|Being delivered by hand on Saturday 1st December 2012 by 6 strong delegation:
Dear Mr Cameron,
UK-wide call for an immediate ban on shale gas and coal bed methane exploration and development on our islands.
Through your seemingly imminent adoption of a hazardous, unregulatable and largely foreign-owned hydrocarbon extraction industry in Britain, your ‘greenest government ever’ is in fact sanctioning nothing short of potential ecocide.
We have had detailed correspondence with the DECC over the past year, the vast majority of which has been obfuscatory and contradictory. Gayzer Taryanyi, whose house was cracked by fracking activities in Lancashire last year, recently walked from Blackpool to Westminster to deliver a letter to you, to which your office gave a cursory response that was tantamount to disregard. As a result, we are today delivering this letter as a formal UK-wide deputation, requesting straight answers from you personally as the man who is ultimately responsible.
Fracking for shale gas and coal bed methane is not an intelligent response to Britain’s energy needs. It would provide gas and ‘keep the lights on’ in the next fifteen to twenty years, after which Britain would be in exactly the same energy predicament it is in now, except that our landscape would be spoiled, water courses irreparably contaminated and we would have poured countless tons of methane and CO2 into the atmosphere.
‘Safe fracking’, Mr Cameron, is the oxymoron of the decade. It is simply not possible to regulate a technology which is prey to the vagaries of subterranean geology. Hydraulic fracturing compromises seismic security and risks leakage of fugitive toxic gases and other carcinogenic contaminants through faulty well-casings and along fault lines into our groundwater, aquifers, reservoirs, soil, air and thereby our bloodstreams and those of our children – for untold generations.
1. In the only attempt so far at high volume hydraulic fracturing in the UK, almost everything that could go wrong did so. Earthquakes were caused and well casings have repeatedly failed.
Will you place upon the fracking industry the responsibility for the risks it is taking with our ecology and seismic security and to observe the internationally agreed ‘precautionary principle’?
2. Fracking in our rural communities would significantly and detrimentally alter the character and appearance of our communities and deny citizens their right to enjoyment of their homes and local environment. Your parliamentary constituency of Witney lies in an area with fracking shale gas potential.
What steps will you take to to ensure that your constituents’ quality of life is not spoiled by industrialising the area with shale gas wells, condensate tanks, waste fluid pits, pipelines, compressor stations and frequent heavy road tanker traffic?
3. When fracking damages businesses, communities, homes, health and the environment, it is not clear where to go for redress. When damage or loss occurs, the injured parties are left to fend for themselves against the closed ranks of an unresponsive industry.
Will your government implement legislation compelling the fracking industry to discharge its liabilities promptly and fairly and to establish an autonomous, industry-financed liability levy that is rigorously regulated?
4. There has been no Environmental Impact Assessment of the proposed shale gas fracking sites In the Fylde and the agencies responsible have not explained why.
Will you ensure that the Fracking industry and regulatory agencies disclose all relevant information and conduct All necessary assessments, and that all exploration in the Fylde is halted until this has been done?
5. The fracking industry is secretive or silent about how spent fracking fluid effluent (‘produced water’) is transported, treated, evaporated, injected into wells and disposed of. Four million litres of radioactive waste water from Cuadrillas Preese Hall Farm site was moved without a permit, diluted and dumped in the Manchester Ship Canal. Some waste frack fluid has been moved more recently, but there is no information about where it was moved to, by whom and by what permitting process, if any. In the US and Australia, toxic waste effluent is illegally being sprayed on roads as ‘dust suppressant’ or ‘de-icer’.
Will you compel the fracking industry to make full disclosure of how it will store, transport, treat and dispose of its toxic waste?
6. Fracking for shale gas involves building up enormous hydraulic pressure to fracture shale rock. When the rock splits and the pressure finally is released, a huge plume of methane, hydrocarbons, benzene and other carcinogenic volatile organic compounds (VOC) escapes into the air.
If your Government gives the green light to further hydraulic fracturing in the UK, will you do anything to prevent this routine air pollution?
7. US data shows that 30% of well casings fail within 10 years. Failed well casings are a route for contamination to groundwater aquifers and to the air.
What rate of well casing failure would be acceptable to you?
8. Damage caused by oil and gas exploration is impossible to prove without pre-fracking baseline testing of air and water.
Will you introduce statutory independent baseline testing, funded by an industry levy, to be undertaken before each planning permission is granted for fracking?
9. In the Fylde, over 800 shale gas well are planned by Cuadrilla. A similar intensity of industrial development is planned for all areas of the UK that can be fracked, because there are no ‘gas fields’ but only small pockets of gas distributed evenly throughout the shale rock. This supply declines sharply once each well has been fracked.
