Monthly Archives: July 2011

Compass encourages Labour / Green Party co-operation

Food for thought here. Personally, I think this reflects not so much the Labour movement looking at the Green Party position on sustainability etc. – but more a realisation that the Green Party is the most credible left-of-centre/socialist party in Britain today.

Reviews a new e-book by Compass (the UK’s most influential left-of-centre pressure group), Good Society / Green Society? The Red-Green Debate. The collection of essays hopes to stimulate deeper discussion between greens and the broader progressive movement, both within and outside the Labour party.


In one of the opening contributions to the book, Victor Anderson (former environment advisor in Ken Livingstones Cabinet) argues that these are auspicious times for red-green relations. Gone are the days, he writes, when socialists used to reject environmentalism as merely a bourgeois distraction; the state of the planet has got too bad to support that view any more. Instead,

although social democracy still has more impact in the world than green politics does, the greens are no longer the poor relation in the dialogue that they once were, and they have a clarity which many on the left envy.

Socialist thinking has been in decline for twenty years, but the green analysis has become sharper as the scientific evidence base for ecological problems has grown.


Is an EU ban on fracking around the corner?


We started in a muddy field near Llangeinor in January. A mere7 months later, we have the first indications that the EU may consider banning it.

Extract taken from:

In a study requested by the European Parliament’s Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, scientists conclude that “at a time when sustainability is key to future operations it can be questioned whether the injection of toxic chemicals in the underground should be allowed, or whether it should be banned as such a practice would restrict or exclude any later use of the contaminated layer… And as long-term effects are not investigated.”

Bailey further explains “while the toxic chemical input is of major concern, the industry fails to respond sufficiently on the many other problems of oil and gas exploration and production, which is becoming more risky as resources run out. These problems include leaks or failures of steel and cement drill casings, deep-well injection of toxic waste which may also increase seismic activity, the storage of explosives on farms and in communities during seismic surveying, increased green house gas emissions, offshore and onshore oil spills that damage fisheries, and waste product contamination of air, water and soils.”

“The industry’s failures are backed up by insufficient laws that often do not require resource consent, do not provide adequate testing or follow-up procedures and rarely allow for public input. The levels for determining who is an affected party are ridiculously low and those parties have little power to change the activities anyway. Landowners have legal rights to refuse entry but are often bullied or coerced into submission as can be seen in the US and Australia.”

“Calamity Spelman needs to start doing her job properly” Natan Doron

Natan Doron is a researcher at the Fabian Society.

Caroline Spelman became Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in David Cameron’s coalition cabinet in May 2010.

“Is every policy environment secretary Caroline Spelman associates with a shambles? After the forests sell off failure, the circus animals ban farce and the badger cull catastrophe, comes Spelmans unwanted meddling in our nations planning laws.”

See his article in full here:

Rory Stewart: Time to end the war in Afghanistan | Video on

It is not often I agree wholeheartedly with a Tory.

It is not often they know what they are talking about. This guy does.

How much is spent on chaplaincy services by Welsh NHS trusts?

The cost of hospital chaplaincy

  2007/8                   2008/9

North Wales NHS Trust          £ 159,289              £ 170,144

Velindre NHS Trust                   £ 18,934                £ 19,514

Cwm Taf NHS Trust                  £ 46,093                £ 97,809

Abertawe bro Morgannwg £ 218,299             £ 216,642

Hywel Dda NHS Trust                 £ 63,185             £ 115,774

Gwent Healthcare NHS Trust    £ 240,596             £ 251,483

North West Wales NHS Trust       £ 95,429             £ 103,877

Cardiff & Vale NHS Trust            £ 312,000             £ 300,845

Powys Local Health Board           £ 35,228               £ 38,119

======= =======

                                                  £1,189,013            £1,314,207

                                                       2009/10                 2010/11

Betsi Cadwladr NHS Trust*          £ 259,042             £ 221,619

Velindre NHS Trust#                       £ 57,162                £ 30,857

Cwm Taf NHS Trust                      £ 117,990               £ 111,974

Abertawe bro Morgannwg     £ 214,000               £ 231,842

Hywel Dda NHS Trust                   £ 124,556               £ 131,000

Aneurin Bevan NHS Trust             £ 259,910               £ 260,589

Cardiff & Vale NHS Trust#             £ 293,158               £ 293,351

Powys Local Health Trust                £ 46,603                £ 45,389

======== ========

                                                      £1,372,421             £1,326,621

The provision of a hospital chaplaincy service is not a statutory obligation for the NHS although it is a statutory obligation for the prison service and the armed forces. It is probably best described as a traditional provision by the NHS.

