UK plans launch of deposit return scheme for single use plastic, glass or metal drinks containers

The UK Government has today confirmed that a deposit return scheme to increase recycling rates and slash the amount of waste polluting land and seas will be introduced subject to consultation later this year.

UK consumers go through an estimated 13 billion plastic drinks bottles a year, but more than three billion are incinerated, sent to landfill or left to pollute streets, countryside and marine environment.

The Government has confirmed it will introduce a deposit return scheme in England for single use drinks containers (whether plastic, glass or metal), subject to consultation later this year.

The consultation will look at the details of how such a scheme would work, alongside other measures to increase recycling rates. The Government is hoping to talk to the devolved administrations about the scope for working together on the issue.

Similar schemes already operate in countries such as Denmark, Sweden and Germany. A deposit return scheme sees consumers pay an up-front deposit when they buy a drink, ranging from 8p in Sweden to 22p in Germany, which is redeemed on return of the empty drink container. Possible variants of a deposit return scheme include cash rewards for returning drinks containers without an upfront deposit.

This is often done through a network of ‘reverse vending machines’, where the plastic or glass bottle or can is inserted and the machine returns the money. Once a bottle is returned, businesses are then responsible for making sure they are effectively recycled – a move that has led to a 97% recycling rate in Germany.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove said:

“We can be in no doubt that plastic is wreaking havoc on our marine environment – killing dolphins, choking turtles and degrading our most precious habitats. It is absolutely vital we act now to tackle this threat and curb the millions of plastic bottles a day that go unrecycled.

“We have already banned harmful microbeads and cut plastic bag use, and now we want to take action on plastic bottles to help clean up our oceans.”

Following receipt of the Voluntary and Economics Incentives Working Group report on single use drinks containers, Defra is now developing plans for a deposit return scheme for consultation later this year.

Today’s announcement is the latest move in the Government crackdown on plastic, following the plastic microbeads ban and the 5p plastic bag charge – which has led to 9 billion fewer bags distributed. It sits alongside the 25 Year Environment Plan commitment to eliminate avoidable plastic waste.

The consultation will follow the recent call for evidence by HM Treasury on taxes and charges to reduce waste from single-use plastics, so that all relevant findings can be fed into the proposals.

Plastic bottles and drinks containers have a significant impact on the environment, with discarded food and drink containers making up at least a fifth of rubbish on beaches. There are over 150 million tonnes of plastic in the world’s oceans and every year one million birds and over 100,000 sea mammals die from eating and getting tangled in plastic waste.

The consultation will take into account views from producers, suppliers and consumers to ensure that any system introduced works across the country. The consultation will sit alongside a package of wider reforms of the current packaging waste system, which will incentivise producers to take greater responsibility for the environmental impacts of their products and to increase the amount of packaging they recycle.

Today’s announcement comes ahead of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in April, where member states will gather in London and agree measures to protect the oceans.

SLO Active have lots of intresting articles on plastic pollution – Plastic Pollution: Single Use Plastic Impact on our Oceans Guide

Guildford junction to be first non-motorway location in country to trial ‘smart’ traffic signals

Guildford will be the first non-motorway location in the country to trial “smart” traffic lights.

The new lights will be installed at the A3 Dennis Interchange and will monitor traffic flow and adjust their timings appropriately, Guildford Borough Council says.

It will mean a series of overnight road closures on the A3 while the lights are installed and other improvement work is carried out by Highways England.

Councillor Matt Furniss, lead councillor for infrastructure and governance at Guildford Borough Council, said: “We are very pleased that Guildford has been chosen as the first place in the country to trial these new traffic signals, which aim to bring benefits to all local residents and visitors who use the A3 Dennis Interchange.

“We are committed to working with partners to improve the borough’s transport infrastructure and hope the new smart traffic signals will help improve traffic flow at this busy spot on our road network.

“We are working with Highways England and Surrey County Council to help improve journey times prior to the Roads Infrastructure Scheme A3 upgrade.”

