East Midlands Green Party Blog


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Diary Dates – A Green Month Ahead

With thanks to Nick Martin from Nottingham Secretary  and Simon Hales, East Midlands Secretary we share  important dates coming up, starting this week.  Your voice and standpoints are needed:
  • Nottingham Green Festival:This Sunday 1st September is the annual Nottingham Green Festival at the Arboretum (off Waverley Street). The event runs between 12:00 and 6:00, full of wonderful stalls and activities. Nottingham Green Party will be running a stall.

 

  • Our Leader Visits: We are pleased to announce that Green party leader Natalie Bennett is visiting us on Tuesday 24th September.
    There will be an opportunity for members to hear Natalie speak in the early evening from 6pm – 7.30pm at Ashston Court Hotel, Derby. This venue is right opposite Derby Railway Station.  www.astoncourthotelderby.com/business.html

If you can’t make it you can still be involved in campaigns and actions:


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Hungry for Justice

This post, written by Peter Allen of Derbyshire Green Party looks at the central issue of food, the world’s hungry and abused aid budgets:

Of all the lies and distortions put out by this awful government and it’s powerful friends in the media, perhaps the most offensive is the claim that it is a champion of the world’s poor.

At the recent G8 summit held in Northern Ireland David Cameron made much of the fact that the UK had protected its “aid budget” in difficult circumstances and called on other world leaders to do more. It was alarming that many of the leading UK charities ( including Oxfam and Christian Aid) appeared to endorse his claim, even producing “thank you George Osborne” postcards ! Coming together in the IF Campaign they credited the G8 group of rich countries as a whole with sharing the ambition of ending world hunger and praised David Cameron for his leadership role.

War on Want, which gets my vote as the UK’s best campaigning organisation about issues of global injustice , disassociated itself from this sycophancy, and felt unable to join the IF Campaign. Far from being a “champion of the world’s poor” Cameron has abused the aid budget in support of multinational corporations in Africa at the expense of the rural poor ,as a War on Want’s report from late 2012 makes clear

see here- http://www.waronwant.org/attachments/The%20Hunger%20Games%202012.pdf

The rejection of an invitation to join in the cheer leading on behalf of Cameron and the other G8 leaders is based on a belief that the whole approach of big governments and large multinationals is wrong. Instead of promoting a distorted interpretation of “food security”, which assumes that the world’s food needs will be assured through greater private sector ( multinational) control over the global food system, War on Want promotes solutions based on principles of “food sovereignty” . This  involves empowering farmers and farming communities themselves, who should be encouraged and supported to develop their own solutions , using ecologically sound and sustainable methods.

The approach is set out in another War on Want publication “Food Sovereignty.Reclaiming the global food system”(2011)

see here http://www.waronwant.org/attachments/Food%20sovereignty%20report.pdf

The report begins with the following critique of the existing “model”

“The scandal of global hunger stands as a rebuke to humanity. The fact that record numbers of people are classified as hungry,at a time when there is unprecedented wealth in the world, challenges the very concept of human progress.”

It is a scandal which is a result of deliberate political choices, which favour corporate interests and condemn hundreds of millions to despair. A broken system which is crying out for change, in which between a third and a half of all food produced goes to waste, enough to feed the world’s hungry six times over.

The alternative involves supporting small farmers and the landless in their demands for land reform, for a reorganisation of global food trade to prioritise local markets and self sufficiency,for an input of appropriate technology and for  much greater controls over multinational corporations.

The solutions are likely to be more organic , with a decline in intensive farming and heavy use of pesticides and fertilisers. This in turn will have a positive impact on global warming, capturing rather than losing carbon from the atmosphere.

The above accords with Green Party policy as set out in our “Policies for a Sustainable Society” . We recognise that “multinational agribusiness companies increasingly control global supply chains, commodity markets and the supply of seeds and other agricultural resources,including land” and that this ” threatens the independence and livelihoods of farmers globally ” . We are therefore committed to reducing the hold these companies have and have a set of policies which “favour local and regional self reliance, support smaller agricultural enterprises and producer organisations, reduce dependence on global supply chains and restrict speculation on commodity markets and land ”

see here

http://policy.greenparty.org.uk/fa#FA460

Another World is Possible, and urgently needed.

