Policy Statements and Initiatives
BIS: Science Minister Lord Drayson has announced a range of actions to increase the industrial use of biological substances, systems & processes to produce materials, chemicals and energy. These are increasingly used to make ingredients that have traditionally been generated using oil and other fossil fuels.
Industrial Biotechnology materials (plants, algae, marine life, fungi, micro-organisms) and processes are found in a number of existing products ranging from new bio-based ingredients in personal care products to bio-based synthetic rubber for tyres to vaccines and pharmaceuticals.
Press release ~ ‘IB 2025: Maximising UK Opportunities from Industrial Biotechnology in a Low Carbon Economy’ ~ Government response: ‘IB 2025: Maximising UK Opportunities from Industrial Biotechnology in a Low Carbon Economy’ ~
Industrial Biotechnology Innovation & Growth Team ~ National Industrial Biotechnology Facility (NIBF)
DH: New ways of improving access to NHS dental services and assuring high quality of care have been set out in an independent review, which recognises that (despite some improvements) more needs to be done to improve NHS dentistry for patients. The review recommends new ways of encouraging dentists to take on new patients to provide quality care and outlines steps the NHS can take to help patients register with an NHS dentist.
From autumn 2009, selected dental practices will pilot some of the independent review team’s recommendations. Early findings from pilots are expected in 12 to 18 months time which will inform plans for further roll out nationally. In addition, the NHS will be responsible for providing a local helpline to help people find an NHS dentist and understand what they are entitled to.
ScotGov: The world's eyes are on Scotland as the country moves to become the first to introduce a nationwide minimum price for alcohol. A recent forum brought together around 100 representatives from across the political spectrum, NHS, universities, alcohol producers and retailers, interest groups and government.
Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said: "We know that alcohol misuse is damaging Scotland. It's fuelling violence, damaging our health and hurting our economy. The fact that you can buy a bottle of high strength cider for less than a bottle of water shows that it's time for action to be taken” - See also ‘General Reports and Other Publications’ for related article.
Press release ~ Changing Scotland's Relationship with Alcohol: A Framework for Action ~ ScotGov - Alcohol ~ Audit Scotland's drug and alcohol report ~ Final recommendations of the Alcohol and Drugs Delivery Reform Group ~ Single Outcome Agreements ~ Know Your Limits campaign – Drinks calculator ~ How to cut down ~ Alcohol Focus Scotland ~ Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems (SHAAP) ~ National Youth Commission on Alcohol ~ Harmful Drinking 5: Alcohol and Young people ~ 12 Dimensions of a Manageable Problem
BIS: A new task force to ensure our universities become the first choice across the world for on-line distance learning has been announced. Chaired by Lynne Brindley, the Chief Executive of the British Library, it will advise on ‘a wider strategy to build on our past & present successes and ensure we do not lose pace on increased demand in expanding & new markets’.
It will be backed by a new Open Learning Innovation Fund aimed at helping universities build on their existing world class reputations to access & engage future markets that are expected to value around £15bn in the future. Britain is a world leader in distance learning currently attracting more than 100,000 students from around the globe and earning the sector some £200m in fees.
The wider strategy will continue to develop the role of the Open University (OU) as a national resource, so that all universities can benefit from the OU’s specialist expertise, developed through public funding.
Press release ~ Ministers speech ~ Open University (OU) ~ Sir Ron Cooke’ report looking at how we become a world leader in e-learning
DfT: Transport Secretary Andrew Adonis has announced the 4 companies who will begin supplying low carbon and all-electric vans to selected public sector organisations later this year, as part of a £20m Department for Transport scheme to use public sector procurement to help demonstrate the potential of new technologies for decarbonising road transport.
Ashwoods, Allied Vehicles, Smith Electric Vehicles and Modec will initially supply the first 100 - 150 vans for use across the country later this year. The vehicles will be monitored closely to assess their carbon reduction potential in real world conditions. Successful initial trials may lead to financial support for further larger vehicle procurements in a second phase of the programme.
