RECLAIM AGRICULTURE, see below
RECLAIM AGRICULTURE, see below
Badgers and farmers - after thoughts
photo of Elin Jones at launch of community farms and gardens in Senedd
Badger culling is in abeyance after the high court rejected it as a policy that had not met its conditions to exist.
It has had a sad and dramatic effect locally. A passionate campaign got loads of people off their private chairs and into meetings to plan the resistance, a real buzz in the air, they fought powerfully, they report on the
Pembrokeshire Against the Cull (PAC) website.
Tragically the farmers who have been suffering long periods of keeping cattle in for tests, restrictions on movement so they cant go to new grass, or be sold etc, and endless fear and often loss of prime animals because they are 'reactors' have pinned their hopes on the badger cull making a difference to their plight. Now that is not about to happen more have decided to sell up. The decision was in the balance waiting for this spark of hope.
I good examination of the policy on bovine TB is on this website:http:/www.bovinetb.co.uk
The tragedy was that the 2 sets - farmers and anti cull people hardly communicated together.
We in Plaid Cymru certainly have reps of both approaches and had passionate and informed discussions which led to a delegation going to see Elin Jones. We had 2 hours discussion which led to some very sound information exchanged, much better understanding and appreciation of the policy and agreement that a selective cull did not need to force entry and regretted incidents that had taken place.
Excitment in the government senedd - Food ahoy!
The event is the launch of a map of community food production in Wales, put on by the Assembly and the federation of City Farms and Community Gardens
Katie Jones just behind Elin runs it. The community food growing stories are overwhelmingly inspiring, I found at events for sharing them. eg the time the entire village turned out to buy shares in their mountain, or the garden growing where nothing should grow high on a gorse mountain, or the deprived city garden which is an eating club, but you grow what you eat... Children love foraging, eating raw peas, cooking pizzas on the solar oven, and helping grow the ingredients.
Elin and Leanne Wood, both Plaid people have championed the reclaim the land movement via allotments etc. Leanne gave warning of peak oil as a reason, but there are more reasons than that. A Plaid group went to Cuba and have not forgotten the lessons from their special period. It revealed our future, and they want to prepare Wales for self-reliance.
There was an air of excitment in the Welsh government senedd that is rarely seen, even the doormen conveyed it. Something to celebrate for once.. Elin is working on new policies to make it easier to get the land to feed ourselves. She said "It is our job as government to be facilitators and take away the barriers".
She shared a pang of envy of the life of the growers compared to the government's white faced indoor existance.
HYDRO POWER IF YOU SAY SO NOW
ENVIRONMENT AGENCY ASK WHAT CHANGES TO MAKE IT EASIER TO GET HYDRO POWER.
Why it matters: see below
ONLY TIL JUNE 11 TO RESPOND!!
link to consultion
Bit worrying, there is consultation on simplifying the permission rigmarole to get hydro power and most of the responses I have read say no way, this would hurt the environment.
Suggested response, well mine:
Where the water is taken out of a stream or river and put back there only need be 2 criteria and one request or requirement:
criteria: 1.Enough water is left in the water course at all times to ensure a healthy habitat (residual flow requirements) 2. Fish screens are in place to stop plants and animal life getting into the intake and where relevant fish passes are provided.
request or requirement: compensatory habitats are created eg stream or pond creation to keep wildlife habitats at least as rich and diverse as before the hydro.
Under these criteria permission should be automatic not at the discretion of authorities.
There can also be an upper ceiling on size of hydro with this proposal.
If you want me to say this on you or your groups behalf let me know, or if you have time respond to the consultation: link above.
Why it matters:
At the moment permission can take over a year, 2 years to get a hydro with a fair wind what with ordering the equipment etc. That is so slow people give up and go away.
Tiny streams can create enough power to keep homes lit, laptops and pumps running all over Wales.
Water flow matches winter increased needs complementing (less powerful) sun power in summer.
Water is the most energy dense flow we have, the most unvarying, repairable, potentially low embodied energysource (hydros can be made from an old washing machine, can last generations).
While power is cheap and available now it may not always be.
We need to leave fossil fuels asap.
respond by june 11th.
Doesnt matter if you dont know all the implications and answers, neither do the other respondants, those I have read.
WIND TURBINE SUCCESS 25 MAY
WIND POWER SCRAPES THROUGH
A historic vote approved Infinergy’s Wear Point wind turbine application today, but frighteningly narrow; 9 for, 8 against.
A Pembs South East Energy member said, “if they didn’t pass this one they wouldn’t pass anything.”
Historic too because of the courage of the county councillor, Maureen Mollinew who spoke in support because of climate change and energy security. She stood up to local opponants who were divided between ‘all for wind but not here’ and ‘hideous ugly and anyway useless because what happens when the wind doesn’t blow, ay? ay?
The other significant sign of a turning tide was planning officer Ceri Jones who a few years ago blocked a small wind turbine application with obstructionism and distortions. The applicant Alan Kilby was in the audience to see the source of his disappointment speak with outstanding clarity force and objectivity on the current proposal and lay before the councillors the exact fit of the current proposal with assembly strategy and county policies.
The opponents filled just the front row of the packed chamber and hissed, laughed derisively and applauded their side, giving the impression of a hostile audience. The council report described everything about their area as of 'low or moderate value' - culture, view. wildlife. The message was - you can have the turbines because you live in a worthless place'. No-one suggested that wind turbines are flags of the future, an emblem of hope and power from our own beautiful environment.
When the vote count announced in favour the room burst into applause, councillors looked surprised. A TV crew was waiting outside.
At stake? Just 10 megawatts of power from 4 turbines, but enough to provide 11% of Pembrokeshire’s homes’ power, we were told.
Wales is committed to renewables, and is 80% behind target we also learned. It’s renewable route map and TAN 8 specify the technologies and where they can go, the Haven is to be an energy hub and renewable is the future.
The opponants’ used emotive arguments against the 70 metre (therefore pretty visible) turbines,
placed in the bowels of old oil refinery land 400 metres from the nearest house, Waterston being the nearest village. The refinery chimneys are the same height.
Ours is a landmark and weather-vain, a sign you are home. No-one likes its noise but everyone local likes to see it.
The other deep mystery is the position of the powers behind the County Council. Division has been smelt. The masonic whispers are to block while the engineers are working to create a green Pembrokeshire.
Most significant contribution from the councillors 'We should approve this after all Pembrokeshire has always been ahead in this sort of thing' (silent laughter in the pioneering audience)
more on the Havens below
First feast of Caerhys community farmers
A wave of reclaiming the land and reclaiming our farmers is the instinctive response to thunderclouds ahead. There are vivid inspiring stories springing up allover. Pic is from St. Davids community agriculture farm Caerhys, the first day back on the land when several acres were planted by 20 people and their children.
The thunderclouds include recession and impoverishment and the darker cloud of further intensification of agriculture as part of the drive to turn Britain into a bread basket for the world, after all we owe it to the bankers and we can pay in our food and energy.
The corporates use world hunger and climate change as batons to beat our farmers into submission. No surprises. But there are alternatives which let people feed themselves with less carbon more soil life and fun.
see May 2010 Pembrokeshire Life for more about this. The farm is Caerhys, belonging to Gerald Miles. Everyone felt their faith in a future flow back on this fun communal day of sane-making work.
New members from the St. Davids area are welcome
Members pay a sum for a weekly share of produce which they can also help to grow, harvest and celebrate on collective working days. The scheme is new, has great vision and is evolving.
Mermaids roast, oldies shiver at gas power protest
Since the colourful protests in 'the Havens' pictured, with full article from then below, the oil industry is winding down a bit and wind power winging its way to the shore. but...
The RWE Npower application is finally with the Environment Agency. Discussions on how they should respond are happening, do get involved with this.
Their new head has inspiring ideas for the future, it is now a matter of making the rules deliver them. We can help.
The power plant is being built, nearly there, but has no permission to operate. No doubt the company is confident that little things like regulators won't be allowed to get in the way when so much power will be produced.
And they are right, we will be short of electricity soon, it is predicted despite recession down-turn. Our gas is rapidly running out, world gas is wanted elsewhere, nuclear stations are crumbling towards closure so er we need this gas power station?
Not the worst thing in the world, but we need to get EA hitching their horsepower to the low carbon future, not going in cirlces in their fish bowl.
The new power plant at Pembroke run by RWE Npower will produce 2000mW of electricity from gas, apparently, the largest in something like Europe. The heat will be wasted, dumped in the Haven. According to FoE research, enough to heat 350,000 houses. The figures are all a bit beyond my grasp.
The manager explained to us it is combined cycle so the heat is used twice, making it some 60% efficient instead of 30%. However normal practice on the continent is to use the by-product heat, not waste it, which would achieve 90% efficiency.