John Hilary, Executive Director of War on Want, will be speaking on this subject at a Conference in Manchester on Saturday October 5th.

Details here http://www.manchestergreenparty.org.uk/events8/2013-ecosocialism-ideas-for-action.html


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Culling Badgers will not stop bovine TB

In the light of recent events we are reblogging a July post by Mike Shipely on the badger culls which scientific reports say will not stop TB outbreaks:

The Green Party recognises that bovine TB is a serious problem, that it threatens the livelihood of many farmers, causes undue stress and costs the taxpayer around £50 million a year.  The problem has become progressively worse since the early 1980′s and successive governments have failed to develop a satisfactory policy to combat it. This Coalition Government is no exception. As the Defra website understates: A number of different measures have been tried to control the TB in cattle by culling badgers. None of these were entirely successful. ‘  Put more simply, policies, largely reliant on culling, but including movement restrictions and herd testing, have failed.  The measure of this failure has been the progressive spread of the disease from a few remaining residual pockets in the West Country in the late 1970′s to most agricultural areas of mainland Britain.

The disease has been spread by the movement of infected cattle.  As Environment Secretary Owen Paterson says, “Bovine TB is spreading at an alarming rate and causing real devastation to our beef and dairy industry.”  Such a rapid spread could not be caused by badgers who, if undisturbed, will remain in a restricted locality for the whole of their relatively short lives. There is evidence to show that the level of disease on badgers lags that in cattle in the same area.  If badgers were causing the spread, the disease would be higher in their population than in cattle.  In addition, infected cattle are found in areas with no badger population. It is true that badgers can pass the infection back to cattle, but most infection is cattle to cattle and always has been.

The fixation that some farmers, rural vets and politicians have with the badger to cattle transmission has prevented the adoption of the effective control regime that this country needs.  Because  of opposition to badger culling, Professor John Krebs was asked to evaluate its effectiveness 20 years ago.  He  found that there was a lack of scientific information on which to base recommendations and he advised that a properly conducted study of bTB in this country be carried out.  This study took 10 years and its final report, a rigorous, peer reviewed scientific evaluation of the disease in the UK was published in 2008.  It contained two key conclusions, these were:

First, while badgers are clearly a source of cattle TB, careful evaluation of our own and others’ data indicates that badger culling can make no meaningful contribution to cattle TB control in Britain.

Second, weaknesses in cattle testing regimes mean that cattle themselves contribute significantly to the persistence and spread of disease in all areas where TB occurs, and in some parts of Britain are likely to be the main source of infection.

Further, the report recommended that:  Scientific findings indicate that the rising incidence of disease can be reversed, and geographical spread contained, by the rigid application of cattle-based control measures alone. These measures include improved bio-security on farms to prevent contact between badgers and cattle, regular testing of cattle, and strictly controlled movements linked to the testing regime so that no infected cattle are moved and an improvement in the reliability of the bTB test.  The clear message is that culling is unnecessary and can be counter-productive.

It should be noted that this ten year study included a scientifically based Randomised Badger Cull Trial designed to test the effectiveness of culling in both infected areas and in clear areas to check the spread. The report stated:RBCT results showed that reactive culling [in response to an outbreak of the disease] increased, rather than reduced, the incidence of TB in cattle, making this unacceptable as a future policy option.  On Proactive culling, designed to stop the spread of the disease in clear areas the report found: reduced TB incidence in cattle in culled areas. However, …. this beneficial effect on cattle breakdowns was offset by an increased incidence of the disease in surrounding un-culled areas.

