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Outside The Grand with supporters

Outside The Grand with supporters

During the Labour Party conference we helped national Friends of the Earth leaflet about the People’s March for Climate, Justice and Jobs, taking place on Sunday, 29 November in London, to raise awareness about climate change.  In particular, the march is highlighting the urgent need for politicians to come to a meaningful agreement at the climate talks in early December in Paris.

Providing both people and a polar bear, we managed to distribute hundreds of fliers to delegates and members of the public along Brighton seafront.  The polar bear was a particular hit, in high demand for selfies and photos, bringing a smile and a willingness to engage from most people as we walked along.

The polar bear was only offended when he was mistaken for a giant rat by one ‘myopic’ meeting chair, who was quickly corrected by less visibly challenged members of the audience.  Overall, a great success and great fun too.

The Polar Bear and Monica prepare to leaflet outside the Mercure Hotel

The Polar Bear and Monica prepare to leaflet outside the Mercure Hotel

 

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We have responded to the consultation on the proposed modifications to the City Plan, which ended at midnight on 16 December. While we support much of what is proposed we have issues with three main areas:

Air pollution:  despite agreeing with the Council to proposed modifications on this issue earlier in the year, recent events (European Court Ruling and emerging research) mean that the proposed wording may be unsound as it does not go far enough to reduce air pollution and act to bring it down below legal limits as fast as possible.  In fact developments could still be approved that will make it worse.

Urban Fringe development:  we have pointed out errors in the Urban Fringe Assessment which undermine the figures for housing in the urban fringe.  We have therefore questioned whether it is justified to have an allocation of 1,060 homes in the urban fringe.

Watering down of energy efficiency:  we have objected to the watering down or energy requirements in new development, not least because as a city we have consistently missed our carbon reduction targets and need urgent action to bring us back on course.  Indeed the fact that we’ve missed our targets year on year, means that we have emitted more carbon than we should and so need to cut our levels even more to compensate.

To see our full comments and links to references, see our submission.

The examiner will now look through all responses to the consultation and see whether any areas warrant further investigation or debate before deciding whether to accept that the City Plan is sound and can be adopted.  The is an important moment for the Council as without a agreed Plan it is in a very weak place to prevent damaging developments.

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Brighton & Hove Friends of the Earth (BHFOE) is pleased to see that EON is progressing with the Rampion windfarm with the announcement that it will be using 116, 3.5MW turbines, with a tip height of 140.2 metres in a smaller array than originally planned.   The wind farm will provide enough electricity for 290,000 homes and save 600,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide each year.

BHFOE is also welcoming that fact that since the start of the initial consultation, the width of the wind farm has been reduced quite significantly.  In the latest plans, the field of view has reduced from 33 to 10.6 degrees when viewed from the Heritage Coast and the distance of the closest turbine (to the Heritage Coast) has also been increased.  These changes, along with the fact that EON has selected a turbine which is only 140 metres tall, mean that the visual impact from the Heritage Coast and the South Downs National Park is very much reduced.

Chris Todd from BHFOE said:

“This is really good news as it brings us another step closer to reducing our carbon emissions here in Sussex.  We also welcome the fact that EON has altered the size and layout of the wind farm which will dramatically reduce the visual impact from the Heritage Coast and the wider South Downs.

“We look forward to the wind farm producing its first electricity in 2017 and being fully commissioned the following year.  Given the current failure to properly address climate change both in this country and abroad, this is a much needed development.”

Other wind farm facts:

[1]   The wind farm will be built in an area covering 72 square kilometres compared with the 122 square kilometres it was given permission for and the 167 square kilometres that it first proposed.  EON was also given permission to build up to 175 turbines.

[2]   Energy generated in 1 year is estimated to be 1,366 GWh.

[3]   From Devil’s Dyke the field of view has reduced from 58.3 to 28.2 degrees, although the distance to the nearest turbine is about the same as before.

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There are two applications for planning permission in West Sussex. Both from Celtique and both for exploratory drilling on pieces of land they have already rented and have got government licenses. This is the precursor to setting up a fracking operation which could be on site for between 15 and 20 years.

One is at Wisborough Green North of the A272 and West of the A24. The other is at Fernhurst North of Midhurst and East of A3. This one is actually INSIDE the South Downs National Park.

The planning application to the SDNP planning dept will be heard this month. Please go to this link and fill in your name etc. This is our national park, we own it, we paid for it – the objections do not have to be from local residents. DEADLINE JAN 22ND.

www.frackfreefernhurst.com. Tab on top ‘submit an objection’ or visit the Application Summary page on the South Downs website.

Wisborough Green site Dec'13

Wisborough Green site Dec’13

Fernhurst SDNP site Dec '13

Fernhurst SDNP site Dec ’13

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Members of Brighton and Hove Friends of the Earth have been joining the protestors at the Cuadrilla drilling site at Balcombe. Below are some photos taken by one of the members last Friday. Overall the demonstration was friendly and peaceful, but there was a strong police presence and a number of protestors were removed and arrested. If you’d like to get involved visit www.greatgasgala.org.uk for the latest updates on the protest and how you can help out and join the protest.

Protesters in Balcombe halt shale gas operation – video

balcombe friday 3

Frack off supporters and police mill around as Cuadrilla lorries try to pass

balcombe Friday 1

Police vans gather at the demonstration site

friends of the earth

BHFOE & friends

balcombe friday heart

love for the earth: a heart on the road created by one of the protestors

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bhfoe block cuadrilla
On Tuesday 23th July members of Brighton & Hove Friends of the Earth supported the Rig Watch group at the gate to the Cuadrilla Test Drilling site on the B2036 about 1 mile south of Balcombe. Rig equipment started to arrive early on that day. More is expected over the next few days. It is understood that Cuadrilla is hoping to start drilling on Sat 27th.
Protesters are planning to be at the gate and the surrounding area from Thurs 25th morning onwards and into Friday.
They need all the help we can give them to publicise this and to plan another trip to the gate.
rig watch
drilling site gate
BHFoE Group establish their early presence and support at Balcombe!

