Harbour Porpoise Possible Special Area of Conservation Consultation

(Posted 10 March 2016)             

There are five harbour porpoise Possible Special Areas of Conservation (pSACs) undergoing consultation, split between two agencies: the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) and Natural Resources Wales (NRW).  Click the link below to access information and links to documents which describe the process of identifying these sites, and also details of how to respond to the consultation. The consultation overview document also has further details.

The consultation closes on 3 May 2016.



Responses to draft river basin management plan and flood risk management plan consultations 2015

(Posted 10 March 2016)

The Acting on your responses to the draft update document shows how the Environment Agency used the responses received. This document is a joint response for river basin management plans and flood risk management plans. It summarises the main themes raised during both consultations.


Wildlife licensing: comment on a new licence for the maintenance of waterways inhabited by white-clawed crayfish

(Posted 10 March 2016)

Natural England has reviewed the responses to this consultation, which ran from 24 August to 20 November 2015. They sought views on the proposal to issue a new class licence to take white-clawed crayfish to allow maintenance activities on English waterways.

The white-clawed crayfish (Austropotamobius pallipes) is the only native crayfish species found in the UK. It has suffered significant decline due to:

  • the introduction of North American signal crayfish
  • a harmful fungus (Aphanomyces astaci) carried by the signal crayfis

It is an offence to take white-clawed crayfish from English waterways under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended), but it is lawful to carry out works which would kill them. All activities resulting in harm or death should be avoided, where possible. To prevent further decline, Natural England issues around 50 individual licences each year to take white-clawed crayfish to allow lawful maintenance of English waterways. They now propose to issue a class licence with standard terms and conditions instead.

If this licence is approved you’ll need to register to use it to carry out maintenance on:

  • road, rail and footbridges
  • culverts
  • canal locks
  • silt traps
  • bank works approximately 10 to 20 m in length
  • in-channel works
  • reservoirs, spillways and sluices

See the responses at:


Wildlife licensing: comment on a new license to move water voles for development purposes

(Posted 10 March 2016)

Natural England has reviewed the responses to this consultation which ran from 31 August to 20 November 2015. They sought views on the proposal to issue a new class licence to permanently move water voles for development purposes.

Water voles and their burrows are protected by the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981 (as amended), which means they need to be kept safe from harm or injury where development is allowed to take place. Natural England proposed a new class licence for ecological consultants to allow the movement of water voles from locations in England where legal development activities could disturb, injure or kill them, or damage their burrows.

Under the new licence, ecological consultants can continue with best practice management whilst reducing the risk of prosecution.

See the responses at:


Marine Conservation Zones – second tranche of designations

(Posted 10 March 2016)

Defra received 9,170 responses to this consultation which sought views on each of the 23 MCZs proposed for designation. These 23 Marine conservation zones were announced on 17 January 2016.

MCZs are areas of sea where rare or important features are protected from damaging activity. They protect important habitats such as honeycomb worm reefs and seagrass beds as well as species such as native oyster and stalked jellyfish.


Marine Strategy Framework Directive – proposals for UK programme of measures

(Posted 10 March 2016)

Defra received 3,425 responses to the consultation. The vast majority (over 3000) were from members of the public as part of several campaigns. The proposals have been updated following the consultation exercise and the final UK programme of measures has been published. This consultation ran from 30 January 2015 to 24 April 2015.


Reforming the water abstraction management system: making the most of every drop

(Posted 10 March 2016)

This consultation sought views on proposed changes to how Defra manages water abstraction in England and Wales. The proposed reforms are designed to make the system more flexible and resilient to future pressures. It builds on actions Defra are already taking to tackle unsustainable abstraction. They want to make sure that any new system would:

  • increase the amount of water that can be used by systematically linking access to water to water availability;
  • incentivise abstractors to manage water efficiently;
  • help abstractors to trade available water effectively, ensuring that we get the most value out of our water and do not waste water which could be used;
  • ensure we have a more effective process to review licences, striking the right balance between providing regulatory certainty for abstractors and managing environmental risk;
  • incentivise abstractors to manage risks from future pressures on water resources, increasing their own resilience and that of river catchments.

Defra have identified two main options for reform which they have developed through working closely with stakeholders: ‘Current System Plus’ and ‘Water Shares’.

See the consultation outcome and all updates at:



River basin management plans: 2015

(Posted 10 March 2016)

The new River Basin Management Plans (RBMPs) have now been issued for the second cycle of the Water Framework Directive (2016–2021). They set out how organisations, stakeholders and communities will work together to improve the water environment. They are an update to the first plans published in 2009.

A RBD covers an entire river system, including river, lake, groundwater, estuarine and coastal water bodies. The RBD RBMPs are designed to protect and improve the quality of our water environment.
Defra states: These updated 2015 plans build on the work already done to protect and improve over 9,320 miles of our rivers over the last 5 years. They set out how a minimum of 680 (14%) of waters will improve over the next 6 years from around £3 billion investment. The RBMPs support the government’s framework for the 25-year environment plan.

