Category Archives: High Peak

Please can we have our NHS back?

Charlotte Farrell, Green Party Parliamentary Candidate for High Peak writes…

?????????????????????????????While I was walking home from work today, I was musing about the NHS and in particular wondering what evidence has there ever been to support the idea that ‘marketising’ the NHS would improve the services offered or even reduce costs and save it money? Furthermore what was actually so wrong with the old system?

I began working in the NHS in the late 1970s. I realise that as a nurse I probably wasn’t particularly aware of the management structure, even less the processes that went into providing patient care beyond the wards level. But on the other hand I also wasn’t aware of there ever being problems. Things seemed to run smoothly enough though.

In those days, as I remember, the hospitals were broadly controlled by District Health Authorities and above them the Regional Health Authorities. Then in the 1980s things began to change, the first glimmers of privatisation began, and competitive tendering was introduced for ancillary services.

We began to notice that the wards were suddenly not kept as clean as they used to be, the cleaners were rushing their work and things got overlooked. Hygiene suffered. It was not the cleaners fault though. The concept of tendering meant that the service providers would only secure the contract if they were “competitive” and that meant lower priced bids, which also meant cutting corners. There were fewer ward cleaners, working longer hours for less. By devaluing the staff in this way they also broke some of the public service ethos that had run through the NHS for so long. Interestingly the spread of contracting out cleaning services also coincided with a rise in infection rates including MRSA.

But not to be off put by this, both Labour and Conservative have pressed ahead with the total reorganisation of the NHS into something that Aneurin Bevan would hardly recognise. The idea that the NHS should replicate the private sector has taken root: the private sector knows best and market forces will deliver better care.

Labour introduced PFI funded hospitals, saddling the NHS with debt for years to come with the benefit going to the private funders. It developed foundation trust hospitals so that hospitals could be run as businesses, even to the extent that they could become bankrupt! It introduced the “choose and book” system which opened the door to private hospitals working “alongside” the NHS. Hospitals now had chief executives in control, people often drawn from the private sector on salaries to match. The ethos of public service was further degraded.

The NHS was continually being criticised, waiting list times, poor levels of nursing care, treatments not being provided etc etc (mostly all due to being too underfunded to provide the kind of service people had come to expect, rather than an inherent problem with the staff) – paving the way for the Health and Social Care Act 2011 which promised to make the service more efficient and fit for the 21st century. But all that has been achieved is to change from a system which operated relatively straightforwardly, to one which has become almost Byzantine in complexity.

I don’t know for certain whether this is assertion is true but I would have thought it is not inconceivable that the more layers of management involved, the more labyrinthine the purchasing processes, the more individual transactions involved in providing care and the less affection the providers have for the system, the more costly the service is likely to be.

The NHS Reinstatement Bill aims to rid the NHS of the marketisation, and put it back to how it was conceived. I fully support it.

For further information you can find out more about the Campaign for the NHS Reinstatement Bill 2015 on http://www.nhsbill2015.org/  There is also a link to contact your parliamentary candidates in the run up to the election.

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Greens Respond to Badger Cull

Charlotte Farrell, Green Party Candidate for High Peak

?????????????????????????????If the Conservatives are re-elected the Badger Cull will soon enter its third yearand Derbyshire is likely to be amongst those areas where it takes place. The Green Party has opposed the cull since its inception and last weekend I took part in a scheme that the Badger Trust and Derbyshire Wildlife Trust (DWT) have initiated in response to the cull.

There are an estimated 250,000 badgers in Britain, not a huge figure and indeed in recognition of this they are protected by legislation. The Badger Act 1992 consolidated previous legislation and makes it illegal to kill a badger, except of course for the purposes of the Government’s flawed cull.

