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News round-up 7/8: Ant-wind farm councils criticised

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DWP to spend £1.3m manually checking benefit cap data | No 10 draws up new red tape battle plan

 

Energy rows

Councils who oppose wind farms should pay damages to developers, according to a Liberal Democrat policy document seen by the Daily Telegraph. The document says only about 10% of people are “consistently opposed” to turbines and yet “many (particularly Conservative) councils have adopted criteria (such as minimum separation distances from dwellings), in contravention of government planning policy”.

Conservative MP Peter Luff said this was “an extraordinary position” which would not “win many friends in rural constituencies”. A source at the Department for Communities and Local Government told the paper that ministers remain committed to helping “councils turn down inappropriate wind turbines and resist unwarranted planning appeals”.

The Financial Times reports that Greenpeace has found that more than half of cabinet ministers could see fracking take place in their constituencies. The paper says the location of the 176 licenses is likely to deepen the political row over fracking.

In London, Southwark LBC has signed a deal with Veolia for the city’s first waste-to-heat, the Financial Times reports.

The paper says the schemes are popular in continental Europe but have been slow to take off in the UK where there are only a few and none in London. However, environmental critics have expressed concerns about toxic fumes and the disruption of laying infrastructure in built up areas.

 

Benefit cap

The Department for Work & Pensions has been forced to spend £1.3m on extra staff to manually check whether people should have their benefits capped, the Independent reports. In a parliamentary written answer employment minister Mark Hoban (Con) said that up to 112 staff would be employed in 2013-14 to check the data as the government introduced this aspect of their welfare reform programme.

 

Red tape

Whitehall will be required to scrap burdens equal to twice the cost of new regulations under plans being drawn up ahead of the next Queen’s speech, the Times £ reports.

 

Vulnerable witnesses

Child victims of sexual abuse are to receive greater protection through the introduction of a hand-picked panel of judges to try their cases, the Times £ reports. The announcement comes a day after Conservative attorney general Dominic Grieve agreed to review the case of a judge who gave a 41-year old man, who admitted having sex with a 13 year old, a suspended sentence on the grounds that his victim was sexually “predatory”.

 

Zero-hours contracts

The Confederation for British Industry has hit back at criticism of zero-hours contracts, claiming that without such ultra-flexible working practices the UK’s unemployment rate would have risen to three million during the recession. Reporting the comments, the Financial Times notes the use of zero-hours employment terms by a variety of industries, including hospitality, but also healthcare and education.

 

Tagging contracts

Private security company G4S has withdrawn from bidding for a multi-million pound electronic tagging contract after being accused alongside fellow contractor Serco of overcharging the government on an existing tagging contract, the Daily Telegraph reports.

 

NHS

A major review has recommended that NHS staff who “wilfully “or “recklessly” harm patients should face new criminal penalties, the Daily Mail reports.

 

Charity spending

International development secretary Justine Greening has suggested charities should publish all spending over £500 on projects using public money, the Times £ reports. Councils already have to publish spending over £500 while Whitehall departments do not, although the Department for Communities & Local Government publishes that level of detail voluntarily.

Ms Greening’s comments come after Charity Commission chairman William Shawcross said “disproportionate” salaries of more than £100,000 were bringing the charitable sector into disrepute.

 

Ukip

A senior Ukip politician has been recorded telling activists that Britain should not send aid money to “bongo bongo land”, the Daily Mail reports.

 

 

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Readers' comments (1)

  • The CBI are right. Zero hours contracts are a good way of masking unemployment and so much the better that tax payers have to subsidise companies and organisations that use such contracts to get round the minimum hourly rate.

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