Government’s new tree planting scheme boosts financial services trade in carbon

Before we all go rarara about the Conservative government’s new scheme to boost tree planting, let’s just note that it’s based on the financialisation of the ecosystem – ie turning the natural environment into another set of markets for the financial services industry to get fat off.

Basically the new Woodland Carbon Guarantee scheme is based on a trade in carbon, via Woodland Carbon Units. This is made clear on the Forest Trade website and the UK Woodland Carbon Code “Buy Carbon” webpage.

Plan hatched in 2011 by ConDem government

The Government’s new scheme is the fruition of the ConDem coalition government plan to create a market in so-called ecosystem services. This was laid out in its heavily business-oriented 2011 National Environment White Paper. Continue reading

Farcical Villiers visit to flood-stricken Calder Valley

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Over the weekend, Calder Valley again suffered horrendous flooding – the third in eight years.

When Ban the Burn heard that Theresa Villiers, the Defra Sec of State, would be doing a walkabout in central Mytholmroyd on Wednesday between 9am and 10am, we called Craig Whittaker’s constituency office to say we would like to talk to her.

We wanted to ask when the government is bringing in promised legislation to ban peatland burning and to make sure it has no loopholes or exemptions that would allow burning to continue.

They agreed it would be appropriate for us to talk to her.

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Natural England to investigate grouse shooters’ unconsented burning and infrastructure construction on Walshaw Moor

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Natural England is to investigate a grouse-shooting estate’s recent burning of sphagnum moss and apparently unconsented construction of infrastructure on the highly-protected Natura 2000 site of Walshaw Moor, above Hebden Bridge.

Walshaw Moor Estate has undertaken these actions in order to intensify their industrial-scale grouse shooting business.

Natural England has agreed to investigate Walshaw Moor Estate’s:

  • apparent deepening and widening of ditches that they’ve been paid to block, on Heather Hill blanket bog
  • unconsented construction of steps up to newly constructed grouse shooting butts in deep peat/blanket bog adjacent to Hole Sike
  • apparently unconsented construction of a tarmac car park
  • burning which destroyed sphagnum moss
Continue reading

Hebden Bridge Disability Access Forum would like to hear from you!

Getting out and about can be challenging for many reasons: mental health issues, chronic illness, autism, hearing or mobility impairments, communication difficulties.

Do you identify as disabled, deaf or have a long-term health condition? Do you experience barriers that stop you from fully accessing life in the Hebden Bridge area?

Whatever your personal experience of disability, Hebden Bridge Disability Access Forum (HBDAF) would like to hear from you.

Here’s how to contact them:

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#AxeDrax – Climate campaigners denounce government’s approval of UK’s biggest ever gas power project

The 4th October decision by the Secretary of State for  Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to allow Drax Plc’s planning application for the UK’s largest ever gas-fired power capacity will lock the UK into dirty energy production for at least another two decades, climate campaigners have said.

Government overruled Planning Inspector’s recommendation to refuse the gas plant

The Secretary Of State overruled the Planning Inspector’s recommendation to refuse the plant, with the bizarre claim that the new gas plant didn’t contradict the “move towards net zero carbon”.

The Planning Inspector’s recommendation agreed with key objections made to Drax’s planning appliction, and with the arguments Biofuelwatch and others including ClientEarth put forward.

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Start of grouse moor burning season – please report all burning to RSPB

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• Grouse moor burning is now banned on blanket bog

The burning season started on 1st October and runs until 15th April

• Please report all burning you see to Valerie.Wheeler@RSPB.org.uk – if possible with photos, videos and location info.

Grouse estates burn the moors to engineer optimal breeding habitat for red grouse – for their own profit.

A recent RSPB blog post reports that in June 2019, Natural England revoked agreements for grouse moors to burn over blanket bog.

We need to keep an eye out on the moors to see if the landowners respect this limitation on burning.

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Standing room only as Town Council questions Hebden Bridge Group Practice about public concerns

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Members of the public crowded into Hebden Royd Town Council chamber on September 25th, to hear Dr Nigel Taylor address widespread public concerns about patient safety and restricted access to appointments with Hebden Bridge Group practice doctors.

