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14 Business Footprint winter 2010 News FocusPrime Minister David Cameron (below right) and deputy Nick Clegg, BFFs Prime Minister's OfficeThe government has released its platform, saying: "The parties agree to implement a full programme of measures to fulfil our joint ambitions for a low carbon and eco-friendly economy."Items of note from the environment section:The establishment of a high-speed .. rail network.The cancellation of the third runway at .. Heathrow International Airport.The establishment of a smart grid and .. the roll-out of smart meters.The full establishment of feed-in .. tariff systems in electricity - as well as the maintenance of banded ROCs.The creation of a green .. investment bank.The provision of home energy .. improvement paid for by the savings from lower energy bills.Measures to encourage marine energy .. [wave and tidal power].The establishment of an emissions .. performance standard that will prevent coal-fired power stations being built unless they are equipped with sufficient CCS to meet the emissions performance standard.The provision of a floor price for .. carbon, as well as efforts to persuade the EU to move towards full auctioning of ETS permits.Measures to promote green spaces .. and wildlife corridors in order to halt the loss of habitats and restore biodiversity.Mandating a national recharging .. network for electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles.Continuation of the present .. Government's proposals for public sector investment in carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technology f or four coal-fired power stations; and a specific commitment to reduce central government carbon emissions by 10 per cent within 12 months.It goes without saying that U.K. Conservatives are in a different world than orthodox American conservatives-Cameron's party gets the climate threat and wants to help address it. Even the items above that lack specifics are encouraging.The most difficult issue to hammer out seems to have been new nuclear power plants, which the Conservatives support and the Lib Dems strongly oppose. Under the agreement, Lib Dem lawmakers will be able to abstain from nuclear votes. Adds the BBC, "But Lib Dem activists will not be happy with commitment to nuclear power."The most important item might be the pledge to try to fix up the E.U.'s cap-and-trade climate program by creating "a floor price for carbon, as well as efforts to persuade the E.U. to move towards full auctioning of ETS [emissions trading scheme] permits."Says Guardian columnist George Monbiot: "The government can't act alone on either issue, but if it's serious about this it could help turn the ETS from a useless, nobbled programme, governed by the demands of pollutocrats, into a system that forces How green is the U.K.'s new government?companies to clean up. Whether you like carbon trading or not, if we're going to have it, it's got to work.""So it's better than I had expected," Monbiot adds. "The agreement's environmental policies are more Lib Dem than Conservative, and more progressive than most of the other proposals in the document. Let's see how it works in practice."Jonathan Hiskes is a Grist staff writer. He reports, tweets, and wants to learn about everything.1Source: winter 2010 Business Footprint 15News focusCouncils could move underground to meet segregation and recycling challenges New property developments are under pressure to provide efficient waste collection systems based on tough recycling targets for councils.As more councils move towards multiple bin waste collection systems, the pressure is on householders to store more bins and segregate more waste - without bins and bags making the street scene unsightly."The challenge," says Derek Monk, managing director of OTTO UK, "is to achieve the targets despite the lack of space for basic recycling facilities. People using all types of building, whether they are a school, residential home or social housing, need to have the opportunity to recycle waste effectively."He says that the answer is an underground waste system (UWS), which has major advantages for residents, councils and the government."People have been using the underground system on mainland Europe since the early 1990s, particularly in the Netherlands, and also in Germany and France. These countries have readily embraced the challenges of segregation and recycling."They've also reaped the benefit of lower carbon emissions because waste collection vehicles make fewer trips, and tidier public areas."Monk's contention is that underground waste systems are an extremely effective and desirable way to collect and store waste. In a new development it is very easy to 'plan-in' the system at an early stage, making the site and the long-term environment that much more attractive.There are major benefits for users and for councils. Valuable space is freed-up and only access to the storage via neat surface receptacles is necessary. Each UWS installation can hold the equivalent of fifteen to twenty 240-litre domestic wheeled bins.The UWS tackles the aesthetic problems as well as the need to improve waste streams segregation. Large underground containers reduce the amount of discarded waste lying around awaiting collection and odour levels are reduced. A crane is used to remove the full hopper and replace an empty one so a UWS can be collected in about two minutes by a vehicle with a single operator."Using underground systems requires a change of attitude as well," admits Monk. "One or a few units could be used for a housing complex, whether it's made up of terraced houses or flats."But that means users are required to walk a few metres to dispose of their waste rather than have it removed from their doorway or gate.""In domestic applications, a simple swipe card/sensor provides access to a UWS. It's easy to monitor how much refuse is placed on each access and this provides the option for charging in the future," adds Monk.An alternative to the single hopper UWS is that standard four-wheel bins can be used. When full they are raised from their underground position by hydraulics. They can then be emptied into a conventional refuse collection vehicle.The surface configuration remains the same, offering a wide choice for mixed or segregated waste options. And because, with either system, it's emptied less frequently than a traditional domestic or street bin, the UWS reduces the amount of journeys by refuse collection vehicles, so there's a positive impact on carbon footprint."The challenge," says Derek Monk, managing director of OTTO UK, "is to achieve the targets despite the lack of space for basic recycling facilities. People using all types of building, whether they are a school, residential home or social housing, need to have the opportunity to recycle waste effectively."