GMB northern region welcome June 18th briefing from chemicals industry on fracking in Newcastle Upon Tyne

Following the GMB’s 8th June fracking charter with Offshore Gas and Oil Trade Association, on 18th June GMB Northern Region issued a press release welcoming a briefing on fracking from the Chemical Industry Association. Here it is:

Given the fragility of the oil and gas sector due to price pressures, diversification through shale gas could well become a key employer within the energy sector says GMB Northern Region.

GMB Northern Region welcome a briefing to businesses on fracking which took place in Newcastle upon Tyne today (18th June 2015). See notes to editors 1 for copy of press release from the Chemical Industry Association. Continue reading

GMB agrees shale gas charter with UK Offshore Oil and Gas Trade Association

Here is a press release from the GMB about its new charter with Offshore Oil and Gas, which describes itself as:

“the leading representative body for the UK offshore oil and gas industry.”

UKOOG and GMB Reach Landmark Agreement on Shale Gas

UKOOG and the GMB have today (8th June 2015) announced the agreement of a joint charter on shale gas, focusing on safety, skills and supply chain development. Continue reading

Defra must publish full unredacted report on Shale Gas Rural Economy Impacts


In January, Plain Speaker reported that Calder Valley people had asked Craig Whittaker MP to access and make public a full unredacted copy of the Defra report on Shale Gas Rural Economy Impacts, so that he could make an informed vote in the House of Commons on proposed new fracking legislation in the Infrastructure Bill.

Of course this didn’t happen.

But now the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has ruled that:

“DEFRA has incorrectly withheld the information  [and must] disclose an unredacted copy of the report”

in the next 35 days, in order to follow Environmental Information Regulations. If Defra fails to do this, it may be “dealt with as a contempt of court”.

You can download the ICO’s decision notice here


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Please ask Craig Whittaker MP to vote against radioactive waste burial


One of the last  decisions of the 2010-2015 Parliament, the Coalition government swiftly passed the Infrastructure Planning (Radioactive Waste Geological Disposal Facilities) Order 2015 with no debate in the House of Commons. This Order extends the Planning Act 2008 to cover nuclear waste disposal.

Over 300 MPs failed to vote. Among those were 246 Labour MPs, 57 Conservatives and 18 Liberal Democrats. The parliamentary record does not show whether they abstained or did not turn up.

241 Conservatives voted in favour – including Calder Valley MP Craig Whittaker, along with 30 Lib Dems, 1 Labour (Barry Sheerman, Huddersfield), 3 DUP and 1 UKIP.

The original post starts here

Parliament is considering rapid legislation that would remove the right of County Councils to object to burying radioactive waste underground, potentially at levels where water circulates.

Continue reading

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Get full copy of official fracking impacts report before you vote in House of Commons, constituents tell Craig Whittaker MP

Some Calder Valley constituents – who are worried about proposed new fracking legislation in the Infrastructure Bill which MPs are to vote on in the House of Commons this week – have asked Calder Valley MP Craig Whittaker to tell the government to release the full version of the Defra report on Shale Gas Rural Economy Impacts.

The version that has been published (PDF) has over 60 redactions, and Green MP Caroline Lucas has accused ConDem ministers of having “something to hide” over fracking. Continue reading

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Want to change the system not the climate? Welcome to the #Todmorden #Climate Festival planning meeting on 2nd November

Joe Mobbs – recently seen in St George’s Square Hebden Bridge handing out Stop TTIP leaflets – is calling a meeting on Sunday 2nd November, 5 – 7pm, at the 3 Wise Monkeys, Water Street, Todmorden, to present the idea of a climate festival in Todmorden.  All are welcome.

Saturday 7th March 2015 is a climate day of action, so that’s the date Joe when aims to hold the Todmorden climate festival. Continue reading

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Government plans for a market in environmental “services” – part of the financialisation of everything

The 2011 National Environment White Paper is heavily business-oriented. It’s based on the 2011 National Ecosystem Assessment which puts a monetary value on all the “services” that we take from the natural environment.

For example, it identifies that parks and green spaces will enhance human wellbeing to the value of £290 per household per year in 2060.

The government spin is that putting a monetary value on the services we take from the environment will mean that businesses will have to take account of the costs of pollution and environmental damage that they cause, instead of ignoring them. But critics say that turning the natural environment into an accounting exercise is neoliberalism run mad. Continue reading

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Corporate-caused climate change – an intro

Corporate-influenced climate change is an unforeseen consequence of the industrial revolution, which used carbon-based fossil fuels (coal, gas, oil) to replace human, animal and renewable energy in order to mechanise  farming, manufacturing, transport, housework, entertainment and just about any human activity you can think of.

While burning fossil fuels is the largest source of human-caused climate change, human (mostly corporate) land use activities such as deforestation, logging, and soil disturbance make up the second main source. Continue reading

The right to environmental justice & how to exercise it

Because it has signed the Aarhus Convention, the UK government has a legal duty to protect the public’s right to environmental justice – but it’s failing in its duty. Groups like the Kent Environment and Community Network have challenged this failure and stood up for the public’s right to environmental justice.

The Aarhus Convention places a legal duty on the UK government to protect the public right to:

  • environmental information
  • participation in decision making about environmental issues.
  • easy and effective access to justice, if the rights to information and participation in decision making are denied

Continue reading

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A green myth – ethical consumerism and behaviour change

The government and many environmental groups  encourage the public to switch to products with low carbon footprints and to use less fossil-fuel energy. But Tim Jackson, part of the University of Surrey Research group on Lifestyles, Values and the Environment (RESOLVE), has concluded that (p15):

 ”banking on a market revolution driven by green consumers is a forlorn hope”.

This is mainly because, as individuals, we have a limited set of options.