuel, the majority of which is sourced locally from Welsh forests and by-products from timber industries. The plant's combustion process will result in no net increase of carbon dioxide as trees draw this greenhouse gas from the atmosphere. The project will also avoid 47,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions otherwise produced by an equivalent fossil fuel power station.
MCA: The Maritime & Coastguard Agency have seen a dramatic - and welcome - increase in the number of Emergency Positioning Indicating Radio Beacons (EPIRBs) and Personal Locator Beacons (PLBs) being registered with the MCA’s 406 MHz Distress & Security Beacon Registry based at Falmouth Coastguard station.
A 406 MHz beacon is an important part of the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System as it sends a digital signal via satellites to the Coastguard that identifies the vessel or person in distress. EPIRBs are designed for maritime use and float free from the vessel in the event of a capsize or can be manually cast adrift after a vessel failure or catastrophic event whereas PLBs have to be manually activated.
Manufacturers provide registration forms with beacons but these are also available from RYA/CG booklets, RA registration documentation and magazine articles etc. Forms can also be obtained from the MCA website.
Press release ~ Global Maritime Distress and Safety System ~ Sea Vision UK ~ MCA: 406 MHz EPIRB registration
DCMS: Culture Secretary Ben Bradshaw has announced that 29 cities and local areas from across the UK have already put themselves forward as potential candidates to become the first ever UK City of Culture in 2013. The winning place, to be announced next spring, will host big ticket national cultural events, as well as putting on a year-long programme of their own.
He also announced that Phil Redmond, the architect of Liverpool’s highly successful year as European capital of Culture in 2008 will chair the judging panel for the City of Culture competition. The winning city will be provided with the title of UK City of Culture for their year and given rights to the UK City of Culture brand, with scope to tailor it to their own city if desired.
Press release ~ Guidance note for cities wishing to bid ~ Liverpool ’08 – By Numbers ~ DCMS - UK City of Culture
LDA: Over 100 business representatives met recently to discuss how they can help stem climate change by cutting carbon dioxide emissions from commercial properties in London. The Better Buildings Partnership (BBP) and Green500 event brought together some of London's most prominent owners & occupiers to develop sustainability solutions to the commercial property market.
Commercial property owners have an important role to play in reducing CO2 emissions from their buildings – as the commercial building stock in London is responsible for a third of London’s CO2 emissions. But there are several barriers.
MoD: A ceremony to dedicate a new Royal Navy memorial in remembrance of the many men & women who have served in the Royal Naval Air Service and Fleet Air Arm was held at the National Memorial Arboretum, Staffordshire on Friday 11 September 2009.
This year the Royal Navy is celebrating the Centenary of Naval aviation and it will honour the sacrifice made by the 6,749 men & women who have given their lives in the service of Naval aviation over the past 100 years. The new memorial, a sculptured plinth of Portland stone supporting a granite aircraft carrier, is set amidst an avenue of fine old English oak trees close to the National Armed Forces Memorial.
OFT: The Office of Fair Trading has launched its 'Just Tick It' campaign warning consumers about fraudulent ticket websites. Supported by a host of musical & sporting celebrities, the OFT campaign coincides with new research which reveals that 20% of people know someone who has been scammed by bogus ticket sites. To check who a website is registered to consumers can search for domain name registrant information using an online search tool, such as www.whois.com and www.nominet.org.uk (for.uk domain names).
The OFT is encouraging event-goers to take simple steps to help ensure they are not scammed when buying tickets online – so ‘tick off the top tips’ from OFT-managed advice service Consumer Direct to make sure you are buying the real deal.
MoD: The UK & French governments have announced the start of a joint 2-year Assessment Phase to develop systems & technologies for a new helicopter-launched anti-surface missile. The weapon is being developed for use initially in the naval environment and to be launched from different helicopters, including the British Lynx Wildcat and the French NH90 and Panther platforms.
