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Birmingham

friends of the earth

newsletter Aug-Sept 2013

getting moving These are exciting times at BFoE as, in case you missed it, on June 19th we launched our new local campaign, Let’s Get Moving! After all our work on national campaigns, it’s great to once again be working on a campaign targeted directly at making our city a better place to live. Let’s Get Moving was inspired by two key themes of environmental concern that converged to be particularly relevant to Birmingham: air pollution and active travel. It’s vital that we fight the curse of the ‘motor city’ and that’s exactly what we’re doing.

Continued on Page 13


contents 3 - campaigns’ digest 5 - in the media 7 - Warehouse news 8 - guest article - Push Bikes, Birmingham’s Cycle Campaign 9 - organic barbecue 10 - all abuzz about something 12 - become a supporter... 13 - getting moving (continued from front page) 15 - bike trains timetable 15 - celebrating Barbara Wroot 16 - BBC Gardeners’ World Live 18 - the big green debate - should the council charge for garden waste 21 - volunteer spotlight 22 - diary 23 - contacts

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campaigns’ digest Good day one and all and welcome to your latest campaigns digest! There’s been no shortage of interest over the past couple of months, even if everything hasn’t gone the way we may have wished. Less to report on the waste and planning front this issue; hopefully we’ll have more news on those areas next time.

Energy & Climate Change As we went to press for the last issue, MPs in the House of Commons were preparing to vote on an amendment for a clean energy target. This has been the main thrust of the Clean British Energy Campaign over the past couple of months: getting enough MPs in the Commons to commit to a 2030 decarbonisation target. We had our campaigners there on 4th June getting the inside scoop,

with Robert Pass, Jacob Williams, and Michaela Hodges watching the debate and the vote from the House of Commons public gallery. In the event the decarbonisation amendment was vetoed by just 23 votes. A really frustrating climax to all our hard campaigning. However, we would like to express our thanks to all the Birmingham MPs who voted in favour: Gisela Stuart, Jack Dromey, John Hemming, Liam Byrne, Richard Burden, Roger Godsiff, Shabana Mahmood, and Steve McCabe.

The House of Lords is now looking at this in detail, with a vote in the Lords expected in October. However, it’s not all doom and gloom, as the narrowness of the vote meant that the House of Lords was likely to look at a decarbonisation target. Low and behold on 26th June, Lord Oxburgh submitted an amendment for one. The House of Lords is now looking at this in detail, with a vote in the Lords expected in October. The story continues.....

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campaigns’ digest (continued from page 3) Biodiversity News came in from the positive side of the fence on 28th June, with the announcement from ‘Bees Minister’ Lord DeMauley that the Government would look to implement a National Pollinator Strategy. At first glance, this appears to be a National Bee Action Plan in all but name, but as always the devil is in the detail, as Rebecca Pollard explains in her article: “All abuzz about something” (page 10) We also had a really successful week at BBC Gardeners’ World Live with loads of action cards signed and a fantastic time had by all the volunteer campaigners from the local groups involved. Check out Shaz Rahman’s article for more details on how this all went (page 16). Transport The news since last issue is that we got moving on our new campaign on air quality and active transport, Let’s Get Moving. We had a couple of stunts to launch the campaign involving campaigners dressed in gas masks holding our campaign banner. Read the main article by Samuel Jones for the full details of all we’ve been up to so far in the campaign (front cover & page 14). In other transport news, it was reported in the Birmingham Post in June that the Council have sold off a small piece of land needed for the re-opening of the line through Moseley and Kings Heath. While this is disappointing, and

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could be argued short-sighted, the lack of funds being made available from Central Government and other sources has, for a while now, been the bigger issue with re-opening local rail lines in Birmingham. Needless to say, we’re going to be keeping an eye on further developments to this story. Julien Pritchard


in the media We’ve had a variety of media coverage over the past couple of months, both in terms of the medium and the issues covered. It’s always nice to not always be seen to be banging on about the same thing all the time.

