SCGP members take action against the Heathrow expansion

Campaigners against the third runway at Heathrow block Parliament Square

Suffolk Coastal Green Party members were among those who blocked Parliament Square on June 22nd in a peaceful protest against the expansion of Heathrow Airport. Some campaigners were on their 14th day of hunger striking. Others joined in for 24 hours or longer in solidarity.

Protesters sat in the road opposite the House of Commons for around half an hour, hoping to raise awareness and persuade MPs to vote against the third runway.

The vote took place on Monday 25th. The foreign secretary Boris Johnson was criticised for missing the vote, after he had promised to lie down in front of the bulldozers to stop the expansion. A small number of protesters managed to enter the House that evening.

The vote went in favour of the expansion by 415 votes to 119. Green Party co-leader Caroline Lucas said the vote was a ‘wrecking ball‘ to climate policies.

A legal case was immediately launched by Greenpeace, Sadiq Khan and other London councils and campaign groups.

Coming after the government rejected the £1.3bn Swansea tidal lagoon on cost grounds, the £14 billion expansion is disappointing, and a concern if we are serious about tackling climate breakdown.

Report by Libby Ruffle.
Personal reports don’t necessarily reflect the view of all SCGP members.

Climate change news: weekly round up 1st July

Heathrow protest
Protestors against the Heathrow expansion in the House of Commons lobby

A legal action against the Heathrow expansion is being launched, after MPs voted in favour of a third runway on Monday. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who had said he would lie down in front of the bulldozers, missed the vote. The tidal lagoon at Swansea was also scrapped.

Climate change has contributed to recent, aggressive fires in the North of England. Several water companies have introduced hose pipe bans or appealed to users to limit their water use, which has risen during the heatwave. The Committee on Climate Change has urged the government to act faster. Lord Deben said companies should be ashamed of their lack of action.

Biodiversity has been damaged in the area around the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster. Wildlife is also declining because of global deforestation.  The swallowtail butterfly could become extinct because of rising sea levels.There are concerns that oak trees are at risk; and millions of trees are being illegally cut down in the Congo to meet European demand.

The growth of solar power is under threat as subsidies end next April.

Thailand has become the rubbish bin for electronic waste.

And the good news…
The Welsh government has banned microbeads.

There’s been a 70% drop in songbirds killed in Cyprus since last year.

900,000 trees have been planted in Heroshah in Pakistan since 2015.

You’re probably water aware already – showers not baths, water butts not hose pipes- but you can also support charities like WaterAid.

Take action to save insects.

Join one of the campaigns against Heathrow expansion: Stop Heathrow Expansion, Vote No Heathrow or No 3rd Runway Coalition.

Mend your phone: join your local Makerspace group.

Climate change news: weekly round up 24th June

A sobering start to the week, with the Guardian’s report on the global water shortage. A ninth of the planet’s population have no access to clean, affordable water. The effects are exasperated by climate breakdown – droughts, pesticides and pollution.

In a cruel irony, over 300,000 homes face flooding over the next 30 years because of rising sea levels.

Labour will be allowed a free vote next week on the third runway at Heathrow. Campaigners blocked roads on Parliament Square on Friday evening, calling for MPs to oppose the expansion. Conservative MP Greg Hands resigned, ahead of the vote on Monday.

New footage has been released of plastic pollution in wildlife.

The government has been criticised for not acting quickly on air pollution


On a more positive note…
Pension fund trustees should now find it easier to invest in green alternatives to fossil fuels.

The Environmental Audit Committee has set up an enquiry into throwaway fashion.


Did you know 13 tons of water went into making your smartphone?!
Some tips to save water.

Buy second-hand, make do and mend, and have a look at ethical fashion sources on the internet. 

Boris Johnson is bunking off the Heathrow vote tomorrow (Monday 25th June), but we don’t have to. Email or Tweet your MP while there is still time.

Climate change news: weekly round-up

Welcome to our new weekly round-up of reports on climate breakdown

The big news this week was our missing insects. A tweet from Chris Packham highlighted the issue. Pesticides, urban spread and global warming are among the causes. The effects are a knock-on loss of bird and wildlife, and detrimental consequences for pest control and pollination.

Third Runway at Heathrow
The other big story was the government’s approval of the third runway at Heathrow. As Caroline Lucas pointed out, there was no mention of climate in Chris Grayling’s speech in  the House of Commons.

A group of activist grandparents locked-on outside the Department for Business, following Chris Grayling’s ruling to make fracking easier.

Melting ice sheet
In the Antarctic, ice is melting at record-breaking rates, with dangerous consequences for global cities from rising sea levels.

In India, levels of smog were over times the safe levels set by the World Health Organisation.

Global warming
The UN reported that we are likely to exceed targets of 1.5 warming, unless countries take radical action. Renewable energy, zero carbon transport, ending deforestation, and improved agricultural management are among necessary actions.

Slower atmospheric circulation
A study has shown that slower atmospheric circulation – which means slower hurricanes, cyclones and typhoons – causes stronger winds, 24% heavier rainfall and rising sea levels.

In more positive moves…

McDonalds will ban plastic straws from September.

The Pope called for an end to fossil fuel use when he addressed oil company executives at a Vatican conference on climate change.

Legal and General is to take action against firms which are not addressing climate change.




Three actions

Ask your local council to make parks, verges and roundabouts pollinator friendly.

Third runway
Write to your MP asking them to vote against the Third Runway.
Join the hunger strike by Vote No Heathrow.

Write to Chris Grayling, asking him not to make fracking easier.

Join the activist grannies and grandads against fracking.

Join us!



Air quality in Suffolk

Suffolk Coastal MP Thérèse Coffey recently praised the government’s new Clean Air Strategy, which is designed to cut air pollution.

SCGP member Libby Ruffle wrote to the East Anglian Daily Times in response:

“Thérèse Coffey says she is pleased with Defra’s Clean Air Strategy (‘Not enough to tackle car pollution’ say critics of new clean air stragety’).

Unfortunately, the measures don’t go far enough to ensure that we stay within our ‘carbon budget’ of 2,544MtCO2e between 2018 and 2022. Growing car use, for example, is a particular cause for concern.

From January to March 2018, Suffolk Coastal Green Party measured air quality in Woodbridge and outside Melton Primary School, when Woods Lane was closed.  The results were sobering: the Nitrogen Dioxide levels actually exceeded the European limits at both sites for a three week period, and it is clear that there is an ongoing problem at the Red Lion lights, even after Woods Lane re-opened.

With new developments at Wood Lane, Adastral Park and Sizewell, to name just three, pollution across Suffolk is set to increase significantly.

This week is Walk to School week. This is a great initiative in towns and cities, but not always practical or safe for children in remote rural areas. Better connected, more frequent and cheap public transport must be a priority.

SCGP are planning to conduct more research into local air quality over the next few weeks. We hope Ms Coffey’s temporary replacement, David Rutley, and all cross-party groups will join in the local debate on how we can most effectively be responsible stewards for our environment and preserve it for the next generations. We also wish Ms Coffey a swift recovery.”

Pesticide pollution

Last week, SCGP members joined Waveney Green Party, Together Against Sizewell C and attendees from as far away as Norwich, at a talk on Water and Pesticides.

Organised by Suffolk Coastal Friends of the Earth, the presentation was given by Will Akast of the Environment Agency (EA).

The audience heard about the EA’s measures to tackle water pollution. Soil run-off, for example, is a particular problem in areas with light soil like East Anglia. In 2016, five neonicotinoids (acetamiprid; clothianidin; imidacloprid; thiacloprid; and thiamethoxam)  were detected in the River Waveney.

The EA’s solutions have included reed treatment, buffer strips and riverside tree planting. Will spoke about benefits for tourism and the economy of creating wetland habitats, and how trees bring increased biodiversity and invertebrates (a food source for fish), as well as some improvement to oxygen levels from shade, which keeps water temperature low.

Pesticides are a problem not just agriculturally but domestically, with chemicals used on horse paddocks and allotments, and in chemical paints, timber treatments and even pet flea collars.

Will’s message was that we as we navigate Brexit, agriculture is at an important crossroads. Encouragingly, he suggested that farmers are open to taking consumer demands on board.

It is to be hoped that neonicotinoids will soon be a thing of the past. The EU ban on clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiamethoxam is a step forward.

But British Sugar, NFU Sugar and, it was reported, local company Tate and Lyle, oppose the ban.

Talking to our food producers and supermarkets, campaigning for organic and sustainable food production and pressuring our MPs is incumbent on all of us.

If you want to act, join us at our next meeting on Monday 2nd July in Woodbridge Library at 7pm.

Or take a look at these links for more info:

Pesticide Action Network UK

Soil Association

Suffolk Coastal Friends of the Earth