KCC2008Wildwood161The Green Party accepts these scientific findings and strongly opposes the new badger-cull pilots  as contrary to the clear scientific evidence; we also have significant animal-welfare, public-safety and ethical concerns.  Caroline Allen, a practising vet who speaks on animal welfare issues has said, ‘..the measure of success of the cull is a reduction in TB of around 15%, i.e. leaving 85% of the disease untouched, this all seems completely nonsensical.’  She also noted that the Government has cut funding for vaccination trials.  This decision is also nonsensical. Greens support the decision by the Wales Assembly to scrap the cull and fund a scientific vaccination trial.  We strongly support those independent groups, including Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, who are raising funds from the public to run a five year trial of vaccination in the badger population. We endorse the Trust’s strategy to control the disease through vaccination and increased biosecurity on farms and call on the Government to provide funding for measures such as electric fencing and badger gates to segregate cattle and badgers.  The Government must also increase funding for an oral badger vaccination and for improved cattle testing.  It must work with the EU to get approval for the use of the available cattle vaccine and to get increased funding for improved treatments.  In addition the movement restrictions on animals from infected areas must be more strictly enforced. 

If farmers are serious about bringing bTB under control in the UK, they must accept the science, stop treating badgers as a scapegoat and adopt this packet of measures.  They require a lead from Government and from the NFU.  If these bodies will not give this lead, then farmers like so many other section of society  must turn to those who will give the lead needed and vote for a change of leadership, both of the NFU and of the country.

Please Sign the anti-cull e-petition and get your friends to do the same.  The No 10 petition to stop the cull has now passed 220,000 signatures.

But the more signatures it gets the stronger the message it sends to the Government so keep signing!http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/38

Fore more information on the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust Vaccination Trial go to:

http://www.derbyshirewildlifetrust.org.uk/badgersCulling Badgers will not stop bovine TB.

via Culling Badgers will not stop bovine TB.


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Law of the Land

When we speak of ‘The Law of the Land’ this phrase has many meanings. We have different areas of law and justice. Last night I watched news footage of Caroline Lucas’s son being picked up by his ear by police as he sat in peaceful protest against fracking. I wondered how many kinds of justice were being undermined. There is criminal justice law and civil or social justice and the environmental laws there to help protect both us and the land. John Youatt, wrote a piece on fracking on the Derbyshire Green Party blog. He is a retired planner and former minerals officer and his arguments are informed and compelling. In the light of public arrests and ridicule this is a further response to fracking. This post regards the injustices we are suffering and the silencing of our campaign.  Some of these infringements of justice include:

  • Our legal and moral right to peaceful freedom of assembly
  • Environmental Protection Laws, with both EU and UK commitments undermined
  • Our legal and moral right to clean water
  • Our legal and moral right to clean air
  • Our democratic rights to be heard
  • Our right to heritage
  • Our right to jobs
  • Our right to question how tax payers money is spent

I must interject that the police are not always like this at demonstrations. Years ago at the largest ‘Stop the War’ march in London, police officers helped us get over barriers in an overcrowded area and gave directions and smiled. This blog piece is not anti-police but more broadly anti-injustice and pro democracy.

Many people are unaware what fracking is and there has been little or no public information. Fracking adds to ground water pollution, destruction of communities, destruction of natural habitats, destruction of human health. Fracking increases climate chaos and decreases potential job provision in jobs rich green energy. Our government is subsidising oil companies with millions for this destructive process, which speaks volumes about its lack of economic efficiency. This is unforgivable in the present economic and environmental climate. The total absence of any kind of opposition by the Labour Party is also unforgivable. Whilst the cost of green energy goes down as its effectiveness increases, the cost of fracking will increase as its effectiveness decreases and the damage it creates for humans and habitats grows.  In the UK we can boast some of the most diverse natural habitats in the world, with animals and vegetation and whole ecosystems dependent on a balance being broken. Those eco-systems include us. We need a healthy environment to live in too. We are breaking land and communities if we do not fight the frack.

We need to redefine our understanding of the word ‘criminal’ when people are led away for exercising their legal right of protest peacefully. We must question whether under such circumstances we are in a democracy or what another regional Green Party member termed a ‘mature oligarchy’; a carefully constricted ruling by the few.  We need to redefine our idea of how the law is used when environmental laws and human rights law are side-lined in order to push through an inadequate, wasteful and damaging energy program. We need to question our protectors of the peace when peaceful protest meets the brutality of protesters’ faces pushed into the ground or young men picked up by their ears. Yesterday there was criminality and there were arrests but it was not the criminals who were arrested.

