Swansea Public Meeting + Penarth Green Question Time + Come Dine with Me!!

It has been a busy week, with a couple of outstandingly successful events.

On Tuesday, I was happy to share the platform with a guy called Ed from FRACK OFF (who had come all the way from Brighton with a few colleagues) at a well attended public meeting (70+) held at the Environment Centre in Swansea, sponsored by Swansea FoE and Swansea Green Party.

Between us we ran through the key implications of the mad rush to exploit extreme fuels. Ed focussed on UCG (Underground Coal Gasification) – planned for Swansea Bay – while I focussed on tight gas (such as Shale Gas) – sites to the north of Swansea – which can both involve fracking and whole range of serious consequences.

This was followed by a lively Q&A session which covered issues ranging from CCS (Carbon Capture and Storage) to planning issues.

The whole tone of the meeting was about informing people and making clear what we DO know and what we DO NOT know. Both Ed and I tried to keep things factually grounded and rational. It has long been clear to me that there is no need to exaggerate or misrepresent things with these issues. We can leave these tactics to the the ‘other side’ as they get increasingly desperate to secure their crocks of gold at the expense of all of us and future generations.

There was a clear sense that the attendees see the need to oppose all such developments and I challenged them to follow the Lllandow model of grass roots opposition and offered them my support in doing so. I hope someone over there will now pick up and run with it!

On Thursday, Neil, John and I went down to the Windsor Arms in Penarth for a Green Question Time sponsored by Gwyrddio Penarth Greening. This was again a packed room (60+) showing yet again that there is a growing appetite to engage with these issues.

There was a high quality panel (https://bridgendgreens.wordpress.com/2012/02/16/green-question-time-penarth/) that grappled with issues such as renewable energy, fracking, incineration, nuclear power and food. Our very own Pippa Bartolotti was outstanding, showing a passion and knowledge that the other panelists had to acknowledge. Eluned Parrott (Lib Dem AM) and Leanne Wood (Plaid Cymru AM) both exhibited a clear commitment to the Green agenda on these issues. David Melding (Con AM) waffled on and sat on the fence most of the time.

Vaughan Gething (Labour AM) was the biggest shock, to me at least, as with only the evidence of their utterances at this event, you would have sworn that he was the Tory!!! At national level this not even remotely surprising any more, but I constantly hear from Labour activists that here in South Wales they still cling to their socialist heritage. Well not in Mr Gething’s case he doesn’t, despite his Union and Co-operative connections. He kept banging on about being ‘honest’ about the shortcomings of renewables and the need for nuclear and the probable need for incineration and the slow gestation of new technologies etc. It would have been nice if he had had the decency to ‘honestly’ say that the reason he thinks all this is because he knows there is no intention of the Labour Party (or any shade of Government likely to gain power) making the commitment and putting in the investment to create the renewable energy infrastructure, that we all know we will have to rely on sooner or later, while we still have the relatively cheap quick fix of fossil fuels to exploit. Shameless and shameful. That he sits on the Environment and Sustainability Committee worries me after this evening. Maybe, as a GMB member, he is hoping to see a big comeback for Boilermakers!!

P.S. One unexpected fun twist was the revelation that Pippa has been starring in Come Dine With Me on Ch4 this week!
Here is the episode where “Pippa Bartolotti hopes to work her magic with an ‘Up-cycling’ dinner party, including locally-sourced vegetarian food, charity shop dress, and fortune-telling with witch doctor’s bones!”

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