Environment: Review of 2010

The effects of one of last year's biggest environment stories were still being felt in 2010 as the fall-out over the Climategate affair continued.

The University of East Anglia's reputation took a battering after thousands of emails and documents from its Climatic Research Unit were stolen and published on the web. Critics claimed the emails proved that evidence of man-made global warming had been manipulated.

However, four inquiries cleared unit head Professor Phil Jones of the most serious charges, although UEA was criticised for the way it responded to freedom of information requests.

The Deepwater Horizon explosion in April killed 11 workers and saw nearly 5 million barrels of oil spilt into the Gulf of Mexico over the next three months. The platform's operator BP and its chief executive Tony Hayward became hate figures in the wake of the disaster.

In May the new Conservative / Lib Dem coalition government was sworn in, promising to be the greenest ever, but one of its first moves was to cut the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) budget by 30 per cent. The government also revealed plans to sell off 635,000 acres (256,975 ha) of Forestry Commission woodland.

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Wind turbines continued to divide opinion. Construction got under way on the 88-turbine Sheringham Shoal wind farm, while planning battles raged in other communities over plans for turbines. In August, anti-turbine campaigners welcomed the launch of a government review that could impose tougher restrictions on energy companies.

In November, a study led by the UEA revealed that Breckland was one of the UK's most important areas for flora and fauna, containing more than a quarter of the country's rarest species.

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And this month a scheme to encourage the use of electric vehicles in the region received a major boost with the award of up to �2.9m in government funding to install a network of charging points.

Climate talks also got back on track at Cancun, Mexico, but resulted in a weak deal that failed to address key issues such as the level of cuts in rich nations' emissions and made no extra money available for poor countries to adapt their economies.

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