Use RBMPs if you need:

  • Information on the plan for the protection and improvement of the water environment.
  • To know how future plans may affect an industry sector and its obligations.
  • To ensure a development proposal considers the requirements of the RBMP.
  • To apply for an environmental permit.
  • To contribute to the delivery of the plan or maximise potential funding for a project.

Links with the Marine Strategy Framework Directive
There are strong links between RBMPs and the UK’s Marine Strategy which implements the Marine Strategy Framework Directive. Measures in the RBMPs will contribute to achieving good environmental status in the UK seas.

See the UK’s Marine Strategy Part 3: programme of measures.

RBMPs in England and Wales
Use the map to find your RBD.

There are 11 river basin districts in England and Wales. The Environment Agency manage the 7 RBDs in England. Natural Resources Wales (NRW) manage the Western Wales RBD. NRW and the Environment Agency jointly manage the Dee and Severn RBDs. See the RBMPs for Western Wales and Dee on the NRW website.

RBMPs in Scotland
The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) have also published Scotland’s second set of river basin management plans that set out a route map for protecting and improving Scotland’s water environment over the next 12 years. The plans – one covering the Scotland river basin district and another covering the cross-border Solway Tweed river basin district – are available on SEPA’s website alongside a new interactive web tool, the water environment hub, which provides the detailed data and information.

The plans set out what the Scottish Government, SEPA, Scottish Water, local authorities and all Scotland’s other public bodies will do to tackle these pressures and improve the condition of the affected rivers, lochs, estuaries, coastal waters and groundwater.
For more information – click here

Update to the RBMPs
RBMPs must be reviewed and updated every 6 years. A consultation on the draft update to RBMPs ran from October 2014 to April 2015. See the consultation on the draft RBMPs. For both the review and the update to the RBMPs appropriate public consultation and engagement methods were used. Learn more in the record of consultation and engagement.

Defra state: The RBMPs have been approved by the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. They have been prepared in line with ministerial guidance, fulfil the requirements of the Water Framework Directive and contribute to the objectives of other EU directives.


WWF says ‘Government plans fail to protect England's rivers’

(Posted 10 March 2016)

The second River Basin Management Plans [published recently] setting out the future management of rivers, lakes and coastal waters in England are woefully unambitious and fail to tackle the main threats facing them, say WWF-UK and the Angling Trust.

Dominic Gogol, Water Policy Manager, WWF-UK, said:
By publishing such woefully unambitious plans, ministers have squandered a huge opportunity. The government’s own data shows that getting three quarters of rivers, lakes and wetlands to good health would boost the economy by £8.5 billion. If the government continues at this snail’s pace, it will take nearly a century to get most of our rivers healthy.  This will be devastating for both the people and wildlife that rely on these special places. Currently, only 17% of water bodies, such as rivers and lakes are at good health. The new targets released today by the Environment Agency show that by 2021 it intends only 21% to be healthy. This lowly ambition does not even get them back to where they were in 2009.

Mark Lloyd, Chief Executive, The Angling Trust & Fish Legal, said:
While these plans set out clearly the range and scale of the issues affecting rivers across the country, such as farm pollution, key effective solutions to tackle them are absent.  Following our successful legal challenge last year, the government must now assess the use of targeted local regulations to make sure our most precious rivers and wetlands are protected and restored for the benefit of fish, wildlife, people and the rural economy.

Read more at:


Plans for river health will not ‘Save Our Waters’ say Blueprint for Water

(Posted 10 March 2016)

The government has now published the second River Basin Management Plans, which set out how our rivers, lakes, and coastal waters will be protected and restored. Nearly 1000 people responded to the draft plans via the ‘Save Our Waters’ campaign. However, Blueprint for Water say that these plans mean that only a fraction more will be healthy by 2021. They continue with only 17% of all rivers, lakes and coastal waters currently in good health, if the government continues at its current pace it will take nearly a century for most of our waters to get there.

Read more here


Integrated water management approach to delivery of the North West England River basin management plan (EU Life project)

(Posted 10 March 2016)

The high level objectives of the project include:

  • To substantially increase the capacity to deliver improvement in water body status in the North West River Basin District;
  • To demonstrate reduction of technically infeasible measures by addressing difficult issues in river basin management, including diffuse rural and urban pollution, natural flood management, uptake of sustainable drainage solutions, and the use of green infrastructure and ecosystem services;
  • To increase engagement and formalise the role of stakeholders to mobilise funding, and increase delivery activity in integrated water management;
  • To improve understanding of the reasons for failure to meet good status, by improving third party data and knowledge input into river basin planning.