A million and a quarter pounds each and every year into the future may be seen as a small contribution but only by obtaining many such small contributions may these increasing demands be met.

The creation of a Hospital Chaplaincy Fund to cover the cost of religious care by hospital chaplains would relieve this drain on NHS resources.The proposed charity would need to raise about £1.5 million per year to maintain the present service. This is ought to be entirely achievable for a supposedly valued service. While the present fiscal arrangements are in place, a portion of this amount would be met by gift aid tax which is returned by the Treasury. The Welsh Air Ambulance charity raises £5 million per year.

In Wales the largest single faith community is the Anglican Church in Wales. Alan Rogers , of the Charitable Chaplaincy Campaign, has written to the Bishops and Archbishop of the Church in Wales suggesting that they might be the natural leaders in this enterprise. The reaction has been, the NHS has taken responsibility for religious care, so the Church need not act. Regrettably there appears to be a lack of leadership from the Church in this matter.

As a consequence, a strong political lead is required. The CCC suggest that this should perhaps amount to a declaration of a time period for the transition to charitable funding. Anyone want to second this motion?

Palestine petition

If you have read the posts about Pippa Bartolotti recently, I am sure you will want to support this petition.

The Palestinian people are calling on the world to recognise Palestine as a state. Over 120 countries have endorsed the call, but the US and Israel are opposing and key European leaders are on the fence. If we can persuade Europe and the UK to support this non violent, legitimate bid now, it could spur a dramatic shift towards peace. Click to sign the urgent petition:

Sign the petition

Fracking Hell? What will shale gas mean for the UK? Listen to the sound recording of this meeting

Caroline Lucas – from 3:10 to 10:30
Kevin Anderson – from 14:50 to 33:30
Michael Meacher – from 33:40 to 52:40
Phil Mitchell – from 52:50 to 63:20
Andy Chyba – from 63:25 to 67:55

N.B. Gareth Harris is in the bottom right corner.
Caroline Lucas left soon after speaking.

Alternative source:

“Fracking Hell? What will shale gas mean for the UK?” London Meeting – review

Andy and Gareth represented South Wales at this high profile event in Central London. Andy got to address the gathering after the four advertised speakers:

1. CAROLINE LUCAS MP – Caroline gave a brief synopsis of the main issues, acknowledging the greater expertise of others present. She re-stated the Party position of calling for an immediate moratorium on fracking.

2. Prof. KEVIN ANDERSON – Director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research that produced the recent report: Shale gas: a provisional assessment of climate change and environmental impacts, which recommends a moratorium on drilling shale gas in the UK. His presentation was rather academic but seemed to convey an inescapable message – we are pretty much peeing in the wind in terms of achieving emmission cuts that will avert very serious climate change consequences.
He was, nonetheless, categorical in insisting that shale gas should have absolutely no part in the energy futures of developed (rich) countries. He has revised his view with regards to developing (poor) countries; claiming that there is logic it letting them exploit their shale gas as long as it is instead of, rather than in addition to coal reserves.

3. MICHAEL MEACHER MP – was Minister of State for the Environment May 1997 to June 2003. I have largely been a fan of his over the years, but he pulled a shameless stunt here. He obviously woke up and realised he had not prepared a speech for this event. His breakfast read of the Guardian came to the rescue. This article, from yesterday’s Guardian by George Monbiot, is 90% of what he said – at least 50% of it word for word!!

4. PHIL MITCHELL – Chair of Blackpool Green Party. Not sure what to say about his speech. He was clearly very nervous. Some anecdotal evidence of some complaints of heightened respiratory problems near the fracked site was perhaps the most interesting element.

I was then invited to the rostrum and gave a quick synopsis of the evolving campaign in South Wales – the short lived NIMBY campaign around Llangeinor that quickly saw household name Centrica pull out of Bridgend County – the Vale Says NO campaign that achieved so much around the Llandow application – the evolving No Fracking UK campaign and the involvement with the Co-operative.

There followed a Q & A session which gave me reason to point out the web address on the back of my t-shirt on several occasions. I will be interested to see how the hit count goes.

Some good networking followed:

A couple of guys from the area that our ‘friends’ from Coastal Oil & Gas are targeting in Kent (‘Deal With It’ Transition Group) came for a chat – thanking us for the info provided and with a view to perhaps linking up at some point in opposition to CO&G and Eden.

