Tag Archives: England

Scottish opinion poll knocks the British pound #ScottishIndependence #BritishPound

The British pound slipped sharply
LONDON (AP) — The British pound slipped sharply after an opinion poll showed that those advocating Scottish independence from the United Kingdom have gained ground, a little more than two weeks before the vote.

A YouGov poll released Tuesday showed support for Scottish independence running at 47 percent. As a result, the ‘no’ camp — those supporting the continuation of the 307-year union with England, Wales and Northern Ireland — only has a 6 percent lead in the poll.

That represents a significant narrowing in the ‘no’ lead. Less than a month ago, the equivalent poll lead was over 20 points.

The narrowing echoes other findings that the ‘yes’ campaign has gained ground over the past week or so after its leader, Scotland First Minister Alex Salmond was widely judged to have bested Alistair Darling, the head of the “Better Together” campaign, in a televised debate.

“A close finish looks likely, and a ‘yes’ victory is now a real possibility,” said Peter Kellner, YouGov’s president. “Even if ‘no’ finally wins the day, it now looks less likely that it will win by a big enough margin to deliver a knockout blow to supporters of independence.”

The poll, which was based on interviews with 1,063 people, spooked some traders, and the pound traded 0.6 percent lower at $1.6525. The Scottish independence vote takes place Sept. 18.

“With less than three weeks to go until polling day the tide is starting to shift,” said Kathleen Brooks, research director at Forex.com.

The economic impact of a vote in favor of independence remains difficult to quantify as many aspects remain unclear, such as whether a go-it-alone Scotland would be able to use the pound as its currency, as the “yes” campaign advocates. There are also questions as to how the U.K.’s debt mountain would be divvied up.

“We think that the prospect of independence could boost volatility in the pound in the coming weeks,” Brooks added.

Scotland already has a parliament responsible for a wide array of social matters as well as its own legal code. However, economic and defense matters remain the responsibility of Westminster in London, where Scottish lawmakers make up a minority. The main U.K. political parties have indicated that they are prepared to give the Scottish Parliament more powers after the vote.

Vote Yes for Scottish independence


Associated Press.

#Tory MPs more likely to oppose #windfarms than #British public – poll

Conservatives opposition undermining projects and investment in renewables, say wind energy companies. 

By Fiona HarveyLittle Cheyne Court windfarm in Camber, Kent, England. Photograph: Haydn West/Rex FeaturesLittle Cheyne Court windfarm in Camber, Kent, England. Photograph: Haydn West/Rex Features.

Conservative MPs are much more likely to oppose onshore windfarms than the national average of the public, a new poll has found.

About four out of five Tory MPs are likely to oppose onshore windfarms in their constituency, according to the poll conducted by ComRes on behalf of REG Windpower. But about six in 10 people across the country, and just over half of those eligible to vote in rural areas, favour onshore windfarms, even if built near them.

More Tory MPs than Labour represent rural constituencies, but only about one-third of people polled in rural areas said they would oppose onshore windfarms built near them.

Wind energy companies are angry that the Tories have suggested next year’s general election manifesto will include a pledge to cut or abolish altogether energy bill-payer subsidies to onshore windfarms, and that Eric Pickles, the secretary of state for communities and local government, has stopped or delayed some onshore wind projects. There are increasing fears that big investors will pull out of UK wind projects, which could stall renewable energy growth.

Andrew Whalley, chief executive of REG Windpower, said: “We’ve been told time and again by Conservatives that they recognise the financial and environmental arguments in favour of onshore wind, but that they can’t support it because their constituents don’t want it in their local areas. This research debunks that argument.

“Local communities not only understand the benefits in terms of energy security and stability of investing on renewables, but are largely accepting of onshore wind projects in their communities. The barrier to progress is the irrational and ideological hostility of many Conservative MPs, which is out of touch with public opinion.

“Conservative opposition to onshore wind, which is most evident in Eric Pickles’ abuse of the planning system to delay and prevent developments, is now undermining projects and investment in what is an established sector. Onshore wind has the potential to help reduce energy costs and our reliance on oil and gas. This potential might not be realised if the Conservatives don’t get on the same page as their constituents.”

However, the poll did not break down members of the public by voting intention, so it is not possible to say how many rural Tory voters or likely Tory voters would favour onshore windfarms in their area. It is possible that Tory MPs are attempting to appeal to their “base” vote by opposing the construction of renewable energy.

Separate polling shows only a small fraction of voters choose their MP based on his or her support for or opposition to renewable energy.

The REG poll questioned about 150 MPs of all parties.

Liberal Democrat MPs were also cooler on onshore windfarms than their party policies might suggest, with a third of those sampled declining to support onshore wind developments in their local area.

According to the poll, 55% of people in rural areas would be happy to have an onshore windfarm near them, compared with 62% nationally. More than 4,500 voters were surveyed.

Separately, 154 MPs were surveyed, of whom 12% of the Conservative members said they would be happy to have an onshore wind development in their area, while 74% of Labour MPs and 64% of Liberal Democrat MPs said they would support an onshore wind development in their community.

EnvironmentThe Guardian.

UK summer flash floods to become more frequent, study shows

Met Office and Newcastle University study is first to draw direct link between climate change and rise in summer downpours.

Flood damage in Boscastle, Cornwall, in 2004.Flood damage in Boscastle, Cornwall, in 2004. Photograph: Graeme Robertson/Getty Images

Flash flooding in summer is likely to become much more frequent across the UK as a result of climate change, with potentially devastating results in vulnerable areas, according to new research.

The study, published in the peer-review journal Nature Climate Change, is the first to draw a direct link between climate change and an increase in summer downpours.

The research, a result of a collaboration between the Met Office and Newcastle University, used climate change computer models and standard weather prediction models of the type used for short-term weather forecasts. It found that summers would be drier overall, but punctuated by more extreme downpours.

These can have a much worse effect than the steady rainfall typical of winter, because the dry land is less capable of absorbing water, and when too much falls in a short period it runs off, causing flash floods of the type that struck Boscastle in 2004, one of the worst examples of sudden localised flooding in recent years.

Whether any given area is subject to flash flooding will depend heavily on its topography, such as the proximity of uplands and rivers, but vulnerable areas are likely to experience far more incidents than they did in the past.

It is not possible to say exactly how many more floods are likely, but the researchers said instances of particularly heavy summer rainfall – defined as more than 28mm in an hour – would be about five times more probable.

Elizabeth Kendon of the Met Office, the lead author of the study, said that the research was groundbreaking in using a high-resolution weather forecasting model to translate the likely effects of climate change into a detailed prediction of future UK summer weather.

“Until now, we haven’t been able to do it in this way,” she said. “This should help people to understand what is likely to happen in the summer in future. It’s very important that we’ve detected this signal for heavier downpours in the UK. It’s now for policymakers to decide what to do about it.”

Some of the worst results could still be a few decades away, but the effects are already being felt and are likely to grow more severe, according to the models. But Kendon said more accurate predictions would depend on more scientific research being undertaken.

Summer rainfall is different to that typical of winter, when long-lasting steady bouts of heavy rain are common. These can cause their own flooding problems, as seen early this year when heavy rain caused widespread devastation in the UK with thousands of people forced to flee their homes.

Climate models suggest heavier winter rainfall for the UK. Summer downpours, such as those seen in 2012 when heavy rainfall followed a long period of drought, with disastrous results, are harder to predict but can take a greater toll as they are more sudden, and crops are ruined and tourism disrupted.

Kendon said: “It’s the hourly rainfall rates that you look at in summer.” The rain tends to fall in shorter but more intense bursts, caused by convective storms, but this has been difficult for climate models to simulate, because they lack the ability to home in on such brief events. It took the Met Office supercomputer, one of the most powerful in the world, nine months to run the necessary simulations.

The Guardian

Editors Note: This will either push insurance premiums through the roof or else make it impossible to get any kind of insurance cover for your property.

Heathrow board member says locals enjoy ‘excessive freedom’ over noise

Akbar al-Baker of Qatar Holdings, with 20% stake in Heathrow, advocates 24-hour operation and says residents would adapt.

Heathrow board member says locals enjoy 'excessive freedom' over noiseHeathrow moved quickly to distance itself from Baker’s comments, saying it took the concerns of local communities very seriously. Photograph: Matt Cardy/Getty Images

A Heathrow board member has said the airport should be open 24 hours a day, and that local residents under the flightpath would soon get used to the noise.

Akbar al-Baker, representing Qatar Holdings, which owns a 20% stake in the airport, said locals enjoyed excessive freedom and made too much fuss.

Speaking to journalists from the Times and the Telegraph in Doha, Baker, the chief executive of Qatar Airways, said: “If you live under the flightpath of an airport, I assure you, over a period of time you will not even hear the aircraft passing over your house.

“The thing that is impeding Europe’s growth is that airports are locked up from 11 o’clock at night to 5.30 in the morning, which is a very, very critical time for east-west transfer. People [in Qatar] are not making as much fuss about noise as they are in Europe.”

He said that objections to noise, which affects more people around Heathrow than anywhere else in Europe, should be overridden. “I know people require freedom, but I think this is too excessive. Sometimes the national interest must be considered.”  Continue reading

Brighton: Mini Heatwave is on the way

Brighton: Mini Heatwave is on the way

THE weather this weekend is set to be the best so far this year and hotter than parts of Spain, Italy and Greece.

As temperatures on Saturday are expected to soar to 24 degrees, they could top Ibiza, where 21 degrees is predicted, or Rhodes in Greece where the barometer might not rise above 22 degrees. Naples, Italy, is set for temperatures of only 19 degrees.

A spokesman for The Met Office said: “We are looking to see some of the warmest weather this year at the weekend, with temperatures in parts of Sussex hitting 24 degrees.

“Brighton is likely to fall a bit shy of that. But we are looking at something in the low 20s.”

Business owners have predicted the heat wave will bring sun-seekers flocking to the city.

David Sewell, owner of the Pavilion Gardens Cafe and chairman of the North Laine Trading Association, said: “Good weather is everything for an open air business like the cafe and we are very much looking forward to this weekend.

“When the Met start making this kind of forecast, people from London, Croydon and Crawley make plans to come down to the coast rather than leave it to decide on the day.

“That’s when the town gets packed and Brighton really buzzes.”  Continue reading