Thursday, 31 July 2008

Report finds US is world's top wind producer

McClatchy newspapers,
Wednesday July 30 2008

The American Wind Energy Association is expected to release a survey next month that says the US has become the world's leading wind producer, and that the industry expects rapid growth to continue in places like Texas, the Great Plains and California.
The survey calculates that the US wind industry now tops Germany in terms of how much energy is being produced from wind.
Germany still has more installed capacity - 22,000 megawatts compared with 17,000 in the US at the end of 2007. But the average wind speed is stronger in America, which means more energy is being generated, the group said.
And this year, Germany will add only about 1,600 megawatts of wind energy, while the US will add more than 6,000 megawatts, said Randy Swisher, executive director of the association.
"The numbers themselves are not what matters," said Swisher.
"What matters is that the wind industry around the world recognises that the US is the largest market."
That's important because many of the world's leading wind companies are not US companies, and they will need to move manufacturing jobs to the US as the wind industry grows, Swisher said. His group says 4,000 wind-related manufacturing jobs have been added in the US since 2007.
Currently, wind provides about 1% of US electricity.
In California, Pacific Gas & Electric has been using wind power for decades, and has been aggressive in adding new contracts for wind energy in the last four years as it strives to meet the state's renewable energy goal of 20% by 2010.
PG&E has 1,164 megawatts of wind energy in operation or under contract, said spokeswoman Jennifer Zerwer.
The cost of wind power is almost comparable to fossil fuels such as coal, at between 4.5 and 7.5 cents per kilowatt hour, according to FPL Energy, builder of the country's largest wind farm in Horse Hollow, Texas.
But building a wind farm costs more than a fossil-fuel plant - between $1.5m and $2m per megawatt of capacity compared with $800,000 for a natural-gas plant.
Once constructed, though, wind plants have no fuel costs compared with coal and natural gas plants.
The industry says that 250 to 300 average US homes are served by one megawatt of wind energy.

Green lessons for Lothian firms

BUSINESSES in the Lothians are getting the opportunity to find out how to count and cut their carbon emissions.
A workshop in Dalkeith, the first of its kind in Scotland, is aimed at helping companies assess their carbon footprint, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and cut costs."Higher fuel bills are having a major impact on businesses and their profitability," said Jo Paulson of the Business Environment Partnership, which is organising the event in conjunction with Lancaster University-based Carbon and Environment Solutions. "This workshop will help them understand their own impact on the environment and what they can do to minimise it while saving money at the same time."'Practical Carbon Footprinting' will be held at Hardengreen Business Park in Dalkeith from 9am to 5pm on September 11.

Republicans Block Action on Senate Tax Bill

By MARTIN VAUGHANJuly 31, 2008;

WASHINGTON -- Republicans again turned back a Democratic attempt to bring an energy- and business-tax bill to the Senate floor, likely delaying action on the package until September at the earliest.

The bill would extend tax incentives for wind, solar and other forms of renewable energy, and would renew a host of expired tax cuts, such as the research tax credit and the state-sales-tax deduction. It would also protect most taxpayers from the alternative minimum tax in 2008.
The move failed on a 51-43 procedural vote, dashing Democrats' hopes that their recent additions to the bill would draw more Republican support.
The White House said senior advisers will recommend a veto should the Senate tax bill reach the president's desk in its current form. The White House had earlier threatened a veto of similar legislation passed by the House.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) said Tuesday that if Republicans continued to block the tax bill, he wouldn't allow amendments on a separate bill to curb oil-market speculation.
In a bid to draw more Republican votes for the tax bill, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D., Mont.) last week added disaster relief for Midwestern states and a requirement that health plans cover mental illnesses on par with physical diseases.
Sen. Charles Grassley (R., Iowa) said following the vote that the two sides remain divided over the extent to which tax cuts in the bill should be offset to keep the deficit down. Sen. Grassley voted against the Democratic efforts to limit debate on the bill.
Republicans have argued that permanent tax changes shouldn't be used to offset the temporary tax cuts in the bill. They have proposed that Democrats use the offsets in the bill -- a loophole-closing provision that bars hedge-fund managers from shielding offshore income from taxes and a delay in a scheduled tax cut for multinational firms -- to make one or more of the tax cuts permanent or extend them. For example, the bill could extend the research tax credit for five to seven years instead of just one, Sen. Grassley said. But Democrats aren't biting. "They're holding their ground," he said.
In a nod to Republican concerns, the latest version of the bill calls for the offsets to expire in 2018. But a White House statement condemned that as a "gimmick."
The White House also criticized a provision in the Senate bill that would transfer $8 billion from the general fund to the Highway Trust Fund so projects don't go unfunded because the government is collecting less revenue than projected from gasoline taxes. The provision creates a "dangerous precedent that shifts costs from users to taxpayers at large," the White House said.
The House approved the Highway Trust Fund transfer last week on a 387-37 vote.
Write to Martin Vaughan at

