Monthly Archives: September 2011


The MP for Brighton Pavilion, Caroline Lucas, has been named ‘MP of the Year’ in the Scottish Widows & Dods Women in Public Life Awards – just 16 months after she was elected as the first Green to enter the UK Parliament.

The title was awarded to the Brighton Pavilion MP, who is also leader of the Green Party of England and Wales, for proving to be ‘the most effective woman in the House of Commons who has shown outstanding achievement during the parliamentary year’.

Since being elected in the 2010 general election, the MP has also been named ‘Best All Rounder’ in the Total Politics End of Year MP awards – and ‘Newcomer of the Year’ by the Spectator in its 2010 Parliamentarian of the Year awards.

On receiving the accolade from Scottish Widows and Dods, Caroline said:

“I am delighted that my work as a Member of Parliament has been recognised in this way. It is an incredible honour to serve the people of Brighton Pavilion and I will continue to strive to be the strong and principled voice which our city deserves. Until we see far more women represented at senior levels in politics and industry, playing a far greater role in decision making at the top, I think awards like these are an important way of highlighting and celebrating female achievement.”

In Parliament, Caroline is a Co-Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Fuel Poverty, and Vice Chair of the Public and Commercial Services, Sustainable Housing, Animal Welfare, and CND All Party Parliamentary Groups. She is also a member of the Parliament’s Environmental Audit Committee, and sits on the Energy Bill Committee.

Caroline continues to be an active campaigner on a range of issues and is Vice President of Stop the War Coalition and the RSPCA, a CND National Council Member, a Director of the International Forum on Globalization; and a Matron of the Women’s Environmental Network.

Green Party Conference highlights

Hi folks,

I have just returned from the Autumn Conference in Sheffield where 500+ delegates chewed over a wide range of issues. The venue was excellent and the company was stimulating, as ever.

The highlight for me was seeing one of our recent recruits, Vicky, immerse herself into the Conference, eager to learn and participate. And Tormie had a great time in the creche too!

Of the debates, fringes and workshops, the highlights for me were:

  • My maiden speech to conference making the case for the Party calling for an immediate moratorium – as opposed to a motion to call for an immediate outright ban – on fracking. This won the day convincingly.
  • Conference voting to pass an emergency motion calling on the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions to stop using IT firm ATOS as its assessor of benefit claimants. Concerns have been raised over the company’s suitability to conduct assessments, ranging from the lack of disabled access at their assessment centres to the shocking fact that 40% of their decisions have been found to be wrong on appeal
  • An excellent fringe meeting where Keith Taylor MEP was joined by the chief executive of Buglive and the founder of the Sheffield Honey Company to discuss why bees matter and what we can all do to boost their numbers.
  • An impassioned fringe calling for the Green Party to do more to embrace the ‘working class’ within its ranks, and counter the middle class image it sometimes portrays.
  • An interesting fringe what stance the Green Party should be taking to so-called ‘Free Schools’ and Academies. As you can possibly imagine , I had a fair bit to say at this one.
  • A somewhat Wales focussed workshop on the Severn Barrage, which I successfully argued to be referred back for further work, as it was riddled with myths and based on out of date information.
  • It was great to see close links with some Trade Unions emerging, especially the PCS. Campaigners from PCS and FairPensions – who run JustPay!, the national campaign for Living Wage standards at FTSE 100 companies – will meet in Sheffield to urge all employers to pay the Living Wage rate; the minimum hourly wage necessary for housing, food and other basic needs for an individual and their family. The Living Wage currently stands at £8.30 per hour in London and £7.20 per hour for regions outside of the capital. This would have a huge positive impact on Bridgend.

Less inspiring was the inordinate amount of workshop and plenary time taken up thrashing out the regrettable mess GPEx managed to oversee in terms of making the Head of Media Relations redundant immediately after the Cardiff Conference. Hopefully, lessons will now have been learned and the Party will now be much closer to being the model employer we should have a right to expect it to be.

See more news of what went on at Conference here: and here:!/search?q=%23gpconf


PS – I finally got round to joining Green Left while at conference – next task is to find out the significance of the watermelon!

The Co-operative launch their FRACK FREE FUTURE campaign in Bridgend on 23rd September

Bridgend Green Party is proud and honoured to be able to announce the FRACK FREE FUTURE strand to the Co-operative’s TOXIC FUELS campaign is being launched with a prestigious event at the brand new Sony Theatre at Bridgend College.I have been working closely with Sarah Woods (longstanding Co-operative activist and recently appointed Frack Free Future Facilitator) over several months to bring this event to fruition. It is a lot more than just a screening of Gasland:

  • Before the screening, the event will have a keynote address from Calvin Jones, eminent Cardiff University lecturer, specialising in the environmental impact of economic activity
  • A ‘World Cafe’ style facilitated discussion on themes connected to the issue
  • Refreshments (supplied by the Co-operative) to sustain you through the evening
  • The premiere of 4 x 1 minute films , featuring local campaigners, which will form part of the online campaign
  • The opportunity to watch Gasland on the state of the art facilities of the new theatre and discuss the issues

At this stage, we are not making this event open to the general public. The format of the the event does restrict capacity considerably and we have taken the decision to try and ensure that as many of the key decision-makers as possible will be at this event. We have produced an invitation list that includes large numbers of MPs, AMs, Councillors, local activists and affected residents, and key media people.

However, I am keen that anyone with a strong interest in this issue has the opportunity to attend.

If you are keen to attend and have not yet received an invitation to the event via the Co-operative, please feel free to contact Clair Stevens at the Co-operative – her contact details are on the flier below – or me, Andy Chyba, at or 07810663241.

I wish to put on record my immense gratitude to the Co-operative, and Sarah in particular, for the support they have offered us here in Bridgend, and now around the country, in promoting this campaign. The Co-operative are funding this entire event.

Advice on grounds of complaint to test drilling applications

There are numerous difficulties in fighting test drilling applications, which will not involve fracking. The planning regime as it stands does not currently give much scope to consider the bigger indirect picture and the follow on consequences of what might be seen as a relatively benign test drilling application. Nonetheless, it is vital to muster as much opposition as possible, as early as possible, so that we can make life as difficult as possible for the planners and the applicants and thereby build momentum and pressure for the nationwide moratorium that should be our ultimate goal.The two principle issues that fall within the existing planning framework that apply to a purely test drilling application are:

This is an obvious ground for opposition, but one fraught with difficulties. Turn these difficulties to our advantage.

The advertised noise from the drilling equipment is not really the key issue. The stated 74dB, by CO&G, is noisy enough. The issue is how well controlled the noise is and environmental factors such as prevailing winds, surrounding topography and land use etc. The reality is that no-one can really predict exactly what the impacts will be. We can all conjure lies, damned lies and statistics when it comes to noise surveys before the event.

With background noise measured at c.20 dB, the noise predicted from the drills (by the CO&G commissioned survey) at the key properties has been contrived, by the assumptions underpinning the survey, to look acceptable. It is a best-case scenario. We could make a case for changing most of the assumptions and generate a worst case scenario in riposte.

My tack with the planners would be to emphasise that the assumptions made in any analysis are unlikely to match the reality on a consistent basis and that you want assurances that the drillers will be forced to take whatever remedial action may be necessary to eliminate any noise nuisance should it occur at any point during operations. This ought to be a perfectly reasonable condition for the planners to impose. It would probably be a fairly worrying one to the drillers, however, as they would have to take expensive precautions and face the fairly catastrophic (from their perspective) prospect of a shutdown if it were breached.

Noise nuisance should include secondary noise as well as the primary noise from the drill itself.

Related to noise is possible vibration issues that could be a significant impact to adjacent properties in particular. Again, this is extremely hard to predict, but it is entirely possible that resonances could occur within neighbouring properties that could generate secondary noise nuisance within the buildings, as well as issues from vibration disturbing people and equipment.

Another secondary noise impact could be from impacts on animals, such as the nearby dog kennels in the Llandow case. Noise surveys only generally consider the frequencies audible to humans. This sort of drilling could well generate frequencies that disturb animals – who could then disturb humans.

Again, there is a best and worst case scenario to be considered. Stress your opposition on the grounds of additional HGV traffic generated by the construction (heavy equipment) and drilling phases (water tankers) in terms of road safety, noise and damage to properties, accident potential, existing local traffic problems. Insist that, if approved, strict conditions be placed on permissible routes (this has been imposed in Bridgend) and times of movements.

Potential inadvertent release of methane into water supplies – they are drilling into gas bearing rocks even if not commercially extracting it at this stage.
Use of scarce water supplies – where is it being taken from?
What is to happen to the polluted produced water from the drilling?
The myth of any local employment from this – Bridgend based CO&G sub-contact drilling work to a Sunderland based company (Drillcorp) that supplies the drilling equipment and hires its own labour (from places like Liverpool in the case of one operation in Bridgend).

COMPETENCY OF THE PLANNING AUTHORITY – If the Leader of the Vale Council, Coun Gordon Kemp, acknowledges that the whole issue is beyond the scope of the planning system, then how can a decision by his own Planning Department (or indeed any Local Authority planning department) have any credibility?
See second half of this: and

I hope this is helpful.

Andy Chyba

Why we have to win and stop the frackers one way or another!

This is compelling. If the frackers are right and it is safe, she is right and water is lost to the water cycle. If she is wrong, the frackers are wrong and fracking is poisoning not just the groundwater, but the whole water cycle.

Fracking is the ultimate ‘NO WIN’ scenario:

My position on the Fracking motions at Conference this coming weekend

Looking at the final agenda for this Autumn’s Conference, starting on 9th September, you will find three fracking related motions C03, C04 and C05  (members only site)The first (C03) is a composite motion submitted by SOC (Conference Standing Orders Committee), which seeks to combine the other two to supposedly save Conference time.

The second (C04) is a essentially a call for an outright permanent ban submitted by Blackpool Greens Chair, Phil Mitchell, et al. It does, however, also include clauses aiming at greater regulation to minimise impacts.

The third (C05) is a short simple unambiguous motion from Richard Lane (Manchester GP) et al :
“The Green Party would put a moratorium on all onshore and offshore shale gas exploration, hydraulic fracturing (fracking), and coal bed methane extraction. A stronger scientific insight into the safety and environmental impact of these techniques is needed.”

Dealing with the ‘Blackpool’ one first, although I understand fully why they are calling for an outright permanent ban, I have argued strongly from the outset for an indefinite moratorium as a sounder intellectual standpoint that is likely to carry public opinion much more readily and thereby stand more chance of achieving the desired eventual outcome of a permanent ban on the practice of fracking. This position is shared by the Co-operative Toxic Fuels campaigners that I have been working closely with, and Kevin Anderson from the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, author of the most rigorous shale gas report to date ( ).

The most compelling argument for stopping fracking activity at the moment is the fact that no in depth scientific studies (geological, hydrological, biological, ecological, or even just plain logical!) have been undertaken to assess the impacts of fracking at the full range of spatial and temporal scales in the context of the crowded, geologically complex islands we live on. Given the evidence witnessed from other parts of the world, especially the USA, the case for undertaking this due diligence is overwhelming. Furthermore, I have no doubt that the result of doing the due diligence here will be an irrefutable case for banning the practice in the UK – and provide substance to the calls for a global ban.

In contrast, a call for an immediate permanent outright ban is all too easy to refute as it would be based on what opponents could call circumstantial evidence from less well-regulated countries (this is exactly what the pro-lobby – and Tim Yeo’s DECC report – has been trying to tell us). A call for such a ban smacks of another knee-jerk reaction from the ‘tree-huggers’. You can see the headlines in the Daily Mail, can’t you?

If this main thrust to the ‘Blackpool’ motion were not misguided enough, they then proceed to ‘muddy the waters’ by adding the clauses about regulation and minimising impacts, as if they know that their call for an outright ban is bound to fall on deaf ears and they therefore need a fall back position. Surely, their fall back position should have been the immediate moratorium, rather than accepting fracking is going to happen and that we need to try the control the ‘evil genie’ once it is out of the bottle.

Turning to the SOC composite motion, this combines the call for a moratorium, a la C05, with the fall back position of greater regulation to minimise impacts. It therefore undermines itself in the same way as the ‘Blackpool’ motion. It is a tangled mess – and that is never a recipe for saving time.

