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TIP Leaks, Druridge Mine Gets The Go-Ahead And Kanagroo Island's Race To Renewables: 4th July - 11th July 2016

Last week has seen sustainability in jeopardy in the UK with environmentally threatening TTIP talks and the approval of an opencast coal mine on pristine Northumberland coast. Australia’s Kangaroo Island however is attempting to become one of the greenest places in the world! Here’s your weekly news roundup:

TTIP Leak May Spell Disaster for Environment Say Greenpeace

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) has been an acronym not far from many minds both pre and post-Brexit. Since being proposed by America to open up a freer trade channel between the US and EU, TTIP has always been hush-hush, until now. With the majority of talks and negotiations taking place in secret it’s only until now that Greenpeace has brought to light why these discussions have been so cloak and dagger.

Flickr | Sven GraemeWith the cloak gone Greenpeace have revealed some of the worrying negotiations, which range from the jeopardy of workers’ rights to the facilitation of large-scale corporate pressure on EU governments and legislation.

If you think that sounds like an Orwellian dystopia, it gets worse. 

The leaked pages also mention the abolition of restrictions in the transport/export of fossil fuels, yet no clear rationale of adhering to the 5th Carbon Budget or Paris Agreement emission and climate quotas. Worse still the deal would actively discourage and hinder the progression of green energy transition, with pages dubbing Germany’s current efforts to convert as “inhibiting to free trade” and calling for the redaction of the preferential access renewable producers have to the grid.

And Germany wouldn’t be the only one affected like this; any and all bids to go greener would be impeded, and seems that the idea of a 100%-renewable country is inconceivable in the eyes of this deal.

Kangaroo Island Plans to Go 100% renewable!

On a brighter note, Australia is doing its bit for sustainability. Kangaroo Island, Australia’s third largest island, has proposed a plan to make all of their transport and electricity needs renewable and locally produced. 

Sitting off the coast of Adelaide the island is currently powered by six million litres of imported diesel a year for transport and a Single Wire Earth Return (SWER) cable connected to Australia’s southern grid.

The proposal came about after said submarine cable was found deteriorating and any viable and cost-equivalent method would be considered. Although SWER lines are relatively inexpensive to replace, they do have limited supply capability, so it’s not surprising they’ve gone down the renewable road.

The proposal sets out to utilise all of the islands’ renewable resources; solar, wind, wave and biomass including production of biofuel. The main infrastructure would comprise of 8MW of solar (4MW from solar farm, 4MW from rooftop panels), 8MW of wind turbines and 3MW of battery arrays, along with land dedicated to biofuel production. In conjunction to this there have already been investments in electric vehicles and charge stations across the island.

If this goes ahead (there are still other proposals on the table) Kangaroo Island would be one of the greenest places on Earth. So much so that the plan is already backed by the Institute of Sustainable Futures, and would surely set an example for the rest of the world. 

If you'd like to visit this amazing eco-island check out our Kangaroo Island conservation project!

Druridge Bay Opencast Coal Mine Wins Approval

Flickr | Doug BelshawBanks Mining has received approval on their plans to excavate 250 hectares of the Northumberland coast for an opencast coal mine. Opencast, or surface mining, is one of the most invasive mining methods, which causes the area’s surface ecology to be oftentimes irrevocably damaged, and surrounding wildlife to be heavily displaced.

3 million tonnes (Mt) of coal is expected to be exhumed from the mine over a 5 year period, with 2 years after dedicated to “restoring the site” to a wetland habitat. However, once the mine is open it will be a lot easier for Banks Mining to potentially increase the extract tonnage, and keep it functional for longer.

This action has been long fought and completely disregards the UK’s 2025 coal phase out prospects, now making it near impossible to stay below carbon budget emission limits.

There is also scepticism in regards to the proposed exo-facto site restoration, with the Northumberland Wildlife Trust suggesting the initial disturbance to surrounding land, some of which is designated SSSI, will be too great. This will jeopardise nationally and internationally protected species. Another detrimental effect from this project is potential groundwater contamination from the extraction process, which is also high risk to wildlife considering the area’s restoration to a wetland habitat.

Bids are still being made to reverse the decision, however if that is not achieved the approval of this could cause a domino effect in the opening of other mines. It seems in regards to moving away from fossil fuel dependence the UK is constantly and globally lagging behind. Perhaps it’s time this island took a leaf out of Kangaroo Island’s book.

By Thomas Phillips - Online Journalism Intern

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