Of course I don’t want to underestimate the effect of Bovine Tuberculosis (bTB) on cattle and the farmers who rely on them for their livelihood, but it seems illogical as well as cruel to continue with a cull which has cost millions to date without producing any evidence in support. This year, despite the goal posts being moved by the government, there is still no evidence that it is working in terms of effectiveness in controlling bTB. Furthermore, there remain very grave concerns that it is not meeting the minimum standard of humaneness which the Independent Expert Panel (IEP) agreed at the outset as a requisite of the cull.

The IEP said at the outset that to be considered “humane” fewer than 5% of badgers killed by targeted shooting should take more than 5 minutes to die. After the first year the IEP found that it was likely that between 7.4% and 22.8% of badgers took longer than 5 minutes to die, which indicated that throughout this time they would have been experiencing marked pain. The IEP recommended that the standard of humaneness be improved in the second year if the cull was to continue. In response the government removed the IEP and used its own agencies to monitor humaneness. However, even they did not manage to improve upon the figures in the second year; and the level of inhumanness and ineffectiveness of the process remains such a concern that there are calls for the British Veterinary Association to withdraw its support from the cull.

KCC2008Wildwood161In contrast, though a scheme in Wales, badger vaccination and improved biosecurity of cattle has seen a 40% drop in Bovine TB. We clearly need to introduce similar measures in this country if we are serious about protecting farmers.

Working towards such a goal, DWT in conjunction with the Badger Trust have been pioneering a scheme to vaccinate badgers in the county from bTB, and raised over £50,000 from members to enable them to do this. Nevertheless the scheme relies on volunteers and so DWT have been training interested people up to assist with the vaccination. It was for this reason that I spent last Saturday at the first of this year’s training sessions.

The cull is designed to stop the spread of bTB which has been blamed on badgers, despite there being little evidence to show for it. The aim of vaccination is to ring bTB hotspots with ‘clean’ wildlife areas to stop reinfection of cattle from the wild. Vaccination of the badgers would therefore ensure the clean areas, and a range of measures would then be applied to the areas of bovine infection including improved biosecurity and more regular cattle testing.

Unfortunately vaccinating a badger is not quite as easy as vaccinating a person. The badger has to be trapped in a cage to be injected with the vaccine. The badger is then marked to make sure it does not get a second dose later. However getting a badger to enter a cage willingly takes time and patience and this is what most of the training was about. We had to learn to think like a badger!

The morning was spent learning how to look for badgers and how to get them to enter the cages, and then in the afternoon, we got the opportunity to put into practice what we had learned. Unfortunately it was without any actual badgers. They were presumably snuggled deep in their setts away from the bitter cold. We were not so lucky as it was a cold and snowy February afternoon! However despite the weather it was well worth it. I’m full of admiration for the people who have already given so much time and energy into protecting these animals; and now I can’t wait to join them when the programme starts later in the year.

Constitutional Reform – Urgent request

PrintEast Midlands’ Members have signed John Andrews’ motion C21 on Constitutional Reform.  Here is the link to the motion https://my.greenparty.org.uk/resource/agenda-section-c-spring-conference-2015/#C21

The motion proposes that the GPEW drafts its preferred text for a Constitution based on our values and policies, possibly with a view to a Peoples Constitutional Convention.  Other Parties are also supporting a Convention, spurred on (for a while?) by the backwash from the Scotland vote.

We were disappointed that the motion was not put at the Autumn Conference because it ran out of time. Because of our rules, our motion goes back towards the back of the queue.

Our Motion’s chances at Spring Conference can be improved or indeed guaranteed if we win or come high up the Prioritisation Ballot
Here is the link to the ballot. http://www.surveygizmo.com/s3/1938402/b86cec820060

THE DEADLINE to complete the ballot is 24TH JANUARY Please vote now

Please also read the motion and comment online on the members’ site when the ‘amending motions’ link is available.

