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Environment Update

Friday, March 11, 2011

Every few months my website will carry news items concerned with the environment and climate change compiled by my staff. I hope you find the items useful and interesting.


Forests and woods review  

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is to review its initial plans to sell forests and woods to private sector companies after the breadth of opposition from MPs and the public. The widespread campaign against the sell-off, including in many Tory MP’s constituencies, caught the government by surprise and meant a change to their plans.  


Forestry Commission forests in England cover 257,000 hectares (635,000 acres), around 18% of Britain’s wooded areas. Caroline Selman, Defra Secretary, has now confirmed that the plans were not a ‘done-deal’ and that all forestry clauses in the Public Bodies Bill will be removed.


Pollution in Sheffield hits all-time high

Sheffield could be among the UK city councils forced to pay 300 million in fines to the European Union for failing to meet air quality targets as certain areas of the city suburbs are suffering from high levels of pollution. Statistics compiled from air quality surveys around Sheffield show the amount of nitrogen dioxide - a toxic gas produced by vehicle exhausts - is almost 50% higher in Broomhill than the level considered acceptable.


As the Star newspaper has noted:  “The joint-second worst areas were Chesterfield Road, Meersbrook - a hotspot for traffic jams - and Fitzalan Square, city centre, a spot often clogged with queuing buses.” Sheffield City Council Is currently looking into different measures of tackling air pollution in the city.


A new future for Forge Dam?

Forge Dam Park, one of Sheffield’s most popular beauty spots, needs a new lease of life and a consultation has been launched by the Friends of the Porter Valley (FoPV) with their new ‘Masterplan’.


Their plan consists of three options which FoPV say are “Options based on community and stakeholder consultation and provide answers to some of the current issues”.  FoPV, South West Community Assembly and Parks & Countryside Service of the city council have been working with others to develop options for future development which they hope will attract more visitors to the Dam.


Some may wish to keep the Dam as it is now, complete with a naturally growing island which attracts a great deal of wildlife. However the initial reaction of the surrounding community is to dredge and renew the Dam to restore it to its intended beauty. Most of the money 20,000 has come from the South West Community Assembly.


If you wish further information contact Amie Rowland on 0114 2736952 or amie.rowland@sheffield.gov.uk


Sheffield to London in 80 Minutes via High Speed Railway

Plans for a new high speed railway have been backed by local business leaders. The proposed 17 billion rail link would give a journey time of just 80 minutes between Sheffield and London with high speed 250mph trains between London, Birmingham, Manchester, Sheffield and Leeds.


The former labour government introduced the proposals and they have subsequently gained a great deal of support from the coalition government. If proposals go ahead, building is set to begin in 2015 with the new link due for completion in 2032.


Government Ministers have launched a consultation on the plans. There is considerable opposition from local activist groups along the initial route between London and Birmingham, with campaigners condemning the scheme as being environmentally and economically unsound.




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