Do you acknowledge that exploiting a short-term, finite supply of shale gas will spoil and contaminate large areas of the British countryside?
10. Like shale gas fracking, unconventional coal bed methane extraction presents a threat to the countryside of the UK for the short-term benefit of a dirty industry.
Will you closely examine the implications of the coal bed methane wells already approved at Keynsham near Bristol and at Airth in Scotland?
Hydraulic fracturing for methane is an ecocidal, inept, uneconomical and irresponsible attempt to address our critical energy needs that would be hugely damaging and inappropriate for Britain and it is unnecessary. The number of jobs that the fracking industry would create is small compared to those which would be created by clean renewable energy technologies were the government to back them. The CO2 reduction target for the UK could easily be met by renewables and by a concerted reduction in energy consumption with the retrofitting of existing building stock and more efficient transport systems.
The energy solution offered by the fracking industry by comparison is nasty, brutish and short. When will you stand by your claim of leading the ‘greenest government ever’, call an immediate moratorium on this cynical insanity and invest instead in safe and truly renewable energy procurement technologies?
Please stop patronising and attempting to placate the people of the UK with nonsense about safe regulation of an unpredictable, unregulatable process that threatens irreversibly to poison our ecology, our farmland, our livestock and our children. We are not as credulous as you imagine.
Do you want a legacy as the Prime Minister who despoiled both the countryside and the health of Britain by sanctioning ecocide? Or would you prefer to be remembered as the first Prime Minister to lead a truly green government?
(the six undersigned)
Vanessa Vine – BIFF! (Britain & Ireland Frack Free) / Frack Free Sussex
Gayzer Tarjanyi – Frack Free Fylde
Eve McNamara – REAF (Ribble Estuary Against Fracking)
Andrew Chyba – The Vale Says NO!
Maria Montinaro – Falkirk Community Councils
Adam McGibbon – No Fracking Northern Ireland/Belfast not for $hale
|The fight against fracking is being taken to Downing Street on 1st December, by a delegation representing every part of the UK, with South Wales being represented by Andy Chyba of “The Vale Says No!” campaign group and Bridgend Green Party. He will be part of a 6 strong delegation that also has representatives from Scotland, Northern Ireland, the South East of England and two from Lancashire, where the only fracking in the UK, to date, has occurred – and run into immediate problems.
Fracking is one of the techniques used in so called “extreme energy” exploitation, that seeks to extract the the last remaining drops of fossils fuels from the ground in ever more extreme and risky ways. Fracking involves pumping water, sand and a cocktail of chemicals into the ground under extraordinary pressure in order to shatter shale rocks and release gas trapped in the shales. South Wales also faces the threat of other types of extreme energy production – such as Underground Coal Gasification (threatened in Swansea Bay and the Lougher Estuary) and Coal Bed Methane (across the South Wales Coalfield).
Among the many problems experienced by the frackers in countries like the USA and Australia are: the complexity of fractures allowing gas and chemicals to migrate into groundwater and water supplies; serious health issues related to the water contamination and also air contamination associated with gas treatment at the surface; triggering of seismic activity such as the two earthquakes shown to be linked with the fracking near Blackpool; implications for agriculture, especially organic farmers, of contaminants in water, soil and air; impacts on property prices; difficulties of disposing with water returned to the surface, full of additional contaminants flushed from the rocks (including radioactive isotopes); the impacts of associated heavy vehicle traffic in rural areas; explosive blow-outs.
What is also now clear is that even if no major problems are created straight away, the problems can be stored up to strike years/decades/centuries after the frackers have done their dirty deeds.
Given this catalogue of horror and the genuine difficulties in predicting, regulating and remedying most of these problems, rational and prudent governments in many parts of the world have seen fit to impose moratoria and bans. These include: France, Bulgaria, Romania, the Czech Republic, Canada (Quebec), Germany (North Rhine Westphalia), USA (Vermont, New Jersey, New York).
Given the dire economic mess created by successive governments, it is perhaps not surprising that this particular government is being wooed by its friends in big business into contemplating the ‘quick fix’ represented by ‘extreme energy’, such as fracking for shale gas. But even the most optimistic of projections suggest that fracked shale gas can make no more than a small dent in our energy needs, for no more than 30 years. These optimistic projections bear little relation to the reality found in most areas subjected to fracking to date. These have found it difficult to get much more than 10% of the expected gas out of the rocks and have found wells becoming uneconomic after little more than 3 or 4 years.
