What’s over the horizon?

Big issues and big questions are facing the environmental world as Millennium 2000 dawns. This special LAWE Millennium 2000 feature spotlights the key themes facing environmentalists, government and local communities as the world seeks solutions in a new century and a new era.

Matching the problems is a range of services and products across the

environmental, waste and recycling sectors, many of which have been awarded

the accolade of ‘Millennium Product’ and will be displayed in a special

exhibit on the Millennium Dome site in London. LAWE highlights many

of these innovative products that could prove winners in the new Millennium.

Global warming, the threat to the world¹s forests and oceans, and the

arguments over just how far science should go in areas such as genetic

modification seem certain to dominate the international political agenda as

the recent demonstrations in Seattle against the policies of the WTO clearly


The UK is playing its part in meeting its obligations under our commitments

post-Rio and Kyoto. Global aims and European Union commitments have contributed significantly to the host of environmental legislation, regulation and guidance which has been enacted by the Westminster Parliament in recent years.

Following seemingly endless rounds of consultation, 2000, to borrow the

Government¹s phrase, should be the ‘year of delivery’ across a wide range of

important environmental issues.

On the air quality front, the DETR expects to produce its definitive version

of the National Air Quality Strategy while the implementation of the IPPC

regime, with its wider scope, will also help to clean up the atmosphere.

Research and a new European protocol on cross-boundary air pollution should

also have a beneficial impact on a problem that cannot be solved by

individual nation states.

Within our own boundaries it is possible to make an albeit modest impact on

urban pollution levels by introducing Low Emission Zones (LEZs), which are

likely to be applied on a growing scale countrywide in the next few years.

Following the recent vigorous debate between major energy-consuming

industries and the Government over the proposed Climate Change Levy, or

Energy Tax, where the business lobby appeared to win much of the argument,

the UK is likely to see a greater use of a voluntary emissions trading

scheme in a campaign to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

One issue which should also be resolved in the New Year is just where the

demarcation lines will lie between the respective roles of the Environment

Agency and local government in regulating local emissions.

Local government has been given very specific responsibilities in terms of

local air quality management but the Government has yet to clarify just who

does what regarding industrial emissions.

There is greater clarity in defining the relative responsibilities between

the Agency and local authorities in applying the newly published guidance on

contaminated land but questions again need to be resolved before the new

century is too old on the implementation and financing of the new regime.

The Landfill Tax continues to attract criticism over apparent anomalies

regarding ‘waste’ soils used in engineering and daily cover and over the

extent of exemptions. The associated Landfill Credits scheme has been the

focus of concern, particularly by a Commons Select Committee, both over its

administration and the aims to which some of the funds have been put. The

New Year could well see a shake-up on that front.

The Government¹s final policy on a national waste strategy is also expected

to come into force in 2000.

Judging by the increase in major waste-to-energy schemes announced in recent

months, and the recognition that the implementation of the Landfill

Directive will force fundamental changes in how the UK manages its waste

disposal, state-of-the-art MSW incineration plants will become a much more

familiar sight in the first years of the new millennium.

Local authorities and the waste management industry will also have to find

their feet with new contracting concepts such as ‘Best Value’.

Town halls can hope also to see some restoration of their truncated powers,

and certainly increased responsibilities in areas such as planning,

regeneration partnerships and acting on John Prescott¹s integrated transport


Deciding on whether or not to face the wrath of local voters on charging for

workplace parking could be one of the hot potatoes for councillors seeking

to meet the aspirations of Agenda 21.

Millennium Products

Environmental, waste industry, energy saving and recycling figure

prominently among the Millennium Products selected under a Government

initiative by the Design Council to feature in a specially designed Spiral

of Innovation exhibition area on the Millennium Dome site at Greenwich. A

final tranche of winners of the accolade, which aims to promote innovation

within the UK, is being announced in mid-December to add to the pioneering

environmental products highlighted in this special LAWE 2000 Millennium


The wide range of environmental and waste industry products and services

selected for the Millennium Products include Surfactant Induced Absorption

Technology (SIAT), a new technology for odour control and air pollution

control developed by ACAT Ltd (Advanced Clean Air Technology) which designs

and installs the equipment. SIAT uses surfactants (Airborne 10) with water

to absorb most odorous gases into a non-odorous state. Airborne 10 is misted

at the point of emission or in the extraction system. Applications include

chemical industries and landfill.

AEA Technology’s Groundhog system which uses satellites to pinpoint

contaminated land and produces easy to understand maps has also been praised. The system can be

carried by an operator in a backpack mounted on a vehicle so that all areas

of a site can be monitored easily. Designed initially to pinpoint

radiological contamination, Groundhog is now being adapted to monitor for

other pollutants sich as chemicals in the ground, or air pollution.

The Solar Office from Akeler is an office specifically designed to minimise

energy and environmental impact while providing significant amounts of its

own electrical power by means of a photovoltaic facade.

Bio-Logic Remediation Ltd’s technology for the bioremediation of

contaminated land applies microbes which ‘eat’ pollutants such as oils and

tars, allowing sites such as former gasworks and oil refineries to be


Using micro-organisms indigenous to the site, soil is screened and then

placed in long windrows. These are then turned actively using specialist

machinery and various additives and nutrients are added.

BP Amoco plc’s Solar Powered Service Station Canopy converts daylight into

electricity which is used to supplement mains supplied power used on the

service station forecourts. This UK-designed canopy is an innovative

energy-neutral structure which is being incorporated into every new BP

service station.