The borough council says it will be the first non-motorway trial of the new traffic signals. Dennis Interchange is the junction near the Guildford business park, which enables motorists to access the southbound A3, and northbound A3 users to come off the motorway.

The lights will include LED technology to help reduce their carbon footprint.

Lane closures will be in place at the Dennis Interchange overnight, between 10pm and 6am, on Tuesday (March 20) and Wednesday (March 21).

The A3 southbound carriageway from the Stoke Interchange to the University Interchange will be closed overnight, between 10pm and 6am, until Friday (March 23). A clearly signed diversion will be in place via Guildford.

The northbound entry slip road at the Burpham Interchange will be closed overnight, between 9pm and 6am, from Wednesday (March 21) for three nights. A clearly signed diversion will be in place via Guildford.

Contact Highways England on 0300 123 5000 if you have any questions about the trial of the new signals, road closures or diversions.

SES Water plans to increase homes with water meters from 52% to 90% in next 10 years

SES Water is aiming to increase the number of homes with water meters in its region from 52% to 90% as part of plans to secure future water supplies.

The water company has launched a public consultation on in its draft Water Resources Management Plan. Based in Redhill, SES Water supplies more than 680,000 people in parts of Surrey, West Sussex, Kent and south London – an area that is in serious water stress.

SES WATER WRMP CONSULTATIONThe plan looks 60 years ahead and works out how much water will be needed to supply the area’s growing population while also being ready for climate change and making sure the local environment is protected.

The proposals focus on reducing the demand for water by tackling leaks and helping customers cut how much they use through the completion of its large-scale metering programme.

On metering, the utility has planned that 80% of properties will be charged on a metered basis by 2025, reaching 90% by 2030. For the first five years, this will require around 56,000 meters to be installed, double the number expected under baseline. The additional meters will need to be installed on a compulsory basis.

The option on compulsory metering of all unmeasured households is based on achieving this within 5 years (to a maximum level of 90%). SES Water is permitted to carry out compulsory metering under legislation which enable water companies to meter ‘when the premises to be metered are located in an area which has been determined by the Secretary of State to be an area of serious water stress and are included in a metering programme specified in the relevant company’s water resources management plan’. The company’s entire supply area is within the area designated as being water stressed by the Environment Agency.

SES Water has also put forward a target that at least 10% of customers will have a smart meter by 2025. The company has been carrying out a smart metering trial for household properties this financial year (2017/18) in order to identify the optimum technology in terms of cost, reliability, and quality of data. This includes identifying a software platform which will engage consumers in identifying where they can make savings on an ongoing basis.

Beyond 2025, it expects to fit smart meters as standard, providing the cost-benefit analysis shows it is effective to do so and the firm has the support of customers.

Tom Kelly, Wholesale Services Director at SES Water, said:

“Our plan focusses heavily on reducing the demand for water by further reducing wastage from our own network and helping our customers use less in their homes and workplaces. We currently have one of the highest water consumption rates in England – some 150 litres per person per day – so we know there is more we can do help people reduce how much they use.

“Installing meters is an effective way to encourage people to use water more efficiently as they only pay for what they use. Other companies in the south east who have carried out large-scale metering programmes have seen water use fall by up to 16% which means supplies can go further. We think that smart meters have potential to help customers reduce their usage even more, which is why we are going to pilot them over the next five years.

“This is really important to make sure our service is resilient and ready for an increased local population and the potential for less water being available due to climate change in the future. Our area is already classified by the government as being in serious water stress, so we need advance our efforts to reduce wastage and make the most of the water that is available.”

In the longer term the company will look to share more water with its neighbouring companies as part of efforts to develop a regional grid, so water can be moved around the region more effectively.

The Company is a member of the Water Resources in the South East Group (WRSE Group) which includes representatives from the Environment Agency, Ofwat, Defra, the Consumer Council for Water and the six water companies in the South East of England (Affinity Water, Portsmouth Water, Southern Water, South East Water, SESW and Thames Water). The aim of the group is to consider the opportunities and options for sharing resources on a regional basis.