Our concerns resonate with every community directly threatened by the frackers – such as Llandow in the Vale of Glamorgan – as they then sit up and take notice of what is truly at stake. Groups across the UK have now come together to form an Anti Fracking Network to try to ensure these crowded islands of ours remain a safe, clean and habitable place for future generations to live. When you look at the state of the world around us today, do we really want to leave yet another toxic legacy for our children and grandchildren to have to contend with?
This is the message being taken to Downing Street, along with petitions and letters of concern, and as part of a whole day of action in London and around the country – such as in Swansea – called Get Fracktious – which will also involve building mock rigs and pipelines.
LONDON NATIONAL EVENT DETAILS: http://www.campaigncc.org/getfracktious
SWANSEA REGIONAL EVENT DETAILS: https://www.facebook.com/FrackedSwansea?ref=ts&fref=ts
For more information: Contact Andy Chyba
|Bridgend Green Party Meeting
7.00pm Thursday 29th November 2012 at the
The Railway PH at the bottom of Station Hill (upstairs meeting room). ALL WELCOME (Especially new members!)
NOTE – Venue is 1 minute’s walk from both the Bus and Train stations in Bridgend.
REMINDER – If anyone needs a lift to any of our meetings, let Andy know and we will organise it for you.
|Please support this Sustainable Wales event on Friday, December 7th, at 8pm at the Green Room
[above SUSSED, 4-5 James Street, Porthcawl, CF36 3BG ].With guest speaker: Nick Jepson
For two decades, the only thing that successive failed conferences and declarations on climate change
have been able to agree on is a number: 2 degrees Celsius. If global temperatures rise by more than this,
they say, we run a risk of passing a tipping point from which there will be no return. A runaway spiral of
warming would be the result, at which point reducing emissions will have no effect as the world turns to
desert and 80% of human beings die. This debate is about why we will almost certainly exceed a 2
degree target and why we never really had a chance of doing better.
We have collectively failed in the fight against climate change. This isnt really anyones fault as individuals,
but the fault of a system. I aim to show why the internal logic of capitalism means that it is not only
spectacularly incapable of halting climate change, but in fact makes it inevitable, sooner or later. Whether
we like it or not, we are bound to a system whose rules of operation, its ceaseless need for expansion,
mean there was never a real chance of doing so.
So, what can we do? Do we focus on mitigation and adaptation? Should we be thinking about
controversial geoengineering schemes? Should we pump water Vapour into the air to create artificial
reflective clouds? Seed the oceans with iron fillings to grow carbon eating algae? Put giant mirrors in
space? These are drastic solutions and each time humans have interfered in their environment there
have been unintended consequences, but how do we weigh these against the existential threat of
Nick Jepson is a PhD researcher and teacher in global political economy at the University of Bristol.
His doctoral research is on the transformation of the world-system which is taking place as a
consequence of the rise of China, particularly focusing on the implications of this for development and
extractive industries in the Global South.
|It is not yet widely known but, thanks to the Green Party, Lancashire is the first county in the country to make nearly every residential road 20mph. Robert Lindsay reports (from Green World 78).
In a series of secret town hall meetings, John Whitelegg, a Lancaster Green, was able to turn the countys Tory transport chief to implement Green Party policy on speed limits. The fact that John is also Professor of Sustainable Transport at Liverpool John Moores University helped make him more palatable to the Conservative Tim Ashton.
Ashton took the transport cabinet post in 2009 after a blue tide ousted Labour from power in Lancashire. In that same election, the Greens Sam Riches won a county council seat and she spearheaded the public side of the 20mph campaign, holding public meetings, garnering support with door- to-door surveys during election times and highlighting the risk to school children in her division.
John had found the previous Labour regime obnoxiously unhelpful when he first began trying to persuade Lancashire to adopt countywide 20mph limits 11 years ago. They hated the fact I was Green Party. Greens were taking their votes.
But Ashton was more receptive. Eventually, the Tory road supremo was calling John Whitelegg for advice on overcoming the hurdles placed by his officers. He also had to battle his own backbenchers who believed 20mph would slow journey time.
John got all the directors of public health in the North West to write personally to Tim Ashton at his home urging him that cutting the speed limit to 20mph would be the single biggest improvement he could make to health in Lancashire.
The biggest boost came in August 2010 when national and local newspapers cited a report revealing the Lancashire districts of Preston, Burnley and Morecombe as the worst in the country for road injury to children. It seemed to act as a wake-up call to Tim Ashton, who has direct responsibility for bringing down road injuries in Lancashire.
It was a perfect storm of events, said Riches.
Things came to a head when Riches resisted a council plan to put a short 20mph limit on a stretch of road in her division, near a dangerous school crossing, saying it would make matters worse. Summoned to a meeting with Tim Ashton, he asked her to explain why she was blocking the move. Then he said: Would you support an area-wide 20mph limit?
Shortly afterwards, the policy initiative was announced. Now half-way through the three-year, £9.4 million programme, average speeds are down in some areas but are unchanged in others and the perception is that more enforcement and publicity is needed.
A series of high-profile police speed gun checks is imminent, followed by a countywide poster, radio and new media publicity campaign. Paul Binks, Lancashires Road and Transport Safety Manager said: We are hoping that it will become socially unacceptable to drive at more than 20mph.
Its about changing the culture, said Whitelegg. For Riches, the campaign illustrates an uncomfortable and often forgotten truth: Green councillors can only change policy if they persuade the opposition as well.
Robert Lindsay is a Green Party member in Suffolk.
Some facts about Total 20, or area wide 20mph limits
Total 20 avoids the use of expensive humps or other physical calming measures. The idea is that by imposing 20 limits over a wide area such as a town, city, borough or county, drivers get the message that it is unacceptable to drive at more than 20mph in a residential area.
Total 20 areas cost just £333 per road and are very cost effective. The Government calculates the cost of a road death to the economy at £1.8 million. Portsmouths Total 20 scheme cut serious injuries and deaths by 22%.
If you are driving at 30mph and someone runs out three cars lengths in front of you, you will hit them at 27mph. The impact on that person is equivalent to falling from the third floor of a building. At 20mph you will stop just in time.
20mph areas lengthen the average car journey by just 30 seconds.
Britains Department for Transport sets national targets to reduce road deaths and casualties by a certain percentage over a certain time, implying it finds a certain level of road death acceptable. Sweden has a zero tolerance for road death policy which has energised road safety professionals and led to widespread 20mph limits.
|The Church of England (see footnote on Church in Wales situation) has really shot itself in the foot with its farcical constitution allowing a small minority of old-fashioned bigots to hold the Church back from a modicum of progressive change.It is a system that was put in place to protect the churchs traditional values at a time when these were accepted unquestioningly by the majority.While 324 synod members voted for women bishops, Church voting rules mean 122 votes against were enough to block it.
By my reckoning, it would have been passed if just 4 more members of the House of Laity had voted for it.
Christina Rees, a synod member who has spent 20 years campaigning for women bishops, said: “It feels as if the House of Laity betrayed the entire Church of England last night.
“The people, the sort of extremes in our Church – the very conservative evangelicals and very traditionalist Anglo-Catholics – have no idea how this will be read by most people.”
She said she thought that, to most people, “this just looks like blatant discrimination”.
Equalities minister Maria Miller said the vote outcome was “very disappointing”, and showed that the Church was “behind the times”, sources said.
The church has therefore been hoisted by its own petard.
In a era of progressive secularisation in the MEDC societies of Europe, churches are seen as increasingly out of touch and irrelevant. The hard-core traditionalists/fundamentalists (whatever you want to call them) will hang about until they die out. The progressive elements of the CoE are not likely to defect to other sects, but it may hasten the realisation for some that they do not need a church at all.
When the progressives win through (in 5 years time?), the CoE will haemorrhage the bigots to their natural haven, the Roman Catholic church, and perhaps become more coherent and stronger for a while. But the slow steady demise looks set to continue in contrast to the rampant advance of religion and superstition in the LEDC countries of Africa and Asia.
We have a situation today whereby the Roman Catholic church has to send missionary priests from Africa to man (he says quite deliberately) the churches in the UK.
The big challenge is finding a way to rationalise and secularise the parts of the world suffering from prevalent primitive beliefs and customs.
A good start would be putting our own house in order. Historically the Church of England has enjoyed a highly privileged status in the UK and continues to access power and authority within what is now essentially a secular state. Other faith groups do not have such extensive benefits within the state, and nor should they. The following HM Government e-petition calls for the dis-establishment of the Church of England and the removal of any rights and privileges enjoyed by all churches and faith groups beyond those that apply to all individuals and charities. Support this campaign and share widely:
The Church in Wales is the Anglican church in Wales, composed of six dioceses.
As with the primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, the Archbishop of Wales serves concurrently as one of the six diocesan bishops. The current archbishop is Barry Morgan, the Bishop of Llandaff.
In contrast to the Church of England, the Church in Wales is not an established church. Disestablishment was effected in 1920, under the Welsh Church Act 1914. It was, however, on Disestablishment, allowed to keep all its church buildings including ancient pre-Reformation ones.