This blog post urges you to join the peaceful but vocal fight against fracking. Support Caroline Lucas MP and The Green Party as the only political party challenging this insanity and short-termism.  You do not have to wear a rainbow jumper to protest. The threat of fracking affects us all, from all walks of life, our heritage, our health and our future.

FIGHT THE FRACK, JOIN THE GREEN PARTY – FAIR IS WORTH FIGHTING FOR!


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Green Party says NO to Foston Factory Farm, Green Party says NO to all Factory Farms

The Green Party is opposing the planning application for the development of a mega Pig Factory Farm by Midlands Pig Producers. We also oppose any factory farm for several good reasons outlined below. This specific development would be placed in the pleasant rural village of Foston on Uttoxeter Road, South Derbyshire. The planning application involves a pig rearing unit together with anaerobic digestion facility and associated infrastructures. Midlands Pig Producer already have a factory farm in the area which holds around 5000 pigs. The Foston unit would hold 25000 pigs with 1000 pigs being slaughtered every week.

South Derbyshire DC has refused permission, the matter now lies with Derbyshire County Council who have called for more evidence on environmental impacts. If they refuse the matter will almost certainly go to appeal and be decided by the Ministry of Environment.

Foston residents have been campaigning against this massive development for some time now. The site is bordered by housing and a women’s prison, the natal unit of which is within 130 meters to the pig farm. I have spoken to some residents who have serious concerns about possible health implications, which I understand have not been fully assessed. It is unclear what Midlands Pig Producers would do in the event of an outbreak of disease for example Food and Mouth. Residents fear that the pig unit and possible neighbouring houses and the prison might have to be quarantined and movement in the village strictly limited.

Furthermore local residents understandably do not wish to live next to a big industrial unit, with its associated noise, smell and traffic movements. Although the developers claim that they will filter off 90% of the noise and smells; residents fear that the remaining noise and smells from 25,000 pigs will have a serious impact on their lives.

Another really important point is the risk of flooding. This area is prone to flooding. The actual flood-line is very close to the development; and flooding increases the risk of water contamination. The Environment Agency has objected to the plan on the basis that the risks to groundwater contamination can not be properly managed.

The development will cause a significant increase in traffic movements and noise in an area that lacks the infrastructure to properly absorb these impacts. The proposal is therefore contrary to established planning guidelines for developments in rural areas. Furthermore, the access road to and from the site is not appropriate for heavy industrial and agricultural traffic.

The Green Party promotes a sustainable approach to food production and these mega units, reliant on cheap oil and animal feed are not sustainable, which is why we oppose not only the Foston piggery but also all factory farms. We believe that the land used to grow the animal feed should be used to grow food for human consumption. Producing meat means that these animals have to be fed. Land used to grow the animal food is taken from the area used to grow human food. More intensive units means less land for human food. The calorie needs of a growing pig is about double that of a human child under 10 and 50% higher than an active adult. So the food going to this pig unit could feed 50,000 children.

I feel strongly about animal welfare, since animals are able to experience many of the same feeling as humans do. Any human with some sense of empathy can sense that animals can feel fear, pain and discomfort, they also feel stress when separated from their young. Keeping pigs or any other animals in cages for all of their lives, without natural light, without the chance to be part of their social structures – is cruel. I understand that Midlands Pig Producers claim that they will keep to the RSPCA code of welfare for farmed animals. In my opinion these standards are inadequate for these intelligent and social animals.

Another major concern is the use of antibiotics. In large factory farms animals are kept in unnatural and confined environments, the outbreak and spread of diseases is, therefore a serious risk. In order to prevent this, animals are usually kept on low doses of antibiotics. 27% of all antibiotics are used in pig farming here in the UK. Experts are increasingly warning that bacteria are getting resistant to these antibiotics, which are the same as the ones used in human medicine. We rely on antibiotics heavily; without effective antibiotics normal operations and common illness can become lethal. Risking losing the service of valuable antibiotics through overuse as in factory farms is irresponsible.