SES Water has already invested in the connectivity of its network in order to move water around more easily and share resources with other companies. This has included transfers to Scottish and Southern Energy and Southern Water.

In the next two years, a new pipeline will be constructed to transfer water from Outwood to Whitely Hill – which will provide a bulk supply to South East Water.

The current total projected cost of the plan over the 60 year period is £93 million. The investment will be delivered through five-year Asset Management Plans – the company is currently working on its AMP7 business plan for the upcoming Price Review in 2019 which covers the period 2020-25.

When will driverless cars be available in the UK?

The latest revolution in motoring is the autonomous, or driverless, car – a concept which may scare a few drivers, but definitely appeals to others. Uber even rolled out their own fleet of driverless cars for tests, though a horrific pedestrian fatality in Arizona – the first of its kind – forced them to end the tests abruptly. Nevertheless, the idea of having a car that drives itself – leaving you time to do other things – may still float your boat. With that in mind, one question still remains. When will driverless cars become available in the UK?

Despite the first pedestrian fatality in the US, tests on self-driving cars are continuing on roads in the UK, courtesy of Jaguar Land Rover. JLR, which is the country’s biggest carmaker, has been experimenting with autonomous cars in the Midlands on various roads and is set to demonstrate more of the cars’ features, including an emergency braking warning system, on urban streets this week. However, Government-backed trials, introduced by Chancellor Philip Hammond and roads minister Jesse Norman, are due to end on Friday due to widespread concerns for road safety and cybersecurity. They involved small autonomous vehicles buzzing round south London.

Various commentators have come out to say that we’re unlikely to see self-driving cars being sold for a long time now that a pedestrian fatality has occurred. Noel Sharkey, emeritus professor of artificial intelligence at the University of Sheffield, said: ‘Autonomous vehicles present us with a great future opportunity to make our roads safer. ‘But the technology is just not ready yet and needs to mature before it goes on the road. Too many mistakes and the public may turn its back on the technology.’ In addition, less than half the people who have tested driverless pods in Greenwich during a three-year Gateway study have given positive feedback in their experience.

Greenwich is still expected to introduce Ford and Jaguar Land Rover autonomous cars to its streets in the next phase of testing. So what does this mean for potential customers? Well, it doesn’t seem like driverless cars will be on sale for quite a long time due to these setbacks and the lack of public confidence in the cars, which will put companies off investing in producing them on a large scale. However, Ford and Jaguar Land Rover seem to be keen to impress with their test versions of the cars so don’t count them out too soon – they could be here in the next few years. If you want to feel the buzz of an automated vehicle, though, you’d better get a job at Gatwick Airport. Bosses there have announced that autonomous vehicles will be used to shuttle staff across the airfield, which they think may lead to ‘an Uber-like service’ for employees.

Thames Water launches Refill London tap water scheme to help cut plastic waste

Shops and businesses around London have joined a Thames Water scheme that offers people free tap water ‘refills’ as part of the Mayor of London’s plans to reduce single-use plastic bottles in the capital.

The average London adult buys more than three plastic water bottles every week – a startling 175 bottles every year per person. In total, some 7.7 billion plastic bottles are bought across the UK each year, resulting in substantial amounts of single-use plastic waste.

The Mayor is Refill londonkeen for Londoners to adopt small changes that can have a big environmental impact – like refilling bottles and cups with tap water, instead of needlessly buying new single-use ones.

He is supporting a pilot of the Refill London scheme which is run by Thames Water and City to Sea, a campaign group that aims to help stop ocean pollution. They will be recruiting even more businesses to the scheme over the coming weeks and months. And if this proves a success the Mayor plans to help roll the scheme out across the capital over the summer.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said

“A free tap water scheme is long overdue in London and I welcome all of the retailers and business who have shown their strong commitment to reducing unnecessary plastic waste by joining the London Refill scheme.