Capturing Our Coast

(Posted 10 March 2016)

CoCoast is a project that aims to find out more about the species that live in our seas and how we can protect them. Using ‘citizen science’ the data collected will:

  • Provide detailed distribution maps of marine species.
  • Allow us to explore how climate change and other human impact is affecting our seas.
  • Allow us to investigate if conservation policies are effective, to study how species interact (including marine invasive species), and to explore local issues on the coast.

The initiative is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

See how you can get involved at:


Good Fish Guide from the Marine Conservation Society

(Posted 10 March 2016)

If you want to eat fish, the new Good Fish Guide app (free on both iPhone and Android) is a great catch to make sure the fish you buy comes from sustainable stocks. Whilst looking at fish on the counter you can, with a few taps and swipes, be sure your fish supper is as sustainable as possible. Not only that, you can browse seasonal seafood recipes from top chefs and celebrities, there’s a size guide to help you spot fish that are being sold below the size at which they breed, and you can find restaurants with great sustainable credentials.


'Blue Belt' extended to protect 8,000 square miles of UK waters

(Posted 10 March 2016)

Twenty-three new areas along the UK coast were today announced as the latest Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) to be awarded environmental protection by the government, extending the country’s ‘Blue Belt’ to cover over 20% of English waters and providing vital protection for the diverse array of wildlife in our seas.

The new sites, which will protect 4,155 square miles of our most stunning and rich marine habitats, bring the total number of MCZs in waters around England to 50, covering 7,886 square miles. The 23 additional sites are the second of three planned phases of MCZs; the first phase covered 3,731 square miles of water over 27 sites, while a third phase of proposed MCZs will be put out to wider public consultation in 2017, and designated in 2018.

Marine Conservation Zones protect a range of nationally important marine wildlife, habitats, geology and geomorphology, and can be designated anywhere in English waters. They were introduced to halt the deterioration of the UK’s marine biodiversity and provide legal means to deliver the UK’s international marine conservation commitments.

Read more at:


£13.5m hydro project underway in the Highlands

(Posted 10 March 2016)

Scottish renewable energy company Green Highland Renewables has started work on a £13.5m hydropower scheme in the Scottish Highlands. The Loch Eilde Mor project is fully funded by the hydro firm’s owners Ancala Renewables and could be producing power by summer 2017.

These schemes all secured subsidies through the Feed-in Tariff (FiT), but there have been recent cuts to the tariff for hydro schemes. Tariffs for small-scale hydro schemes were cut by as much as 37% in the controversial changes to the FIT. Much like the solar industry, the British Hydro Association told Amber Rudd that the cuts could cost thousands of jobs in the sector, and undermine Britain’s transition to a low-carbon energy system.


Scottish Environment Protection Agency chairman retires

(Posted 10 March 2016)

SEPA's chairman, David Sigsworth, retired from the role at the end of 2015. He has been chairman since January 2008 and, in that time, had been instrumental not only in transforming SEPA into a genuinely world-leading environment protection agency, but also in establishing SEPA as a leader in public service reform.

SEPA's new chairman has been announced as Bob Downes. Bob has served as SEPA Deputy Chair since January 2012.

Read more here


Marine Conservation Zone designations in England

(Posted 10 March 2016)

Marine Conservation Zones are areas that protect a range of nationally important, rare or threatened habitats and species. There are 50 MCZs in waters around England. You can see where the zones are on JNCC’s interactive map.

These were designated in two phases after a stakeholder consultation process. The first 27 zones were designated in November 2013. The second phase, involving 23 zones, was announced on 17 January 2016, bringing the total area protected to 7,886 square miles. A third phase will be consulted on in 2017, and designated in 2018. The third phase will aim to complete the UK Blue Belt and our contribution to the ecologically coherent network in the North East Atlantic. Similar schemes are operating in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland to contribute to a UK-wide network of marine protected areas.


Thames Water fined £1 million for pollution to Grand Union Canal

(Posted 10 March 2016)

Thames Water Utilities Limited has been ordered to pay record-breaking £1 million after polluting the Grand Union Canal in Hertfordshire. This is the highest ever fine for a water company in a prosecution brought by the Environment Agency.

The case was brought by the EA after Thames Water caused repeated discharges of polluting matter from Tring STW (Sewage Treatment Works) to enter the Wendover Arm of the Grand Union Canal in Hertfordshire between July 2012 and April 2013.

Explaining why the fine was so large, HHJ Bright QC stated that: The time has now come for the courts to make clear that very large organisations such as [Thames Water] really must bring about the reforms and improvements for which they say they are striving because if they do not the sentences passed upon them for environmental offences will be sufficiently severe to have a significant impact on their finances.

Read the full press release at:


Environment Agency chairman resigns after intense criticism

(Posted 10 March 2016)

Environment Agency (EA) chairman Philip Dilley has stepped down from his post after being heavily criticised for being on holiday in Barbados while severe flooding affected much of the country. Current deputy chairman Emma Howard Boyd has become acting chairman with immediate effect and will lead the board in holding the agency to account.


