Archive for February, 2012

Fracking could make drought worse

February 21, 2012

The technique involves pumping vast quantities of water and chemicals under high-pressure deep underground to fracture rocks and force out gas and oil resources.  With drought officially declared in the South East yesterday and with the prospect of hosepipe bans looming, campaigners say any prospect of fracking should be halted.  To highlight their opposition, anti-fracking campaigners gathered today at Ardingly reservoir in West Sussex, one of the region’s worst affected reservoirs, with its water levels at around two-fifths of what it should be.

Keith Taylor, the Green MEP for the South East, said: ”Given yesterday’s announcement of drought in the region, it’s vital that we do not put our limited water supplies at risk.  In America, the commercial use of fracking to extract shale gas has led to concerns about water contamination and some people have needed to boil their water before drinking.  With water at such a premium in the South East region, we can’t afford to gamble with what little we have. Taking any decision to proceed with fracking without a full understanding of its possible effects is reckless.  That’s why I’m calling for an immediate moratorium on fracking until we understand more fully the environmental impact it can have.”

Vanessa Vine, a school secretary who started the No Fracking in Sussex Facebook campaign, said: ”Hydrofracking not only threatens to contaminate with neurotoxins both our wild water courses and our reservoir and aquifer system, it places huge, utterly unsustainable demand on water supplies, involving extensive countrywide tanker traffic which would further drain resources and impact our emissions.”

The energy company Cuadrilla Resources has permission from West Sussex County Council to conduct exploratory drilling at a site near Balcombe, near Haywards Heath.  The firm has said there were no plans ”at this stage”, or existing regulatory approval, for fracking to take place and any activity would follow consultation with the local community.  However villagers in West Sussex are deeply opposed to any future plans to conduct hydraulic fracturing at the existing well which was drilled unsuccessfully for oil by another energy firm in the 1980s.

Campaigners point to potential risks linked to fracking, including minor earthquakes, the use of chemicals and possible contamination of drinking water.  However, this month a team of Texas scientists reviewed evidence and concluded that fracking cannot be linked directly to reports of groundwater contamination.  The scientists found that many problems attributed to hydraulic fracturing are common to all oil and gas drilling systems.  Many reports of contamination could be traced to above-ground spills or mishandling of wastewater rather than the fracking technique itself, they said.

Source – http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/environment/9095723/Fracking-could-make-drought-worse-warn-campaigners.html

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Campaign Against Cuts in Northampton

February 13, 2012

Northampton Alliance to Defend Public Services (NADS) would like to revitalise anti-cuts work in Northampton and wants to try to bring together as many interest groups as possible. There are various groups who are campaigning on single issues which could benefit from meeting together to discuss how to support each other and to devise imaginative ways to draw more people into activities.

The next NADS meeting is tomorrow, Tuesday 14th Feb, at the Old Black Lion from 7:15pm. There is also an open meeting to discuss immediate and longer term responses to local cuts by Northamptonshire County Council and Northampton Borough Council. This takes place on Saturday 18th Feb at the Quaker Meeting House (opposite the back of M&S) at 2pm.

Northamptonshire County Council cuts include £1 million from recycling initiatives over two years. A £1.8 million reduction in care for older people this year. £3 million to be saved for child placements. £12 million to be taken out of adult social care payments over four years. £3.3 million increase adult social care customers will have to pay for support over the next four years. £1 million reduction in the library budget of over the next four years and they are reviewing commissioning, contract monitoring and engagement teams.

Northampton Borough is intending cuts of £1.8 million, including the cut to PCSOs and restructuring of debts which will lead to job losses. These cuts will be very damaging in terms of both services and jobs. Once again the most vulnerable will suffer most. Jobs will be lost at both councils and the voluntary sector will continue to lose income from grants. The budget votes will be on the 23rd February at NCC and on the 29th February at Northampton Borough.

If you can attend on Saturday, please let Northampton Trades Council Secretary, Sarah Ansell, know as soon as possible on 01604 709757 – by 5pm on Tuesday 14th February if you can.

NEW SOLAR SHOCK LEAVES INDUSTRY REEELING – GREEN MP

February 10, 2012

Responding to the Government’s announcement on solar feed-in tariffs today, Green MP Caroline Lucas said:

“This latest shock for solar shows clearly that the new energy secretary has fallen at the first hurdle.

After the Government’s shambolic handling of solar policy over the past few months, Ed Davey should have made it a priority to delay this policy change and get it right. But yesterday’s announcement once again leaves the industry reeling, with tariff cuts going far deeper than the falling costs of installation warrant.

“While the Government sounds ambitious in its aims, the actual policy looks weak – with Ministers giving themselves the option of changing the tariff every two months.

“The one thing that business needs is certainty, yet these Government cuts are being made so fast that it is destabilising the industry. The proposed tariff cuts also go deeper than the falling costs of installation should warrant.

“While it’s positive that the Government has agreed to drop the qualifying band rate for homes to band D, the announcement yesterday is bad news for the solar companies who have invested this year, and means continuing uncertainty for those want to benefit from this clean renewable energy.”

Serious Questions About UK Energy and Climate Change Policy

February 9, 2012

With the global climate crisis growing ever more urgent, the sharp rise in the UK’s carbon emissions in 2010 is deeply worrying – and raises serious questions about the progress being made in our energy and climate change policy (‘Britain’s greenhouse gas emissions in shock 3.1% rise’, 8 February).

The increase in emissions from home heating is especially alarming when you consider that, by the Government’s own admission, loft lagging will fall by 93% when the Green Deal comes into force. If we are to stand any chance of improving the efficiency of our homes and tackling fuel poverty, the new energy and climate secretary Ed Davey must make it a personal priority to strengthen this weak and underfunded programme so that it actually delivers a good deal for households.

Furthermore, the fact that a six-month shutdown of the Sizewell nuclear reactor was partly to blame for the recorded rise in emissions is yet another reason for the Government to ditch its belief that nuclear can deliver the secure, reliable and low carbon energy we need for the future.

This week, the Bank of England is expected to announce a new batch of quantitative easing to the tune of £50bn or more. A new report from the Green New Deal Group and the Southampton University economics professor who coined the term ‘quantitative easing’, Richard Werner, is calling for such cash to be injected into a programme of green investment to support badly needed renewable energy and energy efficiency projects.

Rather than handing the money over to the banks, who then sit on it and refuse to lend, green QE would put money into the wider economy – creating thousands of new jobs, improving energy security and tackling climate change at the same time.

Caroline Lucas, MP for Brighton Pavilion.  Green Party

GREEN EURO-MP CALLS ON COUNCIL TO RAISE COSTS FOR LIVE ANIMAL EXPORTERS AT RAMSGATE PORT

February 1, 2012

Keith Taylor, the Green MEP for Kent and the South East, has called on Thanet Council to raise the fee for boats using Ramsgate port to export live animals. Keith has written to the local authority asking them to increase the fee for exporting animals so that it reflects the additional costs arising from the extra police, staff and security required for this controversial trade.

Keith said, “At the moment these export costs are being covered by the public purse, despite widespread opposition locally and nationally to the practice of exporting live animals. This means that the public are effectively subsidising an activity that’s inhumane, unnecessary and unjustifiable. I hope that Thanet council will endorse a levy that reflects the true costs of this horrific industry”.

Keith recently detailed his concerns about live exports at a public meeting in Broadstairs, along with local MPs and campaigners. He has previously visited Ramsgate to meet with campaigners who are demanding an end to live animal exports from the port. Keith has written to James Paice MP, the Minister of State for Agriculture and Food, to ask whether DEFRA is adequately monitoring EU transportation standards and whether these standards are being met at Ramsgate port.

At an EU level Keith has written to European Commissioner Dalli to raise his concerns over live animal exports and to ask him to support an eight hour limit on animal transport times, as a step to banning all live exports.

Keith is urging his constituents in the South East to support a Compassion in World Farming campaign (1) which encourages people to write to Thanet Council requesting an increase in the export levy and an end to the inhumane live animal export trade. The charity has recently worked with actress Joanna Lumley to launch a campaign to end live animal exports in 2012.

ENDS

Notes to Editors

1. To support the Compassion in World Farming campaign, visit http://action.ciwf.org.uk/ea-action/action?ea.client.id=119&ea.campaign.id=13152

For more information on the work of Keith Taylor MEP, please contact Alice Taylor on 0207 250 8418 or keithpress@greenmeps.org.uk

Follow Keith at @GreenKeithMEP

http://www.keithtaylormep.org.uk