This co-operative project, which meets the UK’s Future Anti-Surface Guided Weapon (FASGW) and the French Anti-Navire Léger (ANL) requirements, is the latest in a long history of co-operation between the two nations on missile projects, which has most recently included Meteor and the Sea Viper (Principal Anti Air Missile System - PAAMS)
ACE: Arts Council Englandis recruiting 150 people (closing date for applications - 9 October 2009) with knowledge & understanding of the arts to carry out assessments of the work of its regularly funded organisations. Beginning work in January 2010, they will report on the full range of artforms including specialisms such as work for children & young people, culturally specific arts and disability-led arts.
They are expected to come from a diverse range of backgrounds & practice and may include artists, arts managers, academics and critics. Their reports will feed into the Arts Council’s ongoing artistic evaluation of regularly funded organisations, providing a broader evidence base to help inform its funding decisions. The aim is to appoint a further 150 in 2010, so that 300 assessors are ultimately available, with 50% of them being replaced or re-appointed each year.
NA: The latest batch of newly opened UFO files saw over 450,000 file downloads from national & international ET enthusiasts in the first 2 days of their release. The videocast, featuring UFO history expert Dr David Clarke, has also been viewed by thousands across the globe.
The release is part of a 3-year project by the Ministry of Defence and The National Archives to open up these records to a worldwide audience. The latest instalment consisted of 14 files of sightings, letters and Parliamentary Questions spanning from 1981 to 1996.
Included in this release are papers relating to the famous RendleshamForest sightings, often described as 'Britain's Roswell', and reports of a lemon-headed alien trying to lure 2 men away in Staffordshire. Also recorded are accounts of UFO sightings in Belgium that led to the Belgian Air Force scrambling F-16 fighters to intercept the strange flying objects.
TfL: Everything’s coming up roses on the Tube as winners of London Underground in Bloom gardening competition are announced. The LU staff gardening awards aim to recognise employees who have gone beyond the call of duty to add splashes of colourful flowers & plants to the network.
FSA: The Food Standards Agency has issued an allergy alert. Whittard of Chelsea has withdrawn 3 tea products because they contain macadamia and almond nuts that are not mentioned on the label. If you have an allergy or intolerance to nuts you are advised not to consume these products. Its Rooibos Cream Caramel Flavoured Tea and its Sticky Toffee Pudding Tea have been found to contain macadamia nuts. Its Spiced Chai Green Tea has been found to contain almonds.
Whittard of Chelsea has withdrawn the affected products. In addition, the company will be also contacting the relevant allergy support organisations, which will inform their members of the withdrawal. Notices will be displayed in all stores to alert consumers to the reasons for the withdrawal and the actions they can take if they have purchased these products. No other Whittard products are known to be affected.
Press release ~ Allergy alert ~ Allergy UK ~ Anaphylaxis Campaign ~ FSA: Food allergy and intolerance
Directgov: West of England councils Bristol, Bath and North East Somerset, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire are running a joint competition aimed at cutting food waste. They are asking local residents to complete a 7-day food diary, pledging to reduce food waste.
Everyone who returns a food diary will win a free 'Eat Well, Waste Less' cookery book. People who suggest ideas to prevent food waste have the chance to win a class at a local cookery school.
Every year we throw away £4bn-worth of food because we cook or prepare too much. This amounts to 6.7m tonnes and most of this is food that could have been eaten. A video & recipes for using leftover foods like bread, spaghetti, potatoes and vegetables are available from the Love Food Hate Waste site.
Press release ~ Recipes that save money ~ Bristol Loves Food and Hates Waste ~ Love Food Hate Waste (England) ~ 'Love Food Hate Waste' in Scotland ~ Love Food Hate Waste Wales ~ Reducing waste, reusing and repairing
FSA: The Food Standards Agency has announced further progress on the development of the national 'Scores on the Doors' scheme for England, Wales & Northern Ireland, which will provide consumers with information about hygiene standards in food businesses.
Following discussions with the UK-wide steering group that was set up to advise on the scheme, the FSA has decided to opt for a broad top band for the new 6-tier rating scheme. This will mean that local authorities can concentrate their resources on helping the high-risk establishments at the lower end of the scale to improve their rating.