Marine strategy part three: UK programme of measures (Policy paper from Defra)

(Posted 10 March 2016)

This strategy outlines the measures that contribute to the achievement and maintenance of Good Environmental Status (GES) in UK seas by 2020. It is the final part in Defra’s marine strategy and complements the existing parts of the strategy, which are:

  • Marine strategy part one sets out an initial assessment of our seas and characteristics, targets and indicators of GES.
  • Marine strategy part two sets out monitoring programmes for measuring progress towards GES.

The aim of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive is for EU member states to put in place measures to achieve GES in their marine waters by 2020.

Access the documents here


Conservation and communities are key to MPA plan

(Posted 10 March 2016)

Measures to conserve Scotland’s marine environment and protect important seabed features will be put in place, Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead has confirmed. The Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) will improve marine conservation, for example by protecting kelp and rocky reefs to reduce coastal erosion, and seagrass beds which capture and store carbon and provide nursery habitats.

The Scottish government designated 30 MPAs last year and subsequently consulted on the associated management measures for a total of 20 sites. Following feedback from stakeholders, a further consultation was undertaken on the proposed measures in four of the larger MPAs to consider further representations.

The MPA network covers only four per cent of Scottish inshore waters, and it is estimated that the direct economic impact on the fishing industry will be very low.

To help minimise any local impact a three point plan has been announced:

  • An environmental monitoring strategy, including opportunities for vessels to participate with funding of up to £500,000 over three years.
  • Resources for diversification will be an early priority for the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund.
  • A commitment to undertake a robust economic study in a year’s time to assess the impact on coastal communities.

Read more at:


UK fishermen see next phase of the discard ban take effect – Press Release from Defra

(Posted 10 March 2016)

New rules from 1 January 2016 mean that fishermen targeting certain demersal species such as haddock, sole and plaice must land all their catch. The demersal discard ban is the latest phase of the wider discard ban which will bring an end to the wasteful practice of throwing fish back, dead, overboard. The demersal ban follows the successful introduction of the pelagic landing obligation in January 2015, targeting mid-water species such as blue whiting, herring and mackerel.

Further information:

  • The demersal landing obligation is being gradually phased in; a complete ban on the discarding of all quota species will be in place by 2019.
  • The Marine Management Organisation provides guidance for fishermen impacted by the demersal landing obligation. This outlines which fish come under the new landing obligation, what fishermen have to do with them on board, and which can be sold for human consumption.
  • Guidance on the landing obligation can also be found on the European Commission’s website.

Read more at:


Tough decisions reap benefits for UK fishermen – Press Release from Defra

(Posted 10 March 2016)

In December the UK government reached a deal for the UK fishing industry, achieving quota increases and ensuring sustainable fish stocks. The UK government fought hard to deliver a better deal for the UK fishing industry from the EU, achieving significant quota increases for iconic species like North Sea Cod next year, and a doubling of Channel Plaice, while continuing to conserve fish stocks in order to safeguard the future livelihoods of the UK’s fishing fleets and coastal communities.

This announcement follows negotiations at the annual EU Fisheries and Agriculture Council where fishing quotas for 2016 were agreed. Decisions were based on three clear principles: following the available scientific advice; achieving sustainable levels of fishing; and reducing discards.

The negotiations were the culmination of months of UK government-led meetings to hear from fishermen, devolved administrations, scientists and environmental NGOs to secure the best possible deal in order to meet shared goals of a profitable fishing industry, sustainable fish stocks, and a healthy marine environment.

Read more at:


Benefits of SuDS Tool – BeST

(Posted 10 March 2016)

CIRIA has developed a new, free tool and guidance: Benefits of SuDS Tool (BeST) for use on PCs. It makes assessing the benefits of SuDS easier, without the need for full-scale economic inputs.

BeST provides a structured approach to evaluating a wide range of benefits, often based upon the overall drainage system performance overall. It follows a simple structure that begins with a screening and qualitative assessment to identify the benefits to evaluate further. It then provides support to help quantify and monetise each benefit. On completion of the evaluation, the tool provides a series of graphs and charts to present the benefits based on Ecosystem Services and Triple Bottom Line criteria.

Access the guidance and tools here:


Evidence requirements for the Marine Management Organisation (MMO)

(Posted 10 March 2016)

To support the development of Part 2 of the Evidence Strategy, the MMO has conducted a review of its current evidence requirements. This information shows how the MMO will prioritise its evidence gathering activity and external partners are encouraged to use this information when considering how their work could be of benefit to marine management in England.

For further information about any of the items in the list of requirements please contact the
evidence team


A Review of Access to Industry Marine Environmental Data

(Posted 10 March 2016)

The UK government, primarily through the UK Marine Science Strategy and the Marine Science Coordination Committee, has committed to enabling open access to as much marine data as possible. The intention behind this commitment is to reduce the costs and burdens to developers, as well as to ensure that the maximum value is extracted from existing data.

