Four new scenarios suggest that global warming over the UK will be more rapid in the south east compared to the north west and wetter winters are likely in all scenarios. The scenarios are the first to come out of the UK Climate Impacts Programme, set up in 1997 at the University of Oxford Environmental Change Unit, to enable different organisations to assess their vulnerability to climate change and to begin the process of developing appropriate adaptation strategies. A summary report is available on tel: 01865 281192 or

A new trade association for the UK chemical recycling industry was formed last month with Phil Evans, divisional director of Croda Solvents Ltd, elected founding Chair and Paul Ramsden, director. For information contact Paul on tel: 0161 439 7589.

Rendering plants in the Staffordshire Moorlands Council’s district have been spreading liquid condensate from rendered BSE cattle directly on to farmland, according to environmental health officers who gave evidence at the BSE Inquiry last month. Because the plant processes the parts of the carcass most likely to be contaminated with BSE, the Council says there is a risk the condensate contains the infective agent which is believed to survive very high temperatures.

Controls on the movement of hazardous wastes will be strengthened this month, with an amendment to the Basel Convention. Decision IV/9 Basel Amendment helps to clarify which wastes will be subject to the ban on the exports of hazardous wastes to developing countries. Rules to implement the amendment within the EC have been agreed by Member States.

Trends in environmental conditions over recent years are described in the Digest of Environmental Statistics published by the Department of Environment, Transport and the Regions. The Digest (£31.59 from the Stationery Office tel: 0171 873 9090) covers the global atmosphere, air quality, inland water quality and use, coastal and marine waters, radioactivity, noise, waste and recycling, land use and land cover, wildlife and public attitudes to the environment. Around 50 of the key data series in the Digest are contained in The Environment in your Pocket, available free of charge by telephoning 0870 1226 236, quoting reference 98EP0190.

Hydro plants, landfill gas projects, windfarms and waste to energy plants form a list of 261 new projects to generate electricity from renewable sources of energy contracted under the fifth Non-Fossil Fuel Obligation (NFFO-5). Capable of generating nearly 1,200MW – about the same size as a large power station – these projects represent the most extensive boost for green energy since the scheme started in 1990.

Rats outnumber humans

Rats, which now outnumber the human population in Britain, are crawling out of the sewers to enjoy life above ground according to a recent report from the Robens Centre for Public and Environmental Health.

The survey of local authorities in England and Wales for the report – a scathing attack on the state of disrepair of the crumbling sewerage system and the resulting dangers to public health – reveals that 45 per cent of local authorities believe rat infestations have increased. According to the report, 79 authorities said there has been a total of 10,000 more reported complaints about rats in people’s homes over the past three years.

Despite the increase, 92 per cent of local authorities have failed to develop or revise their pest control strategies in the last two years, says the survey report. In addition, fewer than half of the local authorities now have sewerage maintenance agreements with the water company which provides the public sewerage service, even though they report that faulty under-ground drainage is one of the main causes of rat infestation above ground.

Commenting on the report, the Campaign for the Renewal of Older Sewerage Systems (CROSS) demanded an end to the conspiracy of complacency. It called for the government to make water companies and local authorities take the threat to public health seriously and act now.

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie