Now it’s Fracking Bribery

 

January 14, 2014 by 

The cynicism of the Con Dem government is staggering. It has deliberately driven Councils and Communities to desperation by cutting their budgets, and now it is bribing those same struggling Authorities to give permission for fracking that local communities have clearly rejected. If they do as the Government demands, turn a blind eye to the hazards, and the opinion of the electorate, they will be rewarded with extra cash from the fracking companies. Like some medieval torturer who, having starved his victim allows the smell of a succulent meal to drift into the torture chamber, so the Government waves the promise of cash at these desperate Councils. Inevitably this action will weaken further the trust between Councils and their electorate, as the Tories intend – residents will never be sure if a permission was given in the best interest of the community and country, or for the cash.

Cameron is now just acting as the industries mouthpiece. On the very day Total, the French energy company who are unable to frack in their own country because the French Government has banned it, announced a £30 million stake in UK fracking, he turns up at a drilling depot in Gainsborough. It just happens that Total have taken a stake in the companies that have exploration licences in Gainsborough. Doing the job of a company PR spokesman, he dutifully reiterated the claim that fracking will produce much needed investment, create jobs and lead to energy security, and that our robust regulations make it completely safe. There is no justification for any of these claims. They come from, a report commissioned by the frack company Caudrilla, headed by his friend Lord John Browne, ex of BP, that suggests that Britain can benefit by £3.7 billion a year extra revenue and 74,000 new jobs. These figures are just guesses. The 74,000 job claim included the extra staff needed in local shops to serve the security guards buying sweets! One wonders just how many of these 74,000 people will be security guards, such has been his governments and the industries failure to convince the British public that we need fracking.

To talk up the robust environmental regulations in the UK is to ignore the fact that the Conservative Party is doing all it can to abolish these regulations as ‘red tape’. It also conveniently ignores the fact that if the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership negotiations with the USA that they are so keen on, does get the go ahead from Europe, then all such regulations will prove to be useless. Governments will do all they can to minimise green regulations for fear of being sued by corporations for loss of profit.

The dash for gas is a high risk strategy, not one that can lead to energy security. It is not known how much gas can be won or at what price. The demand for water will be colossal and will lead to escalating domestic water bills and water shortages. The cost of the disposal of trillions of gallons of polluted waste water is unknown and we can’t be sure that we, the tax payer won’t be left with the disposal bill. The same applies to the costs of the pollution incidents that will inevitably occur. And the gas will run out but we will be tied to a gas energy infrastructure, then what?

The one claim, that Cameron didn’t make and that has been quietly dropped by the industry is that fracking will lead to cheap energy. It will do nothing for energy costs since the gas, if it is ever produced will be sold on the open market just as the North Sea oil was, and we British consumers will have to pay a premium price, as we did for North Sea oil, so that the big energy companies can maintain their bloated profits.

In all, this is a thoroughly bad deal for the British energy consumer and tax payer. The only beneficiaries are the big energy companies and their shareholders who will send their profits off shore. It is an even worse deal because there is a real deal available that would give us affordable and secure energy. This is to use the free energy that blows over our heads, laps on our shores and shines in our faces. Yes, the wind, the sun and the tides are free energy, all we needed to do was invest in the infrastructure to capture them, store the energy as necessary and distribute it. No big deal any of that, just use the technology that’s already there. But, no one can take a monopoly on the wind, the waves or the sun, no one can threaten to divert it or switch it off if they don’t get their own way. No one can put it in a barrel or down a pipeline and sell it back to us at a profit. So this Government of millionaires, for millionaires isn’t interested.

There is only one Party seriously opposing fracking and that is the Green Party. We also have a clear and workable alternative energy strategy that would end fuel poverty and our reliance on fossil fuels. The only thing that will make the main parties rethink their fossil/nuclear energy [policies is a big green vote. Work with us to make this happen.

 

Happy New Year

From Kat Boettge
“I wanted to use this opportunity to wish you all a Happy New Year, and to thank you for all your support, hard work and donations. In 2013 we were heavily involved in preparing for the upcoming Euro Election in May of this year.  We have achieved a lot including setting up a media structure, engaging further with the social media, community websites and groups. We have planned a promising campaign strategy that hopefully will get us to Brussels. Recent polls have been encouraging.  Nationally the Greens are on 7%and support for the other parties is starting to fade, the public mood is very volatile and very many are looking for something new, something honest, something that addresses their needs.
We do believe that if we can get our message of hope and honesty out to enough people across our region, we can be successful.  Remember, this election uses a proportional voting system, not first past the post.  This gives us a real chance, but to take that chance, we will need all the help that we can get.
 
