Category Archives: Environment

Cleaning London’s air and cutting road deaths in the capital

The first of five plans for transport backed by Transport for London is a project to ship thousands of tons of waste generated by the growing houseboat population, by barge instead of by road-going refuse trucks.

Air pollution created by refuse truck trips will be significantly reduced as tons of waste is moved by water-freight, cutting 2.4 tonnes of CO2 a year. Houseboat waste is sorted into different bags before being collected by barges and taken to processing depots. The scheme, run by social enterprise iRecycle and Powerday, a London-based waste management company, originated at Camden Market where food waste being recycled rose from zero to 40%.

iRecycle transports the majority of their clients’ waste on barges powered by bio-diesel produced from the used cooking oil they collect. As part of the circular economy, its food & beverage clients are encouraged to buy from the farms that use their fertiliser created from food waste.

The amount collected — boosted by the addition of house-boat waste — will rise to 60%, eventually cutting thousands of road trips by refuse trucks. Air pollution will be further reduced when all 1,880 boats on London’s waterways use the service. For other advantages of inland waterway freight see the 2019 Gosling report.

anti Dennis-Eagle-Elite-6The Thames Tideway company has invested in a new fleet of 22 high vision “low entry cab” trucks designed to be safer for pedestrians and cyclists. These cabs have windows specially designed to improve drivers’ vision, allowing them to spot vulnerable road users more easily. The extra-wide and low windows are especially effective at helping drivers to spot cyclists getting too close, especially at junctions and crossings.

In a ground-breaking scheme, new cycle freight infrastructure is being created close to Archway station to promote zero-emission deliveries.

Equipped with electric-bike charging points, the depot will have space for 10 cargo bikes at one time. It is aimed at minimising diesel and petrol vehicle deliveries by providing additional storage for businesses that do not have enough of their own.

Five large underground waste bunkers are being created in Vauxhall, by Business Improvement District Vauxhall One. Local business waste stored in the bunkers will be collected by the BID’s zero-emission electric vehicle on a bi-weekly basis. The truck, converted from a truck currently used to jet-wash pavements and collect fly-tipping, will remove a third of the existing recycling trips in the area.

Electric vans are travelling to businesses to collect waste — replacing trips made by diesel trucks. The vans return the waste to Borough Market where it is processed and then consolidated in the market’s compactors. 28 tonnes of waste have been collected by zero-emission vehicles since April, saving 70 diesel vehicle trips a week, re-timed to avoid the busiest times. Participating businesses are offered free recycling collections.

Goods vehicle movements in London have increased by around 20% since 2010, contributing to poor air quality, congestion and road danger; the five plans made by Transport for London, outlined above, will reduce air pollution and road accidents. 

 

 

 

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News from the Mayor of Lewisham

Almost one year ago, Damien Egan (sixth from the left) was elected mayor of Lewisham by local residents, after standing on a bold and radical manifesto making over 100 pledges. Earlier this month he recorded some of the recent steps forward.

Lewisham has some of the country’s best early years services; its primary schools are among London’s leaders and now its secondary schools are beginning to see improvements. The council is spearheading Lewisham Learning, a borough-wide schools partnership, funded by schools and the council coming together. As Lewisham’s GCSE results are improving faster than the national average, more parents are choosing a Lewisham school as the first choice for their children.

Lewisham’s parks were ranked last year as being the best in the capital by Parks for London. Beckenham Place Park, south-east London’s largest park, has been regenerated and has become a thriving green space. It will also be home to south London’s first wild swimming pond from this summer.

Though there have been huge cuts to police budgets and youth services and crime is an increasing concern, Lewisham council has been able to support four local youth projects with their £282,000 bid from the Greater London Authority.

A Conservative justice minister visited the borough’s Youth Offending Service as an example of best practice and praised the trauma-informed approach that had improved outcomes for young people and in their local elections manifesto, the Brighton and Hove Liberal Democrats cited the borough’s support for homeless people.

Almost a decade of austerity has hit local government hard, but a difference is still being made in the borough by delivering ambitious policies, big and small, that are transforming our communities. Nearly a year later after Damian Egan was elected there has been significant progress:

  • council services have been brought in-house,
  • 50 agency staff have been given permanent contracts and we are working to get that number up to 100,
  • £37m has been secured to deliver 384 new council homes,
  • 28 new sites have been identified for social housing,
  • three more innovative pop-up housing developments have been confirmed, lifting 112 homeless families out of emergency accommodation,
  • Lewisham is the first council to start to address obesity by banning junk food advertising
  • and their first annual Modern Slavery statement has been published.

The borough is one of the most diverse in the world, home to people from all backgrounds, with a history of embracing new communities and those fleeing violence. It is now becoming a Sanctuary Borough, protecting the rights of all migrants, asylum seekers and refugees and the first of 100 new refugee families is expected to arrive by summer.

 

 

 

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Level-headed Scotland forges ahead

From time to time good news comes from Scotland and – after March’s items prompted a document search – 1097 items in which Scotland was mentioned were found. The following news items were selected and arranged simply because the country was named in the title of the file. Due to the lapse of time some links no longer work – these are marked with a cross

2004 – a fairer, less stressful house purchasing system

When you buy a house in Scotland, if your offer is accepted, you are immediately under an obligation to buy that property. This is why an agreement in principle is required before you go house-hunting. By contrast, in England and Wales, you can pull out of buying the property without penalty up until the time when contracts are exchanged. The Scottish vendor is also committed to the deal as soon as he accepts the buyer’s offer. Hence the risk of gazumping (where the vendor later accepts a higher offer from someone else) is removed. http://www.icplanning.co.uk/buying_scotland.shtml x

2004 – unfluoridated water

The Scottish Executive axed the proposal to add fluoride to the country’s water in favour of better targeted dental services.

2005 – taking freight off the roads

Councillor Julia Southcott, Convener of East Dunbartonshire’s Development & Environment Committee said “Reusing the canal for transporting freight is one of the key sustainability options being investigated.” http://www.waterscape.com/news/nid45 x Since then, though constrained by lack of funding, the Scottish government has endeavoured to preserve its shipbuilding capacity and maintain and use its waterways.

The Timberlink project, collaboration between ports, British Waterways and forestry companies, provides a good example of shifting traffic to waterways. 

2007 – fair trade in food

Points made in a report written by The Church of Scotland’s Church and Society Council, focussing on the need for fair trade in food, unusually considering Scottish farmers as well as those in the two-thirds world, included these points:

The major buyers of domestic production are the supermarkets and their suppliers who control most of the food bought for home consumption. Directly or through the food supply chain farmers must sell to large multinational businesses.

The current distribution of resources within the food supply chain is out of balance with effort and risk. The food supply chain represents a market failure. There is need to increase the bargaining power of primary producers if they are to survive.

The power of the multiples and the detached attitude of government seem likely to result in an increasing proportion of UK consumption being sourced from outwith the UK. To pay more for food than the market rate might seem contrary to supermarkets responsibility to their shareholders. However this market rate is determined by these major buyers. Change in practice would require a revision of the current concept of corporate responsibility.

2008 – re-opening a railway

The Stirling–Alloa–Kincardine rail link , which was re-opened for the first time in almost 40 years, is delivering economic, social and environmental benefits to the communities directly concerned and to the wider Scottish economy. The government website adds that there are direct hourly passenger services between Alloa, Stirling and Glasgow Queen Street and peak-time services to and from Edinburgh, Monday to Friday.

The line also offers freight services along the line and provides the option for diverting freight trains from the existing, longer route via the Forth Bridge.

2008 – no more PFI

Other measures were noted. The devolved government in Scotland has acted energetically to improve the lives of many electors. Scottish measures to help the frail elderly and students are well known but far more is being done. The Scottish Government announced that the new South Glasgow Hospital would be publicly funded instead of using the expensive and often unreliable PFI system.

2008 – Scottish food for Scottish people

The government is aiming to see more beef, lamb, pig, chicken, fruit, salmon and white fish processed in Scotland rather than being exported. The Rural Affairs secretary Richard Lochhead said “I would like to see more Scottish food ending up on our plates.”

2008 – no more nuclear power

Tidal and wave generated renewable energy, hydropower and offshore wind is being backed. Alex Salmond explained that it has no need to install more nuclear power, ‘a dirty technology’, in which it has no advantage.

More energy is now generated in Scotland by renewables than nuclear power and exports of electricity to UK rose by 50% last year.

2013 – Community land reform

Remote crofting communities are being enabled to flourish and Scots have been given the right to buy land they’ve worked for years. The Agricultural Holdings Review which was launched to examine the situation of land ownership and use, tenant-owner relationships, and the relevant legislation eventually led to Land Reform (Scotland) Bill to the Scottish Parliament  passed by the Scottish Parliament on 16 March 2016. It created a Community Right to Buy for Sustainable Development. Like the earlier Crofting Community Right to Buy and the Community Right to Buy abandoned or derelict land, the Community Right to Buy for Sustainable Development does not require a willing seller but allows ministers to compel landowners to sell if they decide that the sale will further sustainable development in the area.

2015 – GM crops ban

Scotland banned the use of all genetically modified crops in a move which the government says will preserve the country’s “clean and green brand”. There was “no evidence” of a demand for GM crops among consumers in Scotland, The SNP rural affairs secretary Richard Lochhead said, adding: “The Scottish Government has long-standing concerns about GM crops – concerns that are shared by other European countries and consumers, and which should not be dismissed lightly.”

2016 – MSPs back fracking ban

MSPs backed an outright ban on fracking proposed by Scottish Labour. There are ongoing calls for first minister Nicola Sturgeon’s temporary prohibition or moratorium on the technology being used in Scotland to be made permanent.

2017 – basic income trial

Four Scottish councils are to undertake feasibility studies and to develop pilot models for the first pilot basic income schemes in the UK, with the support of a £250,000 grant announced by the Scottish government last month. This funding will cover the financial years 2018-19 and 2019-20

2019 – call to recognise state of Palestine

A cross-party coalition of Scottish politicians urges Britain to uphold the rule of law and recognise the state of Palestine.

2019 – dignity in dying

On March 31, The Sunday Times reported that a group of nine MSPs has called for dignity in death for people who face ‘terrible suffering’ called to mind many other reports of beneficial developments in Scotland.

 

 

 

 

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“ECOaction” in Banda

“ECOaction” in Banda was founded in 2012 by Reagan Kandole.  This waste management education project is engaging young people and the rest of the community in collecting waste and creating employment opportunities through reusing and recycling waste. In the capital city of Uganda, Kampala 730,000 tons of waste is produced every day and, at present, only an estimated 1% is recycled.

ECOaction’s goals are:

  • to address high unemployment and the increase in bio and human waste;
  • to stress the benefit of an eco-friendly society beyond trash, where empowered and responsible citizens live in harmony with their environment;
  • to engage the community in environmentally beneficial livelihood activities, increasing community events and activities that can improve the environmental situation and
  • to increase opportunities in welding/carpentry/and using many kinds of waste apron plastics aim to recycle/reduced/reuse.

To this end waste management workshops are conducted and biodegradable and non degradable waste is recycled.

ECOaction’s products include: children’s playgrounds, telephone kiosks, chicken feeders, bathrooms, shelters, bins, chairs, green houses, aprons from plastic, waste composting and public art installations.

Karen Kana visited the project in 2017, meeting single mothers, children, men and some twenty youths from the wider community – over a hundred in all – who are creating a centre from recycled materials, engaging in urban gardening, briquette making from biodegradable waste, composting and exploring other income-generating activities. The community is also working on a project with Uganda Christian University in Mukono to create greenhouses from recycled plastic bottles to improve urban gardening and nutrition.

Project coordinator David Turner writes: “We are going to partner with CYEN, a UK based NGO which has been involved in youth social enterprise projects for last 5 years and want to expand their social enterprise environmental intervention by working with our project”. CYEN’s Ugandan NGO, ChrysalisUganda will be hosting one of our large recycled plastic collection bins and we plan that young social entrepreneurs from their Butterfly project will be learning the techniques of recycling plastic, as part of their training programme.