Press release ~ Low Carbon Vehicle Procurement Programme ~ Ashwoods ~ Allied Vehicles ~ Smith Electric Vehicles ~ Modec ~ Ultra-Low Carbon Vehicles in the UK ~ Low Carbon Industrial Strategy ~ New Automotive Innovation and Growth Team (NAIGT) ~ TSB - Low Carbon Vehicles Innovation ~ Cenex ~ Energy Technologies Institute
DH: There will be a new drive to ensure GPs spot cervical cancer symptoms earlier in young women and refer patients correctly, Health Minister Ann Keen has announced. A review, carried out by the independent Advisory Committee on Cervical Screening (ACCS) reported concern that young women who present to their GPs with cervical cancer symptoms are not always being given appropriate advice.
ACCS have recommended immediate action in this area including, but have also agreed unanimously for no change in the screening age as evidence showed that earlier screening could do more harm than good causing too many false positives and increase the risk of premature births in some women.
The ACCS will now consider ways to improve the way symptomatic patients are treated, with a particular focus on women under 25 and then make further recommendations to the Department of Health.
Press release ~ Minutes of the ACCS meeting and other related documents (scroll down) ~ NHS Cervical Screening Programme
ScotGov: National infrastructure projects, including a high speed rail link to London, have been identified in the Scottish Government's newly published National Planning Framework 2 (NPF). Infrastructure Minister Stewart Stevenson said the document ‘outlined a vision for Scotland's development to 2030’. It includes a list of 14 national developments with the potential to support economic recovery and increase sustainable economic growth well into the future.
Inclusion as a national development in the NPF establishes the need for the projects in the national interest, but planning (and other permissions as necessary) will still be required. Any subsequent examination on national developments would focus on matters such as siting, design and the mitigation of environmental impacts rather than re-opening the question of need.
The Planning (Scotland) Act 2006 requires Scottish Ministers to prepare or review the National Planning Framework (NPF) within five years. Planning authorities will now have to take account of the final NPF when preparing development plans and making planning application decisions.
Press release ~ National Planning Framework for Scotland ~ Infrastructure Investment Plan (2005) ~ Taking forward the Scottish Futures Trust ~ ScotGov – Council of Economic Advisers ~ The Scottish Parliament - Committees -Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change
BIS: The Innovation Growth Team for Space has been formed to create a 20 year strategy for British leadership in space and will be chaired by Andy Green (CEO of Logica). It will seek views from the entire space industry, and industries such as entertainment, navigation and climate change that rely on space technology. It will set out the challenges & opportunities that govern future value creation, competitiveness and growth in the space sector.
The Space IGT is expected to announce preliminary findings at the end of 2009 with the full report being published in early 2010.
Press release ~ Innovation Growth Team for Space ~ British National Space Centre (BNSC) ~ UK Civil Space Strategy: 2008 - 2012 and beyond ~ European Space Agency ~ 2009 International Year of Astronomy ~ Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL) ~ Royal Aeronautical Society ~ Schome Park Project - Open University ~ UK High Altitude Society ~ Joint Working Group report on lunar co-operation
DECC: With less than 6 months left before crucial climate negotiations take place in the Danish capital Copenhagen, the Government has set out why an international climate change agreement is vital for the world and what a deal must contain.
The UK argues the global deal on climate change must be:
* Ambitious – limit climate change to 2 degrees, by making sure global greenhouse gas emissions peak and start to reduce by 2020, and keep on shrinking to reach at most half of their 1990 levels by 2050
* Effective – keep all countries to their word with strong monitoring, reporting and verification; and let money flow to where it will make most difference by developing carbon markets
*Fair – support the poorest countries to cut their emissions and adapt to climate change
In his speech, the PM urged countries to provide around $100bn per year by 2020 to help developing countries reduce their emissions, tackle deforestation and adapt to the climate change already being experienced. He committed the UK to providing new finance additional to existing Official Development Assistance commitments.
In addition, the government published - ‘The Road to Copenhagen’ - a manifesto for a global climate deal and launched the official UK government website presenting information on the climate change negotiations
Press release ~
‘The Road to Copenhagen’ ~ Government Copenhagen website ~ New & improved Act on CO2 online carbon calculator ~ UK climate projections ~ Official Copenhagen Conference Website (7 – 18 December 2009)
ScotGov: Sales of Scottish produce across Great Britain have increased by 21% in 2 years as consumers turn to the ‘Saltire’ as an indication of quality and source for their food & drink. At the Royal Highland Show in Edinburgh last week, Rural Affairs and Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead unveiled Recipe for Success the next steps in Scotland's first-ever national food and drink policy.