If you are interested in joining us in changing current politics in 2014, please contact us or just come to our next meetings.  There are so many ways in which you can help, depending on your interests, experiences, time availability and skills. I am sure that we can find a suitable and exciting role or task for you. I look forward to meeting you soon.
 
Katharina Boettge.

Government taking powers to close hospitals.

From Kat Boettge, Green Spokesperson for Social Care

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt is planning to give himself the power to close A&E Departments without full consultation.  Earlier this year his attempt to close the A&E Department at Lewisham Hospital was ruled to be illegal.  In response he has added a clause to the Care Bill that is already before Parliament to give him the power to close hospital departments or to order the withdrawal of services.  Hunt has lost twice over Lewisham.  After his initial attempt the close the A&E Department was ruled to be illegal he appealed, and again he lost.  So now he is resorting to changing the law to suit himself.  Not, it should be noted, in an open way, but be sneaking in a clause at the last minute to the Care Bill, that has nothing to do with the reorganisation or privatisation of the NHS but is, strangely enough, about the provision of Care.  It would seen that Hunt thinks a good way to deliver Care to vulnerable people is to take powers to close hospitals.

If this clause is passed by Parliament then the Government will have the power to close any NHS service or even a hospital without proper consultation.  The Government is claiming that they need these powers to streamline the NHS, I do not believe this.  I say that the real motive is to accelerate privatisation by withdrawing essential services so as to force people to turn to the private sector.

Following the Government’s defeat over the Lewisham hospital,  Caroline Lucas tabled an Early Day Motion in the Commons to draw attention to the Hunt amendment to the Care Bill that aims to give a Government appointed administrator the powers to close NHS services.  If the Coalition Government gets these powers, then they will be able to close hospitals simply to save costs so as to hit their financial targets.  No consideration will be given to local needs or to the advise of Doctors. So much for the ConDems claims to be listening to the local community.  Their much trumpeted support of localism is as much a sham as their claims to be the ‘Greenest Government ever’.    But also it is shocking that only 37 MP’s have signed Caroline Lucas’s EDM.  It seems that they, like most of the public are unaware of Jeremy Hunt’s hospital closure plan.  The country desperately needs more Green MP’s and MEP’s to work for the common good of all, and not for the vested interests that influence most of our current MP’s. We, the people, must act now to stop this reckless amendment or wake up to find our local HNS services being closed down.

What can you do?  Sign the petition from 38 Degrees to Jeremy Hunt and circulate it widely.

https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/hospital-closure-clause

Write a letter to your local paper using the information above.  Lobby your MP, ask them to sign Caroline’s EDM number 656, ‘Closure of NHS Services’.  It can be seen here:  http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2013-14/656

Wind could benefit Lincolnshire

by Norman Haigh

Wind power has unfortunately become a controversial issue in Lincolnshire.  Unfortunate because wind has the potential to become an important part of the energy mix for Britain as we move away from fossil fuels. These fuels cannot last for ever.  We can’t gain long term energy security by relying on declining resource.

We all agree that energy security is important, and the best way to achieve this is to use energy sources that are sustainable and under our control.  Relying on imported fuels hands this control to other countries.  By harvesting the wind that blows over our land and territorial waters, or the tides that break on our shores, or the biomass that we grow ourselves, we are in control of our energy supply.

Of the various renewable sources of energy available to us, wind is the most mature technology.  Turbines can be in operation relatively quickly, development costs and out put are known, so they are seen as low risk for investment.  While any one wind farm may be becalmed on any day, across a wide area, including out to sea, the wind will always be blowing.  Backed up with tidal generators,  and biomass, we can have a secure and reliable energy mix.  With energy conservation, which will cut our bills, we can cut our energy demand.  This mix, with some additional novel technologies that are in the pipeline, can give us a sustainable, secure, affordable energy supply.

Wind is challenging the supremacy of the fossil giants and putting at risk the huge investments made in fossil fuels.  To check its progress therefore many false claims about the unsuitability of wind have been made by those with interests or investments in the fossil industry.  Some of these false claims have been made recently in Lincolnshire in response to various planning applications to develop wind farms in the county.

The false claims of the opponents of wind energy must be challenged.