Personally I see gas as brilliant to cook with, and good to heat with, dumb to turn into electricity as this can be done renewably, unless one is capturing the CO2. Ideally no fossil fuels would be burnt at all except as a short as possible bridge to replacing them.
But to use a backward technology which throws away the heat, and therfore forces more fossil fuels to be burnt is inexcusable. We blame the regulators- DECC (Dept of climate change and Energy) and the Environment Agency whose job it is to make sure of BAT = best available technology, and that climate considerations weigh strongly in their consenting. See I know the lingo, fun if you like this sort of thing, swim in the grown-ups pool, cool, among the bombers!!
As FoE man said laconically, this is all too late, we should have been pushing before planning happened. We also put it to Stephen that if he had prioritised climate he would not have supported this inferior system. JOBSJOBS would be better served by far if the heat were used, think of all those plumbers and fitters, or horticulturalists swarming over the heat distributiona and use.
Mr RWE project manager says, but the heat is low grade, for which read, not very hot. But there are heat pumps, and people have vays and minz.
The problem is to do with size, huge and central is deemed cheap and easy, eg one proposal with so much muscle the planners keel over like no entry signs before a hurricane.
MUMS AGAINST CLIMATE CHANGE
Mums group sprang from the Age of Stupid Film. In its short volcanic existance we have staged a theatrical protest against the waste of heat at the Pembroke power plant - details below, held a large outdoor meeting with our Euro MP, Jill Evans, leading to an invite to Brussels after the Euro election to influence the commission and the new MEPs in the lead-up to Copenhagen, and yesterday with our MP Stephen Crabbe, an intense meeting where our requests for a question in parliament, a meeting with Ed Milliband who is deciding UK position at Copenhagen were agreed to, and taking the pledge (to make climate change his priority in all votes and decisions) he will think about.
This is all because of the dangerous point we are at with runaway climate change round the corner, and the last hope meeting this December of the worlds governments in Copenhagen. This is the big push. We may fail ofcourse, but we have to tell our children we tried. And 2 ordinary young women without resources made the Age of Stupid, so we can do it, or try.
12/3 Hermon. excellent talk on a farmer's 3 Little Windturbines.
They were 14 ft tall to be below the planners' radar. It was a sad story of hilarious incompetence by the fairly well-intentioned installer. Illustrates the absurdities caused by the planning barriers. Things like digging the trenches before ordering the cable with the trench between the owners vehicles and the road.
The practical would-be-green farmer gave an honest talk, very valuable compared to corporate presentations so slick and glossy they could come out of a funding application, and do.
but four months of floundering on we still don't know what these little 1.something metre blade turbines will produce as only one of them is working. I was glad I could talk about our very productive 9 metre one from Dorell renewables to show the difference a good turbine on a good site can make.
13 - 14/3 Exhibition on Tidal Energy Ltd. (TEL) who propose a tidal array under the water in Ramsey Sound. Our local engineer-enthusiast Richard Ayre at last saw his brain child on the road to realisation. He initiated the renewed interest in Tidal energy which resulted in Scotland being the Tidal R & D centre of the world. Yet again Wales pioneers, others develop. more on tidal when time.
15/3 World premiere of The Age of Stupid (Climate Change) in 62 cinemas, the largest simultaneous premiere ever!
Film Made by 2 young women who looked like one of us, without money or fame. The marketing lady for Wales was one of us, my daughter-in-law. Film financed by many including us - Andy Middleton of TYF.
An empowering film despite the grim reality. Human motives in the round with irony and no judgement. Stupid is Us. the Not Stupid campaign follows.
Great website, we are galvanising here in west wales. ideas abubbling.
25/3 Zero Carbon Farming with Peter Harper (founder of CAT) 7.30 organised by organic farmers and growers group. He showd this ball (the earth) on a rocky precipice, probably just over the peak and liable to runaway down. Peter showed the climate over past million years, and when we were 6degrees over before.
I saw the attractor lines, think that was the name - the climate gets stuck at certain temperatures, the ice age is one, the interglacial is another, this is where we are, and it's the most productive in life terms. 6degrees is another stuck position, these are where positive feedbacks keep the earth at these temps for some thousands of years.
So to stop the earth rolling into its 6degs position it is not enough to not emit anymore ghgs (=green house gases like carbon), we have to positively capture carbon.
peter went on to show how farming could do this and at the same time feed 9 billion people which is the population predicted by 2050.
