New blogs and talks from Richard Priestley

I’ve just posted a blog ‘A strange moment in UK Politics’ and over previous weeks a number of blogs about exponential growth of solar power and of innovation of zero emission transport technologies. www.richardpriestley.co.uk

On the website we have a new MailChimp sign-up form. Please sign-up and you’ll get the each new blog direct to your in-box.

For those of you on Twitter, I’ve recently become an avid Tweeter @richard_global_

For those of you in Hereford, I’m giving a talk 7.30, Weds 8th March at De Koffee Pot. (Happy to do the same or similar talk at other locations) ‘Trump, the Carbon Bubble & possibilities of a better future’

Feedback and promotion welcomed as ever.

Herefordshire business to benefit from energy efficiency grant

A Herefordshire business has benefited from the first Business Energy Efficiency Programme, set up to help lower running costs and promote energy efficiency.

Caplor Energy, based in Fownhope, is the first business in the county to be awarded the grant. The company was awarded £12,236 for an innovative energy storage project to capture energy from its solar panels.

Read the full story on the Council website.

Photo (c) Howard Willson

Hereford Community Land Trust

The Hereford Community Land Trust was formed in 2016 and is part of a national network of local Land Trusts. We are actively seeking more members who have an interest in local affordable homes for others in the city or for themselves. It is important that we build up membership to give weight to the case for development of high quality community provision that can truly be afforded by all. Lifetime membership can be secured as either Full or County members for a payment of £5. The following is a summary of what the Trust seeks to achieve.

What is a Community Land Trust?

A CLT is a non-profit community-based organisation, run essentially by its members, which acquires and holds land on which the CLT’s specified objectives are carried out. Most CLTs develop and own ‘permanently affordable’ housing, possibly with other assets such as workspaces, open spaces and community facilities, which together meet the needs of the community.

Land is held in perpetuity and once built, properties are protected from fluctuations in land market valuations by a legal ‘asset lock’ that is a fundamental part of all CLT structures: assets can only ever be sold or developed in a manner which benefits the local community. Should the CLT go out of business, the land has to be passed on to another organisation with similar objectives

What exactly is HCLTs Mission?

Our central mission is to provide low-cost, high-quality homes for sale or rent to local people in the Hereford area and surrounds. Following pathways developed by CLTs elsewhere, our aim is for these to be designed with community input to be energy-efficient and low-carbon, built with locally sourced materials and skills in a sustainable setting that includes food production, renewable energy, waste management, and all that is necessary for a healthy, balanced community. Clearly, for homes to be affordable compromises in some areas may have to be considered.

The intention is to provide as many units as possible that are genuinely affordable  to buy or rent or some combination of the two.  Because of being built to a high standard of insulation they should also be economical to heat. This will almost certainly entail building some homes for market sale so as to help cross-subsidise any development. We anticipate there will be scope for self-build or self-finish options, and for providing or managing community facilities such as open spaces and allotments. All assets will be retained in community ownership in perpetuity.

Why Join?

Someone may wish to support provision of affordable housing in the Hereford area as a matter of principle, or may want affordable housing for themselves or for people they know. They may have an interest in the built environment and wish to get involved with a lively and co-operative group of people aiming to establish something better than profit-driven ‘dormitory’ development. Or they may feel that housing nationally is in crisis and would like to help see the problem addressed locally through community-led approaches.

Whatever the motivations, we encourage those who meet the membership criteria (see below) to join HCLT, so the group can benefit from their ideas and skills, and can demonstrate widespread community support.

Who Can Join?

Anyone who lives, works (paid or unpaid) or studies in Hereford, or lives elsewhere but is actively involved in Hereford community events, and is aged 16 or over, is welcome to become a member of HCLT on condition that they support its stated aims and values, and pay a one-off fee of £5. “County” membership is also available for those simply wishing to support the Trust’s objectives.

Further information :

https://www.facebook.com/HerefordCLT/

www.communitylandtrusts.org.uk

Email:  herefordclt@gmail.com

 

Fracking: a clear and present danger in Herefordshire

Members of green groups in Herefordshire, including Greenpeace and the Green Party, leafleted shoppers in Hereford last Saturday on the controversial issue of Fracking.

Fracking is used to extract shale gas [1], and has recently been given the go ahead in Lancashire and Yorkshire in the face of very vocal opposition from local people, councils and from campaigners across the UK concerned about the negative environmental impacts. [2].

The demonstration outside Barclays Bank was to draw people’s attention to the bank’s involvement – it owns fracking company Third Energy, which plans to drill 19 wells across the district of Ryedale, North Yorkshire – and to ask that bank customers let Barclays know that they would like the bank to stop financing fracking.

Green campaigners in Hereford want to raise awareness of the negative impacts of fracking wherever it happens in the country.  Parts of south Herefordshire have been identified as potentially suitable for fracking, and last December, licenses were issued for exploration based on a preliminary assessment of the potential for producing shale gas [3].

Leaflets handed out to passers-by listed the key dangers from fracking in an area like Herefordshire:

  • Groundwater pollution from chemicals injected into wells, some of which will remain in the ground after the wells have been exhausted and are sealed off.
  • Pollution of surface water from fracking chemicals.
  • Increased levels of heavy freight traffic on rural roads
  • Noise and light pollution from 24 hour drilling operations
  • Methane gas leakage adding to global warming
  • Damage to the local tourism industry
  • Depressed house prices.

Rob Hattersley, who helped organise the event, said, “The level of interest was very high – the great majority we spoke to agreed that fracking was dangerous and they were against it, especially if it did come to Herefordshire.” 

Rob Palgrave, Hereford Green Party, added, “Back in 2010 the Conservative Party claimed it would be the greenest government ever. None of its policy changes since then remotely fulfil that promise. They launched what the then Chancellor called “the most generous tax regime for Shale gas anywhere in the world”. And, by disregarding the wishes of Lancashire residents and overturning their Council’s decision to block fracking, this government has trashed local democracy. The revelation in the national press last month that they had intentionally withheld information in advance of the planning decision about fracking in Yorkshire is shameful [5]”

Rick Guest of Herefordshire Greenpeace said, ”When I asked Jesse Norman about voting yes in the House of Commons fracking debate last December, it seemed he could hardly remember there had been a vote, let alone how close it was – about 275 v 255. Our MP should be taking a lead on protecting Herefordshire’s natural resources, especially the River Wye, not allowing dirty polluting industrial activities to threaten them.”

Notes

[1] Fracking – short for High Volume Hydraulic Fracturing – is a technique for extracting shale gas from deposits in rocks up to 20,000 feet underground. After both vertical and horizontal drilling, explosive blasting is used to open up cracks in the rock, then very large volumes of water with sand and chemicals are injected at high pressure to open up the fractures and allow the trapped gas to escape.

[2] Permission to drill was refused by Lancashire County Council, but was granted by Westminster after the decision was called-in.

[3] Licences were subsequently turned down by South Western Energy, but the Oil & Gas Authority have not discounted offering licences to other companies in the next few years.

[4] Green Party opposes fracking in principle as it produces a fossil fuel which when burnt contributes to global warming. The Labour Party announced in September that it would ban fracking: “The real reason to ban fracking is that it locks us into an energy infrastructure that is based on fossil fuels long after our country needs to have moved to clean energy. 

[5] “Government accused of ‘dirty tricks’ over controversial fracking report”: Ministers deliberately delayed a report showing fracking could affect house prices, health and the environment until after a crucial planning decision, documents reveal

Shale fracking affects house prices, health and environment, but government don’t want you to know

Of interest to those attending last night’s Big Green Conversation on Fracking, The Guardian reports this morning that Ministers deliberately delayed a report showing fracking could affect house prices, health and the environment until after a crucial planning decision.

Fracking: unsafe, unproven, bad for Herefordshire

THE GREEN PARTY strongly opposes fracking. Not only is a dangerous and unproven technology, even if it were safe it would be unacceptable because our overriding priority has to be to reduce our carbon emissions. All our efforts must be to reduce carbon use and increase renewable energy capacity.

And renewables are great news for Herefordshire where we already provide leadership.  With this, and our economic dependence on tourism and agriculture, fracking is one of the most stupid policies for our county that we have ever come across. It is only happening because some people think they can make money from it. It must be stopped.

Trump vs. Science

When future historians look back at 2016, what will they see as the most significant change?

In Marrakech, Morocco, the COP22 climate change talks are underway. The evidence for climate change is utterly overwhelming. Atmospheric CO2 has passed the milestone of 400ppm.  Each year sees the global average temperature rise. Glaciers and permafrost are melting, sea levels are rising. Urgent action is required.

As I write this Donald Trump has just won the American Presidency. He has described Climate Change as a hoax. I can think of no better parallel than when the Nazi’s described any science they didn’t like as ‘Jewish Science’. Dismissing hard science based on careful study of empirical evidence is a very dangerous path to take. Donald Trump genuinely is a loose cannon.

Globally air pollution is re-emerging as a critical issue. This week Delhi has been described as a ‘gas chamber’ and the High Court in London has condemned our government for inaction in reducing air pollution.

The solutions to both climate change and to air pollution are a rapid transition from a fossil-fuel based economy to one based on renewables. Much of the Cleantech innovation is happening in USA.

What effect a Trump victory will have on any of this is hard to tell, but it is very likely that global leadership on these critical issues will move elsewhere.

Meanwhile real world events unfold. Sotheby’s have plenty of multi-million dollar homes for sale in Miami Beach. Sea level rise, plus the region’s porous geology and the increasing likelihood of storms and hurricanes make it almost inevitable that these properties will become utterly worthless before long, but exactly when, nobody knows. Trump may be dismissive of climate science, but he is keenly aware of property prices. Atmospheric gases and geological processes of change are completely oblivious to property prices or to the egos of politicians, yet they may dominate the news events of the Trump presidency.

We live in interesting times!

This blog was originally posted at RichardPriestley.co.uk

 

Event | 24 Nov | BGC | Fracking the Shire

‘Fracking the Shire’ is the title of our next Big Green Conversation at De Koffie Pot on Thursday 24th November, 7pm for 7.30pm. Come along to find out what the fuss is about, what’s going on globally, and how it could affect Herefordshire specifically.

We are trying this event without the complication of Eventbrite – just turn up. But if you use Facebook please do click ‘Going’ and share the event as this really helps us to spread the word.

All welcome – please invite family, friends, colleagues and neighbours. If you can, download and email this poster around – or print and display!

Hereford MP Norman wants to frack

Hereford MP Jesse Norman has criticised Labour for saying it would ban fracking.

A Hereford Green spokesperson said: ‘Jesse Norman may find it interesting explaining his love of fracking to residents of South Herefordshire as they worry about falling house prices, polluted water supplies, earthquakes and damage to our tourist industry if the frackers are allowed to do their dirty work here in the beautiful Wye Valley. Why is he not putting all his effort into developing our renewables industry instead?’

Green MP Caroline Lucas welcomed Labour’s opposition to fracking but challenged them to oppose Hinkley too.

The Green Party believes that climate change is such an emergency that we have no time to use fossil fuel such as shale gas even to ‘transition’ to greener technology, and that this is a dangerous distraction.

All investment should be in renewable energy which would not only protect water supplies, the wider environment and our tourist industry, but would create local jobs too.

Read the full report from the BBC.

Jesse Norman MP meets Greens to discuss energy

In July, Jesse Norman was appointed to a junior ministerial post (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State) in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. His energy responsibilities are Nuclear and Oil & Gas including shale gas.  Soon after his appointment,  we contacted him to seek a meeting, intending to discuss the Hinkley Point decision, and fracking, among other issues.

We met him just after Hinkley Point was given the go ahead and shared our views on fracking, managing energy demand, the transport sector, home insulation, ratification of the Paris Agreement (COP21) and the extent to which government should directly manage the UK’s low carbon transition.  Unsurprisingly, there are still considerable differences between his position and ours, but it was a nonetheless a useful meeting.

Fracking fears in the Wye Valley and Forest of Dean after licence issued to energy company

The Ross Gazette reports that Frack Off Our Forest, a local pressure group, is urging Herefordshire residents to write to their local MP, Jesse Norman, if they believe that fracking should not be allowed in the Wye Valley or the Forest of Dean.

It was revealed last year that areas of the Wye Valley and the Forest of Dean are currently under consideration for fracking and gas and oil exploration.

On Thursday, July 21st, it was announced that South Western Energy had formally been issued a Government licence to explore for gas and oil. This licence had been offered to the company in December last year, and Frack Off Our Forest had been attempting to persuade the Government to withdraw this offer.

This licence area covers the whole of the Forest of Dean and a part of the Wye Valley. The licence gives South Western Energy exclusive rights to explore for gas or oil by drilling into rock and coal seams in the area.

Read the full Gazette article here.

Fracking licenses approved for parts of Herefordshire

AREAS in south Herefordshire are now licensed for fracking following a government vote, reports the Hereford Times.

The Wye Valley and Forest of Dean were part of the 159 Petroleum Exploration and Development Licences awarded for fracking across England voted through in the House of Commons on December 16.

But before a licensee can start operations it must apply for planning and other permissions.

The Forest of Dean and Symonds Yat are within the proposed areas.

Read the full Hereford Times report here.

Fracking in Herefordshire must be prevented

Areas in the south of Herefordshire are now licensed for fracking.
 
On 17 December, government announced that 159 Petroleum Exploration and Development Licences (PEDLs) had been awarded for fracking across England under the 14th landward licensing round.

Areas to the south of our county, including inside the Forest of Dean and in the vicinity of Symonds Yat (known as SO 50, 51 60 and 61) are now licensed for the extraction of Coal Bed Methane by South Western Energy Ltd.

Before the licensee can start operations it must apply for planning and other permissions [1].

The Green Party believes that fracking for shale gas or to extract coal bed methane is totally incompatible with efforts (and UK commitments) to minimise climate change. The fuel extracted by fracking is a fossil fuel, and when burnt adds carbon to the atmosphere, contributing to global warming.

The drilling processes are disruptive, dirty and noisy and pose a threat to human health and to the natural environment including water quality.

Despite the government’s assertion that shale gas is a key part of our energy future, many industry commentators believe that it is not commercially viable in the UK.

Hereford Green Party will vigorously oppose any applications the licensee makes for the required permissions.

Rob Palgrave, chair of the party said,” How shameful for Britain – days after signing the global agreement on climate change in Paris, our government announces the go ahead for more exploration and extraction of fossil fuels. I hope our local politicians will be as resolute as their counterparts in Lancashire in resisting the development of fracking here.”

NOTES:
1. The award of a Petroleum Exploration and Development Licence (PEDLs) does not automatically give permission for operations to begin. The necessary planning and regulatory consents will be required before development can take place. All proposals will subsequently be scrutinised by the Environment Agency, and by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Consent from the OGA is also required before exploration or production drilling or production activities can commence.
2. Map of fracking blocks
3. List of operators awarded licences under the 14th round