Hinterland - Friday, 15 December, 2017

This week, Hinterland brings you: fishing news, interesting reflections on the housing shortage, the challenge of NHS recruitment, rising energy prices, pensioner carers and plants that glow in the dark – just another routine seven days in rural England!
 
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More than two million pensioners caring for a relative, charity warns

Half of me thinks this story demonstrates how resilient we are as a society the other half thinks the story demonstrates the complete opposite! Due to our skewed demography a high proportion of these older carers will live in rural England. It tells us:

The number of over-65s acting as a carer for a relative has topped two million for the first time, Age UK has warned.

The charity said that 2.29m people of retirement age in England provided care in the year 2015/16 – 16 per cent higher than the 1.83m who did the same five years earlier.

The figure suggests that more than one in five over-65s acted as a carer at some point during the year, and they provided 54m hours of unpaid care in England in 2016.

More than 400,000 of them were over 80, and this oldest age group provided 12.7m hours of care per week during the year, the research found.

NHS faces acute and growing staffing shortage, warns agency

The National Centre for Rural Health and Care will begin moving forward in earnest from 20 December when it takes on a full legal status as a body. This story explains one of the key themes it is seeking to engage with, it tells us:

Shortages are now so acute that:

  • The NHS is short of 42,000 nursesmidwives, physiotherapists and occupational therapists.
  • A widespread lack of nurses is most severe in London, where 15% of posts are vacant, and lowest at 8% in the north-east.
  • There are 1,674 (26%) fewer district nurses and 842 fewer learning disability nurses than in 2012.
  • GP numbers have fallen by 1% over the last five years despite a key government pledge to increase the total by 5,000 between 2015 and 2020.
  • Almost one in three paramedic jobs are vacant across England.
  • The number of nurses leaving the profession rose from 7.1% in 2011-12 to 8.7% last year.

Foreign nationals should be banned from buying more than half of houses in new developments, says Tory MP

Previously this has just been a big City issue but I fear it is coming to some affluent places near you. The story goes:

Foreign nationals should be barred from buying more than 50 per cent of houses or flats in new developments of more than 20 properties, a Conservative MP has proposed.

The 50 per cent limit is one of a series of changes put forward in a report by Croydon South MP Chris Philp to boost housebuilding towards the Government’s target of 300,000 homes a year and ensure that more new homes end up with first-time buyers.

In his report, published by the Centre for Policy Studies think tank, Mr Philp highlighted a development in Baltimore Wharf, in London’s Docklands, where 87 per cent of 2,999 apartments were sold abroad, as well as another in Manchester where 94 per cent of 230 flats went to non-UK residents, more than half of them to a company based in the British Virgin Islands.

Mr Philp said overseas buyers were taking up around 50 per cent of all new-build stock in London, including cheap flats in the suburbs. But he warned it was “a much larger issue than people imagine”, and was no longer confined to prime areas of the capital.

Gas shortage to push up bills after ‘perfect storm’ of energy problems

This is a bit of Christmas bad news for hard pressed rural dwellers who rely more heavily on these forms of energy

Households and motorists have been warned to expect sharp rises in gas bills and petrol prices after a “perfect storm” of supply problems as the winter freeze begins.

The shutdown of the North Sea’s most important oil and gas pipeline system on Monday was compounded by an explosion at a major processing facility in Austria, which is the main point of entry for Russian gas into ?Europe.

After the incidents, wholesale gas prices hit their highest level for six years, rising by more than 50pc in the space of 24 hours, raising fears that the increase will be passed on to customers.

Oil prices have climbed so steeply that motoring organisations are warning of a 3p per litre increase at the pumps by Christmas.

MPs have told energy companies that any hike in bills for consumers would be a “disgrace” because wholesale prices are agreed well in advance.

Fishermen warn EU states against trying to stop UK taking control of its own waters

We’re close to finishing our review of the economic characteristics of 41 ports across the UK so I found this story really interesting. We have a workshop planned at Fishmonger’s Hall on 9 January 2018. This story tells us:

Scottish fishermen’s leaders have expressed broad satisfaction with the latest EU fisheries deal, while warning member states against trying to stop the UK taking back control of the industry during Brexit talks.

They said there were signs that the 27 EU nations, including those with no fishing interests, were adopting “very entrenched views”.

Bertie Armstrong, chief executive of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation, added that international law made it “abundantly clear” that when Britain leaves the EU, control of UK waters will revert to the UK governments.

“That will allow the UK to decide for our own waters who gets to catch what, where and when,” he said. “But it doesn’t mean we won’t be willing to negotiate access. The difference is that will be on our terms.

Streetlights could be replaced by glowing trees, after scientists make plants shine in the dark

I think this is a fabulous story with something of a magical Christmas sparkle to it

In a study funded by the US Department of Energy, researchers at MIT proved it is possible to inject the luminescent chemical used by fireflies into leaves so that they shimmer brightly.

In watercress, the leaves gave off a light strong enough to read a book by, and the scientists believe that plants could one day illuminate homes and offices, without the need for electricity, as well as providing street lighting.

“The vision is to make a plant that will function as a desk lamp — a lamp that you don’t have to plug in,” said senior study author Michael Strano, Professor of Chemical Engineering at MIT.

“The light is ultimately powered by the energy metabolism of the plant itself.

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