Thursday, 26 January 2012

Call for Better Policy-Making Needed for Cleaner Water

Dr James Jenkins at the University of Hertfordshire calls for a better awareness of policy-making across Europe to ensure better quality drinking water.

In a paper entitled A policy development perspective on drinking water policy, which is published in Water Policy this week, Dr Jenkins, at the University’s School of Life Sciences, argues that the water industry needs to develop a better knowledge of how European water policy is developed and can subsequently impact upon drinking water quality, particularly if progress made in recent decades is to be maintained.

“Although government bodies have good intentions to work towards improving the quality of drinking water by harmonising legislation across Europe, the quality of the water has not improved as quickly as envisaged,” said Dr Jenkins. “The reason is that there are lots of countries trying to agree standards and often there is a lack of understanding about how to implement policy. Ultimately, the outcome of the bargaining and negotiation that takes place at policy development stage has an impact on the quality of drinking water.

“It is of fundamental importance that those in the water industry appreciate how policy has in the past been developed if the considerable lessons learned from past policy experiences are not to be lost.”

Dr Jenkins looked in particular at how policy development affected the development of the Drinking Water Directive (80/778/EEC) in England/Wales and the Republic of Ireland, and how the impacts of the policy development stage of Directive 80/778/EEC could be understood.

He concludes by calling for more effective measures to help newer EU Member States to better understand the implications of legislation before they sign up in an attempt to improve the implementation of EU water policy.

“There tends to be pressure on new Member States to sign up quickly to legislation and the real danger there is that they sign up without questioning the process; I found that this was particularly true in the case of Ireland when it joined,” said Dr Jenkins. “We need to find ways to encourage new Member States and bring them up to speed with legislation if we are to continue to have good quality drinking water across Europe.”

Water Policy paper

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

First-ever Economic Impact Study of Rutland Water

Rutland Water in the East Midlands was constructed in the 1970s and is the largest artificial lake in England. The first-ever economic impact study of Rutland Water has revealed that the facility generates up to £100 million annually and provides direct employment for over two thousand people.

According to University of Hertfordshire MSc student in Finance and Investment, Rohan Ramakrishnan, who has just completed his dissertation on Rutland Water, the economic impact of the facility is large and diverse.

“When I was made aware of the existence and size of Rutland Water and the universal public outcry that it generated prior to its construction, I was excited about it,” he said. “I was equally excited that there was no impact study ever carried out on the facility and I liked the idea of carrying out research on a largely untouched area.”

Rohan’s study is a preliminary one on economic impact. He identified 34 organisations near Rutland Water and through gathering data from Companies House and the Anglian Water Authority and estimated that Rutland Water generated a total of £112,912,708 in revenues, £34,914,872 in salaries and employed a total of 2,312 staff. He recommends a more detailed study so that the benefits of this facility continue to be documented.

Professor Geoffrey Hodgson, Research Professor, University of Hertfordshire Business School, who supervised Rohan’s MSc said: "This preliminary study carried by a student at the University of Hertfordshire Business School shows that Rutland Water directly generates about £100 million annually in revenues and provides direct employment for over two thousand people. This important study indicates not only the scale of revenues generated by such an amenity but indicates the importance of economic impact studies of other major projects with implications for leisure and recreation."

The employment and revenue data were obtained by (1) identifying enterprises close to Rutland Water that depend on its existence, and (2) aggregating data on their employment and revenue. The revenue comes from hotels, catering, leisure and tourist facilities.

Ironically, the construction of Rutland Water was opposed by every sizeable local interest group, political party and organisation. Now it is a prestige facility that offers an enormous boost to the local economy.

Grant to Combat Water Shortages in India

A researcher at the University of Hertfordshire has been awarded a research grant to study water shortages in India and to assess the merits of traditional water control technology over newer techniques.

Dr Darren Crook in Geography and Environmental Science has been awarded just over £100,000 from the Leverhulme Trust to conduct a two-year study into the function of surangas, which is a traditional water control technology that in the past appears to have been sustainable, but is now being abandoned in favour of modern well systems.

“Little is known about the history, design and function of the suranga,” said Dr Crook. “This is knowledge that needs to be documented for future generations before local skills and techniques are lost.”

Dr Crook will measure the sustainability of the suranga in the Karnataka and Kerala states of India and evaluate the role of this technology in reducing vulnerability to periodic water shortage and promoting community and environmental resilience. Knowledge transfer from the study will enable local farmers and water officials to make more informed decisions about promoting sustainable water management practices in this region.

The project entitled: An investigation into the sustainability of suranga technology in south Karnataka and north Kerala states of India, will begin in March (2012).

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Bayfordbury Stargazing Night

Researchers and post-graduate students from the University of Hertfordshire's Science and Technology Research Institute will provide expert demonstrations on various astronomy topics on Friday (20 January) at the University's Bayfordbury Observatory.

At this special Stargazing LIVE Night, our guests will have the chance to visit our telescopes, get involved in our lab activities, listen to professional talks and enjoy our planetarium shows!

Bayfordbury's Public Open Evenings are an opportunity to visit a working astronomical observatory.

These typically include research talks, planetarium shows, computer and lab experiments, and of course a tour to our seven optical telescopes and our radio dish.

Weather permitting there will be the opportunity to view interesting objects in the sky through our telescopes.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

We’ve never had it so good? Food and Diet in the UK

Every day brings a new food scare, recommended limit on consumption, dispute about fair trade and food miles, or seemingly contradictory articles about problems of obesity and anorexia. How do we make sense of this confusing landscape? Sheila Dillon, of BBC Radio 4’s Food Programme chaired a debate as part of the British Library/Academy of Social Sciences ‘Myths and Realities’ public debate series, which featured Dr Wendy Wills from the University of Hertfordshire and Prof Peter Jackson from Sheffield University.

You can listen to a podcast of the event here

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Hertfordshire Plant Pathologist Awarded MBE

A plant pathologist at the University of Hertfordshire has been awarded an MBE for her services to higher education and to the community of St Albans in the New Year Honours list.

Dr Avice Hall, who has been a lecturer and a researcher at the University of Hertfordshire for over 40 years, has been honoured for her dedication to the needs of her students and young people in her local community.

During her time at the University, Dr Hall has dedicated her career to the needs of her students and young people in her local community and also managed to establish an international reputation for her work as a plant pathologist. As a plant pathologist and past Secretary of the British Society for Plant Pathology, her work on strawberry powdery mildew has been groundbreaking, and has assisted growers by allowing for disease control with reduced fungicide input, and furthered knowledge of fungal diseases on our most valuable soft fruit crop.