expand” - bit.ly/1bsezSP “Greens blast Airport expansion plan”- bit.ly/14WWoy9 “Green campaigners criticise new Birmingham airport plans” itv. co/12FRQSd Then, the launch of our new campaign Let’s Get Moving was covered on the BBC News Website, with our Campaigns Co-ordinator Robert Pass being quoted. “Birmingham air pollution leads to call for investment”- bbc.in/1aeywef

First up was our reaction to the Airport’s expansion plan, which was covered both in the Birmingham Post (in an article mainly about Boris Johnson), Birmingham Mail and on ITV Central News. I argued that expanding won’t have the economic benefit to the region that people suggest, as it won’t do anything to help local economies, and if that’s the case, then why have the environmental impact? “Boris Johnson forms alliance with Birmingham Airport over plans to

Finally, with the announcement by Lord DeMauley of the National Pollinator Strategy on 28th June, I was interviewed live on BBC Midlands Today. What was especially pleasing about this interview was that we did it on location at the Jubilee Bee Garden, which Roger Godsiff MP opened last month. This was the first live TV interview I’ve done so I was understandably nervous. However, I think I managed to get the message across that we cautiously welcomed Lord DeMauley’s announcement, while also making the point about the practical action people can do to help bees, including a plug for the Jubilee Bee Garden! Not bad for one to two minutes of interview! With Let’s Get Moving only just getting underway, this won’t be the last you’ll hear from us in the in the media, I’m sure! Julien Pritchard

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warehouse The shops and companies here have all come together because they are dedicated to working towards a healthier, more organic city. So if you want to help make Birmingham a cleaner, greener place to live, or you just want to eat some good vegetarian food, then come to The Warehouse and see what’s going on.

SPROCKET Cycles

Sales, service, repairs, accessories. Bikes also built to your own specifications. Open Monday & Wednesday to Saturday, 10am-5pm Established over 15 years ago in the Friends of the Earth Building in Birmingham The Warehouse Café has a reputation as a quality provider of vegetarian and vegan food in Birmingham. “Real people serving real food with local, organic and fair trade leading the way” Guardian Unlimited. To see the delicious menu go to www.thewarehousecafe.com For bookings and enquires Telephone 0121 633 0261 Email info@thewarehousecafe.com

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0121 633 0730

• 100% vegetarian and vegan; • A large selection of organic and fairtrade products, most supplied and delivered by a workers cooperative; • Vegan owners - no meat or dairy products sold. Open Mon, Tue, Wed, Fri, Sat 11am - 5:30pm, Thurs 10am - 6:30pm, Sun 11am - 3pm.


warehouse news Our newest tenants, The Energy Saving Co-operative, are settling into their new ground floor office at The Warehouse. But what do they do? Active since 2012, The Energy Saving Co-operative was born to help homeowners across the UK to save energy. This is an important part of the overall carbon saving agenda in the UK; in order to hit the Government’s emissions reduction target, we need to retrofit around one million homes per year. But, this is not an easy task. Homeowners are often put off by the upfront price of works, and do not know where to find information on their options. These are amongst the reasons why the Green Deal has had such a difficult start. The Energy Saving Co-operative was set up to meet this challenge. They connect homeowners, communities, and local businesses that have energy saving opportunities, with whole-building energy saving expertise and sources of fair finance. With only energy saving as their agenda, homeowners can rely on receiving straightforward, honest and free advice that allows them to make the best choice about their next steps. The Energy Saving Co-operative’s structure is integral to how they achieve their goals. Specifically, three classes of user-members cooperate to succeed together: 1. Building owners and tenants who want to save energy.

