Cardiff Friends of the Earth Newsletter - Spring 2008

Catching up on 2007

The year 2007 has been a busy year, with an amazing success for cyclists in Cardiff alongside disappointment.

It saw the start of a campaign against a potential incinerator in Cardiff and the closure of St Mary's street to private cars amid controversy and the outcry of the Cardiff press.

Bridge over the river Ely

At the start of the year we took our concerns to Cardiff Council that there was no access for pedestrians and cyclists between Cardiff Bay and Penarth - this had been promised many years ago but had never been actioned.

We approached Rodney Berman and Elgan Morgan, who were enthusiastic but presented difficulties in achieving the project, including finance. We went on to organise a mass cycle ride across the road bridge to raise awareness, 300 people joined in on the day and it received a lot of coverage.

We then supported the Sustrans bid for lottery money which would ensure the bridge would be built, and in December 2007 money was secured from the People's Millions which will see a bridge in place in the next 2 years.

Frustrating Winter gate closure

Currently, if you wish to travel between, say the University and Pontcanna you can, in the morning, nip through the park on bike or foot. Come the evening in Winter, however, and you are suddenly faced with the frustrating fact that the gates are shut half an hour before sunset. This neatly stops all the commuters who would be able to walk or cycle home through the park.

We approached the council and the leader promised that he would look into this. Then we heard nothing, so we decided to see what the people of Cardiff felt about this. A petition was organised and in a short few weeks over 800 people had signed up to it.

The only response we had from the council was in the article which appeared in the Echo about the campaign; the council official quoted said it was due to "health and safety and obligations through duty of care." We feel this is a weak reasoning when you can still enter other areas of the park 24 hours a day.

We will continue with this campaign in the lead up to the elections in the Council; this is a part of our wider campaign to ensure that people find it easy to walk or cycle in Cardiff in order to reduce traffic pollution and carbon emissions.

The Big Ask

This year has seen exciting and disappointing times on climate change. The next phase of the Big Ask has been launched after it was announced in the Queen's Speech that the Government would introduce a Climate Change Bill.

We felt that this should be an effective Bill including reductions in emissions of at least 80 percent by 2050, annual targets, and emissions from international aviation and shipping.

So it was another year of stalls at gigs and on high streets in Cardiff asking people to sign postcards to put pressure on their MPs.

We were well received everywhere we went, receiving only the occasional mutter of disbelief in climate change.

Post peak oil solutions

Some Cardiff Friends of the Earth members have got involved with a new exciting project, the Cardiff Transition Project which has coalesced into a facilitation team of six which launched straight into a series of monthly events. Thes included a film showing followed by a workshop where participants embraced the idea of redesigning our city for a post peak oil future.

In December, Masters degree students studying for a module in Sustainable Towns and Cities, presented their findings from the different projects they have undertaken for Transition in Cardiff.

The Transition team are also holding a permaculture design course to run over 24 weeks from April. The team have been attending events in Cardiff and further away to discuss the problem of peak oil and the possibilities for working at a local level at every opportunity.

In 2008 they would like to run fun events in community centres throughout Cardiff to raise awareness and empower people to act for their city. They need help to do this.

What a Waste

As recycling levels in Cardiff go up, there are rumours that Cardiff could be getting an incinerator. A planning application is being proposed by the incinerator company Viridor and the council is being coy on the matter.

We were told by the Liberal Democrat environmental spokesperson that the market would decide on the waste solution for the region, which seems somewhat incredible given the Liberal Democrat Party policy that incinerators are not acceptable.

The proposed site of the incinerator is on the old Nippon Electrical Glass site in Cardiff Bay. This already polluted, and poor, area will therefore suffer another blight.

We will continue to investigate this through next year. Our position remains that waste must be reduced as a primary concern, we want more recycling and increasingly local solutions to waste.

Cardiff Freecycle

One of the great successes of 2007 has been the huge expansion of the Cardiff Freecycle Network, which now boasts nearly 10,000 members.

For the un-initiated, this is a Yahoo Group on which member post details of unwanted household items. These are available for other members to claim for free, provided they are willing to collect.

With an average of 3,500 posts a month, it is probable that Cardiff Freecycle has saved hundreds of tonnes of goods from landfill. Yet the group, which was only founded in 2005, is run by unpaid volunteers and receives no official assistance or promotion. It is also completely free to join.

With resources becoming scarcer, we reckon that Freecycle helps us to develop a sustainable society. If that doesn't move you, then maybe the prospect of getting free stuff will.

Join Cardiff Freecycle