Saturday, 22 March 2014

EURO MP SUPPORTS LEE COMMUNITY FOR SEAFRONT CLEAN UP



On Saturday 5th April, Lee seafront will be the focus of a beach clean up, organised by Lee-on-the-Solent Litteraction, the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) and Green Euro MP Keith Taylor.

Keith Taylor, Member of the European Parliament (MEP) for South East England said: “This event is really important in empowering the community to take action on litter and create an environment which encourages residents and visitors to deal with litter responsibly”.

“We are seeing the issue of discarded waste being addressed in the European Parliament, but activity such as the beach clean is equally as important in creating change. We know that litter on our beaches is both unsightly and dangerous to wildlife, so beach clean ups like this are tremendously important.”

April's event comes shortly after the European Parliament has called for action to slash plastic bag use by 80% across the EU by 2020. Single use plastic bags that are a symbol of today‟s "throw away society", is an item regularly washed into the sea via the shoreline and drains, releasing dangerous toxins and harming animals.

Lauren Eyles, MCS Beachwatch Officer said: “Residents in Lee clearly care about their beach and coastline by cleaning and surveying litter on our beaches through our Beachwatch programme. Organised litter picks will help reduce the threat some of our best-loved marine wildlife are under from rubbish in our seas and on beaches which they can ingest or become entangled in. Litter on our beaches is also hazardous to people, so we all have a part to play in making sure rubbish stays off our beaches and out of our seas.”

The United Nations Environment Programme has stated that 80% of marine litter originates on land. Items such plastic bags, cigarette butts, and plastic bottles can find their way into the sea contributing to the millions of tons of litter that end up in the ocean worldwide each year.

Liz Allan of Lee-on-the-Solent Litteraction said: “Litter is of great concern to local residents. Lee has a wonderful beach and we want it keep it nice for those who live here all year round and for visitors. We also want to ensure that our beach is not contributing to the waste that ends up in the ocean. We hope people will be able to give a couple of hours to come and join us.”

Keith will address Litteraction supporters at 11am before the beach clean begins, until 12.30pm.

NOTES

Keith Taylor MEP and Litteraction will be meeting outside Olympia Amusements (centre of the Promenade), 5 Marine Parade East, Lee-on-the-Solent, PO13 9LB at 11am. 

For more information about Lee-on-the-Solent Litteraction events visit: www.litteraction.org.uk/lee-on-the-solent-litteraction 

On Monday 10 March, the EU Environment Committee backed a report by the European Commission that would require each government to take some form of legislative action to curb free handouts of plastic bags.



Office of the Green MEPs, CAN Mezzanine, 49-51 East Road, London N1 6AH phone: 0207250 8415 e-mail: keithtaylor@greenmeps.org.uk website: www.keithtaylormep.org.uk twitter: @GreenKeithMEP  
KEITH TAYLOR
Green Party
for the South East of England 

Saturday, 15 March 2014

What volunteering means for me - from Tim Sykes, ecologist

Green Hampshire are delighted to feature a guest article from our friend Tim Sykes. Tim describes himself as a devout family man, hopeless Triathlete and plump basketball player/fanatic and, as his articles makes clear, he is passionate about enjoying & conserving our natural world. He is a professional ecologist. Tim has provided the twitter names for the organizations he mentions in brackets.

For me, volunteering for my local wildlife trust, the Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust (@BBOWT), in 1985, was a life-enriching and career-making decision. I owe my career to the staff and volunteers of BBOWT, and I met my soul-mate (now wife) through working with the Trust. I made life-long friendships, experienced nature in the raw and learned to value our natural world in ways that are available to everyone, should they choose to make the time.

My love of the natural world was nurtured by my parents and involved a lot of feral-time spent exploring my local neighbourhood in eastern USA where I was born, and holidays to wild and rugged (and usually muddy!) locations. Building tree-houses, tracking wildlife, fishing, canoeing, hiking and wild-camping with my family, made for a marvellous childhood. In North Carolina there was no Wildlife WATCH (@wildlifewatch), Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (@RSPB_Learning) or Project Wild Thing (@wearewildthing) (must-join organisations for any parent of nature-inquisitive kids) to provide structure, but boy did we build some memories!

Such a start in life naturally led to an academic interest in natural sciences, and I knew I would spend much of my life involved in practical environmental conservation, but it never occurred to me that career paths existed for my vocation.

My world changed the day I walked into BBOWT’s office. As a student I was obliged to do some work-experience and I figured the Trust might have a job going. Little did I realise what the Trust actually did or that it was run by only a handful of professional (poorly paid, but inspirational) staff and 1000s of volunteers : our Society has been ‘big’ for many years!

Welcomed with open arms, the Trust offered expert technical training and kinship, all at zero cost – I just had to provide my time and a willingness to participate. It took only 10 minutes in the BBOWT Office on that first day for me to realise that I could and would dedicate my career to nature conservation.  

I spent that summer in a volunteer team carrying out botanical surveys of the Oxfordshire and Berkshire countryside. I was hooked, and the following summer was back, writing and implementing management plans for numerous BBOWT nature reserves.  Since then I have worked for @BBOWT, the Brecknock Wildlife Trust (@BrecknockWildli), Nature Conservancy Council Wales - a forerunner to @NatResWales, an ecological consultancy, and now the Environment Agency (@EnvAgencySE), and volunteered for the North Wales Wildlife Trust (@North_Wales_WT) and Hants & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust (@HantsIWWildlife) along the way. What fun!  I love going to work.

One’s personal motivation to volunteer our time, our effort, our expertise, our networks and friendship will be unique to you but, for some, it may also be a precursor to a career in a vocational field. To those I would advocate going the extra mile – academic qualifications are necessary for many jobs in nature conservation but practical hands-on experience will make one stand-out from the crowd at interview: the opportunities to do so are many and varied, ably assisted by @GreenHampshire! 

Volunteer for the @HantsIWWildlife, The New Forest National Park Authority (@newforestnpa), the South Downs National Park Authority (@sdnpa), the National Trust (@southeastNT), Groundwork Solent (@GroundwrkSolent), The Conservation Volunteers (@TCVtweets) or one of the many local and dynamic community groups, such as The Anton River Conservation Association (@riveranton) and Weston Shore Friends (@WestonShore)  and enrich your life while you do your bit to conserve your local environment, as well as enhance your career chances. It worked for me.  #GetInvolved 

What does volunteering mean for you?

@TimSykesEA

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Powering Hampshire with community-owned energy

Guest blogger Martin Heath of Hampshire Renewable Energy Co-operative is on a mission to turn Hampshire into a county powered by community-owned energy. And he’s made a great start.

 

Hampshire – blessed with clean renewables

 

Hampshire is an exceptional place. After Cornwall it is the sunniest county in the UK; it is the most wooded county in England; off our southern coast it has some of the best tidal resources in Europe.  Hampshire’s downlands and coastal waters are windier than average. We are blessed with renewable energy sources.

But hooked on dirty fossil fuel and reliant on others


Yet it is a county that spends £2 billion a year on imported energy; nearly all on fossil fuels. We ship in oil for our cars, gas for heating our homes and coal, gas and uranium to run power plants.  We have some of the highest per head carbon emissions in Europe; but at least Hampshire has shut all but one of its last remaining fossil fuel power stations.

Excellent you might say; but this means Hampshire now relies on everyone else in the country to produce its electricity. We in Hampshire use the electricity but everyone else gets the pollution. Hardly fair I hear you say.  We agree.

We have loads of clean renewables on our doorstep yet we choose to use old dirty, expensive and imported fossil fuels. What a wasted opportunity!

But it’s all about to change


Well - that is until now. Six months ago a group of us formed Hampshire Renewable Energy Co-op.  Our aim is simple – to build a network of local, community owned renewable energy projects across Hampshire.  And what a six months we’ve had!

We are about to agree to buy a 10% stake in the Bullington Cross Wind Farm, we are in negotiation to build a 100% community-owned solar farm in Winchester and  over 1,400 people across the country have already supported our aims.

We’ve held workshops; we’ve campaigned on high streets, in shopping malls and village halls. We’ve taken councillors and council officials to solar and wind farms.  And our support continues to grow. Over the next three years we dream of weaning our county off its expensive obsession with dirty, expensive imported fossil fuels and moving it onto a diet of clean, community owned, local produced renewable energy.

Why a community co-operative?


As well as huge benefits, renewables have costs. Costs that are often borne by the local communities that host renewable projects.   But shouldn’t these benefits flow to the local communities and not just to multi-national developers, the big 6 energy companies and global banks?

We think so; and the way to do this is via community ownership.  Ideally we’d like to see 100% ownership but we are realistic enough to know that we will have to work in partnership with the energy industry and with the financiers – for now! That’s why we have secured agreement with EDF Energy that 10% of a wind farm proposed at Bullington Cross will be community owned. This would be 14 turbines, capable of powering around 14,000 homes which could offset the annual release of 26,000 tonnes of Carbon Dioxide.

Support community energy in Hampshire


The majority of people in the UK want wind farms; but often it is the minority that shout the loudest.  We need to make our voice heard. A very big thank you to the 1,000 people caring enough to give Hampshire Renewable Energy Co-operative a chance. They have already written to or emailed their local council expressing their support for community energy. 

But now we need even more people to support our planning application for a community owned wind farm.  Just click on the link and you can email your support for community ownership in the wind farm at Bullington Cross.

Let’s make Hampshire Greener; let’s make the UK greener.  Thanks for your help. 

 

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Enjoying glorious Swanwick Lakes Nature Reserve

Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust run a number of nature reserves and recently we paid a visit to one at Swanwick Lakes in between Southampton and Fareham. It's easy to find especially as the reserve is near the Air Traffic Control Centre.

The site was at one time an area for clay working but this was abandoned a long time ago and nature has been allowed to reclaim it.  There are a number of beautiful lakes to view, populated by ducks and other birds.

A view of Centre Lake - note Mallards heading over to say hello!
We also had a walk into the woods surrounding Centre Lake. The paths climbed higher and higher to reach the woods on the far side of the lake from the Study Centre and it was easy to feel absorbed in the beauty of nature as we explored more.


Getting gloriously lost on the trail - feeling like we were in Middle Earth..
There is a lot to see and we only were able to cover some of the reserve and are looking forward to a return visit to see more. 

Swanwick Lakes has a study centre near the entrance and we had a look in here as well. The staff were very welcoming and keen to be of help to us.  One particular point of interest was a feeding area for birds set near to a large window in the centre. Sat inside, even on a brisk winter day, it was therefore possible to sit, rather relaxed, watching lots of blue tits and coal tits enjoying a snack. A delightful treat!


Inside the Study Centre - a brilliant resource for schools
For more information please go to their website: http://www.hiwwt.org.uk/reserve_detail.php/46/swanwick-lakes