As mentioned above, the Green Party says that we have to address sustainability in food production. These factory farms use a lot of energy and have a high carbon footprint. Since we are facing a major environmental crisis, we need to reduce energy usage and carbon omission. The UN has published information that states that the meat and diary industry produces 18% of green house gases globally; however other studies imply an even higher contribution.

These factory units will further harm small and medium sized farmers. Farmers cannot compete with the low prices that these mega units can achieve at the present time. This unit would have around 18 employees working in the factory; if the pigs were traditionally farmed, far more people would be employed and earning a living from this. Do we really want our British farming to become an industrial production line? Do we really want our landscape to be filled with industrial units? Or do we want to see traditional farms with grazing animals in the fields?

Having looked at this Foston development I could not find a single reason that I thought was persuasive in its favour. Local residents, traditional farmers, the pigs, the consumers’ health, our environment all would have to pay a price so that a handful of people could get rich. That is simply not a good reason to allow mega factory farms.


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Shame on you – you Government of millionaires

As a cost cutting measure, the Conservative – Liberal Democrat Coalition Government is ending the practice of giving free visas to children from Belarus and Ukraine who’s health has been affected by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster of 1986. Children from these countries have been offered rest and recuperation holidays in various countries across Europe, including Britain and Ireland. The purpose of these holidays is to give the children some small opportunity to be free of the radio- active fall out that still blights their home countries. Many of these young people live in poverty and these breaks are the only real holidays they will ever have. For a short period of their young lives that can have uncontaminated food, clean water and a chance to find enjoyment in an unpolluted environment.

The situation in the areas contaminated by the Chernobyl explosion remains serious and the cost a major burden on the economies of Belarus and Ukraine. The world may have largely forgotten about Chernobyl, but the people of Belarus will never be able to forget. Each year that country must spend 20% of its GDP on the continuing clean-up operation, there is little money left to help children suffering from radiation induced sickness. 99% of the land in Belarus is classified as contaminated, 70 square kilometres of land around the stricken plant are permanently uninhabitable. People are still waiting to be evacuated from areas that are too contaminated to live in. Since 1986 there has been a 200% increase in birth defects, many of these are congenital and will be passed on to future generations. Cancer rates have increased by orders of magnitude. 800,000 men were drafted in to help to contain the disaster, to limit the spread of radiation to other countries. 100,000 of these men are dead or disabled. This is the cost of nuclear power that it’s proponents want us to ignore, it’s a cost that the people of Belarus and Ukraine would like to ignore, but they never will be able to.

In 1991, Doctors in Balarus and Ukraine sent a fax message to their international colleagues; in desperation they made this appeal, “SOS appeal. For god’s sake, help us to get the children out.” The message was picked up by Adi Roche, an Irish peace campaigner. She began to take a few children into her own home to give them the break that their doctors hoped would help to give them some extra vitality to fight the effects of low level radiation. This initiative lead to the establishment of the Chernobyl Children’s Project and numerous charities became involved in taking children for a recuperative break in a number of European countries and in America. The visa requirements for the children and their parents or carers – many are orphans, have been waived by the receiving countries. In 2009, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office reaffirmed that the UK would continue to waive the £86 visa fee.

But no longer. Now the Government has ended this waiver, it says that the country can not afford it. The UK is so hard up that it has to collect around £186,000 from the Chernobyl children’s families, many of whom subsist on less than £2 per day. Let us just remind ourselves of the poor state of the UK economy, the countries richest people and corporations managed to avoid paying £95 billion in tax last year. Margaret Thatcher’s funeral cost the tax payer £3 million, the prize money at Royal Ascot was £5million. Yet our Government can not afford to let these poor children come to our country for free. Shame on you, you Government of millionaires.

STOP THE FOREIGN & COMMONWEALTH OFFICE WITHDRAWING GRATIS VISAS FOR CHERNOBYL CHILDREN COMING TO UK FOR RECUPERATIVE HOLIDAYS FROM BELARUS & UKRAINE

Sign the petition here: http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/37945