Spain cuts speed limit and turns out lights

By John LichfieldThursday, 31 July 2008

Spain has seen the future and it is slow, dim and uncomfortable. A swingeing series of energy-saving measures announced by the Spanish government may be a foretaste of the kind of policies which will be forced upon an energy-hungry industrial world in the coming decades.
To protests from motorists and mockery in parts of the press, the Socialist government plans to cut motorway speed limits to 50mph and town speeds to 25mph. New austerity rules will be imposed on the air conditioning and heating of all public buildings. Street-lighting will be cut by half.
Almost 50 million low-energy light bulbs will be handed out by the government in an attempt to drive high-consumption bulbs out of the market in the next four years. The government will also sponsor a project intended to introduce a million electric or hybrid electric-petrol cars on to Spanish roads by 2014.
The sweeping plans, intended to reduce Spain's huge dependency on imported oil by 10 per cent, were mocked by one newspaper as an "operation light bulb" which was doomed to fail. However, the Industry Minister, Miguel Sebastian, adopted the celebrated exhortation to patriotism and self-sacrifice of the US President John F Kennedy when he took office in 1961. It was time, he said, for Spaniards to "ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country."
"Every time we lift our feet off the accelerator, we are improving GDP and employment," Mr Sebastian said. "The era of cheap energy has passed."
The energy shock caused by the boom in oil prices in the past year has hit Spain especially hard. Spain has scant energy resources of its own and is more dependent on fossil fuels for its energy needs – 84 per cent – than any other European Union country.
Mr Sebastian said that Spain had spent €17bn (£13bn) on importing oil in the past 12 months. The country's trade deficit is expected to soar this year by 13 per cent to €42.8bn.
Among the 31 measures announced to parliament on Tuesday night, there were two or three which would – if implemented – radically change the Spanish way of life. The speed limit on dual carriageways would be cut from 100kph to 80kph (50 mph). The urban speed limit would fall to 40kph (25mph).
Despite Spain's baking summers, air conditioning systems in public buildings would be set no lower than 26C. In winter, the heating would be limited to 21C. Hospitals will be exempted, and so will private homes and offices.
The government also plans to remove, or dim, millions of street lights, to reduce their energy consumption by half. Public transport in many cities will operate into the early hours at the weekends to persuade motorists to leave cars at home. All Spanish government vehicles will be expected to cover one fifth of their energy needs with bio-fuels.
But a poll of Spanish motorists by a TV channel found little evidence of the JFK spirit. Manolo of Madrid said: "Tell the minister that things are just fine as they are. We don't want to cut our speed. People would be honking their horns all the time if they had to go that slow."

How green are the Tories?

Preparing for Power - The Environment: In the fourth of our week-long series, Andrew Grice, Political Editor, examines David Cameron's appeal to 'Vote Blue, Go Green'
Thursday, 31 July 2008