It is not true to try to claim that a wind farm will only create employment for Germans as the chairman of Hemswell Cliffs opposition group [VOCAT] has said.  It is true that we must buy the turbines from Germany, because the Government has failed to support a home grown turbine industry, turning its back on what would now be a vibrant global business.  However the wind industry is planning to employ 90,000 people in the UK by 2020 and is investing in training to attract young people into long term employment.  With youth unemployment at over 20%, Lincolnshire can’t afford to ignore this opportunity

It is not true to say that it is wind energy that is driving up energy costs and leading to fuel poverty as Lincolnshire County Councillor Colin Davie claims.  The increase in energy bills is almost all due to the rise of the price of wholesale gas.  The subsidy going to renewable energy is £2.35 billion, the coal, oil and gas sector receives a subsidy of £2.6 billion, that we also have to pay for. The nuclear industry receives a wide range of subsidies, for example, the decommissioning of the current nuclear reactors will cost over £90 billion that we will have to pay for and from which we will get no benefit.

It is not true to say that wind energy is inefficient, this claim comes from a deliberate misunderstanding of the figures.  Based on time in operation, a modern coal fired plant is judged to have a load capacity efficiency of 50%.  A wind farm has a load efficiency of 30%, but it is true that this declines with age, as it does with any power station.  This is why the siting of turbines is critical to ensure that they increase their efficiency in catching available wind.

It is a gross misstatement to claim that wind turbines don’t work and are not worth investing in as the chairman of VOCAT has said.  On 4th February this year, wind turbines generated 12% of UK demand for electricity, powering 10 million homes, exceeding nuclear output.  With £40 billion invested already in operational or soon to be operational plant with £5 billion to be invested this year and a further £50 billion by 2020  the market clearly does not share this view.

It is true that some people dislike the sight of turbines from their windows or on their favourite walks, the same people will also dislike the fracking well heads that will spring up over the County if the Government’s dash for gas policy is allowed to go ahead.  But some people like them and tourist can take a very different view.  A big wind farm near Glasgow is now a major tourist attraction, somewhere to go on a wet day.  Take a positive view of wind farms and turn them into an attraction, tourists want attractions, and tourism is important in Lincolnshire, again the County is turning its back on opportunities.

Lincolnshire has a rich wind potential.  Had that resource been supported and developed as it has been in Germany, we could have had a home grown turbine industry using the historic engineering skills of the area, providing good quality jobs, and making the County an energy hub, attracting business, generating income and employment.  But our failure to grasp this opportunity means that we have no home grown turbine industry, we have missed the chance to develop secure employment based on both energy conservation and renewable energy.  Lincolnshire has not become an energy hub and business shuns the county.

In its 2010 Election Manifesto the Green Party called for a Green New Deal in which Government investment in energy conservation and renewable energy would trigger the creation of thousands of sustainable jobs, stimulating new businesses and attracting inward investment.   We support the development of wind farms, but only on a scale appropriate to the local landscape.  Where possible, we want to see  renewable energy developments run as cooperative ventures in which the local community is involved and derives direct benefit. For us, communities must have a clear say and a direct stake in the development of their own resources, and part of that local resource is its landscape.  We all want a secure an affordable energy supply, renewable resources an give us that, but for Greens those resources have to be developed sensitively.  But we would also argue that communities should also be prepared to make some concessions to secure their energy future. It is not acceptable for them to say that their energy has to be generated in someone else’s backyard.

Green Party says “We cannot afford cheap meat”.

Image Katharina Boettge writes:

The demand for cheap meat and cheap animal products is increasing to supply the demand of supermarkets and fast-food chains. Factory farms are set up to produce cheap meat and animal products to meet these demands; and while customers may be able to buy these products for less money, there is a real and higher cost that we will all have to pay.

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 all factory farms.  We believe that the land used to grow the animal feed needed for factory farms should be used to grow food for human consumption. Land used to grow the animal food is taken from the area used to grow human food. More intensive animal units means less land for human food. For example, 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 a mega pig unit of 25,000 pigs, like the one proposed in Foston, Derbyshire, 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, chicken, cows 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.

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 kept on low doses of antibiotics. 27% of all antibiotics in the UK are used in pig farming. Doctors 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 emission. The UN has published information that states that the meat and dairy industry produces 18% of greenhouse 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, so these smaller farms are going out of business. Factory units have fewer employees than if the animals were traditionally farmed, so they lead to a loss of rural jobs. 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 issue, I have found that the only potentially positive aspects are that customers have access to cheap animal products, and that big corporations make good profits. However,  traditional farmers, the animals, 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.

Katharina Boettge is Green Party Lead Candidate Euro Elections for East Midlands and Spokesperson for Social Care
Follow her on Twitter http://twitter.com/KatBoettge