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THE next generation of nature lovers were given a huge boost by wildlife presenter Steve Leonard when he helped launch the UK’s OPAL project that has won £11.7m grant money from the Big Lottery Fund.
Steve, a star of such shows as Vets in Practice, Vets in the Wild, Ultimate Killers and Journey of Life, was delighted to lend his support to the first Open Air Laboratories project at the National History Museum.
OPAL will give people tools and support needed to allow them to identify, study, monitor and record plants and wildlife in their local areas. The idea being people can check local ponds, woodlands, field, window boxes and other areas used by wildlife and nature.
Info will then be gathered together for the first community led study of its kind. Steve said: “OPAL is a great way for people to find our more about the wildlife on our doorstep.
“By getting involved in these fun, free activities, people can help uncover new insights into the environment where they live.”
Five surveys investigating the key areas of soil, air
biodiversity, water and climate are scheduled to take place across England between now and 2012.
OPAL Director Dr Linda Davies said: “It will encourage more people to spend time outside exploring, studying and enjoying their local environments.
“There is so much to discover and together we hope to gain a much greater understanding of the world around us, and how to protect it.”


ONE of the UK’s leading power companies, E.ON, has produced a helpful festive guide on helping households save both money and energy over Christmas.
E.ON’s Green Queen, Emma Thompson, said: “We all know what a demanding time of year Christmas can be.
“With these top tips, even the busiest household
can reduce their energy consumption and energy bills over the 12 days of Christmas.”

12 top tips for the 12 days of Christmas

1 Before you leave the office and head off on holiday, switch your PC and monitor off, rather than leaving them in ‘standby’ mode.
2 This Christmas, use energy- saving LED lights. They create a
festive atmosphere using 90% less electricity than conventional fairy lights.
3 Be sparing with outdoor lights. Leaving them on for 10 hours a day produces enough CO2 to fill 12 balloons in as many days. Use a timer switch.
4 It can be tempting to ‘up’ the thermostat for extra warmth during a cold snap, but bear in mind that for every 1oC you turn it up you could add 10% to your fuel bills.
5 Lots of parties to go to? Set up a car sharing rota with friends, letting you enjoy a mulled wine or two and minimise your festive carbon footprint.
6 Cook sprouts the quick way: boil water with a kettle rather than the hob and keep lids on your saucepans.
7Maximise the space in your oven by cooking extra to be stored or frozen – then you’ll have extra for surprise visitors.
8 Don’t delay! Many ovens, especially fan ovens, need little or no preheating.
9 Instead of washing up as you go along, wait until you have a full load in the dishwasher and use a low energy programme to help soften the blow and help keep costs down.
10 Rather than occupy a whole houseful f rooms, get together to watch TV, play computer games or board games. It’s cheaper – and better fun.
11 Electrical devices still use up to 70% of their energy in standby mode. Turn off TVs and so on when not in use.
12 Make a New Year resolution to run an energy-friendly house. Use an energy saving monitor to help you watch your carbon consumption. (
For more energy-saving tips, visit
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