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Issue Date:- 14 July 2008


OIL Firing Technical Association (OFTEC) - the body representing the oil heating and cooking industry - is calling for a new focus when it comes to biofuels production and use, after the British government agreed to slow down the introduction of biofuels for road transport this week.

The change in direction comes in the wake of a Government commissioned report by Ed Gallagher, chair of the Renewable Fuels Agency, which suggests a cautious approach to biofuels for road transport, amidst fears that it could contribute to greenhouse gas emissions and rising food prices.

Jeremy Hawksley, Director General at OFTEC said:- "We are urging the Government to take on a new biofuels agenda. The focus now should certainly be on using biofuels for home heating rather than road transport."

Previously the heating sector has taken a back seat with the Government when it comes to biofuels, perhaps because the sector is relatively small when compared with road transport. However, research has shown that biofuels used for heating will have a more positive effect on reducing carbon emissions than using biofuels for road transport. 

Under the government's Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO), 5% of all UK fuel sold on UK forecourts must come from a renewable source by 2010. There also is a challenge to provide those off the gas mains with a sustainable alternative to oil heating and initial research has shown that a 20% bio-fuel blend with kerosene (used for oil central heating and cooking) might cut carbon emissions in the UK by 1.5m tonnes per annum.

To drive this vision forward, OFTEC and the ICOM Energy Association (ICOM) have joined forces with Carbon Connections, the University of East Anglia and Norfolk County Council on an ambitious research project. The work will cost £0.25m, and will determine how bio-heating oil could replace kerosene and gas oil for domestic and commercial heating oil appliances.

Jeremy Hawksley explained:- "We are looking at the viability a bio-heating oil blend of at least 20% biofuel mixed with 80% kerosene, which would offer significant reductions in carbon dioxide emissions. The preferred bio-fuel would be waste vegetable oil, which would not contribute to rising food costs. We are also looking at a biofuel which will run on existing oil boilers, so that people won't have to invest in new heating equipment."

OFTEC believes that biofuels have a significant role to play in the future of home heating. With the correct focus and proper management, biofuels can offer a viable alternative to fossil fuels, without increasing food prices or damaging the environment.

Lead Theft Threatens Community Churches As UK Faces ‘Highest Ever’ Theft Levels...

THE church buildings we so often take for granted throughout the UK are under threat because of the massive rise in metal theft – a national church insurer has warned drastic action needs to be taken to combat the theft of lead from church roofs.

Congregational & General Insurance, whose claims related to church lead theft increased by 86% last year, said that the recent UK metal theft spree could push the left of lead to its highest ever level.  The company, which has a ‘Church Alert’ lead theft prevention scheme put together in consultation with Crimestoppers, says that it is not just the initial act of theft but the knock-on effect of water damage to church interiors because of leaks that often go unnoticed.

With lead prices rising sharply due to fierce demand from emerging economies such as China, the insurer has witnessed some claims approaching £100,000, as churches often find themselves the victims of consequential damage and loss following theft of raw materials from roofs, guttering and other structural areas.

Carlo Cavaliere, Managing Director of Congregational, said:- “The current dramatic rise in metal theft across the UK is not good news for Britain’s churches – last year we had one of the highest ever instances of lead theft and it could be higher this year.”

Following close consultation with Crimestoppers, Congregational’s Church Alert website  – offers top tips and best practice on how to minimise the risk of lead theft.

The insurer has also teamed up with top anti-theft paint manufacturer, Coo-Var who will be offering Congregational policyholders the chance to purchase their specialist Vandolene anti-climb paint at a discounted rate.

Speaking about Congregational’sChurch Alert scheme, Carlo added:- “We firmly believe that prevention is better than cure and our dedicated campaign should help all our church policyholders to minimise their risk of becoming the latest victims of this fast-growing problem, even if they don’t personally feel their church is at risk. 

Whilst we want to galvanise churches into action, we are also acutely aware that the church buildings that cover the UK are often seen as a focal point for the local community and we would encourage everyone, whether they attend a church or not, to keep their eyes open and report any suspicious behaviour immediately.”

The key message for Church Alert is prevention and the insurer is keen to underscore the importance of engaging the local community as the threat of lead theft extends further than just those attending church buildings on a Sunday morning.   With some church buildings open only on select days throughout the week, Congregational aims to encourage churches to enlist local communities to become the eyes and ears of their church buildings and to report any suspicious behaviour without delay.  Other practical, preventative advice includes use of anti-theft paint, improving lighting, as well as defensive planting of thorny bushes. Posters, leaflets and newsletters have been produced and they can also be downloaded from the dedicated website.

Visit for more information and guidance.


THE number of people receiving a life-saving organ transplant last year reached a new record, with the increase due to an all-time high total of living donor transplants.  However, transplants of hearts or lungs fell, while overall transplant numbers from deceased donors remained static. Those figures, plus another steep rise in people registered for a transplant, highlight the importance of implementing the recommendations of the Organ Donation Taskforce, according to UK Transplant Managing and Transplant Director Chris Rudge.

