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Wildlife campaigners call for ban on ‘environmentally irresponsible’ artificial lawns

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wildlife campaigners call for ban on environmentally irresponsible artificial lawns

Wildlife campaigners are calling for a ban on ‘environmentally irresponsible’ artificial grass used in British gardens over fears it can harm animals and cause flooding. 

Critics say the fashionable ‘astroturf’ lawns are detrimental to birds and insects but advocates argue it is a low-maintenance way to brighten up a garden. 

Yesterday the row escalated after a petition was sent to the Government calling for the plastic grass to be outlawed. 

More than 3,000 people have signed a petition to have artificial lawns banned because of their flood risk and impact on garden wildlife

More than 3,000 people have signed a petition to have artificial lawns banned because of their flood risk and impact on garden wildlife

More than 3,000 people have signed a petition to have artificial lawns banned because of their flood risk and impact on garden wildlife

As of last night, it had attracted more than 3,000 signatures. 

The petition read: ‘The sale of artificial grass should be banned in the UK for environmental reasons. 

‘It is environmentally irresponsible to allow garden space occupied by grass and other plant life (which processes CO2 and supports wildlife) to be replaced by plastic which does not biodegrade.’ 

Among those supporting the campaign include biology professor Dave Goulson. 

The Sussex University academic says that while it is socially unacceptable to get single-use plastic bags at supermarkets, Britons are covering much larger areas in plastic which becomes unhygienic as it ages and will be in landfill after a few years.

The artificial grass also contributes to flooding as it does not absorb water. 

And as it breaks down it releases plastic particles into the environment. 

But BBC Radio 4 presenter Mishal Husain and Woman’s Hour’s Jane Garvey defended their use of the turf. 

Miss Garvey said before buying the plastic ground covering her outdoor space was a ‘muddy mayhem’. 

She added: ‘I didn’t really have a garden, I had a backyard, that was really horrible, really hard to maintain, and didn’t look great. This looks much better.’ 

Miss Husain said the astroturf was ‘a great all-weather surface for cricket and football’ for her sons. 

John Terry, the former England football captain, spent a reported £150,000 on an artificial lawn for his £4.3million, nine-bedroom Surrey mansion. 

But on the Today Programme yesterday Professor Goulson laid into those looking for a quick fix for their garden and said artificial grass should require planning permission, a policy position adopted by the Green Party. 

‘There is no compelling reason why anyone should have plastic grass,’ he told the Mail. 

Julia Bradbury, the former Countryfile presenter, last night urged Britons to sign the petition. 

She wrote: ‘Plastic lawns are toxic to humans and wildlife. The plastic particulates they release are dangerous, they contribute to the heating of the planet and when they are filthy with cat and bird poo in a few years they end up in landfill for hundreds of years. The opposite of nature and natural.’

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JK Rowling offers rare insight into her marriage to husband Neil Murray

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jk rowling offers rare insight into her marriage to husband neil murray

JK Rowling has offered a rare insight into her 19-year marriage to husband Neil Murray while discussing her favourite and most memorable songs.

The author, 55, who married Neil in 2001 and shares two children with him, shared an anecdote during the Tracks Of My Years segment on Ken Bruce’s Radio 2 show.

While listing some of the songs that have touched her life, Rowling said that she thought Bill Withers’ love song Ain’t No Sunshine was ‘beautiful’.

Touching: JK Rowling has offered a rare insight into her 19-year marriage to husband Neil Murray while discussing her favourite and most memorable songs

Touching: JK Rowling has offered a rare insight into her 19-year marriage to husband Neil Murray while discussing her favourite and most memorable songs

Touching: JK Rowling has offered a rare insight into her 19-year marriage to husband Neil Murray while discussing her favourite and most memorable songs

Explaining her choice for the track, she revealed that her husband told her the song reminds her of how he feels when she is away with work.     

She said: ‘Well I think of all the love songs written, this might be my favourite. It’s such a beautiful, simple sentiment, but I have an additional reason for choosing it, which is that it took lockdown for my husband to say to me… 

‘I was playing it in the kitchen while cooking something; he walked in, he said, “This always makes me think of you when you’re down in London” and that was a very moving marital moment so now it has an extra layer of meaning for me. 

Discussing her lockdown experience, she admitted she has had a ‘special time’ spending time with her husband and their teenage kids. 