2. Co-operatives and community groups whose members want to save energy. 3. Suppliers and tradespeople offering energy saving services, such as energy assessors and installers. Involvement of pre-approved local suppliers and installers means that homeowners can trust that the work will be done well – and that their money will be kept within the local community. All in all, we’re really pleased to have The Energy Saving Cooperative with us in The Warehouse. So, if you’d like to book yourself in for a free home energy assessment from them, visit: http://energysaving.web.coop/ saveenergy Philip Burrows

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guest article - Push Bikes, Birmingham’s Cycle Campaign Push Bikes and Birmingham FoE have had a long history together. Since our start in 1979, we have been based at FoE’s building, the Warehouse, in Birmingham. In fact, our beginnings can be traced to a FoE bicycle group set up in 1978. So we are very happy to coordinate with FoE on their new campaign, Let’s Get Moving. Push Bikes’ purpose is to improve conditions for cycling in Birmingham, to make cycling an easy and pleasant choice. To achieve this, we lobby Birmingham City Council (BCC), Centro and other bodies to build infrastructure and implement policies to improve cycling. Cycling should be the core of a sustainable transport system, as the best solution to improve health and cut CO2 emissions, providing the best return on investment of any form of transport. Recently, we have been consulted on Local Sustainable Transport Fund (LSTF) improvements to Bristol Road. While the proposed plans are not ideal, our efforts have prompted policy discussions on dealing with priority where cycle routes cross side roads, to find a standard West Midlands solution. For cycle routes to be successful, cyclists must not be made to waste energy by stopping at each side road. We also gave evidence to the recent Transport Scrutiny Committee report into cycling in Birmingham. We emphasised that cycling issues must

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be seen as important for all BCC officers – after all, BCC has no ‘car’ officers, but manages to plan for cars very well. We are pushing for highways’ engineers to have bicyclefocused Continued Professional Development (CPD) each year, to compensate for the car-orientated professional culture that they work in. We also do work to encourage people to cycle. We organise Dr Bike events to carry out minor repairs and give advice, and we organise rides to help less confident cyclists. Our regular ride is on Wednesday evenings, but we also have many other rides, all of which are open to non-members. We are a volunteer-based organisation, and rely on membership subscriptions to fund our campaigns. Basic waged membership is £12 and unwaged is £6. This gives a 10% discount in several Birmingham cycle shops. For details about getting involved in our campaigns, joining our rides or membership, see our website (www. pushbikes.org.uk) or email me (chair@pushbikes.org.uk). Chris Lowe Chair, Push Bikes


organic barbecue

Friday 5th July was our annual Organic BBQ, when we cook tasty organic burgers for the Anchor pub locals as well as our supporters and campaigners coming down for a fun social evening. We run it every year to coincide with the Anchor’s Organic Beer Festival, now in its 14th year, and it always turns out to be a great event. In the heat of late Friday afternoon, campaigners lit barbecues and started chopping onions and bread in the sunshine of the Anchor’s beer garden. Adam and Michaela made short work of chopping the onions and bread; although, the barbecues were being a little more temperamental. However, no matter, as when it rolled onto 7pm we were pretty much ready to get serving and feed the hungry patrons of the Anchor with our Organic BBQ! Ben was on cooking duty while Michaela and I

processed orders and took payment. As with last year, we were rushed off our feet, as the orders came thick and fast, at some points struggling to cope with the number of pubgoers after a burger. But cope campaigners did and around halfway through, Rox and Karen took up the reins to give our early barbecuers a bit of a rest. As the evening wore on, we started to run out of burgers but campaigners were still drinking the organic ales that were on offer at the Anchor. With only a few organic Lamb burgers left and the light starting to fade, we put the BBQ to bed and wound away the rest of the evening supping some of the finest ales the Anchor had to offer. The weather had been fantastic, we’d sold many burgers, and had a great time raising awareness of organic food and BFoE more generally. You can be sure we’ll be back again next year! Julien Pritchard

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all abuzz about something The last few months here at Friends of the Earth have consisted of intense campaigning for a National Bee Action Plan to be created by the Government in order to stop the drastic decline of British Bees. This effort was fuelled even further by the publication of new research by the University of Reading which found that last winter one third of all Honeybee colonies died in the cold.

