Tag Archives: campaigns

Badger Cull a Shambles – well there’s a surprise!

Green MP arrested in anti-fracking protest

Green MP Caroline Lucas is arrested near Balcombe during anti-fracking protest at Cuadrilla

Pic: The Guardian

The UK’s only Green Party MP, Caroline Lucas,  was among dozens of anti-fracking protesters arrested today as a “day of action” saw thousands of people take part in demonstrations at sites across the country.

Hundreds of activists blockaded the Balcombe oil drilling site in Sussex owned by Cuadrilla, as well as its Lichfield headquarters and the offices of its PR firm.

Demonstrators hung banners at the country home of the Conservative Lord Howells, who stirred controversy by suggesting the “desolate” north should be fracked and attempted to put up a small wind turbine at the home of Tory MP Francis Maude,  whose constituency includes Balcombe.

Protesters at Balcombe blocked part of the site road but were driven back by police. Lucas, who is the The MP for Brighton Pavilion, said she joined the protest to make up for the “democratic deficit” that was allowing corporate oil and gas interests to trump the concerns of ordinary people.

“Along with everyone else who took action today, I’m trying to stop a process which could cause enormous damage for decades to come,” she said today.

“People today, myself included, took peaceful non-violent direct action only after exhausting every other means of protest available to us. Despite the opposition to fracking being abundantly clear, the government has completely ignored the views of those they are supposed to represent.”

Thousands join march against fracking

Anti-fracking protests

Demonstrations in Balcombe today. Pic: Gareth Fuller/PA

Thousands of people marched through the Sussex countryside today in the biggest show of strength to date for the UK’s anti-fracking movement, the start of a three-day campaign against exploratory drilling near the village of Balcombe in west Sussex.

More than 2,000 supporters from around the country arrived in coaches and by train and filled “matchmaking” forms to on arrival, listing their preferences and skills in activities such as climbing, standing their ground, getting through or over fences, looking after people, providing entertainment or documenting the action.

Cuadrilla has in the past few days, after discussions with local police, halted drilling activities at the site and removed some equipment. The company has also urged protestors not to attempt anything that could compromise their own safety. The firm has partially drilled an exploratory oil well on the site and tests on the data obtained from drilling will help to determine whether the company presses on with its plans.

Protestor Liz Lyddon, from Brighton, said: “I am very concerned about climate change for our future generations. Fracking is not the direction we should be taking – there should be a huge investment in renewable green energy but there is no sign that any of our politicians are even thinking seriously about that.

“This shows that the opposition to fracking is growing.. and I do think that as people start to think about fracking they will begin to think about the wider issues around climate change and energy supply.”

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IF campaign continues to put the pressure on

The Enough Food For Everyone IF campaign is far from over. It was a great day in Hyde Park and you can join the campaign at http://enoughfoodif.org

London rally calls for end to badger cull

About 2,000 people held a rally in London yesterday as licences to cull badgers came into force in two areas.

Up to 5,094 badgers can now be culled in west Somerset and west Gloucestershire. Groups of farmers in the two pilot zones have been given licences to conduct culls using trained marksmen to shoot the animals.

The rally was led by ex-Queen guitarist, Brian May, who delivered a near-250,000 signature petition to Downing Street calling for the cull to be scrapped. He said: “The great bit of new information is it has now been demonstrated that the cull cannot make economic sense. It will lose the taxpayer money rather than save it.

“That was really the last shred of reason that you could give for this cull going ahead. It is a very good time for Mr Cameron to reconsider and withdraw from this monstrous cull, in the public interest.”

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Action to save bees: EU to ban killer pesticides

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Great news! After months of campaigning by environmentalists, the European Commission has taken action to protect bees by restricting the use of harmful chemicals in pesticides.

Fifteen countries voted in favour of a ban and, even though the vote was split, the Commission imposed a two-year restriction on three neonicotinoids, which research has shown to harm bees  – and the UK cannot opt out.

The ban means neonicotinoids  will not be used on crops that are attractive to bees and other pollinators, there will be a ban on the sale of neonicotinoids to amateur growers.

The Commission says it wants the moratorium to begin no later than 1 December this year. After today’s vote, EU Health Commissioner, Tonio Borg, said “I pledge to do my utmost to ensure that our bees, which are so vital to our ecosystem and contribute over 22bn euros (£18.5bn; $29bn) annually to European agriculture, are protected.”

The UK was among eight countries that voted against the ban,  arguing that the science behind the proposal is inconclusive.  Four nations also abstained. But Greenpeace EU agriculture policy director Marco Contiero said the vote “makes it crystal clear that there is overwhelming scientific, political and public support for a ban. Those countries opposing a ban have failed.”

A report by the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) in January concluded the pesticides posed “a high risk” to pollinators, including honeybees.

