Monthly Archives: January 2011

Constructive dialogue between Bridgend Greens and Bridgend Conservatives

RESPONSE TO CONSERVATIVES’ POINTS OF VIEW LETTER

(Published in the Gazette on 10/02/11)

 

I was delighted by the response in the Gazette from Bridgend Conservative Association Chairman, Wayne Buffett Warlow, to my call for more constructive politics in Bridgend. Delyth Miller and I were also pleased to accept his invitation to the launch of their local Environment Action Day. It was, perhaps, a disappointingly low key affair, but it did give us the opportunity to sit down with colleagues from both parties (including WAG candidates from both parties) and convivially discuss issues of mutual concern. I think we were all pleased to find numerous areas of mutual interest and areas where we should be happy to support each other.

For example, the Conservative campaign is keen to see the promotion of a wider range of renewable energy sources, believing that there is too much emphasis on wind energy. We have been promoting this for a long time – and we were happy to share ideas on how this can be pursued. We all recognised the immense untapped potential for all sorts of renewable energy in South Wales.

I was also pleased to see a recognition of the reality that flooding is inevitably going to be an issue of growing concern. I was delighted to see the term ‘Blue Belt’ land on their literature. Similar to ‘Green Belt’, it means very tight planning constraints, but in this case on areas of high flood risk. This needs some further ‘joined up thinking’ as current national government policy, embodied in the Sustainable Communities Plan, actually encourages new development on flood plains – but hopefully we can ensure that this does not happen around Bridgend.

I hope this will be a start of ongoing constructive dialogue between all parties locally. We will always have ideological differences, but we all live in the same environment and have the same things at stake. As a minority party, we know we are a long way away from holding the reigns of power. We need constructive dialogue to help steer the powers that be, and I was pleased to hear positive comments from Conservatives about how much the Green Party has achieved in this respect. Our role is to support steps in the right direction and to hold the other parties to account for pledges that they make, not just in terms of environmental issues, but in all policy areas.

We have seen that broken promises are the biggest cause of problems in our politics (as the Lib Dems know with regards to tuition fees). Words and promises are cheap and ‘greenwashing’ as a publicity stunt is all too common with big companies and some politicians. The most encouraging thing from this meeting of Greens and Conservatives was the sentiment that it should all be about getting things done – before it is too late for all of us! Let it be.

Andy Chyba
Chair of Bridgend Green Party
Blog: https://bridgendgreens.wordpress.com/
Mobile: 078 1066 3241
Email: greens@chyba.go-plus.net

Shale Gas Inquiry

Kathy Lewis has alerted me to this, having spotted a reference to it in a Western Mail article on 27th Feb (anyone got a copy please?)

The Energy and Climate Change Committee issued a call for written evidence for its forthcoming inquiry into Shale Gas. Unfortunately the deadline for written evidence has passed already (Thursday 13 January 2011). I cannot find a date for the inquiry as yet.
http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/energy-and-climate-change-committee/inquiries/shale-gas/

“Shale gas is an unconventional fossil fuel, which means that additional procedures are required to extract it beyond regular drilling. Many such unconventional sources of oil and gas were formerly too difficult (or uneconomic) to extract until recent advances in drilling technology. A combination of directional drilling and a process called hydraulic fracturing have made accessible large amounts of natural gas locked up in the tight pores of shale formations at depths of 2km or more. Successes in the United States have driven prospecting across Europedrilling began earlier this year in Lancashire. It is estimated that the UK could be producing around 10% of its current gas needs from shale if it can be extracted at a commercial rate.

Respondents are free to comment on any issues they consider relevant, although the Committee particularly welcomes evidence addressing the following:

  • What are the prospects for shale gas in the UK, and what are the risks of rapid depletion of shale gas resources?
  • What are the implications of large discoveries of shale gas around the world for UK energy and climate change policy?
  • What are the risks and hazards associated with drilling for shale gas?
  • How does the carbon footprint of shale gas compare to other fossil fuels?”

Climate Week campaign – pause for thought!

Huw Irranca-Davies MP (Labour – Ogmore Constituency) got his picture in the Gazette this week promoting ‘Climate Week’ (March 21-27).
I suppose I should be applauding him in promoting this awareness raising exercise, in his role as Shadow Minister for Energy and Climate Change.
So, well done Huw! 

However, when I clicked onto the Climate Week website, I started to get an uneasy feeling straight away.
http://www.climateweek.com/
A term that I have started to see more and more of is GREENWASHING – and it stinks:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greenwashing

Big corporate sponsors smack you right between the eyes on the opening page of the Climate Week website:
Tesco, EDF Energy, Kellogg and RBS

Tesco’s green credentials have been examined by Friends of the Earth here:
http://www.foe.co.uk/resource/media_briefing/tesco_agm_2006.pdf

EDF’s green credentials are examined here:
http://www.powerbase.info/index.php?title=EDF_Energy

Kellogg’s green credentials are examined here:
http://www.theecologist.org/green_green_living/behind_the_label/269114/behind_the_label_kelloggs_nutrigrain_soft_bake_bars.html

RBS is infamous for its dirty investments:
http://www.wdm.org.uk/rbs-dirty-investments

So as much as it is great to see any initiatives that promote awareness of the dangers facing humanity from climate change, it is perhaps not surprising that greenwashing politicians are happy to collaborate with greenwashing companies.
http://www.climateweek.com/supporters/find-your-sector/fashion/ (Is this a Freudian slip – tagging this list as ‘fashion’)

At the end of the day, initiatives like Climate Week are merely tinkering around the edges of the problem. Not until we get a radical and fundamental restructuring of the way we live will we make significant enough inroads into the problems we face.

http://www.350resources.org.uk/2010/09/12/britain-must-adapt-to-inevitable-climate-change-warns-minister/

A positive response to my appeal for more positive politics – from Bridgend Conservatives!