getting MPs on board supporting the Bee Cause. Over 20,000 people signed their support in just one week due to these efforts. Hence, we were all absolutely thrilled when Lord DeMauley stood up on the 28th of June and stated that the Government were going to introduce a ‘National Pollinator Strategy’! National Bee Action Plan to you and me. We were all abuzz with this fantastic news. It is a huge step forward for the Bee Cause, and could not have been done without the public’s huge backing of the cause. However, whilst this is a step in the right direction, the National Pollinator Strategy is decidedly vague. There are no details as to what the Strategy will consist of, and it was only when asked about timetables that Lord DeMauley stated that the research on the decline of bees would be not considered until November 2013.

Lord DeMauley and FOE Executive Director Andy Atkins

Then, on the 14th of June, we discovered that Environment Minister Lord DeMauley had agreed to attend a Bee Summit two weeks later. The race was on, and all over the country campaigning intensified to try and have one last push in

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As part of the Bee Cause campaign, we are calling for specific points to be included in the Action Plan; help farmers, gardeners and park keepers to reduce chemicals that harm bees, protect all 267 British bee species: not only the ones that make our honey and ensure our towns and countryside provide bees with enough flowers to feed on and places to nest. We now need to keep up the pressure to ensure that the National Pollinator Strategy includes as many of these points as possible. As well as ensuring certain


improvements are being made, and that other departments of the Government should become involved in the Strategy besides DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs).

Lord DeMauley addresses the Bee Summit

points are included, Andy Atkins (executive director of Friends of the Earth) said at the Bee Summit on the 28th June that a specific timetable needed to be produced and stuck to. Friends of the Earth have proposed that the National Pollinator Strategy should be put into action in Spring 2014, just as bees are coming out of hibernation. Two more important points that the Strategy should consider is having measurable targets, so the changes can be measured to ensure

Over 20,000 people signed their support in just one week A key message to all of the Bee Cause’s wonderful supporters is that the Bee Cause is not over! Whilst this is a very positive advancement, we still need to ensure that the National Pollinator Strategy moves in the right direction. Therefore, action cards still need to be signed in support of the points that Friends of the Earth feel should be included in the National Pollinator Strategy. Awareness of the Bee Cause also needs to be raised in order to keep up the pressure on the Government to produce the best Pollinator Strategy possible. If you have any questions or would like to get involved with the Bee Cause, please contact Bex, Biodiversity Campaigner on rebecca@birminghamfoe.org.uk.

Delegates at the Bee Summit

Rebecca Pollard

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become a supporter... We are the only organisation in Birmingham that campaigns on Climate Change, Transport, Local Shops, Planning, Waste and Recycling. You can help us to do this in a number of ways; 1.) By taking part in our campaigns 2.) By joining us 3.) Both Whichever route you decide, you are helping to change your environment for the better. Making sure that those who pollute, monopolise or despoil locally, nationally or internationally are accountable. There are four ways to join us... I wish to become a Golden Supporter with payments by standing order of £10 per month or more. I wish to become a Silver Supporter with payments by standing order of £5 per month I wish to become a Bronze Supporter with payments by standing order of £2 per month. I wish to become an Annual Supporter, paying by standing order / cheque (Please delete as appropriate. Note that standing orders are cheaper for us to process). Annual supporter fees are a minimum of: • • •

£16 waged £10 unwaged £20 (joint / family)

Please return with standing order or cheque to: Secretary, Friends of the Earth, 54-57 Allison Street, Digbeth, Birmingham B5 5TH.

