News about Kansas environmental issues

Canadians got an emergency alert about a nuclear power plant incident. It was sent in error, the plant says

(CNN)An emergency alert sent to residents of Canada’s Ontario province that warned about an […]

read more

Campaigners call wood incinerator planning flawed

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media caption“I don’t want the pollution for my children”

Work on a controversial waste wood incinerator should be halted over alleged flaws in the planning process, campaigners have said.

The latest twist in a long-running row is a claim it should have been designated a development of national significance.

That would mean Welsh ministers taking a lead on all decisions about the plant, in Barry, Vale of Glamorgan.

Developers Barry Biomass have rejected the claims.

The Welsh Government said it was aware of the issues raised and would respond in due course.

Image copyright Ade Pitman
Image caption The dockside biomass plant in Barry will burn waste wood at high temperatures to generate electricity

The fate of the Barry Biomass plant has been in limbo for several years, though it has been built and is almost ready to start, according to managers.

Its planning history dates from 2015 but after complaints about dust, smells and noise during testing in 2018, developers were issued with a warning by Natural Resources Wales (NRW) for “several breaches” of its environmental permit.

A decision on whether it should get subsidy payments has also been put on hold.

Now the Docks Incinerator Action Group (Diag) said it had identified another potential issue.

Under regulations introduced in 2016, energy generation projects in Wales capable of producing more than 10 megawatts (MW) of electricity are classed as being of national significance.

It means planning applications are not handled by local councils but by Planning Inspectorate Wales, with a final decision made by ministers.

Plans for a new incinerator near Wentloog Corporate Park in Cardiff, capable of generating 15MW, have recently been submitted under the development of national significance (DNS) process.

Barry Biomass Biomass told BBC Wales it believed all planning applications had been properly made.

What is Barry Biomass promising?

  • To heat pre-prepared waste woodchip at high temperatures to produce heat, then use that to power a steam turbine
  • This will then produce 10MW of renewable electricity, enough to power 23,000 households
  • The operator claims all emissions will be cleaned using a neutralising and filtering system that meets EU safety requirements
  • It is now undergoing a period of testing

Source: Barry Biomass

Max Wallis of Friends of the Earth said the Barry Biomass development should also have been dealt with in this way since 2016, given it will be capable of producing more than 10MW.

He claimed it meant a planning application submitted to Vale of Glamorgan Council in 2017 for further building work and a proposed public consultation on environmental impacts by the Welsh Government were now invalid.

“Any further work on the planning process has to stop until a proper application is put in and on top of that the Welsh Government must take measures to stop it operating,” he said.

The council said the 2017 application was “yet to be determined” as it waited for the Welsh Government to decide if an environmental impact assessment was needed.

The Welsh Government said it would respond to issues raised by Diag in due course.

NRW confirmed that plant was capable of generating approximately 11.3 – 11.7MW, including electricity generated to run the plant.

Why is the Barry incinerator so controversial?

The plant’s location, in the built up area of Barry Docks, has prompted fears over potential air pollution.

Matthew Lock, who lives less than 75m (250ft) away, said: “There’s social housing and something like 12 schools within the area.

“When you’ve got a 40m chimney the same size as the cliffs of Barry you just have to think it doesn’t add up. It’s like everybody here has had it all dumped on them in the hope they wouldn’t fight it.”

Another resident, Cheryl Ockerby, said she worried about the impact on her two children: “Obviously we have 25 years that we have to put up with this and I feel that there are no safe limits when it comes to air pollution.”

Concerns have also been raised by the chairs of both the assembly’s environment and health committees, who said recently they wanted the Welsh Government to ban any more waste incinerators from being built.

Read more:


2019s 10 defining moments in venture capital

Every year, the tech industry experiences moments that serve as guideposts for future entrepreneurs and investors looking to profit from the wisdom of the past.

In 2017, Susan Fowler published her heroic blog post criticizing Uber for its culture of sexual harassment, helping spark the #MeToo movement within the tech industry; 2018 was the year of the scooter, in which venture capitalists raced to pour buckets of cash into startups like Bird, Lime and Spin, hoping consumer adoption of micro-mobility would make the rushed deals worth it.

These last twelve months have been replete with scandals, new and interesting upstarts, fallen CEOs and big fundraises. Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes finally got a court date, SoftBank’s Masayoshi Son admitted defeat (see: “In the case of WeWork, I made a mistake”), venture capitalist Bill Gurley advocated for direct listings and denounced big banks’ underwriting skills, sperm storage startups battled for funding and Away’s dirty laundry was aired in an investigation conducted by The Verge.

The list of top moments and over-arching trends that defined this year is long. Below, I’ve noted what I think best represent the largest conversations that occurred in Silicon Valley this year, with a particular focus on venture capital, followed by honorable mentions. As always, you can email me ( if you have thoughts, opposing opinions, strong feelings or relevant anecdotes.