If there was one change that symbolised David Cameron's mission to transform the Conservative Party, it was putting the environment at the top of his agenda. And if there is one abiding image of his leadership, it is his "hug a husky" moment during his visit to the Arctic two years ago to see the impact of climate change.
Yet, in recent months, there have been some signs the Tory leader's passion for the green cause has cooled, that it may have served its purpose of illustrating change, so he is reverting to more traditional Tory tunes such as law and order. Green campaigners smelt a rat in May after Mr Cameron failed to mention the words "environment" or "climate change" in a 1,200-word statement about his priorities for government.
The party leadership denies it has diluted its commitment to the environment and has been working hard to reassure its new green friends. Mr Cameron and the shadow Chancellor George Osborne have made "green" speeches in the past six weeks, which steadied some nerves. Mr Osborne's address to the Green Alliance played particularly well. Yet some environmentalists believe the Tories are doing only what they judge necessary to head off attacks by green groups.
The missing piece of the Tory jigsaw is its commitment to green taxes. Officially, the Opposition remains committed to raising green taxes and putting "every penny" raised into a "family fund" that would cut taxes paid by families. Mr Cameron insisted: "The truth is: it's not that we can't afford to go green – it's that we can't afford not to go green."
However, it appears such taxes may play a smaller role in trying to change people's behaviour than Mr Cameron and Mr Osborne originally envisaged, with incentives to "go green" playing a bigger part. "Green taxes are taking more of a back seat," one Shadow Cabinet minister admitted. "The problem is it is difficult to talk about raising taxes during a downturn. People think green taxes are stealth taxes because Gordon Brown has given them a bad name."
Another issue of concern for some is that the Tories are warming to nuclear power. Last year, it viewed a new generation of nuclear power stations as "a last resort" but would now support the move if there were no taxpayers' subsidy.
The party's environmental spokesmen, Peter Ainsworth and Greg Barker, and Alan Duncan, the shadow Business Secretary, are believed to be sceptical about an expansion of nuclear. But Mr Cameron and Mr Osborne appear to have overruled them. Private signals have been sent to prospective builders of nuclear plants that they "don't need to worry" about the attitude of a Tory government.
Until the recent wobble, the wooing of the green movement had been highly successful. Pressure groups and think-tanks describe MrAinsworth, the shadow Environment Secretary, as "more engaged" in green issues than government ministers. The Tories led calls for a ground-breaking Climate Change Bill to set a target for cutting Britain's carbon emissions by 2050, and, in a rare coup for an opposition, persuaded the Government to act.
Yet the early hopes raised by Mr Cameron's "vote blue, go green" campaign were always going to be hard to fulfil. A very green blueprint was produced last year by the party's "quality of life" group, led by John Gummer and Zac Goldsmith. Proposals included parking charges at out-of-town supermarket and shopping malls; a moratorium on airport expansion and increased taxes – including VAT – on short-haul domestic flights. Mr Cameron distanced himself from the report, saying it was "to" and not "for" the party, and making clear he would not impose parking charges on the weekly shopping trip.
One green campaigner said "brand Cameron" would be seriously damaged if the Tories did not produce a manifesto that lives up to their rhetoric. "They have symbolic positions on aviation tax, EU efficiency standards and micro-generation, But there is no broader framework to underpin these and other commitments," he said.
While green groups do not doubt Mr Cameron's commitment, they sense a big gap between him and the rest of the party on issues such as renewable energy, and are looking for reassurance.
Steve Shaw, a campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said: "We're delighted that David Cameron seems to recognise the important role green action can play in strengthening the economy, especially at a time of economic instability.
"Ending our fossil-fuel addiction has never been more important. Cameron must increase political pressure on the Government to deliver an energy policy based on fuel efficiency and renewable power. A low-carbon economy will tackle rising costs, generate new jobs - and provide a safer, cleaner future."
John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace, said: "The Tories are still talking seriously about green issues, that has to be good. But how deep does the environment run in their veins? They've ruled out unabated coal-fired power stations like Kingsnorth [in Kent] but left open the possibility of expanding Heathrow. If they are serious, they must say categorically that there will be no third runway at Heathrow."
Stephen Hale, director of the Green Alliance, said: "David Cameron's environmental speeches cannot be faulted. But the gap between his aspirations and commitments is alarming. It needs to be filled very fast, if the Conservative are to become a credible government in waiting."
Face to watch: Zac Goldsmith
Former editor and now chairman of The Ecologist magazine and son of the late Sir James Goldsmith, the billionaire Eurosceptic. Was vice-chairman of the Conservative Party's quality of life group which produced a set of green policy ideas last year. Has enjoyed a lower profile since then, but Mr Cameron's allies say he remains an influential adviser to the Tory leader. Has good chance of becoming a Tory MP at the next general election, after being chosen as a candidate for Richmond Park. Could emerge as the green conscience of a Conservative government.
Key policy commitments
"Cap and trade" scheme to reduce carbon emissions by 60 per cent by 2050; replace climate change levy with a carbon levy.
No new coal-fired power stations unless they have a carbon capture and storage facility; decentralised energy in towns and cities with small local power stations rather than huge regional ones; German-style feed-in tariffs allowing people who produce their own energy to sell surplus to the grid.
Air travel
Heathrow airport should be made "better, not bigger".
Unanswered questions
* How much would a Conservative government raise from green taxes, such as those levied on domestic flights and the worst gas-guzzling vehicles?
* Would the Tories' traditional Euroscepticism prevent them from effectively taking action at European Union level to combat climate change?
* Would a Conservative government definitely reject proposals to build a third runway at Heathrow airport, despite fears over the effects of air travel on the environment?
* Would the Tories' attitude to the role nuclear power would play in the UK's future energy mix be any different from the current government's?

