Cardiff Friends of the Earth Newsletter - Autumn 2004

GM pollution: the final straw

On 30 October 2004 scarecrows took to the streets with Cardiff Friends of the Earth's message to Assembly Members, challenging them to support tough new laws preventing GM contamination.

The members encouraged shoppers on Queen Street to sign a petition. This asked the Welsh Assembly to continue its tough stance against the planting of genetically modified crops in Wales. The day was a real success with an excellent response from members of the public. We also had interviews on BBC Radio Wales and HTV news. Thank you to everybody who helped.

Whilst there are no GM crops currently being grown in the UK, the threat of them being planted remains. There are at least ten applications to grow GM crops awaiting approval in Europe. If given the go ahead, farmers would be allowed to grow them in the UK. The EU governments have started to look at what practical measures would be needed to allow GM crops to be grown, such as separation distances between GM and non-GM crops. A public consultation is due to start soon.

On 6 November 2004 Cardiff Friends of the Earth group members visited the One Village, One World event in Beulah Church. It was a very busy day with a great deal of petition signing and effective networking with the Cardiff Fair Trade Forum and the World Development Movement.

On 28 November and 12 December 2004 we visited the Riverside Community Market. We got a great response on both occasions with loads more petition signatures.

On 23 February 2005 Cardiff Friends of the Earth, Friends of the Earth Cymru, and other Welsh Friends of the Earth local groups will be taking their petitions and scarecrows to the National Assembly to make their argument heard. Please put the date in your diaries and consider joining us.

Sponsorship of Fair Trade Forum

In the Autumn Cardiff Friends of the Earth decided that it would sponsor the Cardiff Fair Trade Forum. The money we donated was used to set up a regular fair trade stall at Riverside Community Market to promote fairly traded produce.

The stall is held twice a month and is very popular with the shoppers. We are pleased to have this opportunity to support a worthy cause.

Welsh energy policy blown away

Members of Cardiff Friends of the Earth joined members of other local groups from around Wales on 21 November 2004 to persuade the Welsh Assembly Government to take responsible action to reduce carbon emissions.

We held a tug of war between the nuclear industry and supporters of green energy outside the National Assembly building asking them to make safe, clean renewable energy a high priority.

Just after this action, a motion tabled by opponents of the Scarweather Sands offshore wind farm which would have delayed a decision was defeated at the Assembly. This shows that the Assembly is starting to commit on reducing Wales' carbon emissions.

We need this wind farm because UN scientists agree that climate change is caused by the burning of fossil fuels. This would cause more summer droughts, river and coastal flooding and winter storms in Wales. It would also mean we could lose the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets completely. This would add six meters to global sea levels.

The site of the Scarweather Sands Wind Farm is three miles off the coast of Porthcawl. It would produce enough energy to supply 80,000 homes. This is equivalent to a city the size of Swansea. This is an excellent start to ongoing research and development into renewable energy in Wales. However to succeed it does need to be supported by a strategy to decrease energy consumption in homes and businesses across Wales. According to the National Energy Foundation, you can cut your gas and electricity bills by almost half if you do the following:

  • Install good insulation and heating controls.
  • Buy a highly efficient condensing boiler if your old central heating boiler is worn out, or use a modern electric storage heater if you are in an all-electric house.
  • Use low-energy light bulbs, also called CFLs.

Has Cardiff Council got the bottle?

On the day the UK Government launched a £10 million campaign to encourage the public to recycle their waste, Cardiff Friends of the Earth called on Cardiff County Council to have the bottle to take positive action on waste.

With its landfill site rapidly filling up, Cardiff will soon need rescuing from its own rubbish. Members of Cardiff Friends of the Earth delivered a message in a bottle to Cardiff Council's first Environmental Scrutiny Committee Meeting since the Council election in May. Cardiff currently recycles a pathetic seven per cent of its waste, less than half of the UK average.

They urged the Council to:

  • Increase Cardiff's recycling target from 40 per cent to 60 per cent by 2010
  • Provide weekly city-wide doorstep collections by 2006
  • Provide free green recycling bags
  • Promote the importance of recycling to the citizens of Cardiff
  • Adopt a zero waste policy as a goal to be achieved within 25 years.

Cardiff Friends of the Earth's Waste Campaigner, Phil Ward, said "As Europe's youngest capital city, Cardiff should be forward-thinking in delivering practical recycling solutions for its citizens. The Council's strategies must maximise the opportunities for recycling and reduce the social and environmental impacts of the current waste policy. We must make recycling as easy as throwing out the rubbish if we are to succeed."

Cardiff Friends of the Earth will also continue to press the Council on waste and other issues of public concern. These include transport, energy, and healthy food. We welcome the opportunity for continuing dialogue with the Environmental Scrutiny Committee.