Bat Conservation Panel Appointed

Bat Expert Panel will help shape future bat conservation

Copyright Natural England

Copyright Natural England

Natural England has appointed a new expert panel to help shape the future of bat conservation in this country.

As Natural England considers an innovative approach to licensing across a range of species, it is looking at how the implementation of protected species legislation could be improved in its delivery for conservation and ensuring that regulation is applied proportionately. The Bat Expert Panel will provide a forum for generating ideas and testing Natural England’s thinking with the aim of securing better outcomes for bats and stakeholders.

The panel is chaired by Natural England’s Chief Scientist, Dr Tim Hill, and includes experts with a strong track record of research or achievement in bat conservation from across academic, commercial, NGO and statutory sectors. It will shape Natural England’s bat reform programme and help to ensure the reform projects are informed by the best available evidence, and based on sound judgement of what is achievable. In this way it will play an important role in developing consensus and partnerships for bat conservation.

Dr Tim Hill said:

The number of licence applications for bats received by Natural England is greater than for other species groups and is increasing. The panel will look for ambitious change to improve bat conservation and where evidence allows, make it work positively for everyone that it affects.

The legal protection of bats commenced following the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and was further strengthened by the Habitats Directive and subsequent Conservation of Species and Habitats Regulations. Since this legislation has been in place, national monitoring data suggests populations of most bat species have been stable or increasing although this is recognised as being set against large-scale historic declines. This improvement for certain bat species may be due in part to successful implementation of this legislation.

Over this time period considerable change has happened. The bat conservation movement has developed enormously and survey technology has moved on, advancing our understanding of bat ecology.

The members of the panel are:

  • Professor Kate Jones – Professor of Ecology and Biodiversity, University College London
  • Professor Paul Racey – Emeritus Professor, University of Aberdeen
  • Dr Matt Zeale – Research Associate and Lecturer, University of Bristol
  • Professor Fiona Mathews – Professor of Environmental Biology, University of Exeter
  • Dr Stuart Newson – Senior Research Ecologist, Population Ecology & Modelling, British Trust for Ornithology
  • Dr Carol Williams – Director of Conservation, Bat Conservation Trust
  • Paola Reason – Technical Director, Arcadis
  • Jean Matthews – Former Mammal Ecologist, Natural Recourses Wales. Retired.
  • Dr Stephanie Wray – President of CIEEM, Partner at Tyler Grange
  • Dr Peter Shepherd – Partner at BSG Ecology

Continuing Cuts To Forensic Science Threaten Criminal Justice

Falling prices and continuing cuts to funding for forensic science work are eating into essential services, the Forensic Science Regulator has warned in her annual report

Stack of Papers

Stack of Papers

In the report, which was published today (Friday 19 January), Regulator Dr Gillian Tully warns that the cuts highlighted last year have continued in the sector, with serious consequences.

Already, scientists have been required to give expert advice based on interim forensic reports because some police forces have refused to pay for the scientists to produce an admissible statement of evidence in court. Often there is little time left for practitioners to prepare reports on complex cases or keep up with scientific developments.

At the same time, police are spending less on their own forensic science practices. With the tendering process for commercial services being focused heavily on costs, more and more money is taken out of the system.

Further pressure is being put on individual scientists by the delay of many organisations in starting the process of attaining the required quality standards, the Regulator states.

However, the Regulator also highlights that despite the challenges, significant progress has been made in the sector and that many organisations have achieved the required standards, or are well on their way to demonstrate objectively that their methods are scientifically valid and their staff competent.

Forensic Science Regulator Dr Gillian Tully said:

There are a lot of hard working and committed forensic scientists doing their best, but they are not always supported by the system they work in.

A year ago I warned that funding was too tight, and now even more money has been taken out of the system. We cannot continue on this path.

I urge the government to put the role of the Regulator on statutory footing now, to enable me to ensure that all organisations providing forensic science evidence in the criminal justice system, meet the high standards required.

The failure of some police forces to give sufficient priority to achieving quality standards in their own forensic science work, is of great concern to the Regulator. Whilst it is understandable that senior police leaders have a wide range of priorities, if quality cannot be sufficiently prioritised, it may become unsustainable for some forces to continue to carry out their own forensic science case work.

The Regulator also highlighted that a number of small forensic businesses have chosen, for financial reasons, not to move towards reaching the required standards. For these reasons, statutory powers are urgently needed so that the Regulator can ensure that all providers of forensic science deliver work to quality standards that are fit for the criminal justice system.

UK And France To Strengthen Links In Tech Sector And Artificial Intelligence

Britain and France’s leading tech sectors will be brought closer together with plans for a digital conference - or digital colloque - to promote deeper integration in the digital economy, the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Secretary Matt Hancock has announced

Department for Culture, Media & Sport

Department for Culture, Media & Sport

The UK tops the list in Europe for global tech investors, with its tech firms attracting more venture capital funding than any other European country in 2017. In December it was named by Oxford Insights as the best prepared country in the world for artificial intelligence (AI) implementation.

France has made big strides in creating new tech businesses and encouraging entrepreneurs, with Paris’s newly built Station F, a former railway station hosting startups, multinationals and investors, symbolising the country’s ambition

Mr Hancock met his French counterpart, Françoise Nyssen, at the UK France Summit hosted by the Prime Minister and the French President, Emmanuel Macron, at Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst. He said the digital conference will take place this year and foster cross-Channel collaboration between academics, industry and government.

Its aim is to help both countries seize the economic and social benefits of fast-developing tech such as AI, and the conference will bring together experts on data, cyber security, digital government and digital skills to share their knowledge.

The countries also reaffirmed their commitment and support for the principle of net neutrality, which promotes a free and open internet. They agreed a joint statement to make sure users can access websites without internet service providers favouring or blocking particular sites.

This follows the launch this week of an Anglo-French alliance linking Imperial College London and the French National Centre for Scientific Research to strengthen relations in academic subjects underpinning AI, and the Franco-British AI Conference at the Alan Turing Institute on Tuesday.

Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Secretary Matt Hancock said:

The UK and France are strengthening ties in technology and innovation. I’m looking forward to leading a cutting-edge digital conference this year which will see our world-leading experts in cyber security, digital skills, artificial intelligence, data and digital government share their talent and knowledge.

Both countries benefit when our digital economies are strong and the event will deepen our bonds and foster cross-Channel collaboration between those at the forefront of modern technology.

Julian David, CEO of techUK, said:

This event is a significant step towards greater collaboration between the British and French tech sectors. Both countries share similar opportunities and challenges as we build our leading digital economies through technologies like artificial intelligence, Internet of Things and cyber security.

International platforms for collaboration, such as the one announced by Matt Hancock today, provide valuable cross-border perspectives on many of the social, legal and ethical questions that will be raised as we continue to innovate.

Adrian Gregory, CEO of Atos UK&I said:

As a company that is proud of its European heritage, Atos welcomes the closer collaboration of British and French technologists.

And as a global digital leader with a long and rich association with the UK and with ten thousand UK-based people focused on transforming our customers’ business through the best use of digital technology across the private and public sectors, we strongly believe in the mutual benefits that a closer working relationship will bring, particularly in the areas of AI, cyber security and data analytics, to forward-thinking organisations in both countries together with consumers. This will only serve to also strengthen the economies of both countries.

Stephen Kelly, CEO, Sage, said:

We welcome this deeper collaboration between two leading tech nations, France and the UK. For today’s digital entrepreneurs the world has no borders, only opportunities to grow their business.

We have much to learn from each other as we bring advanced technologies like AI and collective intelligence into the everyday lives of small and growing businesses to improve productivity and growth.

Business Secretary Chairs Taskforce To Support Small Businesses And Workers Affected By Carillion Insolvency

The taskforce will monitor and advise on mitigating the impacts of Carillion’s liquidation

Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy

Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy

A taskforce set up to monitor and advise on mitigating the impacts of Carillion’s liquidation on construction firms, particularly SMEs and those working in the sector, has met for the first time today (18 January 2018). Building on a series of meetings held by the Business Secretary this week with trade associations, unions and banks.

Chaired by Greg Clark, with support from the Small Business Minister Andrew Griffiths, the taskforce’s attendees included representatives from leading business bodies, the construction trade sector, unions, banks and government.

The taskforce will act as a means to work together to ensure the impact of the Carillion insolvency on the firm’s employees in the private, as well as public, sector is minimised and to help them recover.

In a constructive meeting, members of the Government’s Taskforce on Carillion spoke about a range of issues, ranging from support by banks, the support on offer from HMRC for businesses, the offer from the Construction Industry Training Board for apprentices, and identified how relevant information can be shared to keep people in work and training.

Greg Clark, welcoming the input of all the members, said:

Today’s meeting is the next step in a series I have held this week. It got key people round the table to drive forward steps that we believe can give confidence to workers and the supply chain; support from banks, the ability to link workers with employment and support for apprentices.

I am determined that collectively we will take the steps necessary to give workers and businesses the information they need at this difficult time.

Issues to be covered in the next meeting will include job matching and contract matching.

Today (18 January 2018), the Business Secretary has praised several bankswho following his request have committed to providing support to small businesses affected by Carillion’s insolvency. This follows a meeting he held with them yesterday, where he asked them to commit to supporting SMEs affected.

HMRC’s announcement highlighted several ways that the Business Payment Support Service can help those affected, including:

*agree instalment arrangements if you’re unable to pay your tax on time following the Carillion collapse *suspend any debt collection proceedings *review penalties for missing statutory deadlines *reduce any payments on account *agree to defer payments due to short-term cash flow difficulties

Today’s taskforce meeting follows action outlined by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to address concerns set out earlier this week.

The United States And Republic Of Korea Hold Second Meeting Of The Extended Deterrence Strategy And Consultation Group

U.S. Department of State

U.S. Department of State

The United States of America and the Republic of Korea (R.O.K.) held the second meeting of the Extended Deterrence Strategy and Consultation Group (EDSCG) in Washington, D.C., on January 17, 2018. This executive meeting provides a forum for comprehensive discussions on strategic and policy issues regarding extended deterrence against North Korea, including how to better coordinate the full array of efforts in our diplomatic pressure campaign, strategic communications, and security cooperation.

R.O.K. First Vice Minister Lim Sung-nam for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and R.O.K. Vice Minister Suh Choo-suk for the Ministry of National Defense led the Korea delegation. Under Secretary for Political Affairs Thomas A. Shannon, Jr. from the Department of State and Deputy Under Secretary for Policy David J. Trachtenberg from the Department of Defense led the U.S. delegation.

During the discussions, both sides agreed on the value of the EDSCG as a high-level consultation mechanism and committed to continue Alliance coordination mechanisms on extended deterrence issues. The United States also reiterated its ironclad and unwavering commitment to draw on the full range of military capabilities to deter potential acts of DPRK aggression.

U.S. and R.O.K. officials agreed to hold in the near term another meeting of the EDSCG, as well as a meeting of the U.S.-R.O.K. Defense Technology Strategy and Cooperation Group.

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