Grass ceiling: How corporate culture is going green

It's got intelligent lighting, low-energy air-con and London's biggest living roof. But this is no eco charity HQ
By Rob SharpThursday, 31 July 2008

In central London there is a lawn of luscious green, in which insects merrily scurry. Feeding on them are birds, which can nest nearby in specially installed wooden boxes. They are observed by office workers eight storeys above ground level, where a view of Saint Paul's Cathedral matches any vista in the capital.
This glorious scene takes place on the top floor of the recently completed headquarters of law firm Eversheds. The building, contrary to what you might expect from a conventional office block for grey-suited solicitors, is one of the greenest in the capital. In this edifice, there are no swathes of air conditioning units and energy-wasting lighting. Instead, the office has the biggest green roof in London and features an abundance of other eco-friendly features. The £11m landmark joins a host of other environmentally sensitive office buildings springing up all over the country.
The idea to make One Wood Street green was spearheaded by Eversheds' senior partners, according to the building's project manager, Gareth Griffiths, of construction consultancy Capita Symonds. "It was a conscious decision to enhance the green credentials of the building because the consensus in the City is that we have to be responsible members of society," he says. "Offices are a significant contributor to carbon dioxide emissions because of their high energy consumption. A high-profile firm such as Eversheds can make a considerable impact on that. Additionally, the environment is becoming an important issue to clients, and so having an office which follows green ideals leads by example."
The green roof, which can be visited by employees on request, is made of a spongy roll of the succulent plant, sedum. It is durable and needs no watering. "Mud baths" will be added, to encourage a roof-level "mini-ecosystem" in which insects provide food for birds. It is hoped the bird boxes will attract peregrine falcons – which have nested at nearby Tate Modern – swifts, and redstarts.
Such eco-consciousness is proving popular with employees. Bo Kehinde, a solicitor at the company says: "The green roof is wonderful to be associated with. Up there it is quite tranquil. The sedum is low and soft to walk on and it is a peaceful place."
The building's designer, Ray Holden of Fletcher Priest Architects, says green roofs are increasingly becoming a coveted addition to modern offices. "Roofs are often wasted spaces. It is a whole floor that people build that is never normally used," he explains. "But we can be more responsible as designers by using them in a green way. Conventional roofs absorb a large amount of heat, making London hotter. But because green roofs are full of water, which evaporates when heated, they make the city a lot cooler. And they also bring in wildlife."
But "greenness" is not confined to the roof at One Wood Street. Clever gizmos are peppered across all of the building's 160,000 square feet. These minimise power consumption and include intelligent lighting, which senses when people are absent from the office floor and switches itself off accordingly. And "Chilled beams" – long oblongs of hollow metal containing water, provide an energy-efficient method of cooling, having no moving parts. Indeed, it is so quiet with the beams, compared with the hum of air conditioning, that artificial noise is pumped into the Eversheds HQ. This is to muffle conversations – an important factor if confidential deals are being discussed. But the open plan design also means less power is used. Instead of many rooms, each with their own lighting and temperature controls, there is just one.
One Wood Street is at the forefront of a wave of offices winning or set to win plaudits for their environmental credentials. They include another office by Fletcher Priest, London's Watermark Place, also in the City, to be finished next year, which also will boast a large green roof. And then there is the new headquarters for PricewaterhouseCoopers, to be built on the More London development, next to Tower Bridge, by 2010. While it doesn't have a green roof, it will have hot water heating by solar energy.
These projects will join the National Trust's headquarters in Swindon (which is naturally ventilated) and the Wessex Water building in Bristol, which uses a third of the energy normally consumed by an office building. Its makes use of solar power and minimises artificial heating.
"Sustainability has gripped the office community, I have never known anything like it," says Richard Kauntze, chief executive of the British Council for Offices, which advises on best practice for designers, operators and managers. "It's what everyone is talking about. The buildings we live and work in use massive amounts of energy. There is a real desire to change and a clear acceptance that the way offices have been designed and managed cannot continue. The bigger challenge is with existing buildings. Computers, lights and heating should all be reduced; that can make a big difference and can cost very little."
Turf at the top
1. The Office Group, Gray's Inn Road, London
A green roof for meetings or lunch, and provides a useful habitat for insects. Also features an outdoor classroom for children from the local area.
2. Norfolk Community Primary School, Sheffield
Built as a condition of planning permission due to storm-water overflow problems. The roof has lowered the likelihood of vandalism, and improved rainwater management.
3. Moorgate Crofts Business Centre, Rotherham
When the business centre's management decided they wanted conference rooms on the roof, a green roof was used to create sustainable surroundings.
For more information on green roofs see