There was intensive lobbying in the run-up to Monday’s vote. Protesters against neonicotinoids rallied in Westminster on Friday and campaign organiser Andrew Pendleton of Friends of the Earth said “leading retailers have already taken action by removing these pesticides from their shelves and supply chains – the UK government must act too”.

Ban bee-harming pesticides, MPs urge

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Saif Dahlah/AFP/Getty Images

The Environment Secretary, Owen Paterson, must end Defra’s “extraordinary complacency” and suspend the use of pesticides linked to serious harm in bees, according to a damning report from a leading group of cross-party MPs.

The Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) has told the UK Government they were wrong when they chose not to support a two year ban on the three neonicotinoid pesticides most dangerous to bees and should change its position.

Members of the EAC concluded that by the start of 2014 the UK Government must enforce a moratorium on the use of three neonicotinoids, imidacloprid, thiamethoxam and clothianidin, as well as support a similar proposal at a European level.

“The environment department seems to be taking an extraordinarily complacent approach to protecting bees given the vital free service that pollinators provide to our economy,” said the EAC’s chair, Joan Walley. “We believe that the weight of scientific evidence now warrants precautionary action.”

The Committee also called for data on the environmental safety of pesticides to be made public and highlighted the urgent need for a wild pollinator monitoring programme, which would show where pollinators need our help the most.

Friends of the Earth has written to the Government asking it to ban the worst bee-harming pesticides, and is now asking you to add your name to the letter, which tells Ministers to ban the most bee-harming pesticides and accept the EAC’s recommendations.

The charity said: “If enough of us add our names we can persuade the Government to accept the EAC’s recommendations – and follow the lead of the DIY stores and garden centres that have already taken some of the most dangerous pesticides off their shelves.”

UK’s endangered turtle doves given Hope!

Turtle dove

Turtle doves are one of the most endangered birds in the UK, but the population here has been given a boost by the creativity of a 6-year-old girl from Sheffield.

Operation Turtle Dove, a partnership project to save this bird on the brink of extinction, launched the competition to find names for their two logo birds. And thanks to Alice Stavert-Dobson, they are now christened as Heart and Hope.

Alice (pictured below with her sister) said: “I chose ‘Heart’ to represent love and ‘Hope’ because I hope turtle doves will still be here in the future. I was really pleased to win the competition and I can’t wait to go and see the turtle doves this summer in Pensthorpe Nature Reserve.”

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Turtle doves are currently embarking on a long journey back to the UK after spending the winter in Sub-Sarahan Africa and should  arrive back in the UK around the middle of April. The threat to this iconic bird is real. Changes in modern day agricultural practices have been attributed to the loss of arable plants in farmland, which produce the early seed source turtle doves need on their return to the UK.

Alison Gardner from the RSPB said: “It is distressing to learn that we have lost nearly 60 per cent of our turtle doves in the five years to 2010.  If this decline continues we could be down to fewer than 1000 pairs by 2020, with complete UK extinction a real possibility.

“The fantastic work of Operation Turtle Dove aims to make a real difference. Project partners are working with farmers to implement a bespoke seed rich mix which will be available to turtle doves on their return in Spring. Our new turtle dove logo names reflect these birds so beautifully and we want to secure their future so children like Alice and her sister Thea will be able to enjoy their gentle ‘purring’ way into their adulthood and beyond.”

Arctic drilling plans put on ice

Pic by Greenpeace

Pic by Greenpeace

An unexpected thing happened on Wednesday. Shell cancelled its plans to drill this summer in the Alaskan Arctic this year after a series of costly accidents.

“Our decision to pause in 2013 will give us time to ensure the readiness of all our equipment and people,” said Marvin E. Odum of Shell.

President Obama ordered a federal inquiry into Shell’s Arctic drilling programme after the oil company suffered numerous setbacks last year in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas, including running its drilling rig aground on Sitkalidak Island, and the US Coast Guard has listed 16 safety violations on the rig.

“This is the first thing Shell’s done right in Alaska — calling it quits,” said Phil Radford, Executive Director of Greenpeace USA. “Now the responsible decision is to make Arctic drilling off limits, forever.”

Campaigners take fish fight to Westminster

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Pic by PA

TV chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall led a march to Westminster on Monday to urge the Government to do more to protect UK seas.

He was accompanied by hundreds of supporters, many in fish-related fancy dress, waving banners and placards that urged ministers  to increase the number of marine conservation areas to give badly damaged habitats and depleted fish stocks a chance to recover.

The march gathered outside the Houses of Parliament, calling for the creation of 127 marine conservation areas. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has so far planned to create 31 sites by the end of this year, but the celebrity chef warns this is not enough.

“This is the sort of opportunity that may not come again,” he says. “We might not have such a vital and appropriate time frame as we’ve got right now to make real changes. If we leave it too much later, too much damage will have been done. It will be hard for a lot of the areas to recover.”