He is a perfect gentleman and feels we have to make sure everyone in the world is fed and not be selfish and only think of ourselves.
He shows how we can do all this by covering high land in carbon capturing biomass like trees, and the lower richer land in vegetables and green manure. There may be a tiny bit of land inbetween where animals can be husbanded, but that is iffy. They are basically not cool for the climate.
Personally I would rather have much fewer people and keep the cows. What's the point of having people if we cant keep the beauty of life? Surely we want the survival of humanity with all the cultural and skills riches that means, not a hollow shell of it- bodies without content. But maybe cows and sheep are not the essence of civilisation for everyone.
28/3 Renewable energy debate with Pembrokeshire planners.
I have been to 2 of these, one for the Parks, one for the Council areas of the county.
It is eerie, a room full of people passionate about renewables and deeply aware of their need talking to a planner responsible for stopping them happening. The planner rep shows courage and honesty in being there, and must feel isolated, maybe wondering where the people they purport to represent have gone.
The county is now called Pembroke and the Havens and is An Energy Hub in Wales Spatial Plan.
that means our significance is to provide UK with energy. See separate page.
This means monstrous big gas imports, processing and generating electricity and more development ahead on these lines, the biggest in Europe, and it also means we may get some renewable energy as the icing, or sweetener, or for afters.
see sep. page.
Green Fair in St. Dogmaels organised by Sue (daughter) and green transition people in St.Dogmaels. Bursting with creativity, performance, childrens activities, stalls.
This event has a photo album page lower down.
15th April Green Drinks and film 'A Farm for the Future', Llys Meddyg, Newport 7 for 7.45. See separate page
Newport Area Environment Group regular meeting
April 25th Gwanwyn Gwyrdd
Plaid Cymru Sustainable Spring conference, in National Botanical Gardens, open to all but booked up already. They should organise more.
Government is too important a job to be left to a few people who are not disillusioned or have strange motives.
Everyone who cares what happens should join a political party (or stand for election) as that way you get to choose who stands for elections and what their policies are, at least you do in Plaid.
10 May - Ecohomes tour ( see sep page)
14 May - Meeting on Allotments in pembs and lack of. Letterston Hall 7pm
20 May Green Drinks and Film - Age of Stupid, Newport (sep page)
21 May- Feed In Tarrifs explained and discussed, organised by TENP (The Environment Network for Pembrokeshire) which is funded by a fossil fuel company in the county, very thoughtful.
30 May - All Wales Transition meeting at Hay on Wye, and why not? as there is a star greens debate. Monbiot on show. Will he be lambasting non-plastic bags or home-made preserves with little cloth lids?
People take him like a purgative drug.
Community Gardens Veg
Pegging the terraces.
New land for vegies, terracing the south slope.
The shadow of recession, climate change and other threats in the wings cause a flurry of food gardening all over the country, instinctive reaction.
Seven families growing their plots on one field. Not called allotments, no structure, formality, name, just happening because it needs to. Lush leeks too. Some of them live a long way off because there's no allotments nearby. Local authorities poo poo the need, 'It's like the skate park, the whim of the day, people will soon tire of them if they get them' - our county councillor.
People are providing their own in Narberth too.
Cardigan Council provides allotments for locals, they are re-blooming after a period of neglect.
OLD PARAGRAPHS - TALK ON WATER POWER
I helped Planed organise a Water power day in St.Dogmaels earlier this year.
A few years ago I made a film about microrenewables 'Within Our Power'. It has gone to various top people, been shown to transition groups and is on loop at green centres. Hydro turned out to be very useful in supplying constant levels of power. Even a stream so small you have to move the leaves to see it can be enough for lights, water pump, sounds, laptop - the simple essentials of life.
It also runs pretty constantly, not like wind or sun, and more in the Winter when more is needed, hydro is the under-rated Cinderella of renewables.
And Wales is full of hills and rocks and rainfall which equals hydropotential, untapped.
Lessons from the Hydro Day, gloom and hope
79 people came to the HYDRO POWER DAY in St. Dogmaels -
Here's my impressions:
The morning was gloomy! We learned what hydro power is, more or less, which we more or less knew. Then we had a most depressing talk by the Environment Agency man who started by saying brightly 'You'll be glad to hear we are not against hydro power' - pause for mass gratitude.
