General News

BERR: The Energy Minister, Malcolm Wicks, has given the go ahead to Helius Energy plc to construct a 65 MW biomass power station near Stallingborough in North East Lincolnshire. When it is built, the plant could produce enough green energy to power the equivalent of about 100,000 homes.
 
The power station will initially be fuelled by waste wood, specially grown crops and the leftovers from timber processing activities sourced from the UK and Europe. Planning permission has also been granted to build an additional biomass processing facility and bioethanol & biodiesel refinery.  The intention is that spent grains from the bioethanol plant and glycerol from the biodiesel plant will eventually be used as the fuel feedstock for the power station.
Press release ~ Helius Energy plc ~ Biomass – How it works ~ BERR – renewable heat
 
Defra: The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) officially declared that the UK is 'controlled risk' for BSE at its recent General Session. The OIE sets out risk-based criteria for the export of live bovines and bovine products.  It agreed a new system of categorising exporting countries on the basis of BSE risk as ‘negligible', 'controlled' or 'undetermined'.
 
The number of BSE cases in the UK has declined from over 37,000 in 1992 to 67 in 2007.  Most cases have been in cattle born before tough feed controls became effective on 1 August 1996.  Cattle born or reared in the UK before this date are prohibited from entering food or feed chains or from export. The UK is some years from achieving 'negligible risk' status for BSE as this requires a period of at least 11 years since the birth of a BSE case - currently 2014.
Press release ~ World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) ~ European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) ~ Defra - BSE
 
DSA: The Driving Standards Agency is writing to learner driver candidates who booked practical tests on a Saturday since November 2005, to offer a refund for overpayment of fees caused by accidental overcharging and to apologise for the error.
 
They are taking this action because of an error in regulations made on 1 November 2005 which had the unintended consequence of removing the differential between normal weekday hours and Saturday charges for taking a test.  The refund offered is the premium paid for a Saturday test, currently £10.50 for a car test. An amending regulation has now been laid in Parliament to reinstate in law the intended differential in fees.
Press release ~ Driving Standards Agency ~ Booking a test
 
FDA: The FDA - the union for senior managers and professionals in the civil service – has given a welcome to many aspects of the 2008 Senior Salaries Review Body report, which has made recommendations on pay levels for members of the Senior Civil Service, and on reform of a pay system ‘seen increasingly to lack credibility’.

Dave Penman, FDA head of operations, said: "We welcome many of the report's findings.  However, it is clear the Government is continuing, with its focus on pay bill per head rather than the whole pay bill, to adopt an inflexible approach towards rewarding senior managers in government.  The Government's response to the report is more about crude headlines than practical management of the civil service pay bill within a policy framework that would encourage greater efficiency”.
Press release ~ 30th Report on Senior Salaries - 2008 ~ The FDA's response ~ Read the FDA's evidence to the SSRB ~ Read the FDA's additional evidence to the SSRB ~ Written Ministerial statement
 
OFT:  The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has given the Ombudsman for Estate Agents Company Limited (OEA) approval for its estate agents redress scheme under the Consumer Estate Agents and Redress Act 2007 (CEARA).
 
With the approval of a redress scheme, the Secretary of State for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) will now be able to make an order under CEARA requiring all estate agents dealing with residential property in the UK to join an approved scheme.  BERR expects this order to become law and commence on 1 October 2008, from which time estate agents will be required to join an approved scheme.
 
In the meantime, the OFT is considering two other applications to operate estate agents redress schemes and will announce decisions on these as soon as possible.
Press release ~ Consumer Estate Agents and Redress Act 2007 (CEARA ~ Estate Agents Redress Schemes area ~ OEA website
 
STFC: Immediate & accurate tests to diagnose & monitor bleeding and blood clotting disorders could soon be available at every GP’s surgery.  Microvisk’s blood clotting measurement device is primarily aimed at patients who take anti-clotting drugs, such as Warfarin, also known as ‘anti-coagulants’.  For these patients, frequent blood testing is a necessity, which means that hundreds of thousands of tests are carried out every year in the UK alone. 
 
Microvisk’s technology means that a doctor will be able to perform a blood coagulation test by measuring the viscosity, or thickness, of blood in a patient with laboratory-standard accuracy from his own surgery. 
Press release ~ Microvisk Technologies Limited Tel: 01745 535843 ~ Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) ~ Blood clotting tests ~ Central Laboratory Innovation and Knowledge Transfer Limited (‘CLIK’)
 
HC: The Healthcare Commission has announced that it has issued an improvement notice to the Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals NHS Trust, requiring changes to its infection control practices. The Commission found the trust was in breach of the hygiene code, which sets out 11 mandatory duties for NHS trusts to reduce and control healthcare-associated infections.
Press release ~ Ashford and St Peter's Hospitals NHS Trust: Hygiene Code improvement notice ~ The Health Act 2006: Code of practice for the prevention and control of healthcare associated infections ~ HC - hygiene code ~ 'Clean, safe care' ~ DH - Healthcare associated infection ~ Letter giving guidance on deep cleaning ~ Clean-safe-care.nhs ~ NHS Infection Control Training Programme ~ DH cleaner hospitals website ~ Clean Hospitals website ~ Hospital Infection Society ~ BBC Panorama programme
 
LDA: The London Development Agency has launched an interactive ‘Legacy Now’ roadshow which began touring last weekend to give Londoners the chance to help plan what will go on the Olympic Park after the Games. The consultation will see people building their own ‘mini city’ by physically placing housing, parkland, shops and other features on a large scale map of the Olympic Park.

The LDA, which owns most of the Olympic Park site and leads a partnership overseeing its development after the Games, has a 'Legacy Now' website where people can access the latest information and give their views.
 Press release ~ 'Legacy Now' website ~ Future roadshows (scroll down) ~ LDA - Olympics
 
CRC: The Rural Social Justice Coalition, which had its public launch at last week's Rural Life Conference, is a diverse body of national organisations working together to improve the lives of the most disadvantaged people in rural areas. For 2008 the Coalition will focus on disadvantaged young people and the challenges for older people in rural areas.
Press release ~ Rural Social Justice Coalition ~ Rural Life Conference
 
CRC: The Commission for Rural Communities has responded to BERR and CLG's consultation 'Prosperous Places: Taking forward the Review of Sub-National Economic Development and Regeneration'. Their response focuses on the need for 'rural proofing' of the new structures, processes and arrangements.  They support the move for integration, through the new integrated regional strategy and the principles of delegation & devolution that will apply to the RDAs.

However, they are disappointed that this consultation focuses on economic growth and places a sole focus on Gross Value Added as a target for RDAs.  As an output based measurement GVA does not take into account the wider costs of such growth to the socio-environmental landscape; the well being agenda.
Press release ~ 'Prosperous Places: Taking forward the Review of Sub-National Economic Development and Regeneration' ~ CRC response ~ Rural proofing ~ RDAs ~ Gross Value Added
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