The Manchester motion gets it right. It is an unequivocal call a moratorium to allow the due diligence to be done. Pure and simple. Less is more. No fall back position needed.

Andy Chyba
Chair Bridgend Green Party


Sustainable Wales’ ‘POWER FOR THE PEOPLE’ community-based solar project goes live – REGISTER INTEREST TODAY! !!

Bridgend Green party has fully endorsed Sustainable Wales’ ground-breaking community solar project that will help provide energy resilience for homes and rejuvenate communities across Bridgend and Vale of Glamorgan county boroughs. Indeed Andy (Chair) and Neil (Treasurer are co-opted members of the steering committee for the project.The scheme offers households in the two boroughs free pv (photo voltaic) solar panels for their homes. These will generate an environmentally-friendly, free source of electricity for the homeowners. The scheme will also provide a funding stream to support charities and social enterprises.Sustainable Wales is not alone in wanting to take action against keys issues such as climate change and fuel poverty. They have teamed up with a consortium of five community-focused social enterprises (G-Cel) to deliver the project in areas of south-east Wales. *1.Margaret Minhinnick, Director of Sustainable Wales said today: “ The twin issues of climate change and fuel poverty are crucial to our society. They pose a double threat to our way of life. This solar scheme will help homes become more energy-resilient and help rejuvenate communities across Bridgend and the Vale of Glamorgan”. In fact the project is the first of its kind in Wales and will hopefully spread across the whole of the country and beyond”.

Sustainable Wales wants to help 500 south-facing (+/- up to 45 degrees) households with the installation of solar photo voltaics. This will contribute to the G-Cel consortium’s initial target of 2500 homes. This could save an estimated 3000 tonnes of C02 per year, while helping low-income households deal with fuel poverty.

Project Development Officer, Rob McGhee said, “This project will make a real difference for householders feeling the effects of rising energy prices as well as supporting community organisations suffering from the government cuts. To find out more or help contact, Sustainable Wales’ on 01656 783405 or email info. There is a page devoted to the issue on Hard copy leaflets are available from SUSSED at 92, John St. Or the SW office.


*1. The ‘G-Cel’ consortium

The project has partners all linked into G-Cel, a consortium of well – established community-based groups of which Sustainable Wales and SUSSED Wales are members. G-Cel is a new social enterprise established to obtain the required finance, the technical back-up and practical skills. (Groups include: Creation Dev Trust, New Sandfields Aberavon Dev Trust, SUSSED Wales, Green Renewable Wales (technical back-up and installation), Glyncoch Community Regeneration Ltd, Action in Caerau – Ely)

I WOULD URGE YOU ALL TO REGISTER YOUR INTEREST – print out the form below or if you have an questions or would like to register your interest via phone call: 01656 783405 or email There is a page devoted to the issue on Hard copy leaflets are available from SUSSED at 92, John St. Or the SW office.



Please note: This form does not commit you to having Solar Panels. It registers your interest in the project. If your property meets the requirements, a structural engineer will call to examine the roof and provide you with full details and advise you of your eligibility. There will be community benefits from every installation.

Please tick or complete the following, as appropriate.

  1. Detached Semi-detached Terraced Flat
  2. Owner-occupier Mortgaged Rented (Inc Council or Housing Association)
  1. When was the property built? ______.
  2. Is the roof south-facing? FRONT BACK OTHER
  3. Is the attic clear of obstruction? YES NO □(NOTE: For the safety of the installers we require clear access to the underside of the roof (south side) in the attic space)
  1. For scaffolding, is there a clear space to the south-facing exterior of the property?

YES NO □(NOTE: Space required approx 10ft long x 8ft wide.)

  1. Is there a skylight on the south-facing roof? YES NO
  2. Do you have more than 6 inches of loft insulation? YES NO
  3. Do you have cavity wall insulation? YES NO
  1. How did you find out about the project?…………………………………………………..


PHONE NO………………………………………………..




Your personal details are covered under the DATA Protection Act and will not be sent to any organisation other than those directly involved in the project.

If you have an questions or would like to register your interest via phone call: 01656 783405 or email

Return by Hand or post to: Sustainable Wales, 41 John Street, Porthcawl CF36 3AP.