Monthly Archives: February 2011

Cardiff Conference backs the Bridgend Green’s anti-fracking campaign with an emergency motion

Green Party calls for a halt to fracking

The Green Party called today for a ban on the controversial and often risky gas extraction technique of hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as fracking. (1)

In an emergency motion (2) passed by the partys spring conference, the Greens are calling for more analysis of the effects of fracking before it is considered for development in the UK.

Caroline Lucas MP, leader of the Green Party, said after the motion passed that she was very worried about the potentially disastrous consequences of fracking to peoples health and the environment. She went on to say that it would be entirely foolish to allow a potentially dangerous form of extraction to be developed in the UK without further studies being carried out. The motion at conference is the culmination of vociferous campaigning by Blackpool and Fylde Green Party, who have been fighting plans to bring fracking to England; while Bridgend and Swansea Green Parties have been doing likewise in South Wales (3) .

James Abbott, Green Party spokesperson for Science and Technology, pointed out that fracking has consequences beyond its impact on local communities:

As well as the local impacts, including potential groundwater contamination, shale gas exploration is part of the ever more desperate hunt for fossil fuels as conventional supplies are set to fail to meet demand.

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Notes

(1) The recently released film Gasland highlights the many negative effects of fracking in the USA.

(2) Text of the emergency motion:

‘The oil and gas industry is seeking to exploit UKonshore gas reserves trapped in shale rock and coal beds requiring environmentally damaging and risky techniques, including hydraulic fracturing (fracking). This conference condemns the coalition government for refusing to impose a ban, demanded by environmental groups, on shale gas, and on the related coal bed methane extraction industry, at least until the results of studies here and in the US have been considered.

This conference expresses concern at the historicfirst UK use of this technology at a site of an important groundwater aquifer and notes that over 80 further applications have been applied for around the UK.’

Conference instructs GPEX to publicise the issues to enable the Green Party at every level to take a firm line to protect communities, drinking water and the environment.

(3) See coverage of the issue that includes comments by Andy Chyba in today’s editions of the Western Mail and South Wales Echo

Vote “Yes for Wales” on 3rd March

With just 4 days until the Assembly powers referendum, The Green Party has reaffirmed its support to the “Yes for Wales” campaign, and had support at its Cardiff Conference from Patrick Harvie MSP, co-convenor of the Scottish Greens, Steven Agnew, Northern Ireland Green Party Leader, and Caroline Lucas, leader of the Green Party of England and Wales. Essentially, this referendum is about giving Wales parity with Scotland and Northern Ireland in devolution terms.

Jake Griffiths, Wales Green Party Leader, said:

“A Yes vote will allow the Assembly to get on with the job of making laws that improve the lives of people in Wales. The scandal of Westminster holding up mental health legislation for 3 years, despite full support from all parties, shows how bureaucratic the current system is.

“The Assembly has managed to insulate Wales from some of the harshest spending cuts, such as the lower cap on tuition fees. A yes’ vote will strengthen the Assembly to take a different path from the one of cuts and privatization in Westminster.

“Wales is one of only three democracies in the world to have a sustainability duty written into its constitution, a yes’ vote on could really allow Wales to take this agenda forward and become a world leader in the green economy.”

Caroline Lucas, leader of the Green Party of England and Wales:

“Wales was first to propose a Smoking Ban but could only put it into practice four years later, as Wales needed to wait for Westminster to pass an enabling Act. This, and other important measures, such as suspending the right to buy, are not deserving of the delays that will continue in the event of a “no” vote.

“This March, it is vital that we give Wales a stronger voice. Policies are being forced through Westminster that are so clearly against the interests of the people of Wales. With a “yes” vote, this can be stopped, easing the strain on some of the most vulnerable people in society.”

Patrick Harvie MSP, co-convenor of the Scottish Greens, said: “Devolution has opened up opportunities for radical politics in Scotland, and broken open the “winner takes all” system which still dominates Westminster. The Greens in the Scottish Parliament have built a reputation for working creatively across party lines when it’s possible, and bringing a clear challenge to business-as-usual politics. This is a change that can come to every part of the UK too. If voters in Cardiff send Jake Griffiths into an Assembly with full law-making powers, Wales will see the difference that Green politics can bring.”

