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.”