Coincidentally, Derbyshire County Council is consulting on a ‘Combined Authority’ – a partial merger of economic functions between DCC and the Derbyshire districts and the city. Do have a look. A draft response might follow. It closes on 23rd January http://www.derbyshire.gov.uk

The relevant PSS for both issues is here http://policy.greenparty.org.uk/assets/images/policy/pdfs/Public.pdf

There is also an updating motion on Regional Government
John Youatt john@youatt.co.uk

Greens Dispute Need for Derbyshire Cuts

Leafleting in High PeakIn July, Derbyshire County Council told us of their plans to drastically cut services and whilst promising to consult on their proposals, made it clear that, as they saw it, savings of £70 million over the next three years (beginning in April 2015) would have to be made. There was no alternative given the cuts in funding from central government.

As Labour Council Leader Anne Western said at the time:

“We need to be absolutely clear – we do not want to make these unrelenting cuts which will affect services local people rely on. The Government has left us no choice and we are having to think the unthinkable. Its budget reductions mean we have to cut our spending on local services by more than a third”

PrintThe Green Party disputes the need for cuts to vital public services, and challenges the need for austerity which the other main parties promote as a political consensus. Instead it has a commitment to an entirely different set of economic policies, which will promote the common good and the preservation of our planet, rather than the interests of a tiny elite.

See here http://greenparty.org.uk/values/fair-society.html

On the basis of the above, Derbyshire Green Party opposes the budget cuts being proposed, however reluctantly, by our Labour County Council, and urges others to do the same.

The council is consulting on its plans on a service by service basis, inviting responses to its planned cuts.

See here http://www.derbyshire.gov.uk/council/have_your_say/take_part/default.asp

The deadline for responses to its proposed cuts to its Housing Support Service is November 18th.

Peter mug-shot crop 1

Peter Allen

I have sent the following response to telladultcare@derbyshire.gov.uk on behalf of Derbyshire Green Party, which I invite others to make use of in their own responses.

Peter’s Response

“I write in response to your proposals to cut spending on Housing Related Support Services. The County Council may not have a legal duty to provide these services but your own report identifies how vital they are to support some of Derbyshire’s most vulnerable residents.

The proposed reduction in the length of time that residents with a learning disability receive support to enable them to live independently in the community is based on an assumption that such service users can be taught how to manage without support faster. No details are given as to how this is to be achieved and we fear that many of those affected will ‘sink’ rather than ‘swim’ with serious consequences for themselves and a likelihood that they will require support again sooner rather than later, meaning that, in the long term no savings will be made. Alternatively, support will be denied to them, leaving them unable to cope, and therefore likely to end up in far more expensive residential care.

An insensitive, false economy.

The proposed halving of the number of vulnerable young adults supported to access and maintain appropriate housing is likely to increase the numbers of such young people ending up in prison or hospital.

An insensitive, false economy.

The proposed reduction in emergency housing provision for victims of domestic abuse is, as your report says likely to lead to the following:

  • more women and families fleeing abuse being placed in bed and breakfast
  • police and safety issues escalating
  • increased demand for counselling and mental health services.

An insensitive, false economy.

Your report also makes clear what the consequences of the huge cuts to support for vulnerable adults with mental health problems will be:

  • Increased hospital admissions
  • Increased tenancy breakdown and homelessness
  • Stigma and loss of family connection.

An insensitive, false economy.

Similarly, your proposed cut to the Handy Van service, which carries out essential repairs and improvements in the homes of vulnerable residents will, as your report warns, have the effect that more people will remain in hospital for longer due to delayed hospital discharge. Whilst the total removal of your sheltered housing provision might save nearly £1 million per year in the short term, as you yourselves say, it will have as a likely impact a growth in the number of older people losing their independence and having to go into far more expensive, and unwanted residential care.

Insensitive, false economies.

Finally, the proposed ending of the Older Peoples Housing Options Service will increase pressure on the remaining housing advice services and mean that more older people will remain in unsuitable housing and therefore experience a deterioration in their health and well being, which is likely to lead to increased health costs in the future.

Yet another insensitive, false economy.