As a member of the Anglican Communion the Church in Wales recognises the primacy of the Archbishop of Canterbury who does not, however, have any formal authority in the Church in Wales (except for residual roles in ecclesiastical court to try the archbishop, as metropolitan, and the appointment of notaries). A handful of border parishes remained in the Church of England and so were exempt from disestablishment, It has proved possible for a cleric of the Church in Wales to come to occupy the See of Canterbury, and the outgoing archbishop, the Most Reverend Rowan Williams, is Welsh and originally held posts in the Church in Wales – in fact he was the Archbishop of Wales before his appointment to Canterbury.
Following the failure to pass a mandate for women bishops in the CoE, the Archbishop of Wales says he hopes to be able to ordain women bishops in the Church in Wales ‘before very long’.
Dr Barry Morgan said a bill on the matter will be brought in next September.
However, even if backed, it would not be brought into force until pastoral provision had been put in place for those who are opposed, he added.
As bombs rain down on Gaza, Palestinians and Israelis are on the brink of another cycle of violence and vengeance. But, right now, the Palestinian Authority is preparing a bid to the UN that could be the best chance for peace. Let’s help them win it.
While people in southern Israel live in fear of rocket fire, the Gazan people live under siege, imprisoned in a tiny stretch of land. And in the West Bank people are driven from their lands by illegal settlements; their sick get stuck for hours in Israeli checkpoints on the way to hospital; and families are divided by a huge wall that slices through their fields. But if the Palestinians win their UN bid for a state now, it could begin to end the 40 years of occupation, and pave the way for two states, Palestine and Israel, living side by side in peace and security.
The US and Israel are furiously trying to crush the UN vote, and the attack on Gaza may be an attempt to shift attention from the bid and present the Palestinians as untrustworthy partners. But the UK is still on the fence, and EU Foreign Ministers meet in just four days. If we all speak out now, we can persuade the UK government to vote ‘yes’ for peace and freedom. Click to drown out the blockers with our voices of hope via a massive petition delivered through a 5 storey high flag right outside the ministers’ meeting (picture at right):
This is a legitimate, non-violent proposal that would provide Palestinians with a new legal status. And it is the best opportunity to turn the tide on endless US-led talks that do little more than provide cover for the steady illegal colonisation of Palestinian lands by Israeli ‘settlements’. The Palestinian resolution calls for the resumption and acceleration of negotiations. A ‘yes’ vote would rescue the path to a more balanced and fair peace process between two legitimate states.
While the Israeli and US governments are calling the bid ‘unilateral’ and dangerous, in fact the UN, World Bank and IMF say that the Palestinians are ready to run their own state, if only the occupation would end. And the world’s nations overwhelmingly support this diplomatic move away from violence. Ironically, the US/Israel efforts to overturn this bid and their threats to cut off money to the Palestinians are self-defeating as they boost the power of those who want to do away with Israel as a Jewish state.
Last year the US blocked a Palestinian bid at the UN Security Council. But in the upcoming vote at the UN General Assembly, all nations vote, and this resolution could begin to end the US/Israeli hegemony over this conflict. It can’t fully admit Palestine to the UN, but it can declare Palestine a state, with access to a range of international organisations, and give greater international legitimacy to non-violent Palestinian efforts to stop the Israeli military occupation.
Bombs and rockets are killing people right now, and Europe holds the key to this chance for freedom and peace — if we can persuade the UK, France, Spain, Germany to stand on the right side of history and back Palestinian independence, with firm support and financial aid, this could be a turning point. Join the petition and send a direct message to urge our government to support the bid:
Palestinian statehood will not bring a resolution to this intractable conflict overnight, but UN recognition will change the dynamics and will begin to unlock the door towards freedom and peace. Across Palestine, people are preparing, with hope and expectation, to reclaim a freedom their generation has never known. Let’s stand with them.
With hope and determination,
Alice, Jeremy, Marie, Ricken, Aldine, Nick, Antonia, Pascal and the rest of the Avaaz team
Palestinian bid for upgraded UN status (BBC)
Gaza-Israel conflict adds tension to Palestine UN bid (The Times)
Gaza conflict: world holds its breath for first Netanyahu war (The Week)
The US and Israel threaten to withdraw funds if Palestinians go forward with the bid (The Guardian)
The full Palestinian resolution which will be tabled at the UN (Inner City Press)
|Bridgend Green Party salutes its member, John Evans, for taking up the position of Electoral Returning Officer on permanent basis, having stepped into the shoes vacated my Keith Ross, of Swansea a couple of months ago.
This follows the recognition he got as the best organised agent in the BCBC elections in May.
He has made an immediate impact by sorting out a potentially embarrassing constitutional problem at the Wales Green Party AGM today. Well done, John!
Cometh the hour, cometh the man.