Monthly Archives: November 2012

Letter to PM David Cameron calling for a fracking ban

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?

Yours sincerely,

(the six undersigned)

Screen Shot 2014-11-09 at 15.01.15

Adam/Maria/Eve/Gayzer/Andy/Vanessa

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

Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill – action required

Yes vote on Uganda Bill could mean life in prison or worse for consensual sex. Urgent action needed.
Amnesty International UK Home
Amnesty International UK
Urgent action needed to stop Uganda’s
Anti-Homosexuality Bill
Copyright: Call me Kuchu
David Kato was openly gay, an LGBTI rights activist and Ugandan. For this, his details were published in a hate-filled newspaper article and he was murdered.Yet rather than take steps to end violence and discrimination against LGBTI people, the authorities are encouraging it. Any day now, they could pass laws to punish consensual same-sex relations with life in prison, or even death.
Take Action
Dear Andy,In Uganda, consensual sex with someone you love is already against the law if they happen to be of the same sex as you.Homophobic violence and abuse is rife and goes unpunished. In fact, it is lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people who may be arrested, detained and even tortured, simply for expressing who they are.

Protect LGBTI rights in Uganda oppose the Anti-Homosexuality Bill

Within the next few days, things could get even worse.

A new Bill is due to be debated any time now and is likely to be voted on soon afterwards. If passed, it could allow for a life sentence for consensual sexual conduct between people of the same sex.

It may even allow the death penalty for the offence of aggravated homosexuality.

The Bill would also continue to criminalise the promotion of homosexuality, leaving gay rights activists in Uganda open to harassment and excluding LGBTI people from accessing health services and HIV/AIDS prevention programmes.

Ask Uganda’s Parliament not to pass the Anti-Homosexuality Bill

Before he was murdered, David Kato was involved in the campaign against an earlier version of the Anti-Homosexuality bill. Some activists continue to risk their lives to fight against institutional discrimination, even in the face of further laws which will help legitimise violent attacks against them.

Please show LGBTI activists in Uganda they are not alone

Thank you,

Kim Manning-Cooper
LGBTI Rights Campaign Manager

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The fight against fracking being taken to Downing Street

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
https://www.facebook.com/events/323994414381874/

For more information: Contact Andy Chyba

Bridgend Green Party Meeting Agenda – Thursday 29th November

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!)

AGENDA:

  1. Welcome and Introductions
  2. Apologies for Absence
  3. Minutes and matters – arising incl. Xmas meal
  4. Officers’ reports – incl. Wales AGM report back
  5. Councillor feedback
  6. Campaigns update – Fracking / 20’s Plenty/PoW Hospital
  7. Diary dates: Sustainable Wales events
  8. Spring Conference – Nottingham Feb 2012
  9. AOB
  10. DoNM

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.

Sustainable Wales Debate: Is Catastrophic Climate Change Inevitable?

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

climate change?

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.

20mph limits across an entire County? If Lancashire can do it, Bridgend surely can.

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.

What future for the Church?

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:

http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/41394

Andy Chyba.

Footnote:

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.