Arctic ice shelf splits in big melt

By Paul Eccleston
Last Updated: 8:01pm BST 30/07/2008
Part of the Arctic ice shelf has sheared off creating two huge ice islands, Canadian scientists have revealed.

Ice melting in the Arctic: break-up of ice is seen by scientists as symptomatic of the warming of polar areas
Together the two islands cover an area of seven square miles and marked the biggest break up of the ice for three years.The scientists say they believe the split was almost certainly caused by the warming climate which is affecting polar regions more than anywhere else.
The chunks broke off from the Ward Hunt Ice Shelf on the coast of Ellesmere Island in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago to form new floating islands.
Scientists confirmed the break up by flying over the scene and by analysing satellite data.
The north side of Ellesmere Island in Canada's Nunavut territory is surrounded by plateaus of thick and floating ice believed to be thousands of years old with the largest - Ward Hunt - covering 171 square miles.

"We ascertained that in the 20th century 90 percent of the ice surface area (in the region) has been lost," said Derek Mueller, a Polar specialist at Canada's Trent University.
"So, this phenomena has been ongoing on for a long time, but we're now seeing punctuated events."
He said the Petersen Ice Shelf, which lost a third of its surface area between 2005 and 2007, was a good example.
The break-up of ice, known as calving, is regarded by scientists as being symptomatic of the warming of polar areas.

Trying to curb global heat, UN to turn up its own

By Neil Macfarquhar
Published: July 31, 2008

UNITED NATIONS: The United Nations has long been accused by its detractors of generating hot air. Starting in August, a glance at the thermostat in the Secretariat building will provide confirmation.
To set an example in the effort to curb energy use that contributes to global warming, the secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, has approved a one-month pilot project to raise the thermostat throughout much of the landmark building to 77 degrees from 72 degrees.
The thermostats in the often windowless conference rooms, where much of the heavy haggling and some of the more impenetrable seminars unroll, will be set at 75 degrees, up from 70 degrees.
The building's carbon dioxide emissions are expected to drop by an estimated 300 tons, and costs are expected to decrease by $100,000, according to Michael Adlerstein, who announced the experiment on Wednesday and who will oversee building renovations. He said savings could reach $1 million annually if the United Nations mandated temperature changes year round.
Achieving a uniform temperature in the 39-story building, which was built in 1952, ranks up there with world peace as a noble, if unlikely, goal. Some rooms, notably the General Assembly and the basement, are frigid. Others feel distinctly tropical.

Among other problems, the interior space of the building has been carved up so many times that thermostats no longer correspond precisely to the rooms they control, Adlerstein said. He said the determining factor in whether the United Nations decided to adjust its thermostats for the long term — including keeping the building colder during winter — was the effect on productivity. Naturally, diplomats had strongly diverging views on how they would be affected.
"If the rise in the temperature could cut back on the interminable negotiations running late into the evening for often disappointing results, then the outcome of the initiative would be a very good one," said David Malone, a former Canadian ambassador.
One African envoy involved in countless heated negotiations recently said a compromise could prove more elusive at higher temperatures than it already is. (The diplomat and others interviewed found even the temperature a potentially sensitive topic and spoke anonymously.)
"When it is warm in the room, you are not fully attentive," the envoy said, "And when you are not fully following, you will not be in the mood to compromise."
To help speed the transition, "there is going to a be a relaxing of the dress protocols," said Adlerstein, which in nondiplomatic terms means he jettisoned his coat and tie for the news conference. There are serious doubts that will fly.
"People walking around without jackets on are not taken seriously" said one man from an organization that promotes renewable energy. "You have to follow protocol."
What if Ban sets the example by removing his own tie, as his office said he would?
"Then the protocol will change," the man said.