A report, published by the Productive Seas Evidence Group, has identified the types of data collected by marine industries and the mechanisms by which industry data are made publicly available. Where data are not made publicly available the barriers that are preventing the provision of these data sets have been documented. The review of industry data collation has identified the aggregates, oil and gas, cables and ports industries as collecting data that have the potential to inform requirements for Marine Strategy Framework Directive, Safety of Life at Sea, Water Framework Directive, Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic, Marine and Coastal Act, Birds and Habitats Directive, the Wildlife and Countryside Act, UK Biodiversity Action Plan and the Common Fisheries Policy. Data is currently made available by the offshore renewable energy sector which collects a vast amount of marine environmental data and it is made available (subject to commercial confidentiality) via the Marine Data Exchange.

The marine industry sectors on the whole are positive about sharing and allowing the re-use of marine environmental data which they collect. This suggests that data from industry could be made accessible to the wider marine science community to improve the overall understanding of the marine environment. A set of approaches were identified which could increase access to industry data with options on how to move forward these approaches.

Access the report at:

Source of information:


Catchment Based Approach – Best Practice examples

(Posted 10 March 2016)

There are 50 examples on the CaBA website – see the link below.

Included are: ‘Ribble Life’ which explores better ways to engage with people to improve the environment; fisheries walkover surveys; sediment pollution tracing; riverfly partnership; urban pollution monitoring; ‘Fieldmouse’ modelling tool which helps to target landscape sources of diffuse pollution.


Cefas leads the marine ‘Open Data’ revolution

(Posted 10 March 2016)

Decades’ worth of data revealing the health of our seas and marine wildlife is being made freely available to the public for the first time, following the launch of a new data hub by the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas). The data hub allows the public and UK businesses to explore, download and reuse the data for their own research; it will be populated by hundreds of free marine datasets in the coming months.

The hub is being launched alongside newly released data on fish populations and climate change and is an important step in the #OpenDefra project, which will see the release of thousands of datasets over the year in the biggest government data giveaway the country has ever seen.

  • The initial data release will include information collected from hundreds of surveys of UK seas. It includes:
  • Fish and shellfish surveys to understand their population size
  • Crab tagging to help explain migration patterns from year to year
  • Temperature and salinity of UK sea waters to understand climate change impact.

Following this initial release, more data will be made available on an ongoing basis and work will continue to develop the data publishing system.

The Data Hub can be found on

For more on this story, go to:


New ‘Upstream Thinking’ programme to protect rivers

(Posted 10 March 2016)

The multi-award-winning ‘Upstream Thinking’ partnership is expanding work to improve water quality in south-west region's rivers with a new five-year programme.

The partnership, comprising South West Water, the Devon Wildlife Trust, the Cornwall Wildlife Trust, the Westcountry Rivers Trust and the Exmoor National Park Authority, is building on work begun in 2008 to change land management practices to protect rivers. Supported by the National Farmers Union, the Environment Agency, Natural England and the Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group, the programme is part of South West Water's long term business plan to reduce its environmental footprint and manage the impact of diffuse pollution on customers' bills.

The programme has two main elements: advice and grants for farmers and the restoration of peatland in partnership with landowners. The latest £11.8 million programme focuses on 11 catchments across Devon and Cornwall in 2015-20. The target for the programme is 750 farms and 1,300 ha of moorland and other semi-natural land under revised management. Grants are targeted at farms with land connected to rivers above water abstraction points. The aim is to reduce the amount of unwanted substances in river water, which in turn helps to control the cost of chemicals and energy needed to turn raw water into high quality tap water.

Read more at:


Force Crag mine water treatment scheme opens in Cumbria

(Posted 10 March 2016)

Europe’s first zero-chemical, zero-power, metal mine water-treatment scheme has opened in Cumbria. This is an innovative treatment works using the natural environment to clean metal-rich water from an abandoned mine. The scheme will clean up a six mile stretch of river, preventing up to a tonne of metals, including zinc, cadmium and lead, from entering Bassenthwaite Lake each year.
Funded by Defra, the scheme is part of the Government’s £8.5 million investment in low-cost solutions to tackle water pollution caused by abandoned metal mines that pollute over 1,000 miles of rivers in England.
The Force Crag Mine was worked for zinc, lead and barytes from 1835 until 1991 and was the last working mine in the Lake District. Now abandoned, it is a Site of Special Scientific Interest, a Special Area of Conservation and a scheduled monument.



Maritime spatial planning: Limiting the environmental impact of maritime activities

(Posted 10 March 2016)

In December 2015 the European Commission held its 5th Maritime Spatial Planning conference, dedicated to the relationship between maritime spatial planning (MSP) and the environment. Participants discussed the challenges and opportunities that arise when applying an environmental perspective to MSP. Planning and managing human activities in a way that does not exceed the capacity of marine ecosystems can deliver economic and social benefits.

The EU adopted a Maritime Spatial Planning Directive in 2014 to encourage blue growth on the basis of coordinated cross-border planning. Under the Directive, EU Member States need to appoint a national authority in charge of planning, and develop plans covering all EU waters by 2021 at the latest. They also need to put in place structures for cross-border cooperation. Member States have to transpose the Directive into their national legislation by September next year.

This event was the fifth in a series of maritime spatial planning conferences organised by the Commission. The series aims to let national and regional authorities, maritime industries and non-governmental organisations share experiences, so that they can develop their planning activities and implement the Maritime Spatial Planning Directive. Previous conferences addressed maritime spatial planning and specific sectors: offshore energy, shipping, fisheries and aquaculture, and coastal and maritime tourism.

Read more at:


Adidas adds 3D-printed insole to ocean waste shoe

(Posted 10 March 2016)

Sportswear manufacturer Adidas has created the world's first sports shoe made entirely from reclaimed and recycled ocean waste, which now includes a 3D-printed midsole made from recycled polyester and fill net content. The new prototype will be consumer ready along with other ocean plastic products by the end of the year.

Adidas unveiled its latest prototype at COP21 in Paris, where the company serve as sponsors for 'Parley for the Oceans' – an educational company intent on ending plastic pollution of the oceans. The plastic and net filaments were gathered by ‘Sea Shepherd’ which retrieved the recyclable waste from a 110-day tracking expedition of an illegal poaching vessel off the coast of West Africa.

Adidas has also announced it will stop using plastic bags in its own retail stores by early 2016. The company has just completed the phasing out of using plastic microbeads across all its body care products.


Global climate deal: In summary

(Posted 10 March 2016)

A global climate agreement has been finalised in Paris. What has been agreed?

The deal unites all the world's nations in a single agreement on tackling climate change for the first time in history. Coming to a consensus among nearly 200 countries on the need to cut greenhouse gas emissions is regarded by many observers as an achievement in itself and is being hailed as ‘historic’. The Kyoto Protocol of 1997 set emission cutting targets for a handful of developed countries, but the US pulled out and others failed to comply. However, scientists point out that the Paris accord must be stepped up if it is to have any chance of curbing dangerous climate change. Pledges thus far could see global temperatures rise by as much as 2.7C, but the agreement lays out a roadmap for speeding up progress.

What are the key elements?

  • To keep global temperatures ‘well below’ 2.0C above pre-industrial times and ‘endeavour to limit’ them even more, to 1.5C.
  • To limit the amount of greenhouse gases emitted by human activity to the same levels that trees, soil and oceans can absorb naturally, beginning at some point between 2050 and 2100.
  • To review each country's contribution to cutting emissions every five years so that they scale up to the challenge.
  • For rich countries to help poorer nations by providing ‘climate finance’ to adapt to climate change and switch to renewable energy.

Source of information:



Immediate ban on fisheries discards may destabilise marine ecosystems

(Posted 10 March 2016)

Discarding – returning unwanted catches to the sea – is seen as wasteful, but banning the practice would remove an important food source for many marine organisms. This study modelled the effects of gradually reducing and abruptly banning discards using data from a protected bay in Australia. The researchers recommend gradual reduction of discards in order to maintain ecosystem stability.

Read more here


Constructed wetlands for removing human pathogens: factors affecting water safety

(Posted 10 March 2016)

Constructed wetlands can remove disease-causing bacteria from wastewater, but their performance is highly dependent on the systems they use. Researchers reviewed results from a wide range of studies on constructed wetlands and found that combining different approaches increased removal of bacteria. However, further research and improvement of wetland systems is required to produce water that is safe for reuse.

Read more at:


Implications of extreme floods for river ecosystems

(Posted 10 March 2016)

The frequency and severity of flooding is expected to increase in the future. This study explored how these changes will affect rivers, in terms of their structure as well as their animal and plant life. The authors discuss the management implications of their findings and highlight areas for future research, including developing early warning systems for threats to ecosystems.

Floods have direct impacts on the organisms that inhabit rivers, displacing or killing freshwater wildlife for example. They also have indirect impacts on ecosystems via changes to the shape and form (geomorphology) of the river. The structure of rivers determines the quality and quantity of habitat that is available to freshwater organisms. Therefore, the structural changes caused by extreme flooding could influence river ecology even more than the direct impact of the flood itself, through changes to habitat availability for example. Not all changes are negative though. The physical force of a flood can expand or clear the floodplain, creating dry areas which provide crucial habitat for birds, reptiles, insects and plants.

In total, the authors make 21 recommendations for future research on the effects of extreme floods on river biology. These include: establishing how extreme flood events shape river geomorphology and ecology (e.g. at what flood magnitude does geomorphology change?); developing tools to quantify geomorphology change; downscaling climate and hydrological models to the regional and catchment-scale; determining the threshold flood size from which recovery is not possible for certain species; and developing a species trait database to predict sensitivity to flooding. In terms of policy, they recommend more sustainable approaches to flood protection (as demonstrated by the WFD) which maintain the geomorphological complexity needed for biodiversity.

Read more at:


Fin whales exposed to high levels of potentially toxic microplastics in the Mediterranean Sea

(Posted 10 March 2016)

New research finds that Fin whales (Balaenoptera physalus) are likely being exposed to microplastics and associated toxic additives in the Mediterranean Sea. The research analysed levels of microplastics and biological and chemical markers of exposure in whales from the Mediterranean Sea and the comparatively pristine Sea of Cortez, off the coast of Mexico. The results suggest that the vulnerable Mediterranean fin whale may be suffering as a consequence of microplastic pollution.

Read more here


Managing fisheries in MPAs – Approach and Process

(Posted 10 March 2016)

The Marine Management Organisation (MMO) is carrying out site assessments for marine protected areas (MPAs) in English inshore waters. These assessments will help ensure current and potential fishing activities do not have a negative impact on habitats and species in these MPAs.
This document provides an overview of the approach and process taken for assessing the sites using a risk-based approach.


More plastic than fish in oceans by 2050, new study warns

(Posted 10 March 2016)

The ‘New Plastics Economy’ report, produced by the World Economic Forum (WEF) and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation (EMF), provides a vision of a global economy in which plastics never become waste, outlining key action points for the public and private sectors, and consumers.
Assessing global plastic packaging flows comprehensively for the first time, the report finds that most plastic packaging is used only once; and 95% of the value of plastic packaging material (worth $80–120 billion annually) is lost to the economy. The report also discovered that, in a business-as-usual scenario, by 2050 the world’s oceans are expected to contain more plastics than fish (by weight), and the entire plastics industry will consume 20% of total oil production, and 15% of the annual carbon budget. It is for this reason that the WEF and EMF are calling for the development of the ‘New Plastics Economy’, based on a circular plastics value chain that reduces leakage of plastics into natural systems and decouples plastics from fossil feedstocks.

Read the report here

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High levels of endocrine-disrupting chemicals found in sediments and fish from the Italian River Po and its Lambro tributary

(Posted 10 March 2016)

Researchers have recommended that fish from some sections of the River Po and the River Lambro, one of the River Po tributaries, should not be eaten due to high levels of endocrine-disrupting chemicals in the river sediments and fish. This recommendation is based on an extensive update of pollution levels of these substances in the rivers.

Read more here


MMO evidence projects register

(Posted 10 March 2016)

The Marine Management Organisation has produced a series of reports addressing evidence to support Defra’s decision making. The evidence register contains information about each of these studies including a link to the individual reports and, where relevant, their datasets.


River maintenance pilots: a new regulatory approach

(Posted 10 March 2016)

The river maintenance pilots trialled a new regulatory approach to make it easier for riparian owners to dredge to remove silt from a main river themselves, where they chose to do so. The pilots also aimed to make it easier for people to find out about planned maintenance by the Environment Agency (EA).

The findings report details what happened during the pilots and what EA has learned.


Nitrogen and phosphorus pollution alter the mutual relationship between corals and algae

(Posted 10 March 2016)

Recent research has found that nitrogen and phosphorus pollution change the relationship between the tropical coral Stylophora pistillata and the algae living inside its tissues. The researchers say the pollutants, mainly from urban and agricultural discharges, affect algae photosynthesis and the essential transfer of carbon from algae to the coral.

Algae live inside many reef-building corals, a symbiotic relationship which benefits both the algae and the corals. The algae are protected by the coral and use its waste products for their photosynthesis and, in turn, the coral uses photosynthetic by-products, particularly carbon, to respire, reproduce and build coral skeletons.
Anything which disturbs this finely balanced relationship can impair the healthy development of the coral. Seawater polluted by excess nitrogen and phosphorus, mainly from urban and agricultural discharges, may affect the nitrogen to phosphorus balance and upset the tight algae–coral relationship.

To read more click here


Active pharmaceutical ingredients in wastewater: who are the major contributors?

(Posted 10 March 2016)

Active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) – responsible for the biological activity of drugs – have been widely found in the environment, yet the precise sources and relative importance of emissions via wastewater are not quite clear. This study assessed emissions from three health institutions in Germany – a hospital, a psychiatric hospital, and a nursing home. It found that their contribution was low compared to that from households. However, more research is needed to understand the environmental effects of neurological drugs, whose emissions were, in some cases, relatively high.

To read more click here


Anti-diabetic drug causes intersex in male fish

(Posted 10 March 2016)

Intersex fish, in which male reproductive tissues become ‘feminised’, are increasingly being identified. This effect has traditionally been attributed to birth-control medications. This study exposed fish to a widely prescribed anti-diabetic drug, metformin. Male fish developed female sexual characteristics and reproductive rate decreased, which suggests that metformin may be a non-traditional endocrine-disrupting compound (EDC).

Endocrine disruption is often attributed to the presence of hormones, such as oestrogens found in the contraceptive pill. However, new research suggests that EDCs could act via pathways separate to the archetypal hormone-receptor pathways. This is a possibility worth exploring, as many non-hormone pharmaceuticals are found in effluent, and often at much higher concentrations than oestrogens. Among these, the anti-diabetic drug metformin is one of the most abundant. Although metformin does not share the hormone-like structure of conventional EDCs, fish exposed to metformin for short periods of time have shown signs of endocrine disruption, such as the expression of an egg-yolk protein normally only found in females.

This study, the first to investigate the endocrine disrupting effects of full life cycle exposure to metformin in fish, shows that metformin leads to the development of intersex in males, reduces the size of male fish, and reduces reproductive rate.

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New bioplastics bring chitin out of its shell

(Posted 10 March 2016)

Shrimp heads, crab carapaces, lobster shells – many tonnes of shellfish waste are generated globally per year. Very little of it is put to good use. This could be about to change, as EU-funded researchers have developed an innovative way to transform this briny refuse into plastic.

The shells of crustaceans and molluscs contain chitin, a natural polymer that can be transformed into tiny filaments called nanofibrils. The partners involved in the n-Chitopack project use these nanofibrils to develop compostable bioplastics that offer a more sustainable alternative to petroleum-derived plastics for a variety of applications. The project has already created a number of products - these include coffee capsules, shopping bags and a variety of food packaging materials, such as hard and soft containers.

Food packaging is, however, just one of several possible applications. Chitin nanofibrils also show promise for use in medicine, more specifically for the production of bandages, where the materials’ ability to keep microbes in check are particularly valuable. They also have potential for a range of environmental solutions, including filtering systems for air or water.

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Bathing waters

(Posted 10 March 2016)

Click the link below to access information about bathing waters for bathers and local councils. The documents available cover:

  • Designations and de-designations of bathing waters.
  • Bathing waters consultations – people’s views on proposals to designate bathing waters.
  • Local council information.
  • UK bathing water monitoring results 2015 – Defra summarises monitoring results for the UK’s bathing waters as required by the Bathing Waters Directive. Check the water quality at designated bathing water sites in England.
  • UK bathing water monitoring results: 2011 to 2014.


Catchment Partnership Fund: Environment Agency Summary Report 2014–2015

(Posted 10 March 2016)

In 2014/15 financial year, £2.2m funds were made available by Defra. Of that, £1.8m was used to support the role of catchment partnership ‘hosts’ to engage local communities and establish and maintain partnerships. The remaining £0.4m was used to fund tools, guidance and training for partnership hosts as directed by an independent national support group of representatives from the organisations that are ‘hosting’ catchment partnerships.

The report covers financial summaries together with short case studies to illustrate how partnerships have spent their grant.


River basin management plans: impact assessment

(Posted 10 March 2016)

An assessment for England on the impact of adopting the environmental objectives in the updated river basin management plans. Use this document to find out the costs and benefits of carrying out the actions in the updated river basin management plans. It includes summary information for each river basin district as well as for England.


Fishing regulations: The Blue Book

(Posted 10 March 2016)

The Blue Book is a single collection of UK and EU laws. The Marine Management Organisation tries to maintain The Blue Book with up-to-date legislation but cannot guarantee that it is up to date at all times.

For specific advice please contact your local Marine Management Organisation office.


Regional Action Plan for Prevention and Management of Marine Litter in the North-East Atlantic

(Posted 10 March 2016)

This Regional Action Plan sets out the policy context for OSPAR’s work on marine litter, describes the various types of actions that OSPAR will work on over the coming years, and provides a timetable to guide the achievement of these actions.

The OSPAR Commission is the mechanism by which 15 Governments & the EU cooperate to protect the marine environment of the North-East Atlantic. Read more about the Commission here:

Read the action plan:


Demonstration Test Catchments – Winter Newsletter

(Posted 10 March 2016)

Topics covered include:

  • Storm Desmond causes devastating floods in River Eden catchment.
  • The use of remote sensing techniques in understanding diffuse pollution.
  • Exploring the temporal dynamics between cattle in-stream presence and suspended solids in a headwater catchment.
  • Understanding farmer-led monitoring in the Wensum DTC.


Fishing Focus

(Posted 10 March 2016)

The autumn publication includes articles on the demersal discard ban, annual fishing quota negotiations, fisheries management in Marine Protected Areas, and an update on IFCA (Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authorities).

Access the publication here:



People and Process-Based River Management: Restoring River Processes; Natural Flood Management; Healthy Catchments (19–20 May 2015)

(Posted 10 March 2016)

This was the theme of the River Restoration Centre’s 16th annual network conference, covering topics such as Implementing strategic river restoration plans in England, The Rhine – a phoenix rising, Engaging all ages in chalk stream restoration, and Reinstating hydro-morphological processes in a heavily modified water body.

Access the programme and presentations at: