Wednesday, 26 February 2014

My fact-finding tour of Suffolk:

Green Party lead candidate for Europe tours Suffolk projects.

   Green Party campaigning in Suffolk stepped up a gear this week when the lead candidate for the European elections, Rupert Read, came to Suffolk on Monday for a series of fact-finding visits to projects which the Green Party is keen to encourage.

   His first visit was to the Oak Tree Farm Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) enterprise at Rushmere St Andrew just outside Ipswich. There he met Tom Wilmot, one of the directors of the community interest company. CSA ensures a supply of good quality locally grown produce and also enables many Ipswich people to directly grow some of their own food. Rupert was pleased to see the wide range of vegetables available, even in winter, helped feed the pigs (who are being kept in exemplary conditions), and heard about the plans for fruit production, cattle and bees.

   Second call was to the Energy From Waste (EFW) plant at Blakenham where Rupert met manager Cliff Matthews and Councillor Michael Blakenham. Councillor Blakenham is playing a leading role in a proposed tomato-growing business which will use much of the waste heat from the EFW plant.    Rupert commented:

"Using heat to produce electricity is inefficient, that is well known, but hearing the full extent of plans to use much of the formerly wasted heat, from real enthusiasts for a full-scale area heat network, was a revelation. I'm still against incineration, of course, but this visit today was about being pragmatic : once an incinerator is up and running, then the way to make it make a certain amount of environmental- and energy- sense is to do what is now being planned in mid-Suffolk, and use the huge amount of heat it generates".

Councillor Blakenham works closely with the four Green Party councillors of Mid Suffolk District Council, one of whom, John Matthissen, accompanied the Green Party candidate throughout his visit to the county.

   To view biodiversity in action, Rupert Read then visited Bradfield Woods near Bury St Edmunds, a Suffolk Wildlife Trust reserve which has been actively managed through coppicing for almost nine hundred years. Woodland manager Peter Fordham, MBE, was on hand to explain the Trust's work, laying particular emphasis on the need for wildlife corridors and connections between habitats without which many species present in Bradfield Wood could not survive. It was also encouraging to see the range of woodland products which are sold from Bradfield into the local economy, while meeting some of the trust's costs.

 

 

 

 

 

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Hilarious fail by Twitter: 'Your Tweet has not been approved for use in your Twitter Ads campaign'


 Twitter doesn't know the proper spelling of 'Canute'. Goto the link below, to see my tweet, and you'll see what I mean!
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AIR POLLUTION: The EU rightly takes our dirty-air Government to court

 

EAST AIR POLLUTION TARGETED IN EU PROSECUTION

NDR set to increase health risk

 

Air pollution in the east of England is bad enough to figure in new EU legal proceedings against the British government.

Further road-building projects, such as the Northern Distributor Road in Norwich, are likely to make the situation worse.

Last year, the Department of Health's own figures revealed that  Watford and Luton are the worst places in the Eastern Region for causing death through man made air pollution with 6.50% of deaths in Watford and  6.43%  in Luton attributable to air pollution, above some London boroughs.

The UK now faces court appearances and fines of up to £300m a year after the European Commission launched legal proceedings against it for failing to reduce "excessive" levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) pollution from traffic in line with the air quality directive which should have been adopted in 2008. The British government has been given two months to respond.

The east of England is named as one of sixteen areas of the country where air pollution limits are regularly exceeded.

The Green Party's national spokesman on transport, Rupert Read, who is also lead candidate in the east for the Euro elections in May, said:

"The European Parliament did great work in setting limits on air pollution to protect our health and save huge sums in care costs. But it's being undermined by our government's failure to meet them.

"I agree, of course, with the European Commission that nitrogen dioxide, which mostly comes from traffic fumes, is the main precursor for ground-level ozone causing major respiratory problems and premature death. We've got to clean this up."

Green Party councillor and campaigner against the Norwich Northern Distributor Road Denise Carlo said:

"The Government has made the Norwich NDR one of its top 40 infrastructure investment priorities, designed to cater for 40% more traffic by 2040 in support of economic growth. As a generator of traffic, the NDR would increase air pollution from nitrogen dioxide, diesel particulates and ground level ozone across the built up area and beyond. Public Health England has stated that the NDR is likely to cause deterioration of air quality at certain locations. 

"The road would come at a high price to the health and well- being of local communities, especially the young, the elderly and those with respiratory and heart conditions".    

Air pollution causes 29,000 early deaths a year in the UK and the World Health Organisation has confirmed that air pollution causes cancer. Poor air quality also causes heart attacks and children living near busy roads in the UK have been shown to grow up with underdeveloped lungs.

Friday, 21 February 2014

Green MEP: We must be included in election debate

- Keith Taylor MEP takes swipe at Lib Dems for their role in the Coalition and at UKIP for their frequent absence from the European Parliament

One of South East England's Euro-MPs has demanded that the Green Party is included in any national debate ahead of the European Elections. 

Keith Taylor, one of two Green MEPs for the UK, has demanded that his party is included in any television debate. His call comes after Nick Clegg challenged Nigel Farage to a debate ahead of the European Elections. 

Mr Taylor also attacked the Lib Dem's for attempting to brand themselves as a 'party of change.'

Mr Taylor went on to criticise UKIP for their 'inability to represent the people who voted for them'. 

Mr Taylor represents the same region as Nigel Farage, but has been present at double the amount of key votes in the European Parliament than the UKIP leader. [1]

Keith Taylor, Green Party MEP for South East England, said:

"It's clear that voters want to see a change at this European election, and it goes without saying that the Lid Dems, a party in Government, won't offer anything new. It's no wonder voters are abandoning Clegg's party in droves. 

If there is to be a national television or radio election debate before the European elections then I fully expect the Green Party, which has representation in both Brussels and Westminster, to be invited."

Mr Taylor went on to say:

"In the European elections we need to see the right kind of change. That means voting for politicians who want to change the EU to make it more accountable to all of us, rather than allowing it to continue to serve big business. 

As Lib Dems in the cabinet sit by and watch while the Government offers handouts to fracking firms and cuts the budget of the Environment Agency, it's clear that they can't be trusted to protect our environment. 

Only the Greens are offering people a chance to make a real change in these elections. We want to stay in the EU, but unlike the Lib Dems we support a referendum so we can all have a say. We want things in Brussels to change, but unlike UKIP we want to continue working with our European Neighbours as part of the EU. 

UKIP's voting record in the European Parliament shows their inability to represent the people who voted for them. They often don't turn up for the crucial votes that affect all of our lives. 

As the UK faces queues at food banks, flooded streets and fracking in our countryside it is clear that change is needed. Greens are the only ones offering voters the right kind of change."

__________________________________

1) Keith Taylor has been present at 91.66% or roll-call votes, Nigel Farage has been at 46.05%. http://www.votewatch.eu/ 

Thursday, 20 February 2014

The ancient roots of the most up-to-date values-and-frames thinking...

My new post on Green Words Workshop: http://greenwordsworkshop.org/node/56

'LibDems could be wiped out' - Farron

#VoteGreen2014, to punish the Coalition:
 

We could be wiped out in European elections, Lib Dem president warns

...Yep - and the Greens are the ones to do it.

Monday, 17 February 2014

Greens win Euro-Parl call for suspension of EU trade deal with US over spying scandal

This is great news!:
 
EURO-MPs have backed Green demands for the immediate suspension of talks leading to a proposed new trade deal between the EU and the US after an investigation found 'overwhelming evidence' of a programme of mass surveillance of EU citizens by US security forces.

Members of the Parliament's Civil Liberties Committee said the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Programme (TTIP) should not be pursued – at least until the US agrees to change its law and halt all 'data mining' from 'phone and Internet use in the EU.

The investigation, set up by the committee after whistleblower Edward Snowden lifted the lid on the US PRISM project to monitor and record EU citizens' telephone and Internet usage, condemned PRISM, which it said 'may entail a breach of EU ctizens' fundamental rights'.

It calls for an end to all mass surveillance, observing that privacy is not a luxury, but a fundamental right in a free and democratic society.

But Greens called for EU action to go further, establishing a 'Digital Declaration of Independence', ensuring that no data is collected - without express permission - on any EU citizens' Internet or 'phone use, that the EU ends all co-operation with the US unless and until it changes its law to prohibit all mass surveillance, and that EU states offer asylum to Edward Snowden and all US 'whistleblowers' shedding light on US spying activities in the EU.

Jean Lambert, London's Green MEP and a member of the Civil Liberties Committee which conducted the investigation, said: "The US has behaved abominably here - and the EU must defend the rights of its citizens' from this unwarranted attack on their basic human rights.

"More and more of us are using the Internet, and smartphones, to access basic goods and services, and we really must be able to do so without our privacy being breached.

"We must offer protection to everyone who sheds light on these activities, and end negotiations on TTIP, at least until the US has gauranteed such a blanket approach to hoovering up data will never be used again."

The European Parliament as a whole will vote on the Green proposals when it considers the investigation report next month.

Friday, 14 February 2014

The incredible imbecility of UKIP

How it will destroy them... http://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/rupert-read/climate-how-ukip-and-tory-right-will-defeat-themselves Check this out: my latest published article, prompted by the climate chaos we are experiencing right now; already making quite a stir...

Green Party reveals ten point flood prevention plan

The UK's response to the flooding crisis must centre on a long-term strategy to address climate change the Green Party says today, as it recommends a series of ten measures to improve the country's flood resilience in future.

It says sustained political action on climate change is crucial to reducing the risk of severe flooding happening again.

The Party is calling for Environment Secretary Owen Paterson to be sacked and for the Prime Minister to remove Cabinet Ministers and senior government officials who refuse to accept the scientific consensus on climate change (1). The Met Office has said (2) that the evidence points to climate change contributing to these extraordinary floods.

Keith Taylor, the Green Party's Euro MP for South East England, said:

"These floods, which are now affecting thousands across my constituency, bring into focus the devastating risk of inaction on climate change. 

We need to do all we can right now to help those affected by flooding, including applying to the EU for extra financial help. In the longer term we must reverse staff cuts at the Environment Agency and strengthen planning rules to prevent further development on flood plains."

The Green Party's ten point plan on flooding includes:

1. Reverse staff cuts at the Environment Agency, review its budget, and drop plans to impose a duty on the EA to consider economic growth which could get in the way of providing independent expert advice

2. Strengthen planning rules for urban and rural areas to prevent further development on flood plains and ensure developers prioritise flood resilience and prevention – including through incorporation of SUDS in new developments as well as a programme of retrofitting SUDS to existing communities. Ensure better transparency of decisions so public can hold decision makers accountable.

3. Sack any cabinet Ministers or senior governmental advisors who refuse to accept the scientific consensus on climate change or who won't take the risks to the UK seriously. 

Natalie Bennett, Green Party Leader, said:

"Politicians who ride roughshod over the painstaking findings of climate scientists (3), sometimes motivated by their inappropriately close links to fossil fuel big business, endanger our future and our children's future" 

"It's a crying shame more of the recommendations made by the The Pitt Review into the 2007 floods (4) haven't been taken seriously by Labour, the Tories, and their Coalition government lackeys in the Lib Dem Party. But it is not too late for action."

 Caroline Lucas, the Green Party MP for Brighton Pavilion, said:

"Across the country, homes and businesses are being devastated by the floods, and our hearts go out to everyone whose life is being turned upside down.  Nature is giving us another wake-up call.

"In addition to making sure everything possible is done to help people affected by the immediate crisis, we need a credible long term strategy to tackle the risk of flooding and extreme weather to people's homes and liveilihoods in the futrue."  

The call to government urges ministers to adopt the recommendations of a major independent cross sector coalition   for  a Cabinet-level committee on infrastructure and climate change resilience and a Royal Commission on the long-term impacts of climate change on land.

The Green Party is also calling for all staff cuts at the Environment Agency to be cancelled, planning rules to be strengthened to prevent further development on flood plains, and for increased levels of spending on flood defences to a level in line with expert recommendations from the Environment Agency and the Climate Change Committee.

And it is supporting the call of campaigners for  the billions of UK fossil fuel subsidies and tax breaks to be used to help the victims of flooding . 

"This redirection will address the underspend and assist the victims of flooding, as well as putting a halt to public money exacerbating the problem of climate change that is making the floods so much worse", noted Bennett.

ENDS


Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Greens on UK Flooding: "We need to talk about Climate Change"

One of the South East of Englands MEPs is demanding that the UK Government and mainstream media 'wake up' to the links between flooding and climate change.

Keith Taylor MEP, whose constituency has been hit hard by flooding, is demanding that the threat of increased extreme weather is taken seriously.

"Though individual weather events can't be explicitly linked to climate change the evidence suggests that we can expect more of this kind of extreme weather in the future. It is, therefore, amazing that there have been so few mentions of climate change in the media as thousands of people are hit hard by this unusually wet weather.

The Government and the media need to wake up to the links between weather like we're seeing and the global climate change that our fossil fuelled economy is causing. Though better planning and flood defenses will help us mitigate the risks of climate change the only way to properly protect ourselves is to take radical action to lower of reliance on fossil fuels.

If the Government is serious about protecting the UK from flooding, and wants to live up to it's claim of being the 'Greenest Government Ever' then it will end it's obsession with climate change causing energy production like fracking.

We know that widespread fracking would see us pumping evermore harmful emissions into our atmosphere when we should be drastically cutting levels of greenhouse gases, yet the Government are falsely touting shale as some sort of 'green' solution. It's time to expose this fallacy and move towards using sustainable sources of energy that don't lead to increases in extreme weather."

 

Yesterday Keith Taylor called for cuts to the Environment Agency to be reversed and for the Environment Secretary to be sacked. He said:

"The Government's planning for this flooding, and their response since it began, has been utterly inadequate. We have known for a long time that climate change will cause more events like this, yet we were utterly underprepared for these devastating floods.

Though individual weather events can't be explicitly linked to climate change the evidence suggests that we can expect more of this kind of extreme weather in the future.

If the Government is serious about tackling flooding in the future than they must both work to develop flood defences and, crucially, do everything in their power to cut our addiction to climate changing fossil fuels.

The fact is that the Government's Environment Secretary, Owen Paterson, has cut funding on measures aimed at protecting Britain from global warming and he repeatedly fails to take climate change seriously.

In the short term the Government can do two things to help the fight against flooding. Firstly they should reverse cuts to the Environment Agency and secondly they should sack Owen Paterson, an Environment Secretary who just isn't up to the job of protecting our environment."


Mr Taylor call for Owen Paterson be sacked comes after he was accused by environmental groups of 'incompetency' after slashing spending on measures to help Britain cope with global warming.

Letter from me in the INDY on police-impunity:

This letter has just come to my attention, published a few weeks ago in the INDEPENDENT:

 So, the "plebgate" policeman lied. If police can act this way to bring down someone as powerful as a Cabinet minister, then just imagine how they sometimes treat ordinary citizens, let alone demonstrators, animal rights and environmental activists, and so on.

Rupert Read, Norwich

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/letters/letters-we-will-never-root-out-police-corruption-9054397.html

100 days to go til European Election day!

>> Today, as the country wakes up to yet more weather chaos, the realisation is dawning in more and more minds that - as the Met Office itself has finally said - climate chaos is coming home to roost in this country. It's tragic; it's terrible; it's a terrifying portent. This is a time for steady forward-looking leadership and long-termism, based on a sound understanding of the natural and human processes at work here. At last, the climate-denial of the Tory Right and of UKIP is being shown up for the profoundly dangerous nonsense that it is, and people are starting to realise that it is surely time to turn to the one Party that has been correct on this vital issue all along... (Just yesterday, a Guardian poll showed us moving up to 7%, just 2% behind the Tories' Coalition Government partners, the LibDems!) 
>> Today, it's  100 days to go  until 'E-Day', European Election Day, May 22.
>> Today, I'm happy to be able to announce that, to mark this moment, Natalie Bennett is visiting our Region: she'll be speaking in Cambridge later, and appearing live on Radio Cambridgeshire.
>> Today, as this landmark concentrates all our minds, our regional Fundraising Director Paul Jeater has launched a new pledge: http://www.pledgebank.com/GreenstoWin2014. With 100 days to go til Election Day, Paul is seeking 100 people to pledge just £20 each... We are thus aiming to raise £2000 (in fact, I'm gonna throw in an extra £14, so that it adds up to 2014 :-).   So, please sign (and share) this pledge. Thanks!: http://www.pledgebank.com/GreenstoWin2014
>> Today, we in the Greens have our sight (and our sites) set on winning in 2014, on finally breaking through and taking that Parliamentary seat here in the East, that eluded us by just 1% five years ago. Surely, for the future, this is our time. It starts today!
 
  >> Please forward/share - and act on - this message, today! Thank you...<<

Dr. Rupert Read, lead Green Party MEP candidate in the East of England in the European elections.

Climate of denial: UKIP's head in the sand, on the great issue of our time

 
A stonkingly timely piece by my colleague James Abbott: http://britishinfluence.org/climate-denial-ukip-great-issue-time/

Monday, 10 February 2014

EAST EURO CANDIDATE DEPLORES FAILURE TO BAN FRACKING:

Region still at risk after ban rejected by European Parliament.                                                                  

European Parliament members have voted for tough new targets on mitigating man-made climate change - but against an outright ban on fracking.

The Greens voted to adopt the strategy, despite the targets falling short of what they wanted and a bid to ban fracking being rejected by other MEPs, in order to give their strong backing to the setting of binding targets, an approach previously rejected by the European Commission.

Rupert Read, lead MEP-candidate for the East of England, commented:

"This shows how strong the Green Party Group is in the European Parliament and how it needs to get even stronger. This is great news on climate, very welcome at a time when we are all realising that climate chaos is already wrecking our weather.

"But it is a missed opportunity to stop places like north Norfolk, and the Herts-Essex-Cambs border from being fracked. If I'm elected as part of a strengthened Green Group this May, I vow to press once again for a full moratorium on the climate-dangerous farrago that is fracking, across Europe. They've already done it in France; we can get it brought in here, too."

The MEPs' decision undermines proposals for a weaker climate change regime for the next 15 years proposed by the European Commission – reportedly at the behest of the UK and Polish governments – just last month.

The Parliament has decided to set higher targets to reduce total greenhouse gas emissions, to require all EU members to increase the amount of electricity they generate from renewable sources, and to require targets for energy efficiency measures too.

London's Green MEP Jean Lambert said the decision represented massive progress on the proposals published in January.

"I am delighted MEPs have come together to reiterate the importance of taking concerted EU action on tackling climate change, and requiring all member states to meet strict targets on energy efficiency and renewable energy generation as well as overall emissions reduction.

 "Of course, we'd have liked them to be higher: Greens proposed binding targets of reducing total emissions by at least 60%, generating 45% of our energy from renewable sources, and cutting demand for electricity by 40% by 2030."

MEPs eventually agreed to set targets of 40% and 30% for reducing emissions and switching to renewables, as well as voting to accept the Greens' proposal for a 40% cut in energy demand by 2030.

Ms Lambert added:

"Of course I am disappointed that we couldn't get the support for an EU ban on fracking, although MEPs have agreed that all exploration and drilling requests should be subject to a full community consultation. There should be no secret fracking under people's homes without permission, as proposed by the UK Government."

How water privatisation has worsened the effects of these floods.

It was manmade climate change wot done it. But human error - political error - has made it much worse...
It's time attention starts to turn to the nefarious effect that water privatisation on Britain's vulnerability to flooding has had, actively worsening flood conditions for many people. This was brilliantly exposed in the LRB, during the last truly 'biblical' (sic. - the days of 'natural disasters' are increasingly over; we live in the anthropocene, now...) floods: http://www.lrb.co.uk/v30/n15/james-meek/when-the-floods-came . Do read!
And the issue is back on the media's agenda, as this very recent Dispatches programme chillingly showed: http://www.channel4.com/programmes/dispatches/videos/all/floods-your-money-down-the-drain . Basically, the water companies have made vast profits - while reducing investment in flood-protection etc.
It is a classic story of the perils of privatisation of a natural monopoly.
We Greens think that it is high time the water fat-cats were expropriated - and then we can use that money to start to help ordinary people suffering from the weather chaos, instead!

If Ed Davey knocked on my door, I'd be worried he wanted to frack under my house!

LibDem Minister visiting Norwich this past weekend. If Davey knocked on my door, I would be worried it was to tell me he wanted to frack underneath it! 

http://www.edp24.co.uk/news/politics/energy_and_climate_change_secretary_ed_davey_visits_norwich_resident_to_talk_about_fuel_costs_1_3301507

UKIP: or Green?

Second guessing who is riding up (and who is slipping down) in politics is a subtler and trickier game than it sometimes looks. With elections this May, and not least the five-yearly ones for the European Parliament, speculation is already building. And the European elections operate of course on a 'proportional representation' system of voting, thus making it much easier than usual for smaller parties to take seats...

  Far off on the right-hand side of the track, the Ukip horses are off, belting round the bend to whoops of delight from converts who love a good race to beat up the favourites. Few in the short term will stop them. Farage and his leather-backs can't get into Europe fast enough to get us out of Europe. Or so his backers believe.

  But what's this? Another storm on the horizon, other deluge, another flood, and then another drought most probably. Food and raw materials prices unstable and challenging. Fossil fuels running out and carbon emissions going up giving us a headache. This is where and this is why the Green Party is gaining credibility and support. It is being seen increasingly as the party which understands the importance of the enviroment, and sees the way things will be, regardless of all attempts at business-as-usual.

  Ukip is, metaphorically one for the road, a 'down-the-hatch' vote in memory of better times. Nothing wrong, one might think, in a bit of nostalgia? Truth is, though, there is little future in it, either. For the future is green, or it is nothing but a wasteland of squandered resources, and destructive competition between nation-states and peoples. Against such folly, including the ultimate folly of climate-denial, the Earth would surely be unforgiving.

Friday, 7 February 2014

Seasonal Migrant Workers in the east of England - how we can stop them being exploited

EAST'S MIGRANT WORKERS DENIED EU PROTECTIONS

Greens condemn missed opportunity

 

EURO-MPs have agreed to adopt a common system for ensuring that seasonal workers from outside the EU, providing essential labour in the EU economy, are paid and housed properly anywhere in Europe.

But the UK Government has already opted out of the new rules in a move which the Green Party in the east of England has condemned.

The 'Seasonal Workers Directive' was adopted by a majority of MEPs yesterday, the tenth anniversary of the tragic death of 23 unprotected Chinese migrant workers in Morecambe Bay.

It guarantees access to rights enjoyed by other workers in their country of employment – particularly minimum wage legislation – and, crucially, the right to take action against rogue employers.

It also sets a maximum length of stay for migrant seasonal workers.

But the UK has already said it will opt out of the new rules, so the protection will not apply to the thousands of fruit pickers, tourist guides, hotel cleaners and other seasonal workers currently in the UK.

Eastern England's prospective-MEP for the Greens, Rupert Read said:

"What a missed opportunity this is for this region and for this country. This excellent new European safeguard would have helped avert a future Morecambe Bay tragedy.

"Just as importantly, it would have helped low-paid British workers too by ensuring that their pay and conditions are not undercut by ruthless gangmasters exploiting workers from abroad.

"Green policy is to help low paid workers in this way and it is crucial here in the East, where we have many migrant seasonal workers on the land. But the British Government has stupidly opted out of this protection, presumably because they don't want to upset fat-cat friends of theirs who profit from the blatant exploitation of some migrant workers."

London's Green MEP Jean Lambert, a long-time colleague of Rupert Read's, worked on the new rules with the Parliament's Employment Committee. She is also the Green Party's Immigration Spokesperson. Ms Lambert said:

 "All too often migrant seasonal workers from outside the EU live in makeshift housing and are forced to work long hours for low pay, often without any type of contract.

"But the new rules mark an important step towards addressing their vulnerable and uncertain situation. MEPs have voted to establish the general right of equal treatment, albeit with some exemptions, as well as sanctions against employers.

"This is crucial to deter unscrupulous employers who try to exploit the precarious situation in which seasonal workers often find themselves and stops such employers trying to undercut basic wage agreements. MEPs also supported the right to adequate accommodation to stop the practice used by some employers of charging so much, it leaves workers permanently in debt to them".

Porous surfaces - to mitigate flooding risk

Parts of East Anglia suffered badly from flooding a couple of months ago, and some still are suffering. The South West is now suffering much worse still. This is weather chaos, the consequence of human-induced climate change, starting to come home to roost. We need to tackle it at source. But we also need to mitigate its effects. Example:

As the Green Party's lead MEP candidate for eastern England, I am calling today for urgent advice and encouragement (and, where necessary, financial incentives) to enable local authorities and property owners including householders and landlords to improve the drainage and porosity of parking and similar hard surfaces within their control, in order to cut flooding risk.

Areas of Tarmac and other hard paving need drainage holes skillfully punched into them to enable excess water to be absorbed underground instead of filling up over-loaded surface water drainage pipes, and lying in pools on roads, pavements and in car parks.

Landscape and groundwork contractors should be diverted into this flood-prevention work as one of our national priorities. No-one should be contracting them to cover more areas with non-porous paving. Local authority hydrological engineers and ecologists should be among the specialists advising on this work.

More severe storms and rainfall have been predicted for years now, but the government has been too fixated with the economy, and with its misplaced endless promotion of yet more economic 'growth' and 'development'. It has plumped for Tarmac-ing over more and more, instead of making changes that would actually improve the quality of our lives, and of preparing for the worst, as people in the South West are now discovering.

Government has again failed to consider what, over time, is the dominant factor in our lives: climate and the environment. Until it does, and green ideas come first, we will be forced to live with tragedies, distress and waste. The Committee on Climate Change told BBC News recently that just as scientists are predicting more extreme weather, buildings are being allowed on flood plains, gardens are being paved over and urban green space is being lost. This has got to stop.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Greens reject inadequate meat labelling proposals

Proposals labelled 'horsemeat'...
A motion tabled by Green MEPs to reject new rules proposed by the European Commission on origin labelling for meat was endorsed in a European Parliament vote today.
 
The Greens welcomed the outcome and called on the Commission to come forward with new and more comprehensive proposals, with Green food safety.
 
The Green Party's MEP for South East England, Keith Taylor, said:
 
"We're very pleased that a majority of MEPs have joined Greens in voting to send this inadequate legislation back to the Commission. After the horsemeat scandal in the UK people are increasingly concerned about the origin of the food they are eating.
 
We need full transparency in the food production chain, including country of birth labelling. Displaying this information is also an important tool for meat-eaters who want to choose to eat meat from animals that did not suffer the stress of long-distance transport, given the failure to reduce animal transport times in the EU.
The proposal from the Commission would provide only for the country of rearing and slaughter to be named on the label but not the country of birth. This must be redressed. While today's vote is not binding, we hope the Commission will heed the outcome and come forward with a new proposal providing for full transparency.

I know that many of my constituents are worried about where their food is coming from and I'll continue to push for changes in the way our food is labelled to ensure people have access to all the information they need to make informed decisions."

Lib Dems "running scared" of Greens - Euro Elections 2014

 The Green Party has today refuted Nick Clegg's absurd and wilfully-misleading assertion (made in his latest Broadcast) that the Lib Dems are the only party fighting to keep Britain in Europe. Green Party leader Natalie Bennett said that Nick Clegg's comments were "deliberately untrue" and that in any case only the Green Party stood for "Three Yeses - yes to a referendum, yes to major EU reform and yes to staying in a reformed Europe".

 Dr. Rupert Read, lead Green Party MEP candidate in the East of England in the European elections, who recently published a critique of the LibDems' highly-dubious campaigning tactics ( http://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/rupert-read/why-do-lib-dems-care-so-much-about-lord-rennard ), said: "As someone who was once in the LibDems myself, I know all too well how the LibDems operate. This latest ridiculous claim by Clegg is unfortunately par for the course. No wonder they earn the epithet among political activists from other parties of 'FibDems'."

Green MEP Keith Taylor, said: "With polls suggesting that the Lib Dems could be entirely wiped out at the European elections it's no wonder that they are appealing to their core with this pro-EU stance. They are right to support Britain's membership of the EU, but the fact that they don't support a referendum to let people choose shows that the word 'Democrat' in their name is all but meaningless. 

"Greens believe that the UK should remain part of a radically reformed European. We believe that it's better to work together with other countries, but we want to see an EU that puts people and the environment at it's core, not profit. 

 "It's time that people had their say on our membership of the EU, and Greens will be doing all we can to ensure that Britain remains part of a more democratic European Union that protects our shared environment and rights of workers across the continent."

 Leading Green MEP Candidate for the South-West , Molly Scott-Cato, said:

'I would have thought that Nick Clegg's priority would be to rebuild trust with the electorate but the latest Liberal Democrat broadcast, with its claim that they are the 'party of in', can only be designed to confuse voters. The Green Party has been consistently pro-Europe and this attempt to sideline us suggests strongly that Liberal Democrats are running scared and that on the ground their voters are deserting them to come to a party that offers so much more in terms of integrity and policies for the common good, as well as its wholehearted support for remaining part of the European Union.'


 

My GUARDIAN letter on post-growth: :-)

Letter from me and Green House colleagues on why growthist greenery is a contradiction in terms: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/feb/04/carbon-capture-fracking-green-tories
Scroll down for our letter on this topic.

Monday, 3 February 2014

WHY I'M JOINING ANTI-CAMPBELL DEMO

Critics of Alastair Campbell, former Director of Communications in the Blair government, will join a demonstration when he speaks at the UEA on Wednesday (Feb 5th).

 

Among them will be Rupert Read, lead candidate for the Green Party in the east of England at the European elections in May.

 

Dr Read, who is 80% on leave this semester from his usual teaching and research duties at UEA, so that he can run for election to the European Parliament, said:

 

"Blair lied, and as a result hundreds of thousands died. But the man who crafted Blair's lies was of course Alastair Campbell.

 

"Campbell is partly to blame for the low repute in which politicians are now held by most of the public. But we in the Greens are different: whether you like what we say or not, you can trust us to tell it as it is. I'm demonstrating against Alastair Campbell because I want to put clear green water between the likes of him and the likes of us. And to make clear that we, the British people, have not forgotten or forgiven his 'dodgy dossier' which eased the path to the criminal attack on Iraq."