An interesting young guy came and took my email address with the promise of providing information on training for direct action – so that sounds very interesting!

A lady from Artists Project Earth (APE) – the event sponsors – came for a chat, saying she regularly follows our blogs/websites and is a fan of what we are doing. She is excited by the prospect of getting TV coverage for us if we get involved in any direct action. She promises to be at Camp Frack with cameras. (Check out the excellent work and excellent CDs the APE do: – note the Fracking Campaign tab.)

Phil Mitchell then came over to offer his opinion that we are wrong to be calling for a Moratorium – he insists we should be calling for an outright ban. Thanks Phil.

Justin Woolford, Head of Campaigns at The Co-operative Group, (Sarah Woods’ line manager, I believe) came to introduce himself. He seemed impressed with what Sarah Woods had reported of our activities, and seemed conscious of criticisms I had made of the lack of fracking related material on the Toxic Fuels campaign website and literature. I hope we will work together on rectifying this. He is keen to address it.

Finally, we had a chat with event organiser Phil Thornhill, from the Campaign against Climate Change, thanking him for the opportunity to speak and assuring him of as much support we can muster for their next big fracking event – CAMP FRACK.

FOOTNOTE ON OUR RAIL TRAVEL EXPERIENCE: Train left Bridgend bang on time. Makes unscheduled stop at Didcot Parkway. Transpires there had been a fatality at Hayes & Harlington Station and all services suspended! Our train terminated there at Didcot. Move to another train – but only accommodation left was in First Class. Nevermind! Eventually arrive in Paddington 90 mins late. Make the Fracking Meeting with 10 minutes to spare. Time to stroll across the West End after the event before catching the last train out of Paddington home. Again departs on time. Fluctuates from fast out of stations to slow 20 mins later as it keeps catching and being slowed by a freight train ahead of it! Get to Bridgend 30 mins late at 1:45am!! It would not happen in Japan!!!

‘Conscious Oil’ – Exhibition and Event

‘Conscious Oil – Myth and Mind in the Age of Petroleum’, an exhibition of prints by Emily Johns is currently on display at The Environment Centre, Pier Street, Swansea, SA1 1RY – until 29 July. Well worth a visit.
In addition, there will be an “evening of talks, discussion and song” linked to the exhibition on Friday 22 July, 6-9pm in the Rhossili Room, Building K, Metropolitan University, Town Hill, Swansea, SA2 0UT.
The event will be chaired by Jane Davidson, the former Environment and Sustainability for Wales, and will feature Barrister and Environmental Lawyer Polly Higgins speaking about the Crime of Ecocide.
See poster:

Myth and mind in the age of petroleum

Event 6-9pm, Friday 22 July

Rhossili Room, Building K, Metropolitan University, Town Hill,

Swansea, SA2 0UT

An evening of talks, discussion and song hosted by Diana Marquand, taking

Us forward to a future of sustainability and diversity.

Lawyer and barrister Polly Higgins speaking about the Crime of Ecocide

With Q&A with Aghogho Okpako from the Niger Delta, chaired By Jane

Davidson, the former Environment and Sustainability Minister for Wales and

Director of INSPIRE, a new sustainability institute in Trinity St David University

Singing from Murton Community Choir Contact Diana Marquand, Voices from the Deep: 01994 484 480

Bridgend Green Party Meeting Agenda

Bridgend Green Party Meeting
Thursday 21st July 2011 at the COITY CASTLE INN Lounge.
Bottom of Tremains Road, (by big railway bridge) Bridgend, CF31 1HA . 8.00pm

  1. Welcome and Introductions
  2. Apologies for Absence
  3. Minutes and matters arising
  4. Officer reports
  5. Campaigns update – Fracking/’Power for the People’
  6. Elections – BCBC 2012
  7. Conference – September in Sheffield
  8. AOB
  9. DoNM – and next policy discussion topic

NOTE – new venue for trial period. 2 minutes walk from both the Bus and Train stations. Ample free parking in Llynfi Lane Car Park.
See map:

Insufficient commitment for a Maesteg Meeting at the moment. Will look at it again in the Autumn. I am hoping that, with the more accessible venue, people will travel from Maesteg and other areas.

There is certainly growing awareness of the fracking threat to the Maesteg area, as evidenced on some anti-fracking Facebook sites.