BHFoE Group establish their early presence and support at Balcombe!

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Brighton & Hove Friends of the Earth (BHFOE) has registered its interest in the Rampion wind farm proposals with the Planning Inspectorate today.  The deadline for registering an interest in the proposals and potentially submitting further information or appearing at any hearings is tomorrow – 11 May, 2013.
The group welcomes the steps E.ON has taken to address concerns raised during the public consultation, particularly reducing the scheme’s impact on the Heritage Coast.  However, while it is backing the proposals in principle, it would still like to see further improvements made.
It is also pressing for a package of community benefits to offset the long term landscape impacts.  These could include: removal of eyesores on the South Downs, a better crossing for the South Downs Way over the A283 and a visitor/educational centre.  It would also like to see the options for community ownership of one or two turbines explored more thoroughly.  To see its full submission click here.

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Brighton & Hove Friends of the Earth are supporting a campaign against plans to build a biofuel power plant at Shoreham Port. There are concerns about the pollution this could cause in Shoreham and the effects on air quality in Southwick, Portslade, Hove, Brighton and beyond, as well as wider environmental concerns regarding biofuels and biofuel plantations. For more information see the poster or visit Biofuelwatch.

A peaceful banner protest and the planning committee meeting will be taking place on 7th May 2013, 6.30pm (for 7pm meeting), Civic Centre, Ham Road, Shoreham.

All welcome!

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Fracking-Meeting-Poster-Web

Friends of the Earth Brighton & Hove are organising a public meeting to discuss fracking and the controversial topic of shale gas exploration. Speakers include Dr Mariann Lloyd-Smith, expert on toxics and contamination and advisor to the anti-fracking movement in Australia, Cllr Tony Janio, opposition spokesman on Environment & Sustainability, Brighton & Hove City Council, making the case for fracking and Howard Johns, founder of Southern Solar and expert in local energy solutions.

We’re inviting members of the public to come along and share their views on fracking.


Wednesay 15 May, 7.30pm
(doors open 7pm, teas and coffees will be available), Friends Meeting House, Ship Street, Brighton, BN1 1AF

Join the Facebook event

Read more about Fracking

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Conditional support for Rampion windfarm and calls for better consultation
Responding (BHFOE Rampion Windfarm 1st Consultation Response) to the first round of consultation on the Rampion windfarm which ended yesterday [1], Brighton & Hove Friends of the Earth (BHFOE) is only giving conditional support to the project. The group says the windfarm is urgently required to reduce carbon emissions but that E.ON needs to do more to avoid damaging the South Downs National Park.  BHFOE is also calling for a full 12 week consultation once the detailed environmental reports come out [2]. 
BHFOE welcomes the cabling on land being placed underground to reduce the landscape impact.  However, BHFOE believes that E.ON has failed to demonstrate how it has avoided impacts on the National Park, particularly the Heritage Coast [3] for which inadequate photo-montages were produced. 
Chris Todd from BHFOE said:
“We really want to see this development succeed.  In this part of the country we have done little to develop renewable energy and we need to play our part.  Rampion represents an important step towards reducing our carbon emissions and tackling climate change.
“However, that must not blind us to just accept any old development.  E.ON needs to demonstrate that impacts on the South Downs have been minimised as far as practicable.  We are concerned about harm to the Heritage Coast and don’t believe enough has been done to protect this area.  It also seems odd that E.ON requires a 14km cable route through the National Park at a point where it is only 4-5km wide.
“We’ve just had a 12 week process which has been great at raising awareness about Rampion, but not so good as a consultation.  The lack of information has made it difficult for people to really engage.  The next round of consultation will see a mountain of information released, with only 6 weeks allowed for responses.  This is perverse and many people will struggle with such a short timescale.  E.ON should reconsider.”
ENDS
Notes to editors:
[1]    The formal community consultation has run from Monday, 13 February until Sunday, 6 May 2012 (12 weeks) but very little technical information was released.  For example, the Environmental Impact Assessment was not published.  The information that was presented was often inadequate, such as the lack of photo-montages from the Heritage Coast, which has made it difficult for the public to make informed comments on the proposals.  So while the process has been good at awareness raising, and BHFOE has congratulated E.ON on this aspect of it, it has not really been a satisfactory consultation.
[2]    Almost immediately after the close of the community consultation, the formal statutory consultation will start mid-May 2012 for 6 weeks.  However, this will include the publication of substantial documents such as the Environmental Impact Assessment and other important documentation.  These documents will take some time to read and only having 6 weeks to do this, draft responses and seek agreement from committees and boards will be difficult for many organisations and members of the public.  The closeness of the start of second consultation to the end of the first also raises suspicions that the consultation process is more of a tick box exercise rather than a real engagement with local people.  Given the short amount of time between the two consultations, it is unrealistic that E.ON will make any substantial changes, if at all, as a result of feedback received so far. 
[3]    The Heritage Coast extends from the Martello Tower in Seaford to the Martello Tower in Eastbourne, and represents the main coastal element of the South Downs National Park.  This stretch of coastline is one of the few unspoilt stretches of coastline in the south east of England.  The white chalk cliffs are an iconic image of England, particularly linked to images of the Second World War and have featured in many films.
Media Contact:  Chris Todd  01273 553044  or  07889 302229

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