Environment Agency

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

Environment Agency

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

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News Article | May 12, 2017
Site: www.theguardian.com

The “cost of dying” is rising faster than inflation, with typical cremation and burial fees jumping by at least 5% in a year, and some locations seeing increases of up to 68%. That’s just one of the findings of a study which also reveals that it’s not just houses and pints of beer that cost more in London than anywhere else in the UK – it’s also the most expensive place to be buried. These increases will put even more of a squeeze on the budgets of the bereaved, some of whom will struggle to meet the bills. However, there are ways you can cut costs, ranging from using a natural burial ground (or even your back garden) to opting for a low-cost eco-coffin such as a cardboard one at £99 (see below). The study, by independent comparison service Funeralbooker, names Highgate cemetery in north London – whose most famous “resident” is Karl Marx, and where singer George Michael was buried in March – as the priciest final resting place, with a burial fee of £18,325. By contrast, at Cross Cemetery in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland, it is £261 – just a 70th of that amount. “In this world nothing is certain but death and taxes” goes the saying, and cremation and burial fees are the ultimate “death tax” in that, barring a small number of cases, they are effectively an unavoidable cost. These fees also exclude the services of a funeral director and other costs such as a coffin, flowers and transportation. Funeralbooker has analysed prices across 282 crematoria and 951 cemeteries that are still open for new burials, and found families are this year being forced to shell out an average of £753 in fees for a cremation, while burial fees – which include the plot and interment (the digging fee) – now average £1,792. These are up 5% and 13% respectively on last year’s £716 and £1,579. There are, of course, wide regional variations. The 10 most expensive places are all in London, with Highgate topping the list. Its total cost of £18,325 is made up of £16,475 for the plot and £1,850 for digging. Michael was buried in Highgate’s West Cemetery near his mother, Lesley, after he died at home in Oxfordshire on Christmas Day last year. He is guaranteed a fair degree of privacy: admission to the West Cemetery is by guided tour only, and the former Wham! singer’s grave is specifically excluded from the route. Marx is in the East cemetery which is open to the public. In joint second place in the costliest top 10 were Hammersmith and Fulham’s two local authority cemeteries at £12,464, with Kensal Green third at £12,225. The average for London was £3,806 – more than double the UK average. The 10 cheapest places to be buried are all in Northern Ireland, with three cemeteries in the Fermanagh and Omagh district council area charging £261 – £143 for the plot and £118 for interment. Be aware that these costs are based on an adult resident of the borough – ie, non-residents will often pay a lot more. Around seven in 10 people in the UK are cremated, and there was a fair bit of variation in costs here too. Several of funeral provider Dignity’s crematoria charge £999, more than double the £490 charged by South West Middlesex Crematorium in Feltham, west London. But following the death of David Bowie last year, there has been growing interest in “direct cremations”, a cheaper, no-frills option. It was widely reported that Bowie, who died of liver cancer in January 2016, was secretly cremated without any of his family or friends present after telling his loved ones he did not want a funeral service (his ashes were scattered in Bali). Most crematoria will now facilitate a direct cremation which, in their most basic form, are – to put it bluntly – a “disposal service”. They can cost from around £650-£750 upwards, says Funeralbooker, and that price typically includes a simple coffin. For example, BB Funerals in Barnet, north London, charges £499 plus a £280 cremation fee and £100 for the return of the ashes, while Newbury-based Pure Cremation charges from £1,095. In some cases, if the death has not been referred to a coroner there is an additional charge for cremation, usually £164, to pay for two doctors’ certificates. Here are some ways to save on the cost of a funeral: • Shop around if you are planning to use a funeral director. Prices can vary hugely, but websites such as Funeralbooker and Funeral Choice allow you to research costs. Earlier this year insurer SunLife reported the average funeral, including a catered wake, costs £5,873. Remember that you are not required to use a funeral director, and you may be able to provide your own pallbearers or source your own estate car or van instead of a hearse. • How about an eco-coffin made of wicker, cardboard, bamboo etc? As well as being environmentally friendly, these are often much cheaper than traditional coffins. At the time of writing The Coffin Company in Northumberland was offering cardboard coffins for £99. Websites such as Comparethecoffin.com offer a vast array of products. • Natural burial grounds are becoming increasingly popular – there are getting on for 350 across the UK, though some are “green corners” of standard municipal cemeteries, says Rosie Inman-Cook, manager of the Natural Death Centre charity (more information at naturaldeath.org.uk). She says the average charge for a plot is around £600. By contrast, a typical local authority cemetery in London is “well over £3,000”. But Inman-Cook warns that some natural burial sites are being opened by companies “out to make money … some are hugely expensive”. • How about being buried in the back garden? That’s certainly one way of keeping costs down, and there is a lot of interest in home burials. Inman-Cook says she is “handing out free forms and sample documents to getting on for half a dozen families a week”. But many people would be worried about devaluing the property, or that it might take longer to sell because of the squeamishness of potential buyers. However, it’s a myth that you have to get permission from the local authority or Land Registry. If you own the property outright and there is no mortgage, you don’t need permission from anyone, though you have to create a burial register which you attach to the deeds of the property. Also, there are guidelines on the proximity of burials to water issued by the Environment Agency that must be followed – and the death must be registered. Burying several people would amount to a change of use and require planning permission. But Inman-Cook reckons you would probably be OK as long as it’s no more than “a couple of people per generation”. • You could get a funeral payment from the Social Fund, a government-run welfare scheme, if you are on a low income and need help to pay for a funeral. This covers things such as burial or cremation fees, and includes up to £700 for expenses such as funeral director fees or a coffin. Look for form SF200.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP | Phase: ENV.2013.6.2-1 | Award Amount: 11.66M | Year: 2014