The cuts you propose are unfair and unwise, and are likely to cost more in the long term, in both human and financial terms. Before proceeding on this course of action Derbyshire County Council should, alongside other equally resource stretched local councils across the country, launch a campaign in defence of essential council services, demanding that any government which is elected next May finds the resources to properly fund public services in general and council services in particular.

There is plenty of money around. It is just in the wrong hands.”

Peter Allen
High Peak Regional Coordinator, Derbyshire Green Party

Should Refugees be Rescued?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADerbyshire Green Party opposes the British Government’s withdrawal of support for future search and rescue operations to prevent migrants and refugees drowning in the Mediterranean.

The Governments rationale for this, as with other EU nations, is that by continuing to rescue people it encourages more to risk the trip. Such a response shows the callousness of this Government and is unlikely to prevent desperate people trying to make their way to Europe, although it is likely to increase the number who die on route.

Refugees do not embark on such a journey lightly, but do so because the risks of staying outweigh the risks (real or perceived) of going. For what people spend on illegal journeys they could fund first class air tickets, but such routes are not open to them because the Government prevents safe and legal entries to those seeking refugee status in this country.

People become refugees for a variety of reasons, almost always related to the unjust and unequal distribution of power and economic prosperity across the world. In the Middle East people are fleeing from the effects of intervention by the West to protect its oil ‘rights’. In Africa people are fleeing from the effects of changing environment, a globalised market forcing people into poverty and wars which are a legacy of colonial borders which took no account of ethnic or tribal identities. We are all complicit in the reasons people become refugees because we have all benefited for so long from the existing status quo. We therefore owe it to these people to respect and protect them.

The Green Party recognises that the refugee crisis will not go away until we address the underlying causes and therefore its highest priority is the creation of a just and ecological world. In the meantime we believe that the UK government should fully honour the right to asylum enshrined in the UN declaration of Human Rights and the UN Convention on Refugees. Withdrawing search and rescue missions to teach desperate people a lesson is an appalling act.

Charlotte Farrell
Green Party target candidate for Hope Valley in the High Peak

East Midlands Regional Conference

ALL WELCOME

EMGP_2014Conference_Web

Greens’ Alarm at Huge Wildlife Loss

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Green Party’s candidate in the High Peak, Charlotte Farrell, reacted with shock at the news that over half of global wildlife has been lost since 1970. The information comes from the World Wildlife fund in its latest ‘Living Planet’ report. This shows that there has been a nearly 40% fall in the populations of land and marine animals, with freshwater animals, including fish, falling by three quarters.

Commenting on these figures, Charlotte said, ‘This is truly terrible, wildlife isn’t some luxury, it is part of our life support system. The loss of fresh water life is particularly worrying since this shows how much strain sources of fresh water are under. Without clean water, life for all becomes impossible.’

Since 1970, the global economy has boomed and human population has doubled. The Greens claim that this growth is fuelled by an unsustainable use of natural resources. They say that the rate of use of resources in Europe and America would need three Earths to maintain.

Charlotte went on to say, ‘By any measure, what we are doing now cannot be kept up for much longer. The rate of loss is increasing and at the same time we are seeing serious changes to the chemistry of the oceans and to the behaviour of the climate. Just how much more warning do we need before we make the change to a sustainable economy and live within the limits of the only planet we have?

‘What is most alarming is the fact that our politicians are in total denial about all this. Little appears in the press, nothing is heard from our leaders who go on and on about ‘growth’ as if this was possible for ever. Only the Greens have faced reality and proposed an economic policy that shares the wealth we have to secure a decent living for all, while conserving the planet. Instead of serious action, Governments are driving a last desperate grab for what is left, by the mega-rich and powerful, who have already decided that the majority of us must live in poverty for ever. Greens totally reject this. We know that there is a better way to live within the natural limits of the world. Our policies work for the common good. This will be our message in the coming election campaign.’

