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In praise of the tram: how a love of cars killed the workers' transport system

At their peak in the late 19th century, trams provided working people with a fast, efficient means of getting around. Now, argues Christian Wolmar, it is time to follow the Swiss model and put them back at the heart of urban transport policies

At their peak there were well over 100 tram systems in Britain. Every major city and many small towns had a network carrying millions of people each week. They were cheap and popular with workers – often bringing them right to the door of their factories.

But they had few defenders among the middle classes, who thought they got in the way of cars, which were seen as the future. The systems that were not shut down during the second world war by disuse or enemy action were soon closed in the aftermath. It was one of the great transport policy mistakes of the 20th century.

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Source: Guardian Environment

Australia's 7.5m tonnes of food waste: can 'ugly food' campaigns solve the problem?

While government needs to address food waste issue, experts say customers also need to change their perceptions about what normal food looks like

Would you drink water made from food waste?

You could soon be doing just that, thanks to an innovation that is not only promising to help in the race to find sustainable sources of drinking water, but also in the battle against food waste.

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Source: Guardian Environment

Art and access to justice combine in the Northern Territory | David Morris

After facing severe funding cuts last year, clients of the Environmental Defenders Office of the Northern Territory offered their art to be auctioned to raise money for the office. The second annual art auction is happening now

For the second year in a row, artists and art centres (18 of them in fact) from across the Northern Territory have thrown their support behind the Environmental Defenders Office of the Northern Territory’s annual Aboriginal art auction. This year more than 60 pieces will be auctioned. Most are being auctioned online at www.galabid.com/edont with a few major works being auctioned live at the final event on Monday evening at law firm Gilbert and Tobin’s new Sydney offices in Barangaroo.

Last year, faced with imminent closure following federal government funding cuts, the Environmental Defenders Office NT was approached by two of its clients from the Gulf region asking if they could assist by donating paintings for us to sell. It was an incredibly generous offer, one that set off a chain of events that saw the office hold its inaugural art auction in June last year. That event generated over $60,000, effectively saving the centre.

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Source: Guardian Environment

Protected birds killed in Cheshire: Country diary 100 years ago

Originally published in the Manchester Guardian on 9 June 1916

June 8
“I came across six dead herons tied to a tree in the Goyt Valley,” writes a friend of mine. Some of them were quite young, evidently not having left the nest, and all had been killed about the same time. One reader of the “Manchester Guardian,” if he sees this note, will be especially annoyed; he has watched the birds here for years, even before he was certain that a small heronry had been established. Now some law-breaking keeper or water bailiff has apparently waited until the young birds were hatched to murder the whole brood; it was on the Cheshire side, and the heron is a protected bird in Cheshire. Much good protection seems to be! The sportsman, or the sportsman’s agents, appear to care nothing about the law, unless a sportsman of another type, usually called a poacher, is the offender.

The object of wild bird protection was to prove that wild birds were public or rather national property, but probably the excuse would be that it does not matter in war-time. Many of our finest sportsmen, however, have refused to preserve game during the war, but they, or at any rate some of them, observe the law and protect the scheduled birds.

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Source: Guardian Environment

Greens want 'fair price' for solar power and access to grid for all

Greens launch clean energy policy with spending to put solar in schools, a ‘fast-track’ to renewable energy and a right to solar for renters

The Greens want to regulate the electricity system to ensure a “fair price” is paid for solar-generated electricity and ensure a “legal right” to connect to the grid by forcing energy companies to prove they cannot connect a consumer.

The Greens’ clean energy policy would put $192m for solar into schools, establish a solar ombudsman who would enforce a “right to solar” for renters and force energy companies to write-down pole and wire assets.

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Source: Guardian Environment

The European Union’s record on clean beaches and dirty air | Letters

The coalition of rightwing politicians backing Brexit consists of climate change deniers, environmentalist cynics and no-holds-barred free-marketeers. For George Eustice to claim the UK’s environment will be top of a list of priorities if Britain decides to leave the European Union is, frankly, ridiculous (Minister attacks ‘spirit-crushing’ green directives, 31 May).

The big environmental challenges the UK faces – air pollution, catastrophic climate change, fish stocks, the hunting of migratory birds – do not respect national borders and can only be tackled collectively.

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Source: Guardian Environment

Coastwatch volunteers are no substitute for a professional anti-smuggling force | Letter

It is not surprising that small ports are being used to import goods and people illegally (Dispatch Norfolk, 4 June). Successive governments have cut customs staff due to their doctrinaire policies of reducing civil service staff numbers. Thirty years ago every small port had its own customs officer, and there also were coast preventive men who travelled around their local coastal area in blue mini cars, talking to harbour staff, local people, seafarers etc, gaining intelligence on unusual traffic. The key word is “preventive”; Coastwatch volunteers, however willing, are no substitute for a professional anti-smuggling force. If the government wishes to protect the UK border properly, it has to employ enough staff to do so.
Ian Arnott (Ex-HM Customs and Excise)
Peterborough

• Join the debate – email guardian.letters@theguardian.com

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Source: Guardian Environment

Australian coastline battered by storms and floodwaters – video

Huge swells and strong winds batter the New South Wales coastline in Australia, causing flooding and dangerous conditions in Sydney and the surrounding areas. Evacuation notices have been issued in areas including Lismore, the Cooks River and Chipping Norton amid heavy rainfall, with the stormy conditions set to continue into Monday

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Source: Guardian Environment

Tide: The Science and Lore of the Greatest Force on Earth review – ebbs and flows

Hugh Aldersey-Williams’s scholarly survey of the history of tides, from the Bristol Channel to the Bay of Fundy, is enlightening

The subtitle of this book gives pause. The greatest force on Earth? Typhoons, volcanos and earthquakes humbled by a few metres’ change in the level of seawater? There is little in the early chapters to enforce the claim. Hugh Aldersey-Williams begins with a trip to the shore near his Norfolk home, preparing the reader for “Nature’s greatest marine performance”. The action begins an hour or so after high water. The tide ebbs. Twelve hours and 30 minutes later it has returned and started to fall again. The author notes froth, gulls and vegetation. Subsequent journeys to Venice to observe work on the lagoon’s tidal barrage, and the Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia to watch a tidal bore roll up the Shubenacadie river are not thrilling.

Related: The power and glory of tides – in pictures

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Source: Guardian Environment