MARS will support managers and policy makers in the practical implementation of the WFD, of related legislation and of the Blueprint to Safeguard Europes Water Resources by conducting new research and synthesising existing knowledge concerning effects and management of multiple stressors in surface water and groundwater bodies; by advising the 3rd RMBP cycle and the revision of the WFD; and by developing new integrated tools for diagnosing and predicting multiple stressors in water resource management. The consortium includes 19 research institutes and five water boards and environment agencies. MARS will engage with ongoing and finalised European initiatives addressing related topics, thus acting as an integrating project. Work will be organised at the scales of water bodies, river basins and Europe; at each scale there is a direct link to water managers and decision makers. Nested within the scale structure, we will employ a suite of methods: flume and mesocosm experiments to better understand the effects of selected stressor combinations with a focus on extremes and hydrological stress; linkage of abiotic and biotic models to predict effects of stressor combinations at a river basin scale; large-scale data analysis employing existing databases, but including additional variables, to gain a Europe-wide overview of stress, status and ecosystem services. MARS will be composed of eight workpackages (WPs). While WP1 will be responsible for overall coordination, WP2 will provide tools, concepts and scenarios for the other WPs. WPs 3-5 will analyse and predict multiple stressor-impact relationships on three scales: water bodies (WP3), river basins (WP4) and Europe (WP5); the results will be synthesised across scales by WP6. WP7 will generate a wiki information system and produce or improve tools addressing the three scales. WP8 will communicate with river basin districts and Common Implementation Strategy (CIS) groups and will advise the WFD revision.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: IA | Phase: WATER-1b-2015 | Award Amount: 8.77M | Year: 2016

INTCATCH will instigate a paradigm shift in the monitoring and management of surface water quality that is fit for global waters in the period 2020-2050. INTCATCH will do this by developing efficient, user-friendly water monitoring strategies and systems based on innovative technologies that will provide real time data for important parameters, moving towards SMART Rivers. The business model will transform water governance by facilitating sustainable water quality management by community groups and NGOs using a clouds data linked to a decision support system and eco-innovative technologies. The INTCATCH project will use demonstration activities to showcase eco-innovative autonomous and radio controlled boats, sensors, DNA test kits and run-off treatment technologies. Actions which develop and evaluate these in a range of catchments will address the important innovation barriers to uptake, notably, a lack of knowledge of new technologies and their capabilities, identified by the European Innovation Plan (EIP) on water. By conceptually moving the laboratory to the field, the monitoring techniques that will be developed aim to supersede the inefficient, time dependent, costly and labour-intensive routine sampling and analysis procedures currently deployed to understand the quality of receiving waters. It will compliment routine monitoring that is required for baseline datasets, but also enable cost-effective impact and management investigations. INTCATCH will incentivise stakeholder innovation in monitoring and will facilitate new financing for innovation through its innovative franchise business model and empowerment of community groups and NGOs. The market ambition is that the INTCATCH business will facilitate an eco-innovative approach to deliver good quality water bodies across Europe and beyond. This will support green growth, increase resilience to climate change and capture greater market-share for Europes innovative industries.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-IP | Phase: ENV.2011.2.1.2-1 | Award Amount: 8.88M | Year: 2011

REFORM is targeted towards development of guidance and tools to make river restoration and mitigation measures more cost-effective and to support the 2nd and future River Basin Management Plans (RMBPs) for the WFD. Aims of REFORM are (1) to provide a framework for improving the success of hydromorphological restoration measures and (2) to assess more effectively the state of rivers, floodplains and connected groundwater systems. The restoration framework addresses the relevance of dynamic processes at various spatial and temporal scales, the need for setting end-points, analysis of risks and benefits, integration with other societal demands (e.g. flood protection and water supply), and resilience to climate change. The consortium comprises scientists and practitioners covering a wide range of disciplines (hydrology, hydraulics and geomorphology, ecology, socio-economics). The workplan is organized in three modules: (1) natural processes, (2) degradation, (3) restoration. Data from monitoring programmes and restoration projects will be pooled and linked with landscape-scale hydromorphological and physiographic data and catchment models. Targeted field and experimental studies using common protocols will fill data gaps on the role of scale in restoration success. A wide range of statistical modeling approaches will improve indicators for hydromorphological change and factors determining restoration success. All work packages are multidisciplinary and will feed into products for application in river basin management, e.g. guidelines for successful restoration and a web-based tool for exchanging experiences with river restoration measures facilitated and enhanced through consultation with stakeholders. In addition to its impact on the RBMPs, REFORM will provide guidance to other EU directives (groundwater, floods, energy from renewable resources, habitats) to integrate their objectives into conservation and restoration of rivers as sustainable ecosystems


Grant
Agency: GTR | Branch: EPSRC | Program: | Phase: Research Grant | Award Amount: 4.73M | Year: 2011

National infrastructure (NI) systems (energy, transport, water, waste and ICT) in the UK and in advanced economies globally face serious challenges. The 2009 Council for Science and Technology (CST) report on NI in the UK identified significant vulnerabilities, capacity limitations and a number of NI components nearing the end of their useful life. It also highlighted serious fragmentation in the arrangements for infrastructure provision in the UK. There is an urgent need to reduce carbon emissions from infrastructure, to respond to future demographic, social and lifestyle changes and to build resilience to intensifying impacts of climate change. If this process of transforming NI is to take place efficiently, whilst also minimising the associated risks, it will need to be underpinned by a long-term, cross-sectoral approach to understanding NI performance under a range of possible futures. The systems of systems analysis that must form the basis for such a strategic approach does not yet exist - this inter-disciplinary research programme will provide it.The aim of the UK Infrastructure Transitions Research Consortium is to develop and demonstrate a new generation of system simulation models and tools to inform analysis, planning and design of NI. The research will deal with energy, transport, water, waste and ICT systems at a national scale, developing new methods for analysing their performance, risks and interdependencies. It will provide a virtual environment in which we will test strategies for long term investment in NI and understand how alternative strategies perform with respect to policy constraints such as reliability and security of supply, cost, carbon emissions, and adaptability to demographic and climate change.The research programme is structured around four major challenges:1. How can infrastructure capacity and demand be balanced in an uncertain future? We will develop methods for modelling capacity, demand and interdependence in NI systems in a compatible way under a wide range of technological, socio-economic and climate futures. We will thereby provide the tools needed to identify robust strategies for sustainably balancing capacity and demand.2. What are the risks of infrastructure failure and how can we adapt NI to make it more resilient?We will analyse the risks of interdependent infrastructure failure by establishing network models of NI and analysing the consequences of failure for people and the economy. Information on key vulnerabilities and risks will be used to identify ways of adapting infrastructure systems to reduce risks in future.3. How do infrastructure systems evolve and interact with society and the economy? Starting with idealised simulations and working up to the national scale, we will develop new models of how infrastructure, society and the economy evolve in the long term. We will use the simulation models to demonstrate alternative long term futures for infrastructure provision and how they might be reached.4. What should the UKs strategy be for integrated provision of NI in the long term? Working with a remarkable group of project partners in government and industry, we will use our new methods to develop and test alternative strategies for Britains NI, building an evidence-based case for a transition to sustainability. We will analyse the governance arrangements necessary to ensure that this transition is realisable in practice.A Programme Grant provides the opportunity to work flexibly with key partners in government and industry to address research challenges of national importance in a sustained way over five years. Our ambition is that through development of a new generation of tools, in concert with our government and industry partners, we will enable a revolution in the strategic analysis of NI provision in the UK, whilst at the same time becoming an international landmark programme recognised for novelty, research excellence and impact.


Grant
Agency: GTR | Branch: NERC | Program: | Phase: Research Grant | Award Amount: 98.72K | Year: 2016

Blue Opportunities from the Future is a collaborative project co-designed between the University of East Anglia, the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, Norfolk and Suffolk Coastal Councils, the Environment Agency, Orbis Energy and the RSPB. The project is driven by a desire to make better use of NERC funded research in coastal and marine environments to drive innovation and forward thinking in the delivery of future sustainable management and economic growth. East Anglia is already a centre for delivering advances in this area through its research organisations, forward-thinking local authorities, active wildlife conservation organisations and the Green Economy Pathfinder initiative of the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership. This project provides a timely opportunity to broaden regional good practice by taking a more marine-facing view. In the East Anglian region there is growing interest among the institutions involved in planning for the coast and marine sectors in taking a more integrated and opportunity-focused look at the long-term future of our environment. This is driven by a recognition of inevitable on-going coastal change and the potential for significant future changes, for example due to global warming and rising sea level. There is a need to think creatively, adaptively and in an inclusive manner, and to consider future change as an opportunity to do better. By connecting the coastal and offshore zones, and working from a bespoke set of 100 year futures scenarios, this project takes a novel and positive approach to thinking about the future of coastal and marine environments in an integrated way. We will undertake an innovative futures analysis to 2115 to explore the potential future opportunities, spanning land and sea, for East Anglias Blue economy. We will co-create a Blue Futures toolkit of methods and associated knowledge base with which project partners can go on to develop a Blue pathfinder for the region to help drive sustainable blue economic growth. This will provide an exemplar approach that will be disseminated to end-users in other regions in the UK, EU and worldwide. The project will draw upon many aspects of the extensive portfolio of NERC funded and related work at UEA, Cefas, partner organisations and beyond, from ecosystem service valuations (natural capital), to marine biogeochemistry. UEA is well placed to deliver novel creative thinking on future opportunities for sustainable growth, with extensive experience of research into the long-term sustainable futures of complex environments and the impacts of environmental change on economies and society. Integration of our partner groups within the project ensures our work is targeted appropriately and beneficially to maximise utility for the development of sustainable management by local and national bodies throughout the UK and beyond.


Grant
Agency: GTR | Branch: NERC | Program: | Phase: Research Grant | Award Amount: 76.05K | Year: 2016

Our coastlines need to be managed into the future taking into account the effect of climate change on rising sea levels, whilst balancing public investment and benefits. There is a strong desire to move to more sustainable shoreline management, which allows coasts to be more dynamic in less developed coastal areas. Rather than rigidly defending and holding the existing coastline, shoreline management plans now consider the benefits of managed realignment and no active intervention policies. However, there is an important legacy of hundreds of coastal landfills located in flood plains around our coasts, including estuaries. This constrains a dynamic policy for shoreline management as storms and rising sea levels may lead to increased flushing of contaminants into the environment and erosion of the landfill may result in the direct exposure and release of potentially hazardous waste. It raises the question about the ability to move/process these landfills (facilitating a move to more dynamic coasts), or alternatively to continue to protect these sites under rising sea levels, potentially creating a lock-in to defence infrastructure approaches. This project aims to apply NERC-funded and other relevant research at the University of Southampton, together with CIRIA generic guidance C718 on Guidance on the management of landfill sites and land contamination on eroding or low-lying coastlines, to better understand the effective long-term management of coastal-located waste sites on dynamic coasts. In the context of shoreline management planning it will assess a series of different management approaches that have the potential to address the difficulties that coastal landfills pose. We will identify 3 to 4 coastal landfills from Lyme Regis to Shoreham and consider their impact on three shoreline management plan strategic options (hold the line, managed realignment, and no active intervention) for two different climate change scenarios. Pollution risks arising from the dual hazards of flooding, leading to the release of contaminated water (leachate), and erosion of the landfills will be considered along with the potential for resource recovery from the old site in any options that involve moving and/or remediating the waste in situ. Our project partners are the Environment Agency, SCOPAC (Standing Conference on Problems Associated with the Coastline) which is an influential network of local authorities and organisations with an interest in the management of the coast of central southern England, the Eastern Solent Coastal Partnership and the Channel Coastal Observatory hosted by New Forest District Council. Keywords: Shoreline Management, climate change, sea level rise, flooding, landfill


Grant
Agency: GTR | Branch: EPSRC | Program: | Phase: Research Grant | Award Amount: 634.73K | Year: 2015

Recent flooding events such as those of winter 2013/14 in the South West of UK have highlighted the importance of having greater resilience in our transport infrastructure. The failure of bridges or even a reduction in service during and in the aftermath of floods can lead to significant direct and indirect costs to the economy and society, and hamper rescue and recovery efforts. For example, 29 bridges collapsed or were severely damaged during the 2009 floods in Cumbria leading to nearly £34m in repair and replacement costs, and significantly larger economic and societal costs. This research aims to enhance the resilience of our transport infrastructure by enabling practitioners to assess the risks to bridges from debris accumulation in the watercourse, a leading cause of bridge failure or damage during floods both in the UK and world-wide. It will address an important industry need as there is currently no guidance available for practitioners to evaluate the hydrodynamic effects of debris blockage at bridges and in particular, at masonry bridges, which are most susceptible to debris blockage. Floating debris underneath or upstream of a bridge can significantly increase downstream flow velocities, which can worsen scour around piers and abutments. It can also increase water levels on the bridge and thereby cause large lateral and uplift pressures, which are especially problematic for masonry bridges since they rely on self-weight of masonry and fill to transfer load. This project will aim to understand and characterize the hydrodynamic effects of debris blockage through a combination of laboratory experiments in flumes and computational fluid dynamics (CFD) modelling. It will then develop a risk-based approach for assessing the scour, and uplift and lateral forces at individual bridges due to debris blockage during flood conditions, and incorporate this approach within existing guidance for the assessment of bridges under hydraulic action. The project will be arried out by a multi-disciplinary research team with a strong track record of generating impact, and assisted by an industry consortium composed of major stakeholders involved in UK bridge management.


Grant
Agency: GTR | Branch: NERC | Program: | Phase: Research Grant | Award Amount: 385.01K | Year: 2011

Improved understanding of the functioning of hydrological systems and dependent ecology is essential for optimal environmental management. Floodplains in particular are important due to the ecosystem services they provide. The species composition of floodplain vegetation and their ecosystem functions (e.g. leaf CO2 uptake and transpiration) are very sensitive to the soil hydrological regime, which is highly variable both spatially and temporally. The hydrological regime also affects the temperature and nutrient regime of the root environment, leading to indirect impacts on vegetation. However, the mechanisms controlling these interdependencies are not well established. The proposed project, FUSE, aims to advance this knowledge at a variety of scales. A better understanding of these vulnerable ecosystems will allow improved environmental management, under current and future conditions. A field study is proposed in the Oxford Floodplain (OFP). This study will build upon an existing hydrological monitoring network currently in place in the Oxford Meadows Special Area of Conservation (SAC). The aims will be achieved by a sophisticated combination of environmental data and computer models. This involves state-of-the-art tools: a Wireless Underground Sensor Network (WUSN) and related monitoring of environmental variables, as well as high-resolution Earth Observation (EO, i.e. satellite) data. WSNs are a relatively recent application of technology; uptake of this technology by environmental scientists enables continuous monitoring that is both scalable and less intrusive on its surroundings. It is desirable for land-based sensor networks to have few or no above-ground components, for aesthetic and security reasons, as well as to avoid interference with land management practices. Recently, this has led to the introduction of WUSNs where all or at least the majority of the sensing and transmitting components are underground. WUSNs are rare, especially in the UK, and have not been tested long-term in a challenging environment such as the OFP. Reliability and the potential distance of data transmission depend on a number of factors, including the soil type, sensor installation depth, soil moisture content and technological factors. These will be researched extensively in the FUSE project, initially using existing data on the OFP hydrological regime, soils and vegetation height/density. The precise design of the WUSN will be determined with the aid of a geostatistical procedure. FUSE will allow researchers to reliably measure underground spatial variability at hitherto unachievable resolutions of less than a metre. The project will use a mesh of simple wireless sensor nodes previously developed at Imperial College (Beasties). These nodes will gather environmental data, and route these to a base-station that transmits to a remote database via GPRS. The low-cost, low-power Beasties have been used extensively in similar, but less challenging environments. The enhanced sensor technology will be entirely transferable. Theoretical tools in FUSE comprise of a simulation model (SCOPE_SUB), that can be used to describe and predict the interaction between the soil (soil moisture content, soil temperature and nutrient status), the vegetation (root water/nutrient uptake, CO2 uptake and transpiration), and the hydrometeorological regime. Furthermore we will use geospatial models to spatially interpolate between measured, modelled and EO data, thereby increasing data-density. EO data will serve to guide the continuous (in time) simulation model predictions. In that way high resolution maps of key soil and vegetation variables can be constructed. Computer Science tools, e.g. a so-called Integrated Development Environment to help environmental scientist to set up and test the WUSN, and a Web portal for quality control, sensor calibration, time series- and geospatial-analysis, parameter estimation and real-time model output, will be developed.

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