Cardiff Friends of the Earth Newsletter - Summer 2008

Get Involved

The last few months have seen a lot of activity at Cardiff FoE. In particular, we've had the latest exciting instalment of The Big Ask campaign, which has seen MPs Julie Morgan and Jenny Willott supporting a strengthened Climate Change Bill.

We've also had the good news that the St Mary Street car ban is here to stay, with the South Wales Echo acknowledging its popularity with the public.

With the Cardiff incinerator, developments Bute Park, the M4 Relief Road and The Big Ask we have more campaigns on than you can shake a stick at. So if you want to get involved, you'll be very welcome as there's plenty to do!

Stay informed

Sign up to our newsletters and we will keep you up to date with the campaigns and let you know when you can help, or you can drop in at one of our regular meetings.

The Big Ask shipping and aviation day of action

Cardiff FoE were involved in a national day of action in support of the Big Ask campaign on the 5th April.

The aim was to highlight the need to include emissions from international aviation and shipping in the Climate Change Bill. At present the proposed law includes emissions targets but does not count the UK's share of emissions from international aviation and shipping. MPs will have the chance to vote on the Bill when it is debated in Parliament later this month. The idea of the day was to gain media attention, putting pressure on local MP's to support the Big Ask goals.

Jenny Willott, MP for Cardiff Central, and local members from the World Development Movement joined in a fun event, centred on a photo stunt, which was covered in the South Wales Echo. This culminated in a life-size Gordon Brown being chased around Roath Park Lake in boats by members dressed up as sailors.

Sustainable Transport Question Time

The 17th March saw the Norwegian Church in Cardiff Bay packed out with cyclists, environmentalists and public transport users, all eager to hear what local politicians had to say about the city's transport problems. The only major hustings organised in advance of the May elections, the event was jointly sponsored by Cycle Cardiff, Cardiff Cycling Campaign, Sustrans, Cardiff FoE, Cardiff Transition Project and Bus Users UK.

The answers the politicians gave were generally encouraging, with the representatives of all the parties acknowledging that the ever growing traffic levels in the capital were unsustainable. The Green Party candidate earned a round of applause for his suggestion of a 20mph speed limit on residential streets to cut emissions and accidents.

Alarmingly however, some of the candidates signalled their support for a proposed major new business park on a green field site next to junction 33 of the M4. Such a remote development would not be easily accessible by public transport, cycling or walking and would therefore completely undermine sustainable travel in Cardiff.

The coalition administration which took over Cardiff Council following the election has declared itself to have a strong commitment to environmental issues. If this is correct, we can look forward to them scrapping the crazy junction 33 scheme at the first opportunity.

Tree removal in Bute Park

Most people have to wait for planning permission to be granted before they go ahead with their plans, but what if you were granting planning permission to yourself, could you just go ahead anyway, safe in the knowledge that you wouldn't block your own proposals?

Cardiff Council have ignored planning regulations by beginning work on removing trees (memorial trees!) from Bute Park before obtaining approval for their scheme for a new road into Bute Park.

The road is supposed to allow large vehicles to have access to the park for events, but news that trees were being cut down in advance of planning permission was received with anger by opponents of the road, including Cardiff FoE. Members of the group have questioned why the new road and loss of trees is necessary at all, with plenty of other access points for events in the park.

A high profile campaign, which has included a demonstration at the construction site and a petition with over 1700 signatures, has rightly caused Cardiff Council much embarrassment. It seems they may now be having second thoughts about the project, with the final decision deferred yet again. Let's keep the pressure on!

Plastic Bag campaign

Millions of plastic bags are used once and then thrown away every day in the UK. They are notorious for being non-biodegradable, but for small businesses, they may not even be cost-effective.

The FoE group in Llangollen developed a survey designed to assess the views of small, independent retailers on single-use plastic bags.

We have modified this survey for Cardiff retailers. By asking local shops what they think about plastic bags, and encouraging them to consider their cost. We hope to be able to help retailers to start moving away from single-use plastic bags.

We are aiming to develop a re-useable 'local bag' with the logos of local shops on, so that small retailers can be environmentally friendly, save money, and still get to advertise on the bags their customers use.

Severn Barrage or tidal Lagoons? You Decide

The Severn has the second largest tidal range in the world, there have been many proposed projects to harness this power. These include proposals for a 10 mile barrage stretching from Lavernock Point, by Penarth, to Breen Down in Somerset.

Friends of the Earth is opposed to the large ebb-flow Severn barrage as the £15 billion project would take years to complete (conservative estimates are around 2019), would permanently submerge 60% of the inter-tidal habitat upstream from the barrage, including a number of SSSI areas; and, due to its ebb-tide only generation, produce energy in two daily spikes that would have to be transmitted onto the grid.

Friends of the Earth believes that there are better alternatives that can provide as much energy quicker, cheaper and with less environmental damage - these include the use of tidal lagoons (offshore impoundments generating electricity based on tidal height on the ebb and flow of the tide), onshore and offshore wind, tidal stream devices, and ,potentially, a smaller barrage near the Severn Bridges.

It is essential that we start making cuts in carbon emissions now and renewable technologies are a core part of this; it is feared that the Severn barrage, which would be largely funded with public money, would divert much needed funding from other renewable technologies and would take too long to become operational to help in the immediate need to reduce carbon emissions.

Find out more by reading Friends of the Earth Cymru's Severn Barrage Report.