My points of view submission to the Gazette a couple of weeks ago (see blog post dated 13 January ( https://bridgendgreens.wordpress.com/2011/01/13/points-of-view-submission/ ) has illicited a welcome response from the Chair of the Bridgend Conservative Association, Mr Wayne Buffett Warlow. (See Gazette 27/01 pg33) 

I quote: “Bridgend Conservative Association supports his call for more cross-party co-operation and is always seeking to encourage a more positive attitude to political debate in Bridgend and beyond” .

He goes on to promote a Welsh Conservatives initiative that they are calling Environment Action Day, on Saturday 29 January – this coming Saturday. Again I quote: “designed to focus attention on environmental issues and publicise our campaign to take party politics out of environmental policy and ensure sustainability is a key driver of the next Welsh assembly Government’s agenda”.

He goes on to invite me, and like-minded people (you?) to go along to their local launch of this campaign, at the Rose & Crown Hotel in Nottage, Porthcawl – Saturday 10.30am. Unfortunately, I know that myself, Neil and Tunney are otherwise engaged, but it would be great if someone could go along to have a closer look at what they are proposing. If anyone thinks they can make it, please ring me for a chat beforehand.

Andy (Mobile: 078 1066 3241)

Save Our Forests

The government is planning a massive sell off of our national forests. They could be auctioned and fenced off, run down, logged or turned into golf courses and holiday villages.

We can’t let that happen. We need to stop these plans. National treasures like the The Forest of Dean, Sherwood Forest and The New Forest could be sold off. Once they are gone, they will be lost forever.

A huge petition will force the government to rethink its plans. If we can prove how strongly the public are against this, they will have to back down. Please sign the petition now.

http://www.38degrees.org.uk/page/s/save-our-forests#petition
Read what Caroline Lucas has to say on the issue here:

http://www.carolinelucas.com/cl/media/caroline-warns-of-growing-anger-as-reckless-woodland-sell-off-plans-published.html

Do more:

Young Greens to present kettling petition to Metropolitan Police Authority

A petition will be presented to the Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA) on Thursday 27th January calling for the “kettling” or containment of people at demonstrations to be banned.

The petition comes after demonstrators were kettled by Metropolitan Police for up to 9 hours during a student protest against tuition fee rises on 24th November.

In advance of the presentation, Zain Sardar, national committee member of the Young Greens, said:

We have had over 1900 people sign our petition, which calls for kettling to be banned when there is no threat of violence between conflicting groups of protesters.

“In recent tuition fee protests, we’ve seen indiscriminate kettling by police of peaceful protesters. People have been kettled for up to nine hours without food and without medical assistance for those who require it.

“We have seen how kettling can turn a peaceful protest into an event where those who attend are effectively imprisoned and punished. Containment should only be used a tactic of last resort, as kettling is an infringement of the fundamental right to peaceful protest.”

Jenny Jones, Green member of the London Assembly and the Metropolitan Police Authority, said:

“The Met have used kettling to illegally imprison peaceful campaigners and have shown they can’t be trusted with such a powerful tactic. The Met’s reputation sinks even further every time they abuse their powers and it’s time to stop this particular mistreatment.”

Caroline Lucas, Green MP for Brighton Pavilion, has also signed EDM 1257, which “believes kettling to be an infringement of the fundamental right to peaceful protest; and calls on the Government to take steps to stop this practice.”

GASLAND – coming to Cardiff in February – see what the FRACKING fuss is all about!

The Co-operative presents Gasland, as part of its Toxic Fuels campaign, which aims to highlight the global trend of extracting oil and gas from unconventional sources, such as tar sands and gas shales. Such exploitation threatens global efforts to avoid dangerous levels of climate change and risks local ecological disaster.

It is coming to the Chapter Arts Centre cinema, Canton, Cardiff ( http://www.chapter.org/planvisit/index.HTML ) to coincide with the Cardiff Conference.
It is being screened from Friday 25th February to Thursday 3rd March. (Conference is Friday to Monday of this same week)

It is a MUST SEE film for all who want to understand why we should be so concerned about the proposed fracking in Bridgend County – everyone in Llangeinor, Lewistown, Ognore Vale, Blackmill, Bettws, and Bridgend itself should see this movie!!

And it has just been nominated for an OSCAR too! Yesterday it was announced that Gasland has been nominated for the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. UK film critics have hailed Gasland as “Powerful, disturbing and important” (The Sunday Mirror) and “Essential viewing” (The Observer), to name but a few.

Bridgend Green Party members should therefore clear their diaries and get into Cardiff for a day at Conference ( http://www.greenparty.org.uk/conference.html ) followed by an evening at the cinema!! See you all there!