Steven Agnew, NI Green Party Leader, said: “The big advantage of devolution in NI is that we are resolving our disputes through democratic channels rather than violence on our streets. Communities that were once divided are increasingly coming together on issues, such as health education and environment.

“Devolution in NI has brought politics closer to the people. In the past, we had ministers who did not know NI. Now we have ministers from NI who know NI.

“For environmental NGOs this has meant direct access to decisionmakers and the ability to ensure accountability when the wrong decisions have been made. Whilst as a party of opposition, we often get frustrated if things aren’t moving fast enough, it is important to also recognize how far we have come.”

Conference half-way highlights

COME ALONG SUNDAY AND/OR MONDAY IF YOU CAN

Response in the Gazette from Lib Dem candidate in Ogmore

Today, 24th Feb., saw a response in the Gazette (pg42) from Gerald Francis of Ogmore Lib Dems to my letter some weeks calling for more constructive dialogue between local parties. Following on from the constructive dialogue with Bridgend Conservatives, I hope we can achieve some meaningful dialogue with local Lib Dems now. My reply to Gerald is below:

Dear Gerald,

I read your response in today’s Gazette with interest. I suspect that there was some poor editing by the Gazette – as is their habit – but there are clearly things worth us getting together to discuss.

It would appear that there is some common ground between us with regards to inland wind turbines, but I would certainly like a broader discussion of the many other renewable energy options here in South Wales, and some potentially very disturbing proposals in your constituency of Ogmore.

There ought to be common ground on other topics too. I was a Lib Dem for many years after all. Your accusation of having a disingenuous snipe was, I presume, in regard to my comment about broken promises over tuition fees. Let me clarify. It is the nature of coalition government that compromises have to be made. I have voiced support for the Lib Dem role in blunting the cutting knife of the Tories and in securing a few key strands of your manifesto – such as raising the tax threshold. However, there were clearly misjudgments on the tuition fees issue that have caused the Lib Dems greater problems than they foresaw. It would be disingenuous of you to suggest anything different.

However, I empathise with your predicament in this matter. I would be interested in discussing your perspective on coalition government from a grass roots perspective, bearing in mind that it is a predicament that we currently aspire to.

As I have said to others, as a minority party, we will look to offer constructive support on areas of common concern. We will also, however, hold people to account for broken pledges and misrepresentations – in any area of policy. I am sure you would feel much the same.

You appear to be keen to meet sometime next week. I would love to get together, but next week is especially difficult for me, and Mondays and Thursdays are always difficult. Could I therefore suggest either Tuesday 8th or Wednesday 9th March – at a venue that suits you. It can be just me and you, or would you prefer to include colleagues?

I look forward to continued dialogue.

Yours sincerely,

Andy Chyba
Chair Bridgend Green Party

St David’s Day Debate – Do we need more powers for the Assembly?

The Green Party has organised a St David’s Day Debate that will consider the
question ‘Do we need more powers for the Assembly?’

The event will be held on Tuesday 1st March in The Environment Centre, Pier
Street, Swansea, SA1 1RY starting at 7:30pm. Entry is free, and everyone is
Welcome. Andy has spare seats in his wagon at the moment for Bridgend members.

Speakers will include Lee Waters of ‘Yes for Wales’ and Len Gibbs from ‘True
Wales’. Introductory speeches will be followed by questions from the floor
and open debate.

Keith M Ross of Swansea Green Party, who will chair the debate, said, “With
just a few days to go before the Referendum on increased powers for the
Assembly we wanted to give people one last chance to hear the arguments
before they vote.

“This is an critical moment for Wales, and the outcome of the Referendum
will has a significant impact on the future shape of government in Wales.
It’s important that people make an informed choice on the issue, and we hope
our debate will contribute to this.

“If you haven’t yet decided how you will vote in the Referendum on March 3rd
– or even if you have – come along and hear the arguments for and against.”

GASLAND – Oscar nominated ‘fracking movie in Cardiff

The Chapter Arts Centre is showing GASLAND at the following times:

Fri 25th Feb. 8.15pm
Sat 26th Feb, 5.45pm
Tue 1st Mar. 8.30pm
Wed 2nd Mar 6.15pm
Thu 3rd Mar 8.30pm

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!!

(There is a version with russian subtitles on youTube, but it is probably contravening copyright, so please go see it on the big screen – its production values justify it!)