Mr Campbell, now a novelist and diarist who has recently been appointed interviewer for the lifestyle magazine GQ, is due to speak to a sell-out audience of almost 500 as part of the Spring Literary Festival at UEA. The action outside the UEA Lecture Theatres from 18.15 is supported by People's Assembly UEA, UEA People and Planet and UEA Greens.

 

MY OPPOSITION TO FRACKING UNDER HOMES

Home owners in the east of England may find fracking taking place underneath their property unless government plans are opposed.

That's the warning today from Rupert Read, Green Party lead candidate in the east of England at the Euro-elections in May.

Ministers and fracking firms are pushing for a change in trespass law to allow hydraulic fracturing to take place under people's homes without their permission.

The Department for Energy and Climate Change, headed by Liberal Democrat MP Ed Davey, is reviewing whether current trespass laws are fit for purpose. In a Radio Four interview on the proposed law change the Chief Executive of Celtique Energy, Geoff Davis, hinted at his support for making unwanted drilling easier.[1]

 Mr Davis' intervention came after a group of landowners in Sussex wrote to Ed Davey MP saying they refuse to give permission for Celtique to drill beneath their land. [2]

Responding on behalf of the Green Party here in Eastern England, Dr Read said:

"Fracking potentially threatens homes in Peterborough, in north Norfolk, and on the Cambs-Herts-Essex border. Only the Green Party opposes it. And it's easy to see why we oppose it, when you hear of this latest outrageous threat. We would never allow nuclear power stations to be built in our gardens, or wind-turbines to be allowed literally to overhang our houses. So why should fracking be allowed underneath our homes?"

Commenting on the response by Minsters and Celtique Energy, Keith Taylor, the Green Party MEP for the neighbouring Region of South East England, said:

 "The Government and their friends in these fracking firms are looking increasingly desperate in their attempts to impose fracking on a population that's saying no.

 "It is clear that people across the UK have legitimate concerns about fracking. It is, therefore, shocking that the Government is responding by proposing a law change to drill underneath people's homes without their permission.

 "Though the British Government has a love affair with fracking, ministers are failing to persuade the UK public of the benefits of shale gas drilling.

"We know that fracking is unlikely to bring down bills and presents a threat to our environment and there is no doubt that local communities will continue to organise against fracking, with or without this change in law."

 

NOTES FOR EDITORS:

[1] Today programme 3.2.14, Radio 4, around 7.30am

[2] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/energy/fracking/10613466/Fracking-landowners-form-legal-block-against-drilling-in-South-Downs-National-Park.html

The great flooding: how to stop it happening again?

 
The recent stormy weather has shown how important it is that we prioritise investment in infrastructure such as sea defence and flood protection. In Norfolk and Suffolk alone we have seen storm surges cause serious flooding and damage, and so soon after extensive weather damage to electricity supplies in December.

As the Green Party lead candidate for the East in the May European elections, I am calling on the government urgently to commission an independent, top level assessment on the resource implications of maintaining the region's infrastructure and utilities during the next 25 years. We are talking here about very substantial sums of money and other resources that have to be earmarked and made available to maintain so many things that we have come to rely upon: highways and other transportation infrastructure, water, electricity and gas supplies, sewerage, telephone and other cabling, quite apart from flood and sea defences.

We know, for example, that the greatest threat to the UK from dangerous climate change is the increased risk of flooding. Yet government cuts to the Environment Agency mean they will lose about 1,700 staff members in the next 12 months, 550 of whom work on preventing and mitigating flooding. It is unlikely that as a society, country, and region, afford to maintain all this infrastructure whilst also committing to numerous other projects. Delays and competition between investments are commonplace, and there is evident scope for government to sharpen its awareness of what and where the priorities are.

Failure, by successive governments, to acknowledge the serious potential of climate change, and the competition for resources, must be addressed without further prevarication. More realistic forecasting and assessment is needed. Green Party thinking is rooted in awareness of these resource issues.

A belated government decision to invest in sea defences at Great Yarmouth following the serious storm surge, is piecemeal, too little, and too late. We need government and politicians who understand the science and engineering of hydrology and earth management. Personally, I want to see the East lead the world in tidal power and wave power: technologies which, as I found out on my recent visit to the Orbis centre in Lowestoft, can simultaneously protect us from tidal surges and from coastal erosion. It is exactly this kind of innovative thinking that needs to be included in the wide-ranging assessment for which I am calling.
1. 2. 3. Rupert's Read: February 2014 4. 12. 15. 18. 19. 20. 21.

Rupert's Read

22. 23. 31. 32.