He was there at the invitation of Hebden Royd Town Council, which had asked the Practice to explain what was going on.

The meeting followed at least two years of public anxiety about lack of access to adequate health care, after the Practice decided to send all patients needing urgent appointments to a morning walk-in clinic in Mytholmroyd.

Dr Taylor said that the Practice is “desperate to recruit more GPs” and has been advertising continuously since five of the 12 GPs left in 2018 for personal reasons. It now only has 9.25 Full Time Equivalent GPs and GP equivalents (Advanced Practice Nurses and Pharmacy Practitioners), for 18,000 patients.

In response to Councillors’ questions, Dr Taylor told the meeting that the Practice would reconsider the possibility of holding the walk in clinic in Hebden Bridge as well as Mytholmroyd, on alternate fixed days.

They will also think about what to do about patients queuing outside the walk in clinic, but the problem with opening the building before 8am is that it would need staffing.

Councillor Scott Patient questions Dr Nigel Taylor

He added that, for patients who are physically unfit to attend the walk-in, or can’t get there between 8am-10am,

“When something comes in that doesn’t fit in the box, we try and accommodate it.”

The Mayor, Cllr Carol Stowe, said the Town Council had heard from many members of the public about problems with the Practice.

Cllr Carol Stowe introduces Dr Nigel Taylor at Hebden Royd Town Council meeting 25.9.19

As well as problems with the walk-in clinic, issues include:

  • appointments cancelled at the last minute and then another 4 or even 6 week wait,
  • automatic prescription of painkillers rather than discussing a patient’s request for physiotherapy,
  • repeat prescriptions being incorrectly issued,
  • admin errors with medical consequences – eg carrying out the wrong blood tests and scan referrals not sent, and
  • having to disclose health problems to the receptionist.

Dr Nigel Taylor told the meeting that in line with government plans, the Practice had trained receptionists as “Care Navigators”. They are now responsible for identifying patients’ needs and where they should go for consultation.

Upper Calder Valley Plain Speaker finds it hard to see how this is going to help, when Dr Taylor said the Practice had tried non-clinical triage before and it didn’t work – which was why they set up the walk-in clinic instead.

Dr Nigel Taylor told the meeting that part of the reason for the increased ‘demand’ for GP appointments, that the Practice is unable to meet, is that GPs are already delivering services previously provided in hospital.

What is going to happen if and when the Calderdale and Huddersfield hospitals cuts and centralisation plan goes ahead and the new Primary Care Networks have to deliver even more hospital services?

After the meeting, Rosemary Hedges, a member of the Patient Representation Group, said,

“Dr Nigel Taylor gave Councillors the bare bones of the practice arrangements and current issues with funding shortfalls and staff shortages.

“But his answers to Councillors’ questions didn’t fully address people’s concerns. They also raised a number of other questions, that the public now needs answers to.”

29th July Calderdale Council Cabinet will discuss cutting back on glyphosate use

At a meeting in Halifax Town on 29 July (starting at 6pm) the Cabinet will consider a report that recommends Calderdale Council stops using glyphosate within its parks and on roadside verges. It calls these “soft landscapes”.

However the Cabinet has to wait for another report before considering whether to stop the use of the herbicide within hard landscapes, such as street pavements and at the roadside. This report will include fully costed plans.

The reason given for the delay is that the Council needs time to undertake trials into more environmentally sustainable methods to remove weeds.

As we said last time the Council put out a press release about reducing glyphosate use – they are kicking the can down the road. Continue reading

Primary School invites people to observe use of foamstream as alternative to glyphosate on school grounds

Alternative weed control methods will be used at Northern Primary School, Burnley Rd, Bacup OL13 8PH on Wednesday 12th June – Friday 15th June, from  10-4pm approx – traffic permitting as the contractor is travelling down from York.

The contractor will be working at the school using a foamstream machine to tackle the weeds, clean play areas and equipment, clear weeds on the artificial surfaces, fence lines, and forest school and undertake a pioneering exercise marking the school pitch.  (Apparently glyphosate is usually added to the paint during conventional marking of pitches). Continue reading