“We also hope to remove local children from the backbreaking plastic bottle collecting, by incentivizing their parents to recycle higher value bottles, which will enable them to earn more and use this money to pay for their child’s education,” says Ben Parkinson, Director of ChrysalisUganda, who work to reduce child labour in Kampala:

“Companies estimate that only 4% of their bottles come back for re-use and surely we need to address this by improving the amount that recyclers are paid for the bottles or finding some way to subsidise this.  Bottle picking is known as the least well paid work, where adults cannot find even enough for their children’s school fees.  Ecoaction Banda have evolved products which could help address this imbalance.”

 

 

 

 

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In December Ireland became the first country in the world to divest public funding from fossil fuels

The July news that Ireland was set to become the first country in the world to divest public money from fossil fuel assets following a landmark vote in the Dáil was widely reported.

Ireland was to become the first country to sell off its investments in fossil fuel companies, after a bill was passed with all-party support in the lower house of parliament on Thursday (12 July). €318m (£282m) shares in 150 coal, oil, peat and gas companies will be sold ‘as soon as practicable’ ­– probably within five years.

Thomas Pringle, the independent member of parliament who introduced the bill, said: “Ireland by divesting is sending a clear message that the Irish public and the international community are ready to think and act beyond narrow short term vested interests.”

The New York Times added that the vote in the Irish Parliament follows a recommendation by Norway’s central bank in late 2017 for its $1 trillion sovereign wealth fund to drop its oil company investments and that the Church of England has voted to sell its assets in fossil fuel companies that have not “aligned their business investment plans with the Paris Agreement” to reduce global warming.

In December Ireland became the first country in the world to divest public funding from fossil fuels

We all heard the July news that Ireland might divest, but the September stage attracted little attention – indeed the December news was only found here after a deliberate search.

The Fossil Fuel Divestment Bill, the country’s sovereign fund (the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund), is now committed to divesting its holdings of fossil fuel companies within five years and to make no future investments in the industry, in order “to precipitate a timely decarbonisation process in line with Ireland’s climate change commitments under Article 2 of the Paris Agreement”.

Eamonn Ryan Green Party MP speaks on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DFSUKMIVsPU

The bill was signed into law by the President of Ireland Michael Daniel Higgins on December 17th 2018.

 

 

 

 

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News from the Environmental Law Foundation

The Environmental Law Foundation Ltd is a charity which promotes the collective, good decision-making which is at the very heart of civilised, democratic and stable societies.

It does this by providing free information and advice on environmental issues to individuals and communities via its in-house and university-based law clinics, and via its network of specialist environmental lawyers and technical experts.

ELF exists primarily to help socially and economically disadvantaged communities which want to address their concerns but lack the resources or information to do so. All, however, are welcome to enquire.

This message from the Environmental Law Foundation focussed on:

  • National Planning Policy Framework Review
  • Third defeat for government on air quality
  • Environmental Crime in Europe

It included information about ELF’s assistance to a residents’ association in Farringdon which represents vulnerable social housing tenants. ELF helped the association to make their case at a Public Inquiry into the proposed building of a 180 room Whitbread run hotel and commercial area by Endurance Land.

The Catherine Griffiths and Clerkenwell Community Tenants’ and Residents’ Association (chair and members left) claimed developers are “land grabbing” Clerkenwell, and the site should be used for “useful” shops and affordable housing.

They felt that the proposals would have significant effects on an already stressed community where development was forcing the indigenous community out. There were serious concerns over the proposed loading area on traffic flows, significant light impacts of building a high rise building and the serious impacts on local historical assets, including the Finsbury Health Centre a Grade 1 Listed Building.

ELF member barrister Jonathan Metzer and Charlotte Gilmartin at 1 Crown Office Row, appeared on behalf of the group who had Rule 6 (main party) status. They led evidence from two expert witnesses and two lay witnesses. They acted pro bono through the Environmental Law Foundation, on the instruction of Emma Montlake. The inquiry lasted 7 days.

 

 

“In these troubled times, our big picture perspective helps to energise and inspire”

This invitation to the Economics of Happiness conference in Bristol, October 19-21 comes from Helena Norberg-Hodge (ISEC/Local Futures)

ISEC is working in collaboration with Happy City and the former mayor of Bristol, George Ferguson.

Jonathan Dimbleby will be chairing.

 

 

 

 

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