Monthly Archives: September 2012

Artic Ice melt meeting 26/9/2012

Videos of this event which featured Professor Peter Wadhams, Head of the Polar Oceans Physics Group at Cambridge University and John Vidal (Guardian Environment correspondent) who has just returned from visiting the Arctic on a Greenpeace vessel… are now posted at:

E-Petition:Alternative energy for street lighting

Welsh Govt. Petition:

We call upon the National Assembly for Wales to urge the Welsh government to convert streetlights on the trunk road system in Wales to an alternative energy source and to issue guidelines to the local authorities requesting they convert local streetlights to alternative energy.

Supporting Information : The Welsh Assembly Government claim that they are working along the lines of Agenda 21, which is to reduce pollution by reducing our energy consumption. During the night, street lighting sends our energy consumption levels to a high peak. So I feel that the Government should convert the street lights in the country to an alternative energy source. For example, Solar and wind energy is already used for some street signage and to convert all street lighting so this would provide extensive and sustainable employment for thousands and the electricity providers would then be able to reduce their prices to the consumer and the Local Authorities

Sign this petition

Underground Coal Gasification (UCG) in Swansea Bay

(Letter to the South Wales Evening Post)

The Lougher Estuary proposal (Coal firms bid to produce energy from under estuary, page 4, Tuesday 28 September) is part of a wider plan to exploit the coal seams under Swansea Bay.

The spokesman for Cluff Coal states that Underground Coal Gasification (UCG), had been demonstrated on a commercial basis in the US. I have serious doubts about this statement.

What has been demonstrated is that it is possible to extract gas from ignited underground coal seams in commercial quantities; but they are a long way from demonstrating that it is safe to do so.

The companies involved will, of course, tell you that it is perfectly safe and controllable, glossing over the fact that currently there are thousands of underground coal seam fires burning uncontrolled across the world.

In Germany there are records showing one coal seam that burned continuously for over 400 years, and another that was first ignited in 1668 continues to burn today.

In Centralia, Pennsylvania an underground coal seam has been burning since May 1962. This has resulted in the whole borough being cleared of residents and all properties being seized by the state and condemned.

To deliberately set light to any underground coal seam is utter folly; to propose to do this beneath the sea is sheer madness. In areas as environmentally sensitive as the Lougher Estuary and Swansea Bay it is totally unacceptable.


Keith M Ross

PS – Regular readers to this blog will know of our opposition to fracking. UCG is extreme energy of an even more reckless kind.

See: Http://

Liberal Democrat Conference FoE Fringe – ‘Fracking and the Second Dash for Gas’ – summary

Sat, 22 September 2012 | DeHavilland Report – Event
The Governments Energy Bill needs to back up renewables and should only leave a limited and clearly defined role for gas, Friends of the Earths Tony Bosworth said today.

At the event Fracking and the Second Dash for Gas, hosted by Friends of the Earth, Mr Bosworth was joined on the panel by local campaigners Tina Rothery from RAFF and Andy Chyba from The Vale says no, as well as by Howard Johns from Southern Solar and Councillor Sue McGuire of Sefton Metropolitan Borough Council.

Government Energy Policy

Opening the event, Mr Bosworth said the Government was facing two key decisions; whether to resume fracking in Lancashire, and what direction the Governments Energy Bill should take.

A dash for gas was not the solution, Mr Bosworth said, adding that there was still a limited role for gas in the energy landscape, which main purpose would be to back up renewables. This role needed to be clearly defined and limited, he added.

Mr Bosworth went on to outline the key reasons why shale gas was not the right solution for the UKs future energy strategy.

Firstly, it did not tackle the problem of climate change as gas was another fossil fuel. Secondly, there were considerable local and environmental risks attached to shale gas extraction, particularly with regards to ground water contamination, water resource depletion, air pollution and earthquake triggers.

Regulation was making industry safer, but not safe, he said.

Thirdly, the introduction of shale gas in the UK was unlikely to have an effect on energy bills, Mr Bosworth said, as rising gas prices lead to a rise in bills.

Later responding to a question from the Royal Society about independent research on fracking, Mr Bosworth said it was important to be aware of the vested interests in some scientific research. He added that there was clear evidence that fracking caused problems.

Residents response

The local residents of Lancashire felt unsafe after having sought information from representatives of the fracking industry, Tina Rothery from RAFF (Residents Action on Filed Fracking) told attendees.

The campaign had tried to engage with the energy company Cuadrilla to get more information about their work but was dissatisfied as they had been met by PR personnel rather than engineers.

She spoke about the shale gas industries interest in her local area in Lancashire and said what happened in her area would set precedence for the rest of the country.

Energy companies were able to avoid environmental impact assessments due to current lack of regulation, Ms Rothery warned.

The local campaigners in Wales had managed to force local authorities to set up a scrutiny committee into test drilling applications, said Green party activist and geographer/geologist Andy Chyba of The Vale says no campaign.

Campaigning against test drilling in parts of Wales had resulted in local interest and cross-party support, Mr Chyba said, adding that local authorities had unanimously opposed testing drilling for shale gas.

Despite that the local campaign in Wales was eventually lost and test drilling applications had been permitted, however, they had generated more attention and awareness about the issue, he said.

Community Energy Companies

Britain needed a community energy revolution, said Howard Johns of Southern Solar.

The expansion of renewable energy could be made through community-owned energy companies, he said.

The shift to renewables was particularly important as Britain had become increasingly dependent on gas imports, Mr Johns said, adding that there were both economic and geopolitical issues attached to the import of gas from countries like Qatar and Russia.

Using examples from Germany, Mr Johns said that solar energy output was increasing and was a technology that could be quickly deployed.

Renewables remained in their infancy in Britain and the Big Six would not contribute to improving the matter. This was where community-owned energy companies could make a difference, Mr Johns said.

Responding to a question from the floor, Mr Johns said that access to the grid was an issue for renewable energy companies due to the associated costs.

Fracking Regulation

It was important to have the right legislation in place in case a dash for gas went ahead, said Cllr Sue McGuire from Sefton Metropolitan Borough Council, near the Ribble Estuary.

Legislation needed to be in place to control the industry, said Ms McGuire, with specific focus on the chemical mix used in the water for fracking.

There was a lack of funding and knowledge within the Environment Agency, she said, adding that the agency had only become aware of problems with fracking after drilling had taken place.

Clearer regulation was necessary to ensure that environmental impact assessments became a requirement, regardless of the size of the drilling operation.

As part of legislation, it was important to ensure that all commercial interests involved in shale gas were held liable for any adverse consequences, Ms McGuire told attendees.

Mari Tunby, News Researcher

Charitable Chaplaincy Campaign lobbies Welsh Government AMs

The email message below was sent to every AM over the weekend by
The Charitable Chaplaincy Campaign, The Wales-wide, cross-party
Campaign for a charitable hospital chaplaincy.

It is posted here, with Alan’s Permission, to raise your awareness of the issue.

Dear ….. AM,

As you return to Senedd for the 2012/13 session you cannot fail to be
Aware of the increasing financial stress being experienced by the Wales NHS.

Health Boards are in deficit.
Concern continues to be expressed about the funding of neonatal care.

We are asking a very simple question. How can public funding of
Religious care in hospitals be justified when far more critical
Services are funded by charitable trusts?

The Health Ministers of both the Third Assembly and the current
Assembly have failed to provide such a justification. At the end of
The 2011/12 session we sent to you, by email, financial data and a
Closely argued case for charitable funding of hospital chaplaincy.
During four years of campaigning this case has never been challenged.

If the Wales NHS is to solve the difficult financial problems it now
Confronts, a careful examination of its priorities must be made.

Please discuss this matter with colleagues and challenge the Welsh
Assembly Government to justify public funding of religious care in
These circumstances. If you are member of a faith community please
Discuss with its leaders the possibility of creating a Wales-wide
Charitable trust to pay hospital chaplains. Such an initiative would
Surely represent a public relations success for the faith communities.

Alan Rogers

Sustainable Wales Newsletter – Fairtrade Update


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Forthcoming Fairtrade Events, organised by

Bridgend Fairtrade Partnership

Join the Great Bridgend Bake-OffCalling All Cake Makers and Cake Eaters! Pop on your pinny and take part in SUSSED’s Fairtrade Cake Baking/Tasting Event Oct 6th, 10 am. James Street, Porthcawl. Open to the public 11 a.m.SUSSED, the local Fairtrade and ethical shop, now located up from the bandstand in Porthcawl, is hosting the event.
Bring your favourite recipe along with your cake made with as many Fairtrade ingredients as you are able. This is a fantastic event for schools, churches, groups and members of the public to all enjoy. Entrants please tel. 01656 783962 or email in advance.
The public will be invited throughout the day from 11.00am to join in the tasting and will be helping judge! Tickets are £2.50 and include coffee/tea and lots of tastes. (No charge for cake-makers).
Recipes will be published on the Sustainable Wales website. And as always, remember to register your steps for Fairtrade at :
The event is organised by The Bridgend Fairtrade Partnership and any profits will go to charity Sustainable Wales.

Join Us for a Wine and Cheese Evening with a Difference

Wine and Cheese Evening, Pyle Co-op Coffee Bar, Oct 19th 7pm-9.30pm. (Entry £4.00).
Bridgend Borough Fair Trade Group are collaborating with partners in the Co-operative store at Pyle to offer guests a great evening out.

As well as sampling the Co-op’s wide-range of Fairtrade wine and range of cheese, there’ll also be a quiz, and a short film screening by community arts project, Valley and Vale (V&V), about their award winning work with the Ethiopian NGO, the Gemini Trust and the development of ‘Gem Art’.
The event is also being held to recognise and celebrate Bridgend County’s renewal of Fairtrade status, help establish our forthcoming action plan and fundraise for the work of charity Sustainable Wales. The Deputy Mayor of Bridgend and her consort will be in attendance.
“This is a fun event but with an important message. Wales was officially recognised as the world’s first Fairtrade nation in 2008. To maintain this status we need all boroughs to incrementally improve the sale and knowledge of Fairtrade across their area. Porthcawl Town has just retained its FT status. However, Maesteg and Pencoed are yet to achieve this. The Bridgend Fairtrade Partnership believes that it is important that they do and are prepared to offer assistance.” said Chairperson Margaret Minhinnick. Please forward any details or queries to mm .

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Successful trip to Lib Dem Conference in Brighton

I was invited by Friends of the Earth to speak at their fracking fringe meeting at the Lib Dem Conference in Brighton on Saturday, and also got involved in their Global Frackdown action (involving cup cakes and helmets!) outside the Conference venue in the afternoon.With members of FoE and representatives of local fracking campaign groups from Lancashire (RAFF), Sussex (No FiBS), and Kent.
I was the Vale Says No! rep. Some of Frack Off’s direct action heroes were also in attendance.

At the packed fringe meeting.
To my right: Sue Maguire (Lib Dem Councillor from Fylde) and Howard Johns (CEO Southern Solar)
To my left: Chair (local Lib Dem Councillor), Tina Rothery (RAFF residents’ group), Tony Bosworth (Friend of the Earth)

Our messages appear to have been taken on board, the very next day, by Lib Dem Eneregy Secretary, Ed Davey:

Bridgend Green Party Meeting – Thursday 27th September

Bridgend Green Party Meeting

7.00pm Thursday 27th September 2012 at the
The Railway PH at the bottom of Station Hill (upstairs meeting room).

ALL WELCOME (Especially new members!)


  1. Welcome and Introductions
  2. Apologies for Absence
  3. Minutes and matters arising
  4. Officers’ reports – Inc members update
  5. Councillor feedback
  6. Bettws bye-election review
  7. Annual Conference feedback
  8. Campaigns update – Fracking / 20’s Plenty
  9. Wales Green Party AGM
  10. Developments in Swansea GP and possible implications for Bridgend GP
  11. AOB – (attunement)
  12. DoNM

NOTE – Venue is 1 minute’s walk from both the Bus and Train stations in Bridgend.