Insight: The author, 55, who married Neil in 2001 and shares two children with him, shared an anecdote during the Tracks Of My Years segment on Ken Bruce's Radio 2 show

Insight: The author, 55, who married Neil in 2001 and shares two children with him, shared an anecdote during the Tracks Of My Years segment on Ken Bruce's Radio 2 show

Insight: The author, 55, who married Neil in 2001 and shares two children with him, shared an anecdote during the Tracks Of My Years segment on Ken Bruce’s Radio 2 show

She said: ‘Well, I hope that all listeners have had the happy experience that I’ve had of it being quite a special time. We also have teenage kids and it’s been kind of wonderful to spend that extra time with them.’

JK shares children Mackenzie, 15, and David, 17, with Neil, while she is also mother to Jessica, 27, from her previous marriage to Jorge Arantes.

Elsewhere during the interview, JK said Jimi Hendrix’s All Along The Watchtower detailed playing the song after a particularly bad break-up.

However she revealed the reason she loved the song is because she was in awe of how successful Hendrix was at such a young age [27]. 

Explaining her reasoning, she said: ‘It’s just extraordinary that people produce work of that quality when they’re so young… I think the thing I admire most is having the confidence because I had the idea for Harry Potter when I was 25 and I’d done a lot of writing before then, but I was extraordinarily insecure and very rarely shared anything that I’d written. 

Beautiful: While listing some of the songs that have touched her life, Rowling said that she thought Bill Withers' love song Ain't No Sunshine was 'beautiful'

Beautiful: While listing some of the songs that have touched her life, Rowling said that she thought Bill Withers' love song Ain't No Sunshine was 'beautiful'

Beautiful: While listing some of the songs that have touched her life, Rowling said that she thought Bill Withers’ love song Ain’t No Sunshine was ‘beautiful’

‘I wrote some spoof things for friends to make them laugh, but I never shared anything that I’d written in earnest because I was quite insecure. But of course performers are different and they are driven to share in a way that writers don’t do; obviously we live in a far more introverted life, but… I am drawn to biographies of people like Hendrix because I am just in awe of what they did and what they achieved.’

Speaking on her own lack of self-belief, she said: ‘You have to push through your lack of belief. Certainly with Potter and with other things I’ve written, I’ve put them down for months at a time. 

‘I have got better at believing that I can push through. I remember when I was writing Potter I was writing two other things simultaneously and slowly but surely I realised that Potter was the best of them. 

‘And even though I was very insecure I just kept pushing on, pushing on. Actually, the thing that pushed me to complete the book and really to have belief, was having made such a mess of my life generally. In fact I do remember feeling, “Look, so you get turned down by every publisher in the country, what’s to lose now?” Well you know, it was even that I thought it would be a massive success because I certainly didn’t.

\What I did believe was, I came to a point where I thought, “This is a good story and I’m going to put everything into this and see what happens.” And I’d lost the fear of failing or rejecting that had probably hampered me a little bit early on in my writing.

Sweet: Explaining her choice for the track, she revealed that her husband told her the song reminds her of how he feels when she is away with work

Sweet: Explaining her choice for the track, she revealed that her husband told her the song reminds her of how he feels when she is away with work

Sweet: Explaining her choice for the track, she revealed that her husband told her the song reminds her of how he feels when she is away with work

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First migrants are set to arrive today at disused Kent barracks

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first migrants are set to arrive today at disused kent barracks

The first migrants are set to arrive today at a disused barracks where they will be housed for up to a year awaiting a decision on their asylum applications.

Napier Barracks in Folkestone, Kent has been turned into an ‘assessment and dispersal facility’ for around 400 people.

The asylum seekers are expected from today and on a daily basis thereafter, according to Folkestone and Hythe District Council.

Council leader David Monk initially expressed ‘great concerns’ in a co-signed letter with local MP Damian Collins and Sandgate Parish Council leader Cllr Tim Prater.

They asked home secretary Priti Patel to halt the plans after blasting ‘exceptionally poor communication,’ claiming to have been given ‘very little notice of this decision and it’s one we cannot support’.

A view of Napier Barracks in Folkestone, Kent, where migrants who have crossed the Channel in small boats are to be housed

A view of Napier Barracks in Folkestone, Kent, where migrants who have crossed the Channel in small boats are to be housed

A view of Napier Barracks in Folkestone, Kent, where migrants who have crossed the Channel in small boats are to be housed

The letter read: ‘We have great concerns about the impact this large open camp will have on the welfare of the local residential community and also those people in the asylum system who will be placed in the barracks itself.’

But Mr Monk later backtracked and said: ‘It was never a question of this council being against the principle of asylum seekers living in our community.

‘Our concern was that as we had not been consulted we had no way of being able to allay the fears and address the questions raised by our residents.’

Minister for Immigration Compliance and the Courts Chris Philp MP offered reassurances in a written reply on Friday about the temporary accommodation expected to be in place for 12 months.

He said the Government is making use of Section 9 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 to provide safe accommodation for people who have claimed asylum who would otherwise be destitute, whilst the merits of their asylum claims are being considered.

Covid-19 has a ‘major impact’ on the asylum support system, according to Mr Philp, and Napier Barracks was identified among a range of options to ease the pressure.

Britain's Home Secretary Priti Patel arrives for a cabinet meeting at the Foreign and Commonwealth office on September 15

Britain's Home Secretary Priti Patel arrives for a cabinet meeting at the Foreign and Commonwealth office on September 15

Britain’s Home Secretary Priti Patel arrives for a cabinet meeting at the Foreign and Commonwealth office on September 15

Equipment was installed during the final preparations over the weekend at the site which will be run by a UK based ‘experienced accommodation and support provider’.

Those coming to the former military base will have spent a quarantine period elsewhere with personal welfare and security checks undertaken.

A spokesman for Folkestone and Hythe District Council said: ‘The focus will be on the welfare of those based at the accommodation, the provision of wraparound services and wider considerations relating to the local area and its residents.

‘There will be on-site security and, in order to reduce any additional pressure on local health services, on-site medical services will also be provided.

‘Particular attention will be paid to safeguarding and any concerns addressed by the contractor with input from the Home Office safeguarding team.

The first arrivals are expected from today and on a daily basis thereafter, according to Folkestone and Hythe District Council

The first arrivals are expected from today and on a daily basis thereafter, according to Folkestone and Hythe District Council

The first arrivals are expected from today and on a daily basis thereafter, according to Folkestone and Hythe District Council

‘We understand that every effort is being made for the facility to be COVID-19 secure and Public Health England is closely involved with the operational plan to ensure the safety of its users and local residents.’

A multi-agency task force has been meeting to ensure appropriate support measures are in place at the barracks.

The council is expected to announce volunteering opportunities in the near future after receiving offers for help from local residents and councillors.

The Government said they were exploring opportunities for further accommodation with a range of partners and other government departments.

They added that following the submission of request, the MOD and the Army have been fully supportive in trying to reach a workable solution.

A spokesman said: ‘During these unprecedented times the government is working with a range of partners and across departments to secure further accommodation and the MOD has offered use of some of its sites.

‘When using contingency accommodation we work closely with organisations, including local authorities and law enforcement, throughout the process to ensure value for money and that vulnerable asylum seekers, who would otherwise be destitute, have suitable accommodation while their claims are processed.’

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Graduate achieves her dream job of becoming a pilot after quitting her job as an air stewardess

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graduate achieves her dream job of becoming a pilot after quitting her job as an air stewardess

A British Airways air stewardess has revealed how she quit her job to become a pilot. 

Suzie McKee, 25, from Portsmouth, Hampshire, spent a year working in the cabins of British Airways flights before deciding she would rather fly the planes instead. 

Suzie, who is a languages graduate, needed £120,000 for training and started the process by raising huge £30,000 by working as a barmaid and a receptionist in an MOT garage, and borrowing the rest from her parents.   

In February 2019 the ambitious former air stewardess started the painstaking process of applying to study the profession with Flybe, but after the airline went bust in March, Suzie decided to pursue her dream without any airline backing.

Suzie raised £30,000 while working as a barmaid and a receptionist in an MOT garage. Pictured: Suzie when she was a stewardess

Suzie raised £30,000 while working as a barmaid and a receptionist in an MOT garage. Pictured: Suzie when she was a stewardess

Suzie McKee, 25, (pictured) from Portsmouth, Hampshire, quit her job as an air stewardess for British Airways to become a pilot

Suzie McKee, 25, (pictured) from Portsmouth, Hampshire, quit her job as an air stewardess for British Airways to become a pilot

Suzie McKee, 25, (pictured) from Portsmouth, Hampshire, quit her job as an air stewardess for British Airways to become a pilot (left, before, and right, as a qualified pilot) 

Suzie (pictured) said she had a great time working as cabin crew but always pictured herself flying the planes

Suzie (pictured) said she had a great time working as cabin crew but always pictured herself flying the planes

Suzie (pictured) said she had a great time working as cabin crew but always pictured herself flying the planes

Suzie explained that she was always the one volunteering to take tea to the cockpit and to do the safety checks before take off. Pictured: Suzie when she was a stewardess with a colleague

Suzie explained that she was always the one volunteering to take tea to the cockpit and to do the safety checks before take off. Pictured: Suzie when she was a stewardess with a colleague

Suzie explained that she was always the one volunteering to take tea to the cockpit and to do the safety checks before take off. Pictured: Suzie when she was a stewardess with a colleague 

The languages graduate admitted she became tired of doing safety demonstrations and pouring drinks, while longing to be in the cockpit where the action was. 

She explained: ‘I’d had a great time being cabin crew, but I always had this picture in my mind of me in the cockpit. I realised I wanted to actually fly the plane.

‘I knew I didn’t want to be serving the chicken pasta in the back with the passengers, I wanted to be at the front of the plane where the action was.

‘I would always be the one who volunteered to take the tea into the cockpit for the pilots or do the safety checks with them before take off.’

The former air stewardess (pictured) who can speak three languages, has already visited 55 countries and is eager to fly her first air craft with passengers

The former air stewardess (pictured) who can speak three languages, has already visited 55 countries and is eager to fly her first air craft with passengers

Suzie borrowed the remainder of the £120,000 sum needed to train as a pilot from her parents. Pictured: Suzie on holiday in China

Suzie borrowed the remainder of the £120,000 sum needed to train as a pilot from her parents. Pictured: Suzie on holiday in China

The former air stewardess (pictured) who can speak three languages, has already visited 55 countries and is eager to fly her first air craft with passengers  (pictured left, at work, and right, visiting China on one of her adventures) 

Suzie (pictured) managed to save £30,000 and her parents decided to lend her the rest of the funds for pilot school (pictured, learning to be a pilot)

Suzie (pictured) managed to save £30,000 and her parents decided to lend her the rest of the funds for pilot school (pictured, learning to be a pilot)

Suzie (pictured) managed to save £30,000 and her parents decided to lend her the rest of the funds for pilot school (pictured, learning to be a pilot) 

Suzie who worked for British Airways, handed in her notice and returned to the UK to begin raising the £120,000 required to go through pilot school.   

It wasn’t long before she had managed to save £30,000 and her parents decided to lend her the rest of the cash so she could pursue her dream.

In February 2019 the ambitious former air stewardess started the process of applying to study the profession with Flybe.

The process involved undertaking several interviews, aptitude, personality and spatial awareness tests as well as physics and maths exams.

Suzie (pictured) began the process of applying to study to become a pilot in February 2019, having to complete several interviews and a series of exams

Suzie (pictured) began the process of applying to study to become a pilot in February 2019, having to complete several interviews and a series of exams

Suzie (pictured) began the process of applying to study to become a pilot in February 2019, having to complete several interviews and a series of exams

After Flybe went bust in March, she began studying at FTEJerez flight school in Jerez, Spain, (pictured)

After Flybe went bust in March, she began studying at FTEJerez flight school in Jerez, Spain, (pictured)

After Flybe went bust in March, she began studying at FTEJerez flight school in Jerez, Spain, (pictured) 

But Europe’s biggest regional airline FlyBe collapsed at the beginning of March with 2,000 staff losing their jobs. 

The determined Suzie decided to continue her studies at FTEJerez flight school in Jerez, Spain, without any airline backing. 

She now has just 20 hours of solo flying left to complete before she will be given her full ATPL in November.  

Suzie said: ‘When I was with an air hostess I would do the passenger announcements and then listen to the pilots being able to tell the passengers that they were the ones that had flown them safely to the destination. 

Suzie (pictured) is set to be given her full ATPL in November, after completing 20 hours of solo flying

Suzie (pictured) is set to be given her full ATPL in November, after completing 20 hours of solo flying

Suzie (pictured) is set to be given her full ATPL in November, after completing 20 hours of solo flying 

‘As a pilot you get to look out of the windows and see all these beautiful views. 

‘But the biggest thing is being able to feel like you’ve succeeded in safely carrying people.  

‘You might have flown them thousands of miles in the space of a few hours taking them somewhere that they might never have been before or back home after years of not seeing family and friends.’

She added: ”I look back and think how weird it is that I was serving people their meals and now I’m flying planes around.’ 

Suzie (pictured) said she looks back and now finds it strange that she has gone from serving meals to flying people around

Suzie (pictured) said she looks back and now finds it strange that she has gone from serving meals to flying people around

Suzie (pictured) said she looks back and now finds it strange that she has gone from serving meals to flying people around

Suzie said you might have flown someone somewhere that they've never been, or taken them back home after spending years away

Suzie said you might have flown someone somewhere that they've never been, or taken them back home after spending years away

Suzie said you might have flown someone somewhere that they’ve never been, or taken them back home after spending years away 

After quitting her role for British Airways, Suzie (pictured) returned home where she was able to work towards saving for her pilot training

After quitting her role for British Airways, Suzie (pictured) returned home where she was able to work towards saving for her pilot training

After quitting her role for British Airways, Suzie (pictured) returned home where she was able to work towards saving for her pilot training  

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