For more information on the WWF Living Planet Report:

http://wwf.panda.org/about_our_earth/all_publications/living_planet_report/

Greens' Alarm at Huge Wildlife Loss

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Green Party’s candidate in the High Peak, Charlotte Farrell, reacted with shock at the news that over half of global wildlife has been lost since 1970. The information comes from the World Wildlife fund in its latest ‘Living Planet’ report. This shows that there has been a nearly 40% fall in the populations of land and marine animals, with freshwater animals, including fish, falling by three quarters.

Commenting on these figures, Charlotte said, ‘This is truly terrible, wildlife isn’t some luxury, it is part of our life support system. The loss of fresh water life is particularly worrying since this shows how much strain sources of fresh water are under. Without clean water, life for all becomes impossible.’

Since 1970, the global economy has boomed and human population has doubled. The Greens claim that this growth is fuelled by an unsustainable use of natural resources. They say that the rate of use of resources in Europe and America would need three Earths to maintain.

Charlotte went on to say, ‘By any measure, what we are doing now cannot be kept up for much longer. The rate of loss is increasing and at the same time we are seeing serious changes to the chemistry of the oceans and to the behaviour of the climate. Just how much more warning do we need before we make the change to a sustainable economy and live within the limits of the only planet we have?

‘What is most alarming is the fact that our politicians are in total denial about all this. Little appears in the press, nothing is heard from our leaders who go on and on about ‘growth’ as if this was possible for ever. Only the Greens have faced reality and proposed an economic policy that shares the wealth we have to secure a decent living for all, while conserving the planet. Instead of serious action, Governments are driving a last desperate grab for what is left, by the mega-rich and powerful, who have already decided that the majority of us must live in poverty for ever. Greens totally reject this. We know that there is a better way to live within the natural limits of the world. Our policies work for the common good. This will be our message in the coming election campaign.’

For more information on the WWF Living Planet Report:

http://wwf.panda.org/about_our_earth/all_publications/living_planet_report/

Constitutional Reform: “Democracy for Everyone”

1463119_583405441732546_2094308750_nIn the aftermath of the Scottish Referendum the Green Party is backing calls that a People’s Constitutional Convention agree radical changes to the governance of the UK.

Soon after the Scottish Government has negotiated additional powers with the UK Government, a People’s Constitutional Convention should be commissioned, before the General Election, to map out a new settlement for the rest of the United Kingdom as soon as practicable.

In the wake of the Scottish referendum, which saw the highest turnout at a UK election (85%) since 1951, the Green Party is backing calls for a People’s Constitutional Convention to be established to consider radical changes to the entire governance of the UK. We need to put power back in the hands of the people.

Creating Policy

The Green Party of England and Wales (GPEW or Greens), invites experts to draft policies: then asks Conference to amend them: then votes to adopt them. The policies are binding on Members and are visible to all at http://www.policy.greenparty.org.uk This is a lengthy but deeply intelligent and democratic process.

We are rewarded for our effort by leading, for the last 4 years, the “vote for policies” with a current electorate of over 400,000 – http://www.voteforpolicies.org.uk

We are not rewarded with media coverage and we are penalised by having to find a deposit of £500 to exercise our democratic right to stand, intelligently, in Westminster elections – a double penalty for a party mainly funded by its members.

It is worth reviewing the relevant history:

1. Long ago, a Scot created the Bank of England that is actually the Bank of UK.

2. Years ago, Greens adopted a series of policies about public administration, including the need for a radical written constitution. The constitution, according to Greens and recently Labour, must be created by a Peoples Constitutional Convention.

3. A few weeks ago, East Midlands Greens put forward a Motion to speed up the drafting of a constitution.

4. A few days ago, on an 85% turnout, 1.6 million Scots voted Yes to Independence. 2 million voted No, because of an (exaggerated) fear of the unknown: and because of a vague, last minute, cobbled together “Vow”, that there would be unspecified delegation to Scots.

5. A day later it became clear that the Vow was at best wishful thinking:-

• Tories’ PR consultant, currently our PM, found he couldn’t carry out the Vow, in face of pressure from his far right and UKIP. So he linked devolution to the Scots, with the removal of Scots MPs’ votes in the UK parliament. That wasn’t in the Vow.
• Libdems seemed to completely lose sight of their earlier commitment to the EU rules on subsidiarity – yet another abandonment of principle.
• Labour is horribly confused as usual between Scots and English MPs

Two days later, on 20th September, Greens published a position paper on constitutional issues called “Democracy for everyone” – see policy briefing

The paper might seem a bit sudden to the electorate at large, but in fact every word is based on our well drafted policies for public administration (PA 001 to PA 918).

Readers can as ever read the policies and position paper for themselves.

Guiding Principle
The guiding principle should be that power flows upwards from the people rather than downwards from an over-centralised state. The Green Party will press for the Convention for a new settlement that includes:

Greater powers for local and regional government
Local government exists in a permanent state of crisis, with neither the resources nor the powers to effect the comprehensive change local people want. Councils should have enhanced powers and spending to tackle the housing crisis, generate renewable energy, deliver strong public services and promote local businesses. Where there is public demand for regional government we will support referendums to establish it.

Electoral reform
Proportional representation should be introduced at all levels of Government – from Local Councils to the lower and upper houses of the UK Parliament. In most of the UK the composition of governing bodies does not reflect the will of the people.

‘Total’ recall for all elected politicians
The UK Government’s current Bill to allow constituents to ‘recall’ their MP part-way through their term of office does not go far enough. In the current bill only MPs who are convicted of a criminal offence and jailed: or MPs who have been suspended by their peers, will be subject to a recall process. In contrast the Green Party backs ‘total’ recall where the power rests solely with constituents. The Green’s MP, Caroline Lucas, has worked with MPs from all political parties to produce a ‘total’ recall Bill under which a by-election would be triggered if 20% of constituents sign a recall petition.

Local referendums and citizen’s initiatives
If the public don’t like a Government decision they should be able to force them to reverse it. And if the Government is dragging its feet on implementing a popular measure the public should be able to give it a push. The Green Party backs the right of citizens to introduce their own referendums or initiatives if they secure a sufficient number of petition signatures.

Replacing the House of Lords with a fully-elected Upper House
Britain’s Upper House is perhaps the most glaring example of the neo-feudal state in practice. No other country that calls itself a democracy retains an unelected branch of parliament stacked full of retired MPs, party donors and a smattering of hereditary peers. The Green Party believes it should be abolished and replaced by a directly-elected second chamber.

The extension of the right to vote to all 16 year olds
16 year olds were entrusted to help decide the future of their nation in the Scottish Referendum. They repaid that trust. The Green Party has long-argued that the age of majority should be reduced to 16 for the rest of the UK with accompanying full citizenship rights and responsibilities.

A written constitution
All of these changes need to be included in a new written constitution setting out our rights and Government’s responsibilities.

All of these are existing Green Party policies.  The new settlement should be subject to a referendum.

So where from here?

Greens will seek the resources to speed up the drafting of a new Constitution. We will ask other parties to consider our ideas in a Peoples Constitutional Convention. We will meanwhile support the Yes movement in Scotland, in its insistence that the vow be consummated.

1463119_583405441732546_2094308750_nReaders, please comment

We need an early vigorous debate. We might have to act before our next Conference, if we are to maximise our impact on the 2015 elections.

John Youatt, Jean Macdonald, Mike Shipley for Derbyshire Green Party

See also an article on the East Midlands Green Party website see http://www.eastmidlands.greenparty.org.uk

Green Energy Policy is Practical, Realistic and Popular

600px-Community_turbine_-_geograph.org.uk_-_1234697Far from being wishful thinking, Green Policy is realistic, rooted in evidence and developed to solve real problems that people face. Green Policy does not set out to secure further advantage for powerful elites.

Consider energy, Government policy is unsustainable, protecting the interests of the big energy and fossil fuel companies. As a result of this policy we have spiralling energy costs with one in five households suffering energy poverty. We are seeing the ‘big 6’ making massive profits, and we are reliant on imported fossil fuels that are accelerating global warming. Their policy is to frack the very foundations of these islands to squeeze out the last drops of oil, gas and private profit, making us more reliant on polluting, climate threatening expensive fuels. This is the policy that ConDem and Labour call ‘realistic’.

Greens think differently. For us, access to affordable energy is an essential part of well-being. We will be introducing a new energy policy at the Autumn Conference in Aston. The cornerstone of our policy is to cut waste and make a rapid switch to renewable energy. Our aim is to deliver the energy that people need at a price that they can afford.

An important part of the drive to affordable energy is to foster community owned generating systems, designed to tap into renewable energy sources to meet local needs. Unrealistic? No not at all, this is happening right here in Derbyshire. 4Winds Energy Cooperative has been awarded planning permission by Chesterfield Council to build a wind turbine at Duckmanton. Most of the necessary investment has been raised locally, through a modestly priced share offer, enabling people to invest in their local energy infrastructure, keeping money in the local economy. This is the model of investment used in Germany where the growth of renewable energy has been much more rapid than here, through a much greater level of local engagement minimising opposition.

Central Government has failed to encourage the growth of renewable energy, in marked contrast to its support for fracking and nuclear power. Powerful pro-fossil interests have manipulated policy and also public opinion. The popular press have maintained a ridiculous campaign of opposition to both wind and solar power, leading to planning applications for renewable schemes being refused.

This has happened too often in Derbyshire. This summer Derbyshire Green Party became involved in an appeal against a refusal by Derbyshire Dales District Council for a modest wind turbine on a farm near to Ashbourne. Considering the application DGP looked at the wider context as well as the specific site, as we believe planning decisions must. We pointed out that the Government has a legally binding obligation to reduce carbon emissions and to do this, renewable schemes have to be encouraged. We said that Climate Change, driven by carbon emissions is a real and present danger, recognised by the Ministry of Defence that warns of Catastrophic Climate Shock in its 5th Strategic Trends report. We pointed out that this turbine would help to cut the farm’s reliance on imported diesel and cut its carbon footprint. Surplus electricity would to sold to the grid to help the financial viability of the farm at a time when incomes are under great pressure. We recognised that harvesting energy from wind and sun is a legitimate part of a farm business helping to maintain this vital sector in the rural economy.

We also challenged the claim that there is deep public hostility to renewable energy. An IPSOS-MORI poll in 2012 found that two thirds of people thought the impact of turbines on the landscape ‘acceptable’. A study carried out by Sheffield University for Sustainable Youlgrave found that over 60% of residents would not oppose reasonable turbines in view from their homes. The latest public survey by the Department of Energy and Climate Change found that 70% of the public support onshore wind, compared to 29% supporting fracking.

Despite all the propaganda from the fossil fuel interests, the public is supportive of renewable energy. What they do object to is huge developments by remote companies being dumped on their doorstep. This is why, in our energy policy, we say that local Councils need to have the power and resources to develop local energy plans, designed to match local needs with generation and to address energy efficiency. Councils need the resources to ensure that all homes, including the ‘hard to treat’ properties so often found in rural areas, are brought up to modern standards of energy efficiency. This is an investment in the housing stock that will lower energy demand. It will leave householders with more money in their pockets to spend in the local economy, it will cut the nations fuel import bill so helping the balance of payments. This is practical realistic policy.

Mike Shipley

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Dates Alert

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Nuclear Legacy – When will they ever learn?

ButterflyI have just read a report that the Fukushima leak is much worse than we were led to believe.  The Japan News / October 3, 2013 reported that the former Prime Minister of Japan, Junichiro Koizume, said that Japan should abandon nuclear power.    In his speech in Nagoya he said “I’m calling for zero nuclear power … The 2011 earthquake and tsunami, which triggered a nuclear crisis at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 plant, should be taken as an opportunity to build a resource-recycling society without nuclear power”

Since the reactor cores melted down in 2011, the Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) has been struggling to deal with the consequences.   In August this year, the Japanese nuclear energy watchdog raised the incident level from one to three on the international scale after Tepco admitted that around 300 tonnes of highly radioactive water had leaked from a storage tank on the site.

According to the BBC (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-23779561) Dr Ken Buesseler, a senior scientist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution has examined the waterButterflys around Fukushima and is quoted as saying:   “Once it gets into the ground water, like a river flowing to the sea, you can’t really stop a ground water flow”.  

It won’t happen here – You might think that what happened in Japan can’t happen in the UK.  But according to an article in the Guardian, as many as 12 of Britain’s 19 civil nuclear sites are at risk of flooding and coastal erosion because of climate change.  Nine of the sites have been assessed by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) as being vulnerable now, while others are in danger from rising sea levels and storms in the future.  http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2012/mar/07/uk-nuclear-risk-flooding

The sites include all of the eight proposed for new nuclear power stations around the coast, as well as numerous radioactive waste stores, operating reactors and defunct nuclear facilities.  According to David Crichton, a flood specialist and honorary professor at the hazard research centre at University College London, sea level rise, especially in the south-east of England, will mean some of these sites will be under water within 100 years.

Radioactive waste, especially “high-level waste” is one of the biggest problems the nuclear industry faces.  No man-made container can survive the tens of thousands of years it will take for high-level waste to decay to safe levels.  No country has yet implemented a long-term solution to this problem, although Finland and the US have plans to build repositories deep underground in areas identified for their geological stability. This solution is one of those under consideration in the UK. 

ButterflyThe Government’s proposal to build more nuclear power stations is leaving a dangerous legacy for future generations.  It is inevitable that radioactive waste will leak into ground water at some point over the thousands of years that it will take the radioactivity to decay to safe levels.  And to top it all, the Government also wants to add fracking to its bag of risks!

Green Party policy is against building new nuclear power stations and in favour of investing in sustainable renewable energy.  Some people complain about wind farms and solar panels being a blot on the countryside.  Personally, I would much rather live with a wind or solar farm on my doorstep than an unseen risk of radioactive or polluted water under my house, or even worse, like the residents of Fukushima and Chernobyl, to have to leave my house and all my possessions behind in a radioactive wasteland.  If in 50 years time a better/cheaper way of creating sustainable energy is found then it would be easy to take down the wind pylons and take out the solar panels.  There would be no lasting damage to the countryside.   The same cannot be said for nuclear power plants or fracking sites. There would still be a lasting risk and an ongoing need to contain the unseen for thousands of years.

I was inspired to write the following poem when I read about the mutations in butterflies caused by exposure to radioactive material released into the environment from the Fukushima disaster.

Butterfly’s Wings

Blue butterfly’s mutated wings
Fukushima’s legacy sings
Sea levels rise on Britain’s shores
Posing threats to nuclear cores
Nature’s powers of erosion and flood
Hammer the nuclear ark’s hot crud
 
Sanctum’s sought for a deadly stash
Cathedral for a cryptic cache
Miles of aisles in underground tomb
An epoch-lasting toxic womb
To trap a nuclear god obscene
Behind bare hermetic chancel screen
 
One slight fault in this granite vault
Leeching life-blood is hard to halt
Slowly seeping, creeping unseen
Seeking subterranean streamButterfly
Filtering up through strata’s blue veins
Earth-changing ripple of a butterfly’s wings

© Jean Macdonald

Helen Caldicott, a long standing opponent of Nuclear power, has a very interesting site on this subject:   http://nuclearfreeplanet.org/categories/fukushima.html