In a hurry? Friday's environment news in 60 seconds

A round-up of the top stories this morning from ENDS and elsewhere, including Kwasi Kwarteng blaming the free market for climate change, promotion for DEFRA minister Victoria Prentis and the Environment Agency's handling of an odorous landfill slammed in court...

Kwarteng recognises ‘market failure’ role in climate emergency

Business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has said that a “market failure” has led to the climate emergency and that government policy interventions “have a huge part to play” in dealing with the crisis. READ MORE

Prentis gets promoted to junior minister at DEFRA

Victoria Prentis has been promoted to junior minister at DEFRA as part of prime minister Boris Johnson’s reshuffle of his ministerial team. READ MORE

Environment Agency loses landmark Human Rights case

The Environment Agency has failed to comply with law which requires it to protect the life of a five-year-old child, the High Court has ruled in a landmark judgment handed down today. READ MORE

Lords reinforce Environment Bill clauses on the habitats regulations, ancient woodland, deforestation and conservation covenants

A rushed final day of the Environment Bill’s report stage in the House of Lords saw four further government defeats, bringing the total to 14. READ MORE

Environment Bill: The 20 key amendments to be taken to the Commons

The House of Lords has agreed a wealth of changes to the Environment Bill, among them removing shackles on the Office for Environmental Protection, more ambition on air quality and a declaration of biodiversity and climate emergency. Here’s what you need to know. READ MORE

Cabinet reshuffle: Who’s in and who’s out

Environment secretary George Eustice remains in post despite speculations about his departure, but housing secretary Robert Jenrick is out and is replaced by Michael Gove, in Boris Johnson’s latest Cabinet reshuffle. READ MORE


In other news…

SEPA objects to space port

Shetland News reports that a proposed spaceport in the UK’s northermost inhabited island, Unst, has hit a snag. The Scottish Environment Protection Agency has objected to the use of peat to build a two-metre high bund around the site. There is a “high likelihood” that it would dry out and erode, leading to carbon loss, it argues.

Drax fires up mothballed coal units

The UK’s largest power station has temporarily reversed a decision to stop burning coal, the Guardian reports. The action was provoked by record power prices, sparked a combination of surging global gas prices that have increased the cost of running gas power plants, power station outages and little wind to power turbines. A badly-timed fire in Kent that has knocked out a 2GW interconnector to France has exacerbated the situation.

Wholesale prices hit £2,500 per megawatt-hour on Wednesday evening. The normal level is £40 or so.

Drax intended to shut down its two remaining coal units in March, on a permanent basis.

Ozone hole nears record extent

Marking International Ozone Day on Thursday, the European Space Agency has revealed that this year’s Antarctic ozone is “one of the largest and deepest” seen in recent years, peaking at 23 million square kilometres, larger than the continent itself. Last year it hit 25km2, “in stark contrast with the unusually small ozone hole that formed in 2019”, says the body.

Mission manager Claus Zehner said measurements from the Sentinel-5P remote monitoring satellite “are a key contribution to global ozone monitoring and forecasting in the frame of the Copernicus programme.

The monitoring of the ozone hole over the South Pole must be interpreted carefully as the size, duration and the ozone concentrations of a single hole are influenced by the local wind fields, or meteorology, around the South Pole. Nevertheless, we expect a closing of the ozone hole over the South Pole by the year 2050.”

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