“We all need to try harder to cut the excessive use of single-use plastic bottles, cups and cutlery that can end up pointlessly overflowing our landfill sites, finding their way into our oceans and harming our environment. I hope that even more businesses sign up to the scheme to help Londoners make small but significant steps, like refilling our bottles, to drive down plastic waste. City Hall is part of the scheme and I encourage everyone to download the free London Refill app to see which outlets are involved.”

The Refill London scheme will initially operate in five areas of London: Greenwich town centre, Lewisham High Street, the Southbank and Bankside, Regent St, and London Bridge (More London). More than 65 businesses and shops which include Costa Coffee, Tate Modern, BFI Imax and Leon have already joined the Refill scheme in the five areas, and will also be listed on a free Refill app and website ( that lists all the locations in London and more than 5,700 refill locations across the UK.

Participating shops and businesses will have stickers in their windows letting people know they are offering free Thames Water tap water and that there is no need to feel uncomfortable or embarrassed asking for it. The #OneLess campaign, led by The Zoological Society of London, will evaluate the first phase of the scheme and their analysis will feed into plans for a wider roll-out.

The new scheme is part of the Mayor’s wider plans to reduce plastic waste and protect the environment. Sadiq announced an additional £6m for environmental schemes in the capital, including funding over the next three years for the roll-out of new public water fountains across London and waste reduction work.

The production of bottled water is around 500 times more carbon intensive than tap water, and Thames Water also has more stringent quality tests – around half a million a year – than bottled brands. The Refill initiative builds on the success of Thames Water’s London On Tap campaign, launched in 2009, for diners in restaurants to ask for free tap water as an alternative to bottled brands. It led to free tap water being offered as standard across most establishments still today.

Thames Water chief executive, Steve Robertson, said:

“Nurturing and protecting the environment is a core mission for Thames Water and we are proud of the quality of our tap water. By making it even more accessible we can together limit the use of millions of single-use plastic bottles which sadly end up in landfill or in our rivers and oceans.”

Businesses are also approached by volunteers from City to Sea and encouraged to get on board the voluntary scheme. New outlets are being added to the app daily – businesses can also add themselves to the app.

This is when chaos of M1 ‘smart motorway’ and logistics park roadworks will end

Major roadworks on the M1 and near to East Midlands Airport are set to be finished by Christmas.

Highways England is converting the stretch between junctions 23A, for the airport, and 25, for the A52, into a “smart motorway”, comprising extra lanes.

And the creation of a £700m logistics park – called East Midlands Gateway – on farmland off junction 24 has resulted in a further rash of traffic cones.

Both road infrastructure projects are due to be finished by the end of 2018.

Peter Goddard, infrastructure project manager at East Midlands Gateway, said: “The work is on track to be finished before the end of this year. All things being equal, the roadworks in this area will be gone by Christmas.”

Work on SEGRO and Roxhill’s 700-acre East Midlands Gateway scheme – which could create over 11,000 jobs in total – began in January 2017.

Amazon and Nestlé, through third-party logistics operator XPO Logistics, have been lined up as tenants.

SEGRO is funding £100m of infrastructure at the interchange, including a 50-acre rail terminal and extensive road improvements that are designed to give the best possible connectivity to the 10 plots now available to occupiers.

Road changes in the J24 area include:

* A new slip road directly connecting the A50 to the M1 southbound at J24a;

* A new road connecting J23a of the M1 northbound to the A50 towards Derby, bypassing the J24 roundabout;

* Construction of a new A6 Kegworth Bypass.

Mr Goddard said the new roads will result in less traffic on the J24 roundabout – even after the logistics park has been built.

“The improvements we’re providing are greater than the traffic the development creates,” he said.

“There will be a net improvement to the highway network.”

The roadworks have caused misery for drivers. However, Mr Goddard said the pain will be worth it.

He said: “A substantial amount of traffic comes from the A50 and onto the M1 southbound.

“At the moment, you come down the A50 and then there’s a horrible little roundabout. You then follow a road that’s parallel with the M1 and onto the junction 24 roundabout, where there’s lots of traffic.

“When our scheme is done, that will not happen. Instead, you will go over the top of the M1 and you’ll then be able to choose whether to directly join the M1 at J24a, or follow another road onto J24, where there are routes to other places such as the airport.

“That work alone significantly reduces the amount of traffic that’s currently having to go through the J24 roundabout.

“In addition, at the moment, motorists have to use the J24 roundabout to get from the M1 northbound carriageway onto the A50 towards Derby.

“Again, that is going to change. There will be a free-flow lane that will enable traffic to come off at J23a and bypass the J24 roundabout, through to the A50.

“These two major road amendments will significantly reduce the amount of traffic that’s going around the J24 roundabout.

“We’re also doing some improvements to J24 itself and we’re putting in a bypass to help alleviate problems in Kegworth.

Meanwhile, the 50-acre rail terminal – which will be built on the East Midlands Gateway site – is on track to be completed by the middle of next year.

Mr Goddard said: The terminal will be capable of accommodating 775-metre long trains. They are the longest trains the UK rail network can accommodate. They’re extremely rare at the moment. There are only a few running around at the moment.

“Not only will the terminal connect to the units within the logistics park, it will also operate as a rail freight terminal for companies outside the development.

“So, a manufacturing plant in Loughborough, for example, could bring its goods here via a lorry and then have them transferred onto a train.

“Likewise, goods can come into here and be picked up by a lorry and taken elsewhere.”

More Leeds M621 roadworks planned in £55m scheme: Stretches of motorway to be widened

Thames Water tenders £30m sewage plant equipment contract

Thames Water has gone out to tender with a contract for sewage plant equipment contract worth an estimated £30 million.

The water company is looking to procure equipment for new aeration growth schemes –specifically, new fine bubble membrane diffuser (FBMD) and Aeration systems. The contract, which is being tendered in Lots, covers the supply of products and equipment and, where required, technical labour for the end to end process, from design to install and commissioning.

New aeration growth schemes are typically delivered by Thames Water’s alliance partners. Successful suppliers will be expected to work collaboratively with the alliance partners to deliver the most efficient and cost effective technical solutions.

Any initial agreement awarded would initially be for 3 years, with extension options for a further 5 years in total.

Time limit for receipt of tenders or requests to participate is 30th April 2018 – click here to access the tender documentation.

Highways England announces rescheduled dates for weather-hit A303 Stonehenge consultation events

Highways England has rearranged two consultation events for the A303 Stonehenge scheme, which were hit by severe weather which swept across the South West at the start of the month.

A scheme to upgrade the A303 between Amesbury and Berwick Down includes plans for a 1.9-mile long tunnel past Stonehenge, a free-flowing dual carriageway and a much-needed bypass north of Winterbourne Stoke.

Consultation on the detailed plans launched on 8 February, but the two public information events, at Mere and Salisbury, were impacted by the snow in early March.

The Mere public information event was curtailed early on Thursday, 1 March, due to the weather conditions, and the Salisbury Guildhall event on Saturday, 3 March, was cancelled, also for safety reasons.

Highways England, in consultation with Wiltshire Council, has rescheduled the Mere event, at the Lecture Hall, Salisbury Street, for Friday, 13 April (11am-5pm), and the Salisbury event at The St Paul’s Church Centre, Fisherton Street (SP2 7QW) for Saturday, 14 April (11am-5pm).

As a result, the consultation period has now been extended until Monday, 23 April.

The scheduled public information event at Antrobus House, Amesbury will take place on Friday, 23 March (2pm-8pm), and all feedback received during the consultation period will be considered and help to inform further refinements to the scheme.

For those people unable to make the remaining public information events or for those wanting further information, the consultation web page can be found at: