Oliver D.M.,University of Stirling |
Hanley N.D.,University of St. Andrews |
van Niekerk M.,University of Stirling |
Kay D.,Aberystwyth University |
And 23 more authors.
Ambio | Year: 2016
The use of molecular tools, principally qPCR, versus traditional culture-based methods for quantifying microbial parameters (e.g., Fecal Indicator Organisms) in bathing waters generates considerable ongoing debate at the science–policy interface. Advances in science have allowed the development and application of molecular biological methods for rapid (~2 h) quantification of microbial pollution in bathing and recreational waters. In contrast, culture-based methods can take between 18 and 96 h for sample processing. Thus, molecular tools offer an opportunity to provide a more meaningful statement of microbial risk to water-users by providing near-real-time information enabling potentially more informed decision-making with regard to water-based activities. However, complementary studies concerning the potential costs and benefits of adopting rapid methods as a regulatory tool are in short supply. We report on findings from an international Working Group that examined the breadth of social impacts, challenges, and research opportunities associated with the application of molecular tools to bathing water regulations. © 2015, The Author(s).
Oliver D.M.,University of Stirling |
van Niekerk M.,University of Stirling |
Kay D.,Aberystwyth University |
Heathwaite A.L.,Lancaster University |
And 18 more authors.
Environment International | Year: 2014
The debate over the suitability of molecular biological methods for the enumeration of regulatory microbial parameters (e.g. Faecal Indicator Organisms [FIOs]) in bathing waters versus the use of traditional culture-based methods is of current interest to regulators and the science community. Culture-based methods require a 24-48. hour turn-around time from receipt at the laboratory to reporting, whilst quantitative molecular tools provide a more rapid assay (approximately 2-3. h). Traditional culturing methods are therefore often viewed as slow and 'out-dated', although they still deliver an internationally 'accepted' evidence-base. In contrast, molecular tools have the potential for rapid analysis and their operational utility and associated limitations and uncertainties should be assessed in light of their use for regulatory monitoring. Here we report on the recommendations from a series of international workshops, chaired by a UK Working Group (WG) comprised of scientists, regulators, policy makers and other stakeholders, which explored and interrogated both molecular (principally quantitative polymerase chain reaction [qPCR]) and culture-based tools for FIO monitoring under the European Bathing Water Directive. Through detailed analysis of policy implications, regulatory barriers, stakeholder engagement, and the needs of the end-user, the WG identified a series of key concerns that require critical appraisal before a potential shift from culture-based approaches to the employment of molecular biological methods for bathing water regulation could be justified. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.
PubMed | Aberystwyth University, University of Stirling, James Hutton Institute, University of Chicago and 16 more.
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Ambio | Year: 2016
The use of molecular tools, principally qPCR, versus traditional culture-based methods for quantifying microbial parameters (e.g., Fecal Indicator Organisms) in bathing waters generates considerable ongoing debate at the science-policy interface. Advances in science have allowed the development and application of molecular biological methods for rapid (~2h) quantification of microbial pollution in bathing and recreational waters. In contrast, culture-based methods can take between 18 and 96h for sample processing. Thus, molecular tools offer an opportunity to provide a more meaningful statement of microbial risk to water-users by providing near-real-time information enabling potentially more informed decision-making with regard to water-based activities. However, complementary studies concerning the potential costs and benefits of adopting rapid methods as a regulatory tool are in short supply. We report on findings from an international Working Group that examined the breadth of social impacts, challenges, and research opportunities associated with the application of molecular tools to bathing water regulations.