SoftBank Group Corp. chairman and CEO Masayoshi Son speaks during a press conference on November 6, 2019 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Alessandro Di Ciommo/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

1. SoftBank admitted failure: We’ll get to WeWork in a moment, but first, let’s talk about its multi-billion-dollar backer. SoftBank announced its Vision Fund in 2016, holding its first major close a year later. Ultimately, the Japanese telecom giant raised roughly $100 billion to invest in technology startups across the globe, upending the venture capital model entirely with its ability to write $500 million checks at the flip of a switch. It was an ambitious plan and many were skeptical; as it turns out, that model doesn’t work too well. Not only has WeWork struggled despite billions in funding from SoftBank, several other of the firm’s bets have wavered under pressure. Most recently, SoftBank confirmed it was selling its stake in Wag, the dog-walking business back to the company, nearly two years after funneling a whopping $300 million in the then-three-year-old startup. Wag failed to accumulate value and was struck by scandal, leading to SoftBank’s exit. Why it matters: ditching one of its more high profile bets out of the monstrous Vision Fund wasn’t even the first time this year SoftBank admitted defeat. Once an unstoppable giant, SoftBank has been forced to return to reality after years of prolific dealmaking. No longer a leader in VC or even a threat to other top venture capitalists, SoftBank’s deal activity has become a cautionary tale. Here’s more on SoftBank’s other uncertain bets.

2. WeWork pulled its IPO. The biggest story of 2019 was WeWork. Another SoftBank portfolio, in fact the former star of its portfolio, WeWork filed to go public in 2019 and gave everyone full access to its financials in its IPO prospectus. In August, the business disclosed revenue of about $1.5 billion in the six months ending June 30 on losses of $905 million. The IPO was poised to become the second-largest offering of the year behind only Uber, but what happened instead was much different: WeWork scrapped its IPO after ousting its founding CEO Adam Neumann, whose eccentric personality, expensive habits, alleged drug use, desire to become Israel’s prime minister and other aspirations led to his well-publicized ouster. There’s a lot more to this story, click here for more coverage of the 2019 WeWork saga. Why it matters: WeWork’s unforgiving IPO prospectus painted a picture of a high-spending company with no path to profit in sight. For years, Silicon Valley (or New York, where WeWork is headquartered) has allowed high-growth companies to raise larger and larger rounds of venture capital, understanding that eventually their revenues would outgrow their expenses and they would achieve profitability. WeWork, however, and its fellow ‘unicorn,’ Uber, made it all the way to IPO without carving out a strategy of reaching profitability. These IPOs ignited a wide-reaching debate in the tech industry: does Wall Street care about profitability? Should startups prioritize profits? Many said yes. Meanwhile, the threat of a downturn had startups across industries cutting back and putting cash aside for a rainy day. For the first time in years, and as The New York Times put it, Silicon Valley began trying out a new mantra: make a profit.

3. A whole bunch of CEOs stepped down: Adam Neumann wasn’t the only high profile CEO to move on from their company this year. In a move tied to The Verge’s investigation, Away co-founder and CEO Steph Korey stepped down from the luggage company, instead becoming its executive chairman. Lime’s CEO Toby Sun stepped down, shifting to another role within the company. On the public end of the ecosystem, McDonald’s, REI, Rite Aid and many others replaced their leaders. According to CNBC, nearly 150 CEOs left their post in November alone, setting up 2019 to break records for CEO departures with nearly 1,500 recorded already. Why it matters: All of these departures were caused by varying factors. I will focus on WeWork and Away, which took center stage of the startups and venture capital universe. The recent Away debacle reinforces the role of the tech media and its ability to present well-reported facts to the public and enact significant change to business as a result. Similarly, much of Adam Neumann’s ouster came as a result of strong reporting from outlets like The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg and more. From facilitating a toxic, cutthroat culture to paying millions in company dollars for an unnecessary private jet, Away and WeWork’s situations proved standards for startup CEOs has shifted. Whether that shift is here to stay is still up for debate.

4. The IPO market was unforgiving to unicorns: WeWork never made it to the stock markets, but Uber, another scandal-ridden unicorn, did. The company (NYSE: UBER), previously valued at $72 billion, priced its stock at $45 apiece in May for a valuation of $82.4 billion. It began trading at $42 apiece, only to close even lower at $41.57, or down 7.6% from its IPO price. Not stellar, in fact, quite bad for one of the largest venture-backed companies of all time. Uber, however, wasn’t the only one to struggle with its IPO and first few months on the stock market. Other companies like Lyft and Peloton had disappointing results this year confirming the damage inflated valuations can cause startups-turned-public companies. Though a rocky IPO doesn’t mark the end of a company, it does tell you a lot about Wall Street’s appetite for Silicon Valley’s top companies. Why it matters: 2019’s tech IPOs illustrated a disconnect between the public markets and venture capitalists, whose cash determines the value of these high-flying companies. Wall Street has realized these stocks, which NYT journalist Erin Griffith recently described as “Publicly Listed Unicorns Miserably Performing,” are far less magical than previously assumed. As a result, many companies, particularly consumer tech businesses, may delay planned offerings, waiting until the markets stabilize and become hungry again for big-dreaming tech companies.

Read more: