Archive for May, 2017

Picking apart the Party Policies 2017: Labour

Prime Minister Theresa May announced a snap General Election, to be held on 8 June 2017.

Cedrec followed the manifestos for the 2015 Election, with Picking apart the Party Policies (2015) and we are back with our analyses on the manifestos.

As an Environmental, Energy, Safety and Planning-focused organisation, our analyses will be looking at those topics (if mentioned…).

So, lets take a look at Labour…

Brexit

We know, we were only going to look at the four topics mentioned above, but Brexit is crucial to legislation in general, with a good portion of UK law stemming from EU legislation.

Labour insist they will scrap the Brexit White Paper of the Conservatives, and replace it with one with “strong emphasis on retaining the benefits of the Single Market and the Customs Union”. Whilst negotiations are of course able to go either way, the most commonly accepted fact of the Single Market and the EU in general, is they expect all trading countries to abide by the same set of rules.

So far, since the Brexit vote, we have been led to believe that, at least for now, legislation will largely stay the same, i.e. the EU Environmental Obligations, the Working Time Directive etc., will be largely unchanged.

Yet, assuming access to the Single Market and so on is a possibility, it can only be assumed that means anyone wishing to trade, must trade under the same regulatory frameworks. Standards, markings, limitations, all that good stuff.

Planning

The Labour Manifesto contains a section named “Leading Richer Lives”. In this chapter, Local Communities and the Environment are discussed.

Labour make several references to the infrastructure of rural communities, stating they will “invest in broadband, housing and transport to create jobs and ensure that the nation's prosperity is felt beyond our large towns and cities.”

Many readers may have mixed feelings on such a statement. After all, it appears Labour intend to develop rural communities, and many conservationists may question at what point in development does a rural community stop being rural? On the other hand, the opportunity for rural communities to have the benefits of broadband and better transport is bound to be welcomed by those who feel obliged to leave their hometowns and villages in order to acquire suitable housing and transport to live and work.

Labour do insist they will “rural-proof” processes to ensure programmes and policies consider the impact on rural communities.

Transportation needs a mention, with a section devoted to the topic.

Environment

Labour cite poor air quality, fracking in national parks, and funding cuts to flood defences as major failings of the Conservative Government. Their proposed response would be to introduce a new Clean Air Act, safeguards for the “blue belt” surrounding the British Isles, and working with food manufacturers and retailers to reduce food waste. Additionally, they aim to plant 1 million native species trees to encourage biodiversity and flood management.

The Fire and Rescue Services will be given the statutory duty to co-ordinate responses to floods.

Furthermore, guidelines and regulations will be included to protect bees by banning neonicotinoids “as soon as our relationship with the EU allows us” and a pledge to keep the forests under public control.

Labour wish to set up a science innovation fund, and finally, they want to build a relationship with fisheries and farmers to ensure support for those industries.

Energy does not appear to make an appearance in this manifesto, though it must be mentioned that Labour aim to at least keep in line with EU targets, which would include energy efficiency.

Safety

20 points on “Rights at Work” makes no mention of specific safety regulation however the manifesto states “Labour will enforce regulations that save lives”. The UK have one of the best systems of health and safety regulation in the world, so the promise of enforcing those gold standard provisions makes sense, even if the mention does come across as an afterthought.

Conclusion

An ambitious manifesto from a party, with some interesting policies regarding planning and the environment. Much depends on how smoothly Brexit negotiations turn out, and it would be fair to say, the other party manifestos will have similar limitations.

For more information, see the:

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Act of Sederunt (Fatal Accident Inquiry Rules) SSI 2017/103

These Rules will come into force on 15 June 2017 and apply to Scotland only.
They contain provisions about the procedure to be followed in inquiries under the Inquiries into Fatal Accidents and Sudden Deaths etc. (Scotland) Act 2016.
These are detailed provisions and are divided into the following parts:

PART 1:

CITATION, COMMENCEMENT…

Details on this legislative text is provided by Cedrec. Please click here to see the summary.

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Roundup ban rejected by the EU

The concerns raised by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over the health risks arising from using the substance called glyphosate, found in Roundup weedkiller, have been dismissed by the European Food Safety Authority (Efsa).

The possible risks to human health from the use of glyphosate in farming has prompted an investigation by committees in US and EU over possible carcinogenic abilities. Monsanto – the producer of Roundup, encourages the use of the weedkiller in combination with its GM crops. The product is used so widely, that the residues of it are commonly found in British bread.

Doubts about the safe use of the core ingredient of the herbicide have been stirred by unsealed documents in an ongoing lawsuit against Monsanto by sufferers of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, claiming that they developed the illness from the exposure to Roundup.

Last year, the WHO's International Agency for Research on Cancer found, that glyphosate is probably carcinogenic to humans, recalling a study from 2001 which found a causal link between exposure to glyphosate and increased tumour occurrence in mice, although Efsa decided, that it probably is not, proposing a new 10-year license.

The regulatory passage of the substance has been heavily questioned over the negotiations of former EPA's head of the cancer assessment review committee – Jess Rowlands, and Monsanto's official, and possible influencing of the Efsa decision through dismissal of the studies over the potential flaws related to viral infections and use of certain type of mice.

Greenpeace spokeswoman, Franziska Achterberg said, that Efsa – Rowlands connection made public inquiry vital and any “meddling by Monsanto in regulatory safety assessments would be wholly unacceptable. We urgently need a thorough investigation into the Efsa assessment before glyphosate can be considered for re-approval in Europe.”

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Act of Sederunt (Fatal Accident Inquiry Rules) SSI 2017/103

These Rules will come into force on 15 June 2017 and apply to Scotland only.
They contain provisions about the procedure to be followed in inquiries under the Inquiries into Fatal Accidents and Sudden Deaths etc. (Scotland) Act 2016.
These are detailed provisions and are divided into the following parts:

PART 1:

CITATION, COMMENCEMENT…

Details on this legislative text is provided by Cedrec. Please click here to see the summary.

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Picking apart the Party Policies 2017: Liberal Democrats

The Liberal Democrats are hitting headlines for policies such as promising a secondary referendum on leaving the EU, legalising marijuana and extending the right to vote to those aged 16 and over.

Cedrec is more concerned with environmental, safety and planning policies, however, so let's get to it!

Environment and Energy

The Liberal Democrats have quite the extensive section on environmental policies.

They aim to ban the sale of new diesel cars by 2025, and in general phase out diesel vehicles with a diesel scrappage scheme.

The Lib Dems seek to extend the Ultra Low Emission Zones to ten more towns and cities.

Legislation will be heading our way with a Lib Dem Government, with the introduction of the Zero Carbon Britain Act, which uses two targets: 80% reduction of greenhouse gases by 2040 and 100% reduction by 2050. It may be worth acknowledging that a proposed target of 100% is also set under the Carbon Emission Reductions Bill, however, it is good to see that the Lib Dems would introduce their own legislation to ensure that target is still adhered to.

An ambitious target of 60% of electricity coming from renewables by 2030 is the next policy of note. The Lib Dems plan to invest in expanding clean energy generation and developing infrastructure to support a bigger renewable industry.

Taking inspiration from the plastic bag charge, the Lib Dems wish to introduce a 5p charge on disposable cups from coffee shops and other vendors. This charge will of course generate a healthy amount of income whilst also encouraging waste reduction.

Safety

It appears the Liberal Democrats have not addressed Health and Safety in their manifesto.

Planning

House building is a key part of the communities section in this manifesto. The Lib Dems aim for 300,000 houses to be built a year. In the environment section, they state they want every home in England to reach at least EPC Band C by 2035.

The Liberal Democrats want to set up a £2 billion Rural Services Fund, which will enable communities to establish a local base from which to co-locate services such as post offices, libraries, visiting healthcare professionals and children's centres.

Ten new Garden Cities will be introduced in England. The locations have not been indicated.

Transport is also on the agenda, with plans to reopen smaller rail stations, proceed with HS2, HS3 and Crossrail 2, with “development of a high speed network stretching to Scotland”.

Conclusion

Very full and ambitious on the environmental side of things, with several positive policies on the planning side too. The energy targets of 60% from renewables by 2035  is very ambitious. Similarly, the “long-term” goal of every house in England being Band C for energy efficiency by 2035 is very interesting. It would be wonderful to have so many energy efficient homes and would help greatly against fuel poverty, but can it be done?

The 5p cup charge sounds a good idea, but will it be as effective as the bag charge? The potential income will go some way to helping pay for the investments the Liberals are planning, but only time will tell if such a charge will have an impact on waste reduction.

For more information, see the:

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Picking apart the Party Policies 2017: Conservative

The Prime Minister's call for a snap General Election on 8 June 2017 has led to her party releasing a manifesto they believe will allow them to hold a strong mandate going into Brexit negotiations.

Energy and environment

The Conservatives have promised to deliver “competitive and affordable energy costs following a new independent review into the cost of energy”.

No real mention of policies, however. They reference things they have done previously, such as ratifying the Paris Agreement. It has to be mentioned that by not ratifying the Paris Agreement would put the UK against over 200 signatories, so the Conservatives can claim such a decision for themselves is entirely a matter of opinion.

Safety

A big part of the Conservative manifesto for health and safety revolves around mental health, in and out of the workplace.

Theresa May's party set out their goal to “transform how mental health is regarded in the workplace”.

They also seek to change health and safety regulations so that employers “provide appropriate first aid training and needs assessment for mental health, as they currently do for risks to physical health, and extend Equalities Act protections against discrimination to mental health conditions that are episodic and fluctuating”.

