Tea monitors to spy in offices

February 19, 2009 at 1:19 am

Envirowise has called on bosses to appoint an office tea monitor to make sure that workers are not over-filling the kettle when making their tea. Is this one step too far in a quasi-Orwellian world where Big Brother dictates yet another aspect of our daily life or is it a sensible move to help save the environment?

The DEFRA sponsored quango estimates that 30 billion cups of water are boiled needlessly each year in offices and wants to see a return to the traditional tea urn or, at the very least, the tea pot. Its advice should not only help cut greenhouse gas emissions but may also save businesses money. However, it has been criticised in various quarters.

A spokeswoman for the Taxpayers’ Alliance, Susie Squires, has accused the “quangocrats” of wasting taxpayers’ money whilst the Conservative spokesman for the environment, Peter Ainsworth, is appalled at the government fretting about tea monitors at a time when the country is facing recession.

Envirowise is given £10 million a year of taxpayers’ money to advise businesses, both in industry and commerce, on how to become more green. It publishes case studies of businesses who have managed to cut costs and improve their green credentials and shows how it has been done. In certain sectors it will also allow businesses to compare their environmental performance with that of their rivals. Industry specific advice is provided for the textiles, engineering, and food and drink sectors.

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Rain tax hits schools and churches

February 10, 2009 at 3:04 am

If you haven’t heard about ‘rain tax’, it refers to the new law being ushered in by Ofwat, the water industry regulator, which will force organisations to pay for the cost of draining water into public sewers according to their surface area. As you can imagine, there are numerous institutions for whom large surface areas are the norm, namely churches, schools, and sports centres.

As these are also institutions which are not known for making large profits, the plan has been greeted with firm opposition across the entire length of the country. They stand to see the largest increases in their water bills, which in some cases is going to prove devastating.

According to The Herald in Plymouth, where the rain tax has yet to be introduced, churches have seen bills “rocket from £80 to £800” and sports and social clubs are “facing increases of about 400%” in areas where it has already come in.

The Liverpool Daily Post has revealed that the north of England has also expressed discontent at the new plans. However, the rain tax has been postponed in the region for the time being in response to the protestations, a move which is being seen as a success for numerous scout groups and churches. The Scout Association had previously stated that they could see bills rise to £1.5 million if the proposed changes went ahead, and the Church of England has also said churches could pay up to £15 million extra in bills.

So, whether the rain tax will actually be introduced around the whole country is not yet certain, but if it does then you can expect to hear a lot more on this matter in the near future.

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