Tag Archives: Environment

Not your everyday station buskers..

Alex Moorehead's Photography Blog

March 1st 2013 marked the beginning of the 3 week ‘tiger tracks’ programme at St Pancras International station in London. The idea of the event being to help raise awareness of tigers in the wild and steps that everyone can take to help keep them from future extinction.
To kick the event off on the stage in the Grand Terrace, we’re none other than Legendary guitarist and song writer Brian May and West End star Kerry Ellis. It started at 6pm and was a free 30 minute piece for anyone in the station to see.
I managed to catch the end of a quick rehearsal about an hour before, so stayed around for 6pm too. Below are some of the images I took at the event.

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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.”

Waitrose puts Shell partnership on ice

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Waitrose has suspended plans to expand its partnership with the Arctic oil drillers Shell, after 12 days of  intense campaigning by Greenpeace.

The UK supermarket had been considering opening new shops in Shell petrol stations across the country, but Waitrose managing director Mark Price has confirmed that these plans have been put on ice until after 2013. The supermarket has also declared its support for the creation of an Arctic sanctuary, a move that would help protect endangered species, such as the polar bear, Arctic fox and narwal, by making the polar region off limits to oil drillers like Shell.

The announcement was made after nearly 40,000 people signed a Greenpeace petition urging Waitrose to break off the partnership with Shell. Activists also sent emails, posted hundreds of messages on Facebook, and staged demonstrations in Waitrose stores, including the appearance of  a life-size polar bear in Islington.

Greenpeace, which has worked with Waitrose to develop its sustainable fishing policies, said it was “shocked” that the retailer, which prides itself on its environmental initiatives, would link itself to Shell. This summer Shell tried, and failed, to drill for oil in the Arctic, after a catalogue of disasters which included breaking the oil spill response equipment during testing.

You can support Greenpeace’s campaign to save the Arctic by visiting http://www.savethearctic.org

National Tree Week 2012

It’s National Tree Week and communities all over the country are being encouraged to celebrate the winter tree planting season by getting involved and doing something for the environment.

Every year, upward of half a million adults and children take part in thousands of events across the UK, arranged by The Tree Council‘s member organisations, many of its 8,000 volunteer tree wardens, local community groups and schools.

Most events involve tree planting, but many also use other ways of raising tree awareness such as woodland walks, tree identification tours, workshops, talks, tree surveys as well as Wood Fairs with woodturning demonstrations and storytelling. Many local authorities also give out free tree packs to those who wished to plant their own.

Launched in 1975, as a response to Dutch Elm Disease, the national week takes on special significance in 2012 because of the rapid spread of ash dieback, which is affecting increasing numbers of our ash trees.

The Tree Council’s Director-General, Pauline Black, said: “We couldn’t have foreseen that we’d be faced with the losses of ash dieback just as we go in to National Tree Week. But this seems a timely moment to ask the public to think carefully about what will happen to their view across the countryside and in their towns, and what they will do to restore it for future generations. Anyone with land of their own, whether it be a garden, woodland or field, can make a difference to their view by adding a tree.”

Protesters blockade nuclear power station

More than 200 people are blockading a nuclear power station in protest at plans to build new reactors at the site.

Members of several anti-nuclear groups that are part of the Stop New Nuclear alliance say they are barring access to Hinkley Point power station in Somerset in protest against EDF Energy’s plans to renew the site with two new reactors. The new reactors at Hinkley would be the first of eight new nuclear power stations to be built in the UK.

The protesters began their blockade at about 7am on Friday, with a theatrical troupe who “enacted a nuclear disaster scenario similar to Fukushima”, the power plant which was badly damaged during the earthquake which struck Japan on 11 March. Most are local people but demonstrators also came from Belgium and Germany.

Stop New Nuclear spokesman Andreas Speck said: ”This is the start of a new movement. We intend this day to be a celebration of resistance against the Government and EDF Energy’s plans to spearhead the construction of eight new nuclear power plants around the UK.

“This blockade shows that people who understand the true dangers of nuclear power are prepared to use civil disobedience to get their voice heard.”

Experts warn that most UK ash trees will be diseased within a decade

Over 100,000 trees have already been destroyed to try to prevent the spread of ash dieback, but experts now believe the disease could be far more widespread than initially thought.

Ian Boyd, Chief Scientist with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, has warned ministers that the disease is likely to spread across the UK by around 20 miles a year, infecting most of the country’s 90m ash trees within a decade. Mr Boyd was speaking at a meeting of the Government’s crisis committee Cobra on Friday and warned them that trees cannot be vaccinated.

Ash trees infected with the Chalara fraxinea fungus that causes ash dieback were first detected in the UK in a nursery in Buckinghamshire eight months ago. It is now infesting trees in Scotland, East Anglia and possibly Kent. The disease was confirmed in the wild last week and the Government introduced a ban on ash seedlings from infected areas  from Monday.

The Woodland Trust has welcomed the ban and called on ministers to set up an emergency summit bringing together representatives from all areas of forestry, plant health and conservation to address the wider issues surrounding threats to our native trees and woods.