He went on to say you need 2 licences, one to impound water, another to extract, the first costs around £200, the next £400 - £900, plus pay conservationists to do an EIA (environmental impact assessment) then if you do get permission you have to have set the thing up within 3 years or you start all over again, and you start allover again anyway in 12 years.
You need licences to extract water to drink, even for field drainage.
You could see the faces round the room making decisions, a minority never to go near the Environment Agency, the majority never to go near hydro power, unless publically funded.
The afternoon was much brighter. Richard showed slides of many micro hydro schemes which paid, didnt cost much and were obviously home-made, I dont think he mentioned the Environment Agency once!
There was a pretty inspiring talk about Talybont On Usk community Hydro. Alice said there was loads of public money out there for this sort of thing. The scheme had had teething troubles, and tens of thousands of pounds had gone to useless consultants several times over who reported the obvious and designed the unworkable.
Jamie showed how to assess your water catchment and some techie flow charts, between pauses to do obscure calculations in his head. He was preoccupied with other matters and did the talk under duress.
Other points to note: Hydro is not like the other renewables, it needs more maintenance, cleaning the filters often. But this is easy as the thing is at ground level. You generally know what you will get unlike wind and sun, great for the essentials.
Height of streams is much more useful (in the present situation) than bulk of river - high heads give lots of energy with less flow.
Richard said people with hydro potential didnt need grants, they were gifted with a freebie energy resource, why give them more? (and grants involve the Environment Agency.
We need a sense of proportion so micro and pico - tiny schemes dont need the full weight of the regulatory controls designed for mass extraction schemes which definately have a massive effect on wildlife, and can affect other peoples water use.
I since heard of people who restored water mills and then were done for impounding and extracting.
In fact hydro power has been around for centuries and flowing water produces the most renewable electricity in the world. In UK wind produces the most.
Speakers: Richard Drover, UK expert, Gideon Carpenter, Environment Agency Wales, Matt Lees, the EcoCentre, Alice Goldstone Talybont on Usk Community Hydro Scheme, Jamie Ashe, a local installer. The event was chaired by Peter Davies, chair of Sustainable Development Commission Wales, Vice-chair of the same UK, and member of various other bods including the climate commission advising the Welsh Assembly.
This meeting was also the beginning of new life for the Green Living Group hosted by Rachel Whitehead.
We discussed the great hydro potential of the very steep village with its rivers. There is much to do on this in the future as energy prices stay high.
Me in logshed. Random photo.
Web searchers complain at lack of contact details so here they are, to reward persistant searchers:
Vicky Moller, Fachongle Isaf, Trefdraeth (Newport) SA42 0QR
Sue Hutchinson considers her future as Newport town councillor
Sue is now a member of Newport Town council, the illustration is not the fate of her fellow councillors, all male!
Sue told me she reckoned there was a year to save the planet and she was going to prioritise this, after the year she would give up or have succeeded. I said that years ago and neither have happened. She isnt sure if deciding who gets to cut the cemetary grass is going to do it for the planet...
Young people talk to Assembly about Climate Change
There were 10 of us trying to get decisions made to help the climate at the Assembly. We chose ideas the Assembly could do and which would make a great difference to the climate, and to young people and our area, We saw 4 lots of people, it was intense and the young people argued with passion, intelligence and politeness. I didn't have to say anything, except to summarise or move the subjects on. We didnt get anywhere.
In fairness the Plaid people and the woman from Cynnal Cymru, Helen Nelson responded with enthusiasm and with practical suggestions, but were powerless. The people closer to power were the most disheartening, but we are still hoping some good will come of it.
The suggestions were:
No planning for solar panels
More practical (life after oil) education in schools
More affordable bus fares for young people through annual open access contracts, not increased WAG funding.
More positive marketing and incentives to live and shop low carbon
Permission for young people to build and live in eco-cabins to learn self-reliance without fossil fuels
Government to not issue any more licences to extract fossil fuels
We realised the last was unlikely but would stop climate change in its tracks if Wales did it and other countries followed, so it was worth mentioning.
The young people were welcomed and photographed, but not listened to.
It was a great day out, ending with ice-skating, and the following businesses are sponsoring the trip:
A J Recycling
Daioni organic milk
Llanisolar solar panels
and hopefully Welsh Hook meat
So thankyou to them, I was devastated at the result. I suppose I shouldnt have expected the Assembly to listen to people who dont haunt the corridors of power, who just blew in from nowhere, ie West Wales.
Make your own website like I did.
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