UK business briefs: Toxic Tories, Stable Scottish prices, Sustainable summit, Landfill proposals, New minister, Waste site, Interactive display, New carbon director

The Conservative Party has announced that they would like to slash spending on the environment agency and reduce its staff by 1,286 a 12% cut. Norman Baker MP, Liberal Democrat Shadow Environment Secretary, said: "This is a polluter's charter and shows the Tories in their true colours which certainly aren't green. A comparison of EU countries shows that we are spending pretty near the average on enforcement of environmental law and people I speak to who are concerned about fly tipping in the countryside, emissions from incinerators, and methane from landfill sites want more enforcement, not less. The last thing Britain's environment needs is a bunch of toxic Tories."

ScottishPower announced this week that the price of electricity and gas for its existing 570,000 prepayment customers would remain unchanged over the winter until next March despite the soaring cost of wholesale energy. The company, which has 4.5 million gas and electricity customers throughout Britain, is currently reviewing its other prices in the light of the 25% increase in the cost of wholesale energy since March this year.

Defra has published a report on progress made in delivering the commitments made by the UK Government at the World Summit for Sustainable Development (WSSD), held in Johannesburg in 2002. Participants called for a focus on delivery: a step-change from words to action. The Uk government is committed to delivering the outcomes of the summit, recognising that the event was one step down the long road to achieving global sustainable development. The report shows that progress is being made, but further sustained action is needed.

Proposals that will change the way landfill operators fund the management and maintenance of landfill sites after they have closed were announced this week by the Environment Agency (EA). The proposals, which will ensure that landfill operators make cash available for the aftercare of their site from the first day of its operation, will alter the existing rules to reflect recent changes made by the EU Landfill Directive.

Ben Bradshaw, Minister for Nature Conservation, today announced the appointment of Adrian Darby as the new Chairman of the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC). Mr Darby has worked at national and international levels and has a record of achievement on nature conservation issues. Mr Bradshaw said: “Mr Darby’s experience in nature conservation will help ensure that the JNCC continues to deliver its responsibilities effectively and in constructive partnerships.”

The Environment Agency (EA) has now confirmed that Onyx’s 3.9 million cubic metre Albion landfill site is suitable for the disposal of non hazardous waste generated from household and business in the close proximity. In granting this permit the EA is satisfied that the site will be operated safely and in accordance with the stringent technical and operational rules and regulations. It is envisaged that operations at this site will commence in 2005.

The Rethink Rubbish Western Riverside campaign has commissioned an interactive display – Recycling Explained – to educate children and their parents on the benefits of reusing, reducing and recycling rubbish. Designed by the Science Museum, the display charts the journey a piece of recycling takes once it leaves the home right through to it being reprocessed into new products. Described in a child-friendly way, the display uses colourful, visual and tactile stimuli and features a panel of ‘touch and feel’ products made from recycled materials.

And finally, Greg Archer has become the new Director of the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership – the organisation established to support the Government’s Climate Change Strategy by delivering greenhouse gas reductions from the transport sector. He began working as Director of LowCVP on 6 September.

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