This policy serves a threefold aim: firstly, to reduce fossil fuel

consumption and energy costs of lighting the service station canopies;

secondly to demonstrate the simplicity of the technology to potential

customers, particularly in urban areas, and, thirdly, to promote BP as an

environmentally responsible company.

The National Grid Company plc and Cranfield University have developed an

environmental leak sensor. This continuous environmental monitor (CEM)

automatically alerts a user to the presence of all oil-based chemical

hazards that have leaked from pipes, cables and containment vessels.

The purpose-designed reflex oil monitor is buried in soil around storage

tanks where it monitors day and night for leakages. On detection the device

can alert automatically a remote monitoring system. Developed with infrared

technology from Cranfield University to detect leaks from the National

Grid¹s underground storage facilities, the sensor is now being used for the

monitoring of underground storage facilities. It may also find uses on

ocean-going oil tankers.

Envirotreat Ltd’s Envirotreat Process of contaminated land remediation

technology and method of application incorporates the use of specially

modified clays (E-clays) which are capable of treating a range of

pollutants. The product is applied on site and opens up opportunities for

brownfield development. It can be used to treat both soil and groundwater.

The Envirotreat process is a chemical fixation technology which can be

applied in- situ for the treatment of inorganic and organic pollutants in

soil without removal of the contaminated matter. The process uses E-clay, a

multi-reactive clay with the ability to chemically absorb pollutants and

render them inert. Pillars of the clay are dropped into the ground to create

an active barrier which encapsulates the pollutant.

The Enercon E-66 Wind Energy Converter designed by Foster and Partners, is a

100m high wind powered electricity generator. It has a rotor blade diameter

of 66m, tower height up to 100m, and power rating of 1.5MW renewable energy.

Variable rotor speed and blade pitch adjustment ensure power yield is

maximised. Wing-lets at the rotor blade tips reduce aerodynamics more and

enhance blade efficiency. Rotor blade structure is lightweight glass

fibre/epoxy composite. The tower consists of prefabricated steel tube

modules facilitating transport and rapid assembly.

Glasdon Retriever Dog Waste Bins are purpose-designed dog foul containers

with a secure metal chute to ensure hygienic operation. The containers are

manufactured from vandal resistant Durapol. Various sizes of the Retriever

bin have been designed for streets, parks and open spaces where it can be

sited using a Glasdon Ground Lock System or Extended Base Post.

Havant Borough Council was awarded Millennium Products status for a project

at Langstone Oysterbeds to clear builders’ waste from a Site of Special

Scientific Interest and restoration for nature conservation and informal


The civil engineering project involved the removal of 100,000 tonnes of

builders’ waste from the tidal waters of Langstone Harbour in Hampshire.

This has eroded due to tidal and storm action and was in a dangerous


The council was unable to fund even the simple safety improvement but was

equally unable to close the site since it gave good access for wildlife

viewing. By engaging a contractor on the basis of ‘quarry rights’ rather

than a standardised contract, the site was cleared of tipped material at no

cost to the council. The material was crushed and sold back to the

construction industry as recycled aggregate.

The Continuously Regenerating Trap (CRT) developed by Johnson Matthey plc is

an emissions control device for medium- to heavy-duty diesel powered

vehicles. The innovative technology removes soot particles from diesel

exhaust. It features a catalytic converter and particle filter. CRT oxidises

the soot emissions using NO2 instead of O2, allowing the soot to be oxidised

at temperatures that exist within the engine. It does not require a further

burner. The particle filter does not require cleaning. The manufacturer

suggests that the filter is turned around in its housing every 100,000 mile

service. The CRT may be retrofitted to existing diesel engines.

The Learian Streetbox from Learian Designs Ltd is a battery-powered

pollution monitor capable of storing data on a wide range of pollutants as

well as local environmental information. This compact roadside pollution

monitor records data in real time on pollutants as well as temperature,

light and relative humidity. Fully standalone, the Streetbox has its own

radio communication system. Information can be gathered from existing

sensors and stored within the logger for up to 150 days and retrieved up to

10km away by using its own dedicated receiver connected to a laptop PC or

similar device.

Remarkable Pencils Ltd makes The Remarkable Recycled Pencil from 70%

recycled material in a closed loop recycling system using plastic cups.

Manufactured from recycled polystyrene vending cups, the pencil writes and

sharpens like a traditional wood pencil, but consists almost entirely of

recycled polymer.

The Inner Tube company was formed by Julie McDonagh to produce handmade bags using 100% recycled rubber inner tubes. The designs are inspired by natural

forms such as botanical plants and sea anemones.

PolyAna is a plastics identifier using technology developed jointly by the

University of Southampton and Ford Motor Company, part of a Ford-funded

research project, The PolyAna 420.

This mobile spectroscopic identifier can identify up to 2,000 different

plastics without the use of specially prepared samples. It allows the

efficient recycling of plastics, where each type of plastic may be carefully

separated, to be made far easier. Manufactured by Fluid Film Devices,

distributorships have been set up worldwide.

The manufacture of topsoil from waste materials developed by North West

Water Ltd has gained Millennium Product status. The top soil is made from

waste construction soil and sewage manure. It is stated that by removing the

stones from rubble and mixing the remaining earth with treated nitrogen- and

phosphorous-rich sewage, a high quality top soil is created which can be

superior to top soil obtained by stripping land.

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