News Article | February 17, 2017
A search of hundreds of beaches across the UK has found almost three-quarters of them are littered with tiny plastic pellets. The lentil-size pellets known as “nurdles” are used as a raw material by industry to make new plastic products. But searches of 279 shorelines from Shetland to Scilly revealed that 205 (73%) contained pellets. The largest number recorded in the Great Winter Nurdle Hunt weekend in early February were found at Widemouth Bay in Cornwall, where 33 volunteers from the Widemouth Task Force collected about 127,500 pellets on a 100-metre stretch of beach. Thousands of the tiny pellets were spotted by volunteers over a short period in locations from Porth Neigwl in Wales to the shoreline in front of the dunes at Seaton Carew near Hartlepool, County Durham, and after stormy conditions on the Isle of Wight. More than 600 volunteers took part in the hunt organised by Fidra, the Scottish environmental charity, in collaboration with the Environmental Investigation Agency, Fauna and Flora International, Greenpeace, the Marine Conservation Society and Surfers Against Sewage. The lightweight nurdles can escape into the environment at various points during their manufacture, transport or use, spilling into rivers and oceans or getting into drains where they are washed out to sea. It is thought that billions are lost in the UK each year. Nurdles are one of the main sources of primary microplastics – small pieces of plastic that have not come from larger items broken down into little bits – in European seas and can cause damage to wildlife. Experts say they soak up chemical pollutants from their surroundings and then release the toxins into the animals, such as birds and fish, that eat them. Results from the hunt will be fed into the government’s consultation on microplastics, which is looking at ways of tackling the problem. Madeleine Berg, projects officer at Fidra, said she was delighted so many nurdle hunters braved the winter weather to take part. “The information we’ve gathered will be vital to show the government that pellets are found on beaches all around the UK and, importantly, that so many people care about the issue. “Simple precautionary measures can help spillages and ensure nurdles do not end up in our environment. We are asking the government to ensure best practice is in place along the full plastic supply chain, and any further nurdle pollution is stopped.” Fidra has been working with the UK plastics industry since 2012 to promote best practice to end further pellet pollution. • View Fidra’s interactive map to see where nurdle pollution has been found across the UK in the past few years.
News Article | October 3, 2016
Once, my family’s kitchen cupboard would have contained dozens of plastic bags. But today – a year after the introduction of England’s 5p plastic bag charge – I count just six (three secondhand ones, given to us by other people, one corner-shop bag and two small bags supplied with meat and fish). England’s plastic bag charge was a long time coming – long after Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales – and critics predicted its exemptions for small stores and paper bags would diminish its effectiveness. A year ago, Andy Cummins, campaigns director of Surfers Against Sewage, predicted that England’s charge would reduce use of plastic bags, but not as effectively as in Scotland, Wales (down 78%) and Northern Ireland (down 81%). In fact, in the first six months of the charge, the number of single-use plastic bags handed out by the seven biggest supermarkets fell by more than 85% from 7.6bn a year in 2014 to 600m. In that period, the levy raised more than £29m for charities and community groups. A study by Cardiff University found that more than nine out of 10 people often or always carry their own bags, up from seven out of 10 before the 5p charge came into effect. Six billion fewer plastic bags in six months: Cummins is happy to be proved half-wrong. “It’s a fantastic success,” he says. “The vast majority have adapted their behaviour without a check in their stride. There will be a phenomenal net benefit for the environment from 6bn fewer bags.” The Marine Conservation Society undertook its annual beach clean in September. Laura Foster, head of pollution, says that volunteers aren’t seeing plastic bags on the beach any more. “There is strong anecdotal evidence to suggest a decline in plastic bags in our marine environment,” she says. Single-use plastic bags may not be being discarded in their previous numbers, but there are reservations about their replacements. Bags for life and, in particular, cotton bags require much more energy – and carbon emissions – to produce. A study by the Environment Agency found a “resource expenditure” of just 2kg of carbon per plastic bag: a paper bag would need to be used seven times to achieve the same per-use expenditure; a cotton bag would need to be used 327 times. Supreme Creations, which claims to be the world’s largest ethical packaging company, reports a 20% increase in sales of its reusable carrier bags since the levy was introduced in England. So, are we now creating reusable bag mountains? My family’s reusable bag stash currently stands at 15, but these include a cotton bag from the Devon town of Modbury, which I picked up in 2007 when I wrote about it being the first place in Europe to ban plastic bags. That has definitely had more than 300 uses, and so have our three large Ikea bags, which I take to the supermarket each week. Surfers Against Sewage, Keep Britain Tidy and the Marine Conservation Society all say that there are no problems with reusable bags being littered on land or sea. “Because people pay for them, they value them and there is no tossing them away,” says Foster. What about the free ones? “Even if you get them for free, you hoard them,” says Cummins. “You need every bag you can get if your shopping is anything like mine.” For analysts such as David Powell of the New Economics Foundation, the unequivocal success of the plastic bag charge shows that the government shouldn’t be afraid of using financial “nudges” in new environmental regulations. Who would imagine that a 5p charge changes human behaviour so decisively? “By far the most interesting thing about the plastic bag charge is just how successful an incredibly small charge can be,” says Powell. “Introduce the right charge in the right way and people respond to it, particularly if there’s such an obvious environmental problem. The government will have to conclude, how can we use this principle for other things?” The Cardiff University survey also reveals that the charge has made people in England more willing to accept regulations to reduce plastic waste, such as a 5p charge on plastic bottles. Plastic