Figures issued to coincide with National Transplant Week (6 July to 13 July 2008) show that from 1 April 2007 to 31 March 2008, 3,238 patients benefited from an organ transplant, 5% higher than 2006-07 which was also a record at 3,087. The 2007-08 total includes 2,385 transplants from deceased donors, virtually unchanged from the 2,389 in the previous year. Living donors allowed a further 853 people to benefit from a transplant, a 22% increase on 2006-07. This included 832 living donor kidney transplants, accounting for more than 1-in-3 of all kidney transplants, and involved 6 altruistic donor transplants and 4 transplants as a result of new arrangements for paired donation.  There were also 20 living donor liver transplants, compared to just 8 in 2006-07, while 1 person received a lung transplant using part of a lung from 2 living donors.

Despite the record transplant figure, the number of people registered for a transplant also rose to an all-time high, finishing the year at 7,655 – a 6% increase on the 7,219 at the end of 2006-07.

Chris Rudge, who has recently been appointed the first National Clinical Director for Transplant, said:- “Another record number of lives saved by transplants is obviously very welcome and is a testament to the kindness of donors and their families who make these operations possible. It also highlights how ongoing investment in living donation and other programmes to increase opportunities for donation have allowed more people to benefit from a transplant.  However, the lack of growth in transplants from deceased donors, coupled with the continuing rise in people needing a transplant, emphasise that trying to carry on as we have been is not an option. That is why implementing all 14 recommendations of the Organ Donation Taskforce is so important, as it holds out the real prospect of increasing the UK’s rate of organ donation by 50% within five years – resulting in an additional 1,200 transplants annually and saving thousands more lives.”

Although the 809 deceased organ donors represent a slight increase on the 2006-07 figure of 793, the number of heartbeating donors (those who die while on a ventilator and historically the main source of donated organs for transplant) continued its decline of recent years.  Last year saw 609 people become heartbeating donors, compared to 634 the year earlier. Similarly, the number of transplants resulting from these donors dropped from 2,069 in 2006-07 to 1,952 last year.

The 200 non-heartbeating donors (those who were diagnosed by cardiac death in hospital) last year accounted for almost a quarter of all deceased donors and represent a 26% increase on the 159 of 2006-07. There were 429 transplants from these donors, 36% higher than the 316 the previous year. Non-heartbeating donors are able to donate kidneys, liver, pancreas and – in rare circumstance – lungs. They are not able to donate their heart. 

The number of pancreas transplants continued to rise in 2007-08 – with 58 pancreas-only procedures compared with 27 the previous year, and 188 kidney/pancreas combined (164 in 2006-07). Liver transplants from deceased donors were virtually unchanged – 623 as against 626 in 2006-07.  However, cardiothoracic transplant numbers were down over the year. The 127 heart transplants carried out was 18% lower than the previous 12 months, while 115 lung transplants (not including one involving part of a lung from a living donor) represent a 10% fall.  In addition, 2,489 people had their sight restored through a cornea transplant, 86 more than in 2006-07.

Health Secretary Alan Johnson said:- “Organ transplantation is one of the big success stories of modern medicine so it is particularly welcome to see the highest ever number of people benefit from the procedure in the year the NHS celebrates its 60th birthday. I would like to salute the patients and families who have agreed to donate organs and saved so many lives.  However, many more could have benefited, which is why the Government has accepted all 14 recommendations of the Organ Donation Taskforce and is investing almost £12million this year to start bringing them to fruition.”

During the year, 939,000 more people pledged to help others after their death by registering their wishes on the NHS Organ Donor Register, bringing the total at 31 March 2008 to over 15.2 million.  Sadly, during the year 482 people died while registered for a transplant – with estimations that at least as many again died after being permanently removed from the list because they became too ill to undergo a transplant.

You can find out more about donation and join the NHS Organ Donor Register by telephoning 0845 60 60 400 or visiting, or by texting the word ‘GIVE’ to 84118. Standard text rates apply.

Conservative MEP on emissions trading:- Now we have a scheme that can fly

THE European Parliament has voted to include the aviation sector within the EU's existing Emissions Trading System (ETS). Sir Robert Atkins MEP, said:- "The aviation sector is currently responsible for roughly 7% of the UK's emissions - more than the combined emissions from oil refineries and steel plants. Incorporating the aviation industry, even business jets, into the EU's emissions trading scheme will be an effective mechanism to reduce CO2 emissions.

We must now make sure that the revenues generated from the auctioning of emission credits do not disappear into the Chancellor's pocket, but are spent on measures to further reduce emissions. These must include funding research into technological innovations such as carbon capture and storage, and measures to prevent deforestation in developing countries.

We have struck the right balance between the big national carries and low cost airlines; looked after those in remote areas dependent on local air transport; protected humanitarian and research flights.

We also rejected the attempt by the British Government and others to exempt their own air travel from the scheme.

The end result is that now we have a scheme that can fly and one that is fair both to people's transport needs and the need for a healthy environment"

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