For more on fracking – especially locally: https://bridgendgreens.wordpress.com/?s=fracking

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.

More details of the film and cinema can be found here: http://www.chapter.org/21887html

(I am provisionally planning to go on the Friday night, after Conference, as it is only a mile or so away from the Conference venue – Andy)

“In China, the true cost of Britain’s clean, green wind power experiment ” Daily Mail

An email I received recently and my response. Any other contributions to this debate would be welcomed. Use the Comments section or contact me through the usual channels. Andy

Hi Brian,

 

Thank you very much for taking the trouble to bring this issue to my attention. I have some awareness of the matter. I am not sure quite what the focus of your concern is, but I am happy to share these observations with you.

China has an appalling environmental and human rights record in connection with just about any industrial activity you care to mention. This is something we are very concerned about and is something we have been lobbying about for many years (see this report on Green Leader, Caroline Lucas, raising the issues in 2005: http://www.carolinelucasmep.org.uk/2005/08/30/meps-adopt-lucas-report-on-trade-between-the-eu-and-china-%E2%80%98bra-wars%E2%80%99-spreading/ )

The tone and emphasis of the Daily Mail article that you have flagged up is typical of this paper’s twisted agenda. It says that this is “one of a multitude of sins committed in the name of our new green Jerusalem”. I am sure you are capable of deciphering such loaded, emotive language. They are not campaigning out of any real compassion for the Chinese people affected. They are campaigning on behalf of British Tories who oppose wind turbines spoiling the views from their sea view windows (such as in Porthcawl) or their country (second home) cottages.

There is an issue with wind energy being perceived as the only meaningful renewable energy option. This is something we are also working to change. Check out our policy statement on energy here: http://policy.greenparty.org.uk/mfss/mfssen.html . The Daily Mail rarely has anything to say (good or bad) about most of these other options. It seems to have adopted the view that as the Green Party is the main left of centre option in Britain these days, and it is also the most serious environmental lobbyist (because environmental issues are of most threat to the most vulnerable people), it opposes most ‘green’ initiatives almost as a knee jerk reaction.

As for the issue of neodymium specifically, it is found in bastnäsite deposits in China and the United States, which constitute the largest percentage of the world’s rare-earth economic resources, and also in monazite deposits in Australia, Brazil, China, India, Malaysia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and the United States. Places like Canada demonstrate that it can be extracted safely – if there is the will to do so – and, yes, the willingness to pay the higher price. However,China is skillfully manipulating world trade in these and other rare commodities, and this is indeed cause for concern on a number of levels. It is likely to use the forces of supply and demand to force up the price of many rare commodities and essentially profiteer by holding the rest of the world to ransom; all the while treating its own people with contempt, as the Mail article does highlight.

The way forward is to address the issues of democracy, human rights, and environmental degradation in China itself; to address the world market mechanisms that allow the ‘haves’ to screw the ‘have nots’ at every level and scale; and to conduct the debate on our own energy future on the back of research, reason and an eye to the legacy we leave our children. This is why I am in the Green Party.

Insofar as the article adds weight to my own view that we need to broaden renewable energy options and reduce the focus on wind energy, I very much welcome you bringing this evidence to the forefront of my mind – especially as we have national Green Party Conference in Cardiff next week. I will seek to bring it into the debate where I can. http://www.greenparty.org.uk/conference.html

If you would like to discuss this or any other issue further, please do not hesitate to get back in touch.

Regards,
Andy Chyba
Bridgend Green Party

Date: 02/18/11 14:02:04
Subject: Check out In China, the true cost of Britain’s clean, green wind power experi

Hello Andy.
I read your letter in yesterdays Glamorgan Gazette and looked up your details on Google.
You may have seen this report already.
Let me say that this report should transcend politics.
However it does not exactly fit in with what is called a green agenda.
It is a disaster for the people who are living there in horrific inhumane conditions. Makes a mockery (in this instance) of so called green energy.
I have sent the report to various Ministers and Politicians in both Westminster and the Welsh Assembly Government, plus the Press, Green Organisations and others.
A few replies maybe five, out of fifty plus emails sent.
You may possibly have more power to highlight this issue than me,
Any comment, can you do anything with this?
Regards.
Brian Saunders.