bags may have been litter’s poster child, but they amounted to just 2% of beach rubbish. Powell suggests a charge on coffee cups is an obvious next step. “There are massive piles of unrecycled coffee cups everywhere. It’s an obvious problem that people are keen to do something about.” While the plastic-bag charge was about changing consumer behaviour, announcing a charge on coffee cups to apply at a future date would give the industry an incentive to innovate and find alternatives, rather like the sugar tax, which will apply from 2017. Both Keep Britain Tidy and Surfers Against Sewage would like to see the government close the loopholes in England’s current plastic bag charge so that paper bags incur a charge, too, and small shops are no longer exempt (the Association of Convenience Stores wanted to be included in the charging system from the outset). However, a Defra spokesperson says there are currently no plans to extend the regulations. “We walk into meetings with Defra where the position is: ‘The government doesn’t want new regulations.’ Unfortunately, that’s the default position,” says Cummins. He thinks the next example of a win-win regulation that would benefit consumers, industry and the environment is a deposit-return system for drinks bottles. Such systems are used in dozens of European countries from Germany to Croatia, and in Australian and American states, too. Reverse vending machines that give people, say, 20p for their plastic and glass bottles and aluminium cans deliver recycling rates of up to 90%, provide high-grade recyclable materials for industry, and save councils’ doorstep recycling and rubbish bin costs, argues Cummins. If placed on shop floors, they also encourage footfall; it’s not hard to imagine kids collecting bottles and quickly spending their earnings in the shops. “We all know that litter breeds litter,” says Cummins. “If you can take these really visible litter items out of the environment with a successful deposit-return system, it will have a knock-on effect and everyone will treat their environment better.”
News Article | November 20, 2015
Pollution-free, renewable energy for some 300,000 homes could arrive on the California coast in the next decade if a new wind farm plan can navigate the contentious climate that thus far has derailed all offshore power projects in the state since 1969. Offshore wind development firm Trident Winds wants to put 100 floating wind turbines—tethered to the seafloor with a system of cables—15 miles off the coast from Morro Bay. The array would dwarf the only other offshore wind project in the United States—a five-turbine venture off the coast of Rhode Island, currently under construction. In October, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a law that compels the state’s utilities to generate half of its electricity from renewables by 2030, and Trident Winds is hopeful the 600-foot-tall turbines could be part of the new energy mix, spinning off Morro Bay by 2025. The ambitious clean energy goals likely mean more offshore wind and wave energy proposals will be on the table for state agencies to consider. If past is prologue though, the road ahead won’t be a breeze. “One hundred turbines covering 40,000 acres is a massive footprint and I know of no other similar proposals offshore,” said Susan Jordan of the California Coastal Protection Network. “Investors see the California coast as a bonanza, but it’s really like no other, and that’s because of the strict laws we have to protect it. We need a statewide policy and guidance to ensure that projects like these move forward in a coherent manner.” In recent years, a handful of small offshore wave energy projects for the Northern California coast have failed to materialize for a variety of reasons—from funding shortfalls, to impact on habitat. Tom Luster, an energy specialist with the California Coastal Commission, says a proposal for a small offshore energy research facility in the California Central Coast is currently wending its way through the approval and funding process. He believes a surge of offshore energy proposals could soon find his desk. “The Coastal Act is built so that it’s pretty flexible,” said Luster. “As projects come up, we might not have specific policies to wind or wave energy, but the main questions are the same: how will projects affect marine life or public access to the shoreline.” RELATED: Wave Power Could Supply Half the U.S. With Cheap Electricity—Here’s Why It Doesn't Eric Markell, one of Trident Wind’s partners, says the proposed site is attractive because of reliable wind resources and existing onshore infrastructure—an existing decommissioned power plant, one of the most recognizable features of the Morro Bay landscape. “The cost of the project is to be determined,” Markell told KQED radio. “Economies of scale will drive down costs—both for the floating infrastructure and the turbines.” The proposed Morro Bay site would float in waters between the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. But The Sierra Club and local tribe leaders have been working on an initiative to create the Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary—a 140-mile stretch of coastline that includes the proposed Trident site. Andrew Christie of the Sierra Club sees no reason why renewable offshore energy projects couldn’t coexist with protected waters. “NOAA’s approach is similar to ours—we will evaluate the formal project proposal once it’s submitted … and determine if the project’s potential impacts have been adequately analyzed and mitigated or avoided,” he said. “If the Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary has been designated for the area at that time, we’ll also consult with NOAA to assure that harm to sanctuary resources will be avoided.” Globally, offshore wind power is still finding its sea legs. Take England, for example. After five years of public consultation and review, the 76-square-mile Navitus Bay wind farm that would have floated more than 100 turbines off the southern English coast was killed in September. Andy Cummins, Campaigns Director with Surfers Against Sewage, a UK-based nonprofit environmental watchdog agency, worked closely with the Navitus Bay developers to ensure they mitigate any impact on the local recreational resources. Cummins hoped it could have been a precedent-setting case study for offshore wind power. “Ideally, it would have gone in and we could have congratulated them for putting in a responsible renewables program,” said Cummins. “With wind farms more than any other renewables, it comes down to visual impact. This was bordering a wealthy community and a world heritage site. Honestly, as much noise as the engagement of recreational water users made, the thing that stopped it was the visual impact.”
News Article | November 8, 2016
England’s bathing waters are the cleanest ever recorded thanks to a dry summer, tighter EU regulations and increased spending by water companies. Of the 413 beaches monitored up to 20 times a year by the Environment Agency for their pollution, 98.5% passed the minimum EU limit. Of these, 69% were rated “excellent” and 27% “good”. Water at five persistently failing beaches met the minimum standard for the first time, but six beaches failed. However, bathing water in Scotland was notably more polluted than in England. According to the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, 17 beaches out of the 84 monitored had an “excellent” classification, 38 were “good” but 17 failed. In Northern Ireland, 20 out of 23 beaches were classed as “excellent” or “good”, and only one failed. Wales had not posted its results on Tuesday. The Environment Agency acknowledged that the English results, which cover the past four years, reflected dry summer weather in 2016. This saw less polluted water spill into the sea from drains, sewers and farms. “The 2015 results included the 2012 bathing season, which was notably wet with subsequently poorer quality. While the 2016 bathing season started wet, weather conditions improved during the course of this season,” said the agency. Environment groups welcomed the results, but warned that standards must not be allowed to slip. “The continuing improvement of England’s beaches and bathing water are a terrific success story. Ministers must now ensure that this is not the high water mark for the quality of our coastal environment – and that the tough EU rules that have driven these vast improvements are kept no matter what Brexit looks like,” said Friends of the Earth campaigner Samuel Lowe. “These results are welcome. Europe’s water directive, combined with the safer seas service which monitors bathing water pollution on an hourly basis at over 100 popular beaches, means we have the toughest water quality standards in the world,” said a spokesman for Surfers Against Sewage. Bathing water pollution, which can cause eye and ear infections and gastroenteritis, has dramatically improved since EU bathing water regulations were introduced in 1976. In 1991, the water off more than one in four beaches in Britain was considered too dirty to bathe in. The threat of heavy fines and beach closures by the EU in the 1990s forced British water companies to spend billions of pounds to limit discharges of pollution from raw sewage and animals. Since 2006, when standards were further raised again by the EU, water companies have had to spend hundreds of millions more pounds on treating water before it is discharged into the sea. The money spent on avoiding pollution is thought to have contributed to a significant rise in the number of people choosing to holiday in Britain and visit beaches in 2016. The latest figures show almost 14 million people chose to holiday at an English beach in 2015 - up 7% on 2014, said the Environment Agency. “We will continue to ensure bathing waters are maintained and improved further, so we need partners and the public to work with us to reduce pollution,” said Sir James Bevan, chief executive of the Environment Agency.
Mills B.,Enterprise and IT |
Cummins A.,Surfers Against Sewage
Tourism in Marine Environments | Year: 2015
The academic community's interest in surf tourism continues to grow with important contributions being made to our understanding of culture, economic behavior, and impact at specific sites. However, there was little understood about the impact surfers and surf tourism have on the overall economy of the UK. Given the estimated 500,000 surfers in the UK in 2007 by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, and given unique access to a comprehensive database of UK surfers it has been possible to go some way toward correcting this data shortage. By analyzing 2,159 questionnaire responses, and after taking account of economic multipliers, a total contribution to the UK economy by domestic surfers of £4.95 billion with an average direct spend of £2,980 per year on surfing-related expenditure may be estimated making surfing an important contributor to UK tourism and the UK economy. © 2015 Cognizant, LLC.