Can open fields be turned into forest?

Despite its reputation as a green and pleasant land, much of Britain's ancient woodland has been lost. Now the Woodland Trust plans to transform 850 acres of Hertfordshire countryside into England's biggest new continuous forest. Patrick Barkham explains how

Patrick Barkham
The Guardian,
Wednesday July 30 2008

A patchwork of wheat and barley unfolds over gently undulating fields just north of St Albans. This pretty - and pretty unremarkable - 850 acres of Hertfordshire countryside looks just like the kind of peaceful greenbelt that is always the flick of a planner's pen away from being bricked over by developers or divided by a motorway. Instead, it is now the target of a much more beautiful project: to create from scratch the biggest continuous native forest in England.
The £8.5m scheme close to the village of Sandridge will be undertaken by the charity the Woodland Trust. It is, however, far more complicated than simply grubbing 600,000 native trees, including oak, ash, hornbeam and field maple, into the ground. It may even be controversial.
The importance of conserving our unique landscape has been a dominant theme of England's development for more than 100 years, but we have still managed to destroy half the ancient woodland - areas defined as continuously wooded since 1600 - that we had 70 years ago. There are bigger old woodlands in the country than the new, as yet unnamed, forest but most are fragmented, tiny remnants of past glories in what is now one of the least wooded countries in Europe.
What we have lost is irreplaceable. "You can't recreate ancient woodland," says Toby Bancroft, project manager for the Sandridge project. "The blend of trees, soil and climate over hundreds of years is what makes it distinct." However, the new area includes almost 50 acres that will be made up of small pockets of existing ancient woodland. "Our focus will be to protect and buffer those fragments of ancient woodland," says Bancroft. These unique areas, which include a local beauty spot famed for its bluebells and wood anemones, will be encouraged to extend beyond their boundaries through natural regeneration.
Plants are, by nature, slower-moving than animals. Many species are unique to ancient woodland and do not expand their range quickly. The new wood will never take on all the richness of an ancient woodland but even creating a new broadleaf forest is a complex challenge.
It is also expensive: with soaring land prices, the Trust still needs to raise almost half its £6.6m start-up costs by the end of September to complete the purchase of the land. If all goes to plan, the first trees will be planted later this year, with large-scale planting underway by autumn 2009. The Trust plans to plant 600,000 trees, most of which will be 45cm-high, two-year-old seedlings. People love to plant trees and the Trust hopes schoolchildren and donors will join in and get digging. The uniqueness of a natural woodland cannot be mimicked and trees will have to be planted in rows so that they can be protected and maintained in the early years. However, the forest-builders will "wiggle" the rows so it won't become a visible grid of trees.
The Trust will also try to minimise the less environmentally friendly aspects of tree planting and use straw mulch instead of chemical weedkillers to protect the trees from being swamped by weeds as well as minimising the use of protective plastic sheaths for the small trees. Trees can instead be shielded from rabbits and deer with fencing, which may have to remain in place for 10 years as the trees grow.
Within months of the first trees going in, new species will colonise this fertile ground. Bancroft expects the wood's early years of small trees, shrubs and wild grassland to provide rich habitat for small mammals such as voles, pygmy shrews and mice. These should enable barn owls and other predators to establish themselves. Badger setts have already been found in the area. Dozens of other creatures found within 10km of the site are predicted to flourish in a new protected woodland. These include Daubenton's bats, hares, dormice, great crested newts, slow worms, nightingales, hobbies, lesser spotted woodpeckers and white-letter hairstreak butterflies.
"If we are successful and are able to create England's largest continuous native forest, we hope to attract species that have not been previously recorded in the area," says Bancroft. Red kites, for instance, could find a large area of native woodland extremely attractive.
The irresistible natural flowering of a growing forest must first clear a man-made hurdle: an environmental-impact assessment. If it sounds like bureaucratic madness to have to assess the benefit of a beautiful woodland, it must be remembered that a large new forest would drastically change a landscape of rolling fields. New trees could have an impact on the water table and local archaeological sites. Some may argue that it is taking farmland out of production while others may worry that their homes will be overshadowed (they won't).
Bancroft admits that it is vital to involve local residents and allow them to help decide the shape of the forest. The Trust will also plant native shrubs, such as hawthorn and blackthorn, and sow wild and woodland flower seeds. But is this fake nature? The truth is that even ancient woodland is a man-made environment and many unique species, including butterflies, birds and plants depend on historic forms of woodland management such as coppicing.
In this case, the new forest may mimic certain features of established woods, such as fallen, trees - a haven for insects such as the increasingly rare stag beetle. Bancroft has already found a stag beetle on the site and says that the Trust would consider placing dead wood in the forest as a habitat. The Woodland Trust's guiding principle is not, however, direct management for particular species but the creation of a diverse habitat, which will be allowed to change and grow naturally in ways that may not be easily predictable.
Of all the species the woodland will attract, the most important is probably homo sapiens. The Trust has deliberately chosen a site less than 30 miles from the centre of London that can be reached by train and bus. The wood will be crisscrossed by public footpaths and new routes for walkers and cyclists, a green lung of living calm in our increasingly urban lives.
"We want people to come out and experience woodland," says Bancroft. "We feel that people are losing touch with nature and we want them to watch the woodland as it grows up".

Climate activists occupy proposed site for coal-fired power station

Environment: · £1bn project could be first of six in UK, say protesters · Impact on environment 'would be catastrophic'

Matthew Taylor
The Guardian,
Thursday July 31 2008

Climate change activists yesterday occupied the proposed site for Britain's first coal-fired power station in 30 years, claiming the development will cause huge damage to the environment if it goes ahead.
More than 150 protesters descended on the site near the village of Kingsnorth in Kent ahead of next week's Camp for Climate Action, which is expected to attract thousands of environmentalists.
Activist Connor O'Brien said: "The purpose of the climate change camp is to target those businesses and companies who are involved in bringing about destructive climate change. This is the first of six coal-fired power stations being planned in the UK and if they go ahead the impact on the environment will be catastrophic."
The protest started on Sunday when environmentalists gathered at Heathrow airport - the scene of last year's camp - before travelling across London in a "green caravan", stopping off each night to highlight their objections to the proposed power station. The caravan is expected to arrive at Kingsnorth on Sunday along with hundreds of other protesters.
O'Brien said: "We want to make the issue of coal-fired power stations so big and so toxic that they will be widely opposed by the public and it will be impossible for them to go ahead. What we need is properly sustainable solutions."
Medway council in Kent has already given the green light to the £1bn plant, which has been proposed by the German-owned gas and electricity provider E.ON.
The final decision rests with the business secretary, John Hutton, who is expected to make an announcement later this year.
E.ON has argued that the plant will produce power from coal more efficiently and cleanly than ever before in Britain, leading to a cut in carbon emissions of almost 2m tonnes a year. It has also claimed that the plant could help Britain develop carbon-capture and storage (CCS) technology.
The project has received the backing of the Institution of Chemical Engineers, which said Medway council had made a "commonsense" decision. But green groups are fiercely opposed to the plans, arguing they are at odds with the government's commitment to reduce emissions by 60% by 2050.
"The claims about new carbon-capture technology ... are pure greenwash," said O'Brien. "This camp will draw attention to the science behind these claims and outline real sustainable alternatives."
The group had promised to infiltrate the site by digging under fences, or dropping in by air. One group, dubbing themselves the Great Rebel Raft Regatta, is planning to enter the site on pirate ships and boats.
Protesters said they were planning a "rolling programme" of action against Kingsnorth and said other coal plants would be targeted.
The group is well known for its dramatic protests. In June campaigners halted a coal train outside Drax, Britain's biggest power station, and shovelled its contents on to the line into the plant. More than 20 tonnes of coal blocked the tracks as protesters strung ropes between the train and the girders of a river bridge.
Their concerns have attracted wide support. Some 228 MPs signed an early-day motion calling on the government to hold a public inquiry before deciding whether to consent to the Kingsnorth plant. Actor Robert Redford wrote to the climate camp organisers backing the campaign.
A spokeswoman for Kent Police said yesterday that they were monitoring the situation at the Kingsnorth camp.