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Contact Details Full name: .......................................... Address: ............................................ ......................................................... Town:................... Postcode: ............... Telephone: ......................................... E-mail: .............................................. Standing Order Form Sort Code (if known): ......................... Your name/ Account name: ................. Your account number: ........................ Bank Name/Address: ......................... ....................................................... Please pay the sum of £ every month/year (delete as appropriate) starting on ____/____/_________ To: Friends of the Earth Birmingham Ltd., Account no: 50 72 58 30 Sort Code: 08-60-01 Unity Trust Bank, 9 Brindley Place, 4 Oozells square, Birmingham B1 2HE This replaces any previous standing order in favour of Friends of the Earth Birmingham. Signature: ...................... Date: .........


getting moving (continued from front page) We, and many others, have been calling for a long time for improvements to sustainable transport infrastructure and an end to the obsession with motoring. We’ve also encouraged individuals to incorporate healthy, active travel into their own lifestyles for as long as we’ve been around. For Let’s Get Moving though, we wanted to come at it from a different angle. It’s all very well asking Birmingham to change its travel habits to challenge the problem of air pollution, but we need to make people aware of how big that problem is first! That’s why, when we launched Let’s Get Moving in June, we did it with a series of stunts that saw campaigners wearing masks gathered next to some of Birmingham’s busiest roads and air pollution hotspots. On the launch day we could be seen masked up outside the Town Hall and then again a week later, we were there with our masks and enormous banner on Digbeth High Street with a very striking message. Yes, the slightly creepy sight helped gather attention for the campaign, but it was about more than that. Lots of people are aware of air pollution - they can see it billowing out of cars and smell it as they walk around the city. Our message is more than just pointing out that air pollution exists. Our message is that air pollution is seriously harmful to us and those we love. That’s why we wore masks, because it’s not just a nasty smell, it’s a serious

threat to our health. The cars in the background of the photos were no mistake either - motor travel is by far the most significant cause of air

pollution in Birmingham and it’s this that we need to change. With that in mind, we most certainly didn’t stop at the launch. FoE’s revamped annual conference, Basecamp, also took place this month, and BFoE campaigners drew on our work on Let’s Get Moving and our experience of Birmingham to run a session on air pollution with other groups. We’re by no means the only local group thinking about air pollution at the moment and it was great to get us all together to share thoughts and ideas. Whilst we came away with a lot to think about and get working on, we like to think the experiences and knowledge we shared were valuable to others too,

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getting moving (continued from page 13) particularly as we’re probably the furthest along with the development of our campaign. Continuing to spread the message of Let’s Get Moving, we were also present at Centro’s ‘Bike Trains’ event on the 19th. We joined the riders and discussed the campaign with people at the endpoint in Victoria Square. It’s good to see other organisations taking on something that was a first for Birmingham when we started them back in 2011. In September 2011 we organised a series of ‘trains’ of cyclists to ride into the city centre from all around Birmingham for “In Town Without My Car Day” to replace the commute to work in the car with an enjoyable, active travel alternative. We led five trains packed with riders into Victoria Square where we gave them a free breakfast and discussed the joys and benefits of cycling. Even better, we got a lot of press coverage and firmly put bike trains on the agenda for Birmingham. It was such a success that Push Bikes ran a bike train event again in 2012, again successfully promoting them as a viable solution to our transport problems. Our aim however was always to do more than this - BFoE isn’t a transport provider and we know organising an event once a year isn’t enough to make our city a better place to travel. Instead, the point of us organising big bike train events was to show that it was a real and

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viable option, as well as giving people a taster of what it could be like to live in a more cycling-friendly Birmingham. We hoped bike trains would be taken up by authorities and communities as an everyday transport solution. The news that Centro’s Sustainable Travel team were organising a series of bike train events was therefore very happily received! The team have organised bike train events over a series of weeks, timed to demonstrate them as a travel alternative during the A38 tunnel closures. They’ve also been run in conjunction with workshops offering bike checks and set-ups. Altogether, it’s a great development that we’re extremely pleased with. Of course, that doesn’t mean it’s enough. Bike trains and cycling more widely has the potential to make Birmingham a radically healthier and more pleasant place to live every day, not just on specific days during tunnel closures. That’s why we’ve launched Let’s Get Moving - to keep up the pressure for more progress. We’ve already seen from Birmingham City Council’s detailed bid for the Cycling City Ambition Grant that it knows at least some of what needs to be done, so now the challenge is just to make that happen. If you want to help us do this, drop into the Warehouse, give us a call, or send us an email and get involved with Let’s Get Moving! Samuel Jones