Meanwhile, the University of East Anglia has developed a mobile phone app for iPhone and Android which you can download  from Ashtag.org.  It will help you identify ash dieback and report any sitings you might find using your phone’s camera and GPS.

Most UK ash trees will be diseased within 10 years, ministers told | Environment | The Guardian.

Climate campaigners shut down power station

On top of the chimney. Pic by @nodashforgas

Around 20 climate change campaigners shut down the UK’s newest gas-fired power station early this morning.

The protest started at 2am when they got through a security fence and climbed two smokestacks at EDF’s West Burton plant in Nottinghamshire. Some of them abseiled down inside the chimneys and set up camp inside the flues, stopping the plant’s furnaces from operating. 

The  power station in Nottinghamshire was targeted because it’s one of the first in a new generation of highly polluting gas plants planned for the UK. The Coalition Government recently announced it intends to give the green light to as many as 20 new gas plants – a move that would crash Britain’s carbon targets, contribute to the climate crisis and push up bills.

Protestor Ewa Jasiewicz, who is occupying one of the chimneys, said: “It’s pretty scary hanging inside a chimney, but we’ve been rigorously trained and have very skilled climbers. We’ve made a cosy camp with tarpaulins, and we plan to share a hot meal this evening at the same time as our friends on the other chimney. 

“We’re doing this because the gas plant is one of the first in a dash for gas that has to be stopped. The Government and the big energy companies want  to build as many as 20 new gas power stations, which would leave the UK dependent on this highly polluting and increasingly expensive fuel for decades to come.”

EDF said that the company was committed to low-carbon energy, adding: “The station is in a commissioning phase at the moment and the first unit is expected to be fully operational by the end of the year.”

Guardian.co.uk – Why I’m occupying a gas-fired power station chimney.

The buzz grows about pesticides

There is growing evidence that common pesticides are playing a significant part in the recent decline of bees all over the world.

It is a worrying trend because bees are the most important pollinators of many wild flowers and agricultural crops. Disease may be causing some colonies to collapse, but recent studies have shown that chemicals in pesticides known as neonicotinoid, commonly sprayed on crops, are also harming bees.

This is backed up by a new study at Royal Holloway, University of London, which looked at the impact of multiple pesticides on bees. The results, published in  Nature, showed that exposure to low levels of multiple pesticides had subtle yet significant effects on the behaviour of  bees and the performance of colonies. Bees exposed to two pesticides performed worse than those exposed to one,  proving much less effective in bringing back pollen.

The study concluded that long-term exposure to low levels of multiple pesticides   This suggests that current methods of regulating pesticides are inadequate because they only consider lethal doses of single pesticides.

You can support the Bee Cause campaign by signing an online petition, which calls on the Government to suspend the use of neonicotinoid pesticides.

Common Pesticides Are Severely Affecting Bees | SciTech Daily.

Government to delay badger cull until next year

Government plans to cull thousands of badgers have been delayed until next summer amid growing concern about the cost and effectiveness of the controversial scheme.

Environment Secretary Owen Paterson said the cull in the south-west of England would have to be delayed because a new survey revealed there were twice as many badgers as previously thought, making the cull too expensive. Farmers felt they could not kill enough badgers before the animals start going underground for the winter. Recent bad weather was also blamed for hampering preparations.

Mr Paterson insisted that the Government was still committed to reducing badger numbers, but said the “optimal time” for the cull had passed. The announcement was welcomed by  many leading scientists, who have expressed severe doubts about whether the cull would successfully stop the spread of bovine TB. Lord John Krebs, the architect of a  10-year badger culling trial, called it “mindless” and signed a letter with 31 other eminent scientists demanding the Government reconsider its plan.

Anti-cull campaigners believe the cull is inhumane because the method of shooting could cause suffering to many thousands of badgers. They have called for a vaccination programme along with increased levels of testing. An e-petition, launched by the Queen guitarist Brian May, as part of the Team Badger campaign, attracted more than 160,00 signatures.

RSPCA Chief Executive, Gavin Grant, said the fight to stop the cull would continue and legal challenges were being drafted. “We welcome this postponement, but this must not be a temporary reprieve, but must mark an end to all cull plans,” he said.

Shell loses suit against Greenpeace

Amsterdam District Court has rejected a bid by Royal Dutch Shell to ban Greenpeace International from holding protests on or near its property.

“Future Greenpeace actions against Shell cannot be banned in advance provided that they remain in a certain framework,” the court ruling said in response to Shell’s suit. “The judge took as starting point that organisations, such as Greenpeace, are in principle free to carry out actions to let the public know about their point of view,” it added.

The court did, however, hand Greenpeace a set of protest guidelines, including the requirement that the group will not be able to occupy gas stations for more than an hour at a time.

Shell had sought a ban on any Greenpeace protests in the Netherlands within 500 metres (yards) of its operations, including petrol stations or offices, after the group organised several protests against the oil company’s drilling in the Arctic.

Shell loses suit against Greenpeace – Business – CBC News.