Planning

On a planning note, they aim for “prosperous towns and cities, underpinned by strong local institutions, the relocation of Government functions, and shared cultural assets across the country.”

They go on to state they will provide “growth across the country through our modern industrial strategy and major investment in infrastructure, skills and research and development.

Conclusion

For the topics in question, a rather flat manifesto. The concentration on mental health is hugely welcomed. In recent years, mental health in the workplace has become more of a focus, with some organisations taking the initiative to start wellness schemes. Promoting a safe work environment for mental health is gaining recognition for its importance.

On the planning, environmental and energy side of things, the Conservatives haven't offered very much.

For more information, see the:

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Public urged by HSE to recycle batteries at recycling points due to fire risk

Members of the public have been urged by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to use the appropriate recycling points to dispose of used batteries.

The recent call made by the Executive comes in the wake of fires that came from the household mixed wastes, in which the batteries were inappropriately disposed of. In a statement made by the HSE, the members of the public need to “safely dispose of batteries at recycling points. Disposing of batteries in waste collections can lead to the risk of injury to refuse workers and members of the public from fires and explosions”.

In East Northamptonshire and Warrington, battery fires caused damage to waste collection vehicles.

Dave Reynolds, group technical director at WasteCare, said: “All batteries present a fire risk as any battery has a potential to spark”. He also added, that certain types of batteries, such as AA and AAA, which are commonly used in clocks, remotes and torches, pose less risk, because they have terminals at both ends of the battery.

“The case is now that some batteries present a higher risk than others. The question is, how easy is to short [circuit] a nine volt battery, for example the sort that are found in smoke alarms? The answer is that it is very easy, with a paper clip, foil or a staple. There are videos on YouTube showing how easy it is to cause a fire, such as when they are placed next to wire wool.” 

Another issue brought up by Mr Reynolds is that the public often discards batteries with attached wires to them, such as toys and other products, which can very easily lead to a short circuit. In the wake of the modern lithium batteries found in mobile phones, there is a greater fire risk due to their high energy release potential if damaged.

Finally, when the people store unused and used batteries at home they “need to be aware of the way they keep batteries for recycling at home. Don't leave them in a drawer where coins and paperclips can cause a short circuit at home.” 

For more information regarding the disposal of batteries and accumulators, see:

  • Waste Batteries and Accumulators Regulations SI 2009/890.
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Phone for lone workers launched

A mobile phone company in Sweden, Doro, has invented a mobile phone specifically for lone workers. The handset is hard-wearing and also contains a “call for help” button on the side which, when pressed, sends a text message containing a GPS location to up to five different contacts.

In the UK, there is a requirement for employers to provide and maintain a safe working environment for employees under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. When it comes to lone workers, the development of safety arrangements through a health and safety policy, safe systems of work and also carrying out risk assessments can reduce the risks faced by lone workers, such as social workers, auditors, builders, traffic wardens and carers. And for those who may have a spare £220, such a mobile phone could help to minimise the risk to those working alone.

The mobile phone also works with Doro's automated care centre, called i-care, though there is a charge for the service. I-care allows employers to closely monitor the status of the phone, including battery power and inactivity. It can also send messages to the phone to make sure the person using it is safe.

For more information regarding the safety of lone workers, see:

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Consultation on revising the process for considering disputes under Fee for Intervention (FFI)

Details on this legislative text is provided by Cedrec. Please click here to see the summary.

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HSE Consult on Fee For Intervention

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) are consulting on revising the process for considering disputes under Fee for Intervention (FFI).

Since the introduction of FFI, there have been criticisms of the dispute process, notably that it was not independent of the HSE. Even Mr Martin Temple, Chair of HSE, raised concerns about the process for dealing with disputes in his 2014 Triennial Review Report on HSE.

The scheme and its appeal process were also to be questioned this summer, with a judicial review being brought by facilities management firm in an attempt to have its Fees for Intervention bill overturned and the current system for deciding appeals quashed.

Speaking about the scheme earlier in the year, as well as the upcoming judicial review, Kevin Bridges, partner at law firm Pinsent Masons, said: “A lot of people in the industry are keenly watching this court case, there's no suggestion the scheme will be scrapped but the result could have a big impact for companies and construction.”

It seems that some of these complaints and worries are now being addressed by the Consultation on revising the process for considering disputes under Fee for Intervention (FFI).

The new disputes process is hoped to be fully independent, and the consultation is looking for views on the details of the process, in particular:

  • the information which HSE will provide;
  • how representation can be made;
  • how disputes will be considered;
  • suspension of the dispute process where an investigation or appeal against an enforcement notice is ongoing.

It is thought the revised, fully independent dispute process is to be set up no later than 1 September 2017.

The Consultation ends on 2 June 2017.

For more information, see the:

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