bike trains timetable From

Start

Departure

Arrival

Return*

Date

Bournville

Railway Station

7.45am

8.45am

5.30pm

16/08/13

Hall Green

Sarehole Mill

7.30am

8.45am

5.30pm

16/08/13 30/08/13

Harborne

Park Hill Rd

8.00am

8.30am

5.30pm

16/08/13

Sutton Park

Banners Gate

7.30am

8.45am

5.30pm

16/08/13

Selly Park

Bottom of Cartland Rd

7.45am

8.30am

5.30pm

30/08/13

Weoley Castle

Corner of Northfield Rd & Stonhouse Ln.

7.45am

8.30am

5.30pm

30/08/13

30/08/13

* all returns start from Victoria Square

celebrating Barbara Wroot As we all know, campaigning may get all the attention BUT it is the bread and butter of running a local group such as Birmingham FOE that enables us to be as effective as we possibly can be with the limited resources at our disposal. Barbara Wroot, who has recently passed away, was our membership secretary during the Nineties. Barbara used to come into the Warehouse every week and keep our membership details up to scratch and chase those people who needed a gentle nudge. Barbara was always polite but firm with these calls. She was also at the sharp end of introducing our

Golden Supporter scheme, whereby members paid monthly by Direct Debit. This allowed us to spread our income over the year and budget accordingly and to employ a daytime campaigner. Indeed, we were early adopters of such a scheme and ahead of many national organisations. Barbara also joined in many of our social events and was never far from joining in on the tea run when the call went out for re-hydration! We offer our thoughts and best wishes to her daughter Lesley, who was also active with Birmingham FOE, and all of her family. Chris Crean

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BBC Gardeners’ World Live

Recently, BFoE had the exciting chance to campaign at BBC Gardeners’ World Live at the NEC. We were working with groups from across the Midlands, including Leamington & Warwick, Nuneaton, Solihull, Redditch, Walsall, Wolverhampton, as well as national Friends of the Earth. Our aim was to get as many signatures as possible for action cards about pressuring the Government to put in place a National Bee Action Plan to help our dwindling bee populations. I arrived to help out on the stall on Sunday afternoon. I was bewildered by the size of the whole show. Accidentally, I stumbled across the

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BBC Good Food show, from which I enjoyed many of the free samples! BBC Gardeners’ World was vast; eventually, I found FoE in a tent dedicated to bees. I was overjoyed to discover that we had two bee costumes with us, one of which it was obviously my duty to wear. The costumes made us local celebrities as people wanted their photos taken with us. Small children were either drawn to the magical giant bee or terrified by the evil monster bee. Unfortunately, the bee costume I was wearing was severely damaged after a week of hard campaigning at the event, with the bodywork almost severed. The damaged bee costume was a convenient metaphor for the real life state of our bee populations.


Our tent was very busy with many people stopping by to learn about bees. The Bumblebee Conservation Trust had a stall opposite us and we had the Bee Keepers Association to our left. A lot of people said hello to us at our stand and many of them were well versed in the plight of the bees. We found a

considerable amount of people who were knowledgeable about the topic, which was very pleasing. On top of the action pledge cards we had seeds for plants that were bee friendly as well as stickers. Both of these proved popular with the visitors of the show. By the end of the day, we were delighted to have over 450 action cards signed for the Sunday that I was there, and 2543 for the exhibition as a whole, meaning the stall was a great success. Thanks to all those who were involved in this fantastic event for making it a success! Shajidur Rahman

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the big green debate: Should the Council charge for garden waste?

This month our big green debate asks if it is or isn’t right to charge for green waste collection. I have jumped off the fence for this issue in order to take-on our lead campaigner on waste about this important issue. Julien Pritchard

no

When local or national Governments have to make cuts, some of the first things to go are schemes, projects or services that are seen as ‘green’ or which have some environmental benefit. There are many reasons for this but there are two that I see as quite important. The first is that ‘green things’ are still seen as a luxury that are all very well when we can afford them, but when the hard times hit we need to concentrate on the important things in life, like the economy. The second is that there is often not a statutory requirement to provide ‘green’ services. While this isn’t the place to debate the

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yes

Environmentalists generally do not support ‘free’ goods and services, as they can lead to people overconsuming and being wasteful, with everyone else and the environment paying the price. Free plastic carrier bags are one example. Giving some monetary value to garden waste would mean that people would have to be more thoughtful about what they produce, and what they do with it. The people who benefit the most by free collection will be those with the largest gardens, who could frankly afford to pay something. Paying for the service from the Council’s tight budgets is unlikely to be a priority for those who do not use it (because they do not have a garden or compost at home).


no continued economics of austerity and councils’ reactions, it does exemplify the above points spectacularly well. The Council has to make big cutbacks and, as a green waste collection is not a statutory requirement and is seen as a luxury, the result is the introduction of a charge.

yes continued The Council’s garden waste collection requires a fleet of lorries touring all the streets of the city, looking for bags to pick up. The content is mostly air and water, of course.  The waste is all taken to a composting site outside Wolverhampton. Some of the resulting compost finds its way back, but still many gardeners drive to a garden centre to buy their new compost.

In my view, this is bigger than green waste The people who collections. If we say benefit the most by it’s OK to charge for this, free collection will be what next? those with the largest gardens, who could However, is this the right way to go? While we can acknowledge the frankly afford to pay current financial difficulties, does that mean we say that charging for a green waste collection is inherently something. a good thing? In my view, this is bigger than green waste collections. If we say it’s OK to charge for this, what next? An outright end to doorstep recycling collection, as is being proposed in parts of Derby? The axing of positions related to the environment and Climate Change in the Council? To paraphrase Sir Humphrey Appleby, charging for doorstep green waste collections is “the thin end of the wedge”.

Surely we should close the loop much nearer home - cutting “compost miles”. If left in situ, garden waste begins to break down anyway. The talk of a charge, although modest, has already had people asking where to get compost bins and worm bins. The government cash obtained for wheelie bins could subsidise home

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no continued But it’s not just about the principle of protecting environmental services because they are seen as a soft target. There are very good reasons why a green waste collection should be free of charge. For a start, abolishing it adds to the perception that recycling is for the middle classes who can afford it, and not “real” working people. Well-off people aren’t the only ones who have green in their gardens, people in less well-off parts of Birmingham still have plants outside to look after but may not have the space for a compost bin.

Furthermore, we have the slightly ridiculous situation where the most environmental damaging option is the one which remains free of charge, with residual waste collections being free because the Council are legally obliged to collect residents’ residual waste. Cost should follow a waste and environmental impact hierarchy. Although the best option is to compost, charging for green waste collections while residual waste collections remain free will simply encourage people to send more waste into the residual waste stream, rather than encouraging a rush on compost bins. Julien Pritchard

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yes continued compost bins. The garden waste collection was a way to boost the tonnage the Council can say that it is recycling or composting. It is quite heavy (as it has a high water content).

This is not really a measure of environmental performance; a better measure is to minimise the amount of “residual rubbish” put out by households. Doorstep collections should be for materials we cannot deal with ourselves, such as metals, plastic, and glass. John Newson


volunteer spotlight Julien Pritchard interviews Samuel Jones

What have you learnt from volunteering with BFoE? Just being there, as a campaigning group, has an effect. Whilst big, successful campaigns, events and initiatives are obviously better, I’ve learnt not to underestimate the things that can come out of being a persistent, nagging voice in the background. What do you think is the most important environmental issue and why?

How long have you been volunteering with BFoE? I’ve been volunteering with BFoE since September last year, so about ten months now. What do you do here? I’m the Stalls & Events Coordinator, so I’m involved in making sure we know about events we want to be involved in, organising our presence there and organising our own events. What do you like about working here? There’s never a lack of ideas! Whilst our time and resources may limit how much we can do, you would be hard pressed to walk through the Warehouse without hearing a conversation about what we can do next.

For me, it’s definitely aviation. The aviation industry and the Government are determined to keep it growing at the same pace that it has in the last few decades, even if that turns out to be impossible. The decisions we make now about investment in aviation over sustainable travel or travel substitution will define the damage this country does to the Earth for years to come. What’s your best green tip/ advice? We produce enough energy already. Whilst pragmatically we may have to fight for new power sources to be as sustainable as possible, the bigger picture is that our consumption is the problem. Put effort into reducing your own energy usage, not because of the small contribution you’ll make to saving the Earth, but because it will remind you that a high standard of living doesn’t have to mean high energy consumption.

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diary Campaign Meetings - mondays 7.30pm 5th August: General meeting 12th August: Action Meeting 19th August: Action Meeting 26th August: No meeting due to bank holiday 2nd September: General Meeting 9th September: Action Meeting 16th September: Action Meeting 23rd September: Action Meeting 30th September: Action Meeting

Other Events 16th- 21st August: Reclaim the Power camp West Burton 30th August: Pedal On UK Birmingham Sutton Park 11am-4pm 15th September: Birmingham Sky Ride 29th September: Autumn Event - Martineau Gardens 11am - 3pm 19th October: Apple Day - Martineau Gardens 11am - 3pm See Northfield Eco Centre (www.northfieldecocentre.org) & Birmingham Environment Education Project (www.BirminghamEnvironment.org) for more events and workshops

Farmers’ Markets Birmingham University: 4th Wednesday of the month 9am-2pm Harborne: 2nd Saturday of the month 9am-2pm Kings Heath: 1st Saturday of the month 9am-3:30pm Kings Norton: 2nd Saturday of the month 9am-2pm Moseley: 4th Saturday of the month 9am-3pm New Street: 1st and 3rd Wednesday of the month 10am-4pm Solihull: 1st Friday of the month 9am-5pm Sutton Coldfield: 2nd Friday of the month 9am-3pm Jewellery Quarter: 3rd Saturday of the month 10am-3pm Stirchley Community Market: Taking a break until March

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contacts Contact us: Friends of the Earth (Birmingham) The Warehouse 54-57 Allison Street Birmingham B5 5TH

Chair: Robert Pass Campaigns Co-ordinators: Roxanne Green & Robert Pass Campaigns Support Worker: Julien Pritchard

Tel: (0121) 632 6909 Fax: (0121) 643 3122

General Manager: Philip Burrows

E-mail: info@birminghamfoe.org.uk Web: www.birminghamfoe.org.uk

Treasurer: Margaret Lynch

Friends of the Earth is:

Aviation: Adam McCusker

- The largest international network of environmental groups in the world, represented in 72 countries. - One of the UK’s leading enviromental pressure groups. - A unique network of campaigning local groups, working in more than 200 communities in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. - Over 90% of its funds come from its supporters.

Birmingham FoE: Campaigns at a local level to effect environmental change (in ways which feed into national and international policy) through: - Lobbying - Education - Empowering others to take action - Participation and representation through public fora

Climate Change & Energy: Jacob Williams Biodiversity: Rebecca Pollard Transport: Adam McCusker Waste & Recycling: John Newson Planning: Benjamin Mabbett Newsletter Editors: Michaela Hodges Steven D Quirke Zoe Wright Website Editor: Philip Burrows Fundraising & Membership Co-ordinator: Shajidur Rahman Stalls & Event Co-ordinator: Samuel Jones Talks: Jacob Williams, Rebecca Pollard & others All enquiries and callers welcome.

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Birmingham Friends of the Earth Newsletter - Aug-Sept 2013