Thursday, 23 December 2010

Happy Christmas!

Happy Christmas to all our supporters! The Xmas social was very convivial, and the Isaac Wilson a good venue.

Our thoughts are with some of our members who are ill or awaiting operations, get well soon.

2011 promises to be a good year but a challenging one; the new domestic thermal tariff comes into play, there are a number of biofuel power stations that have planning permission to be built on Teesside that use waste wood or managed forest and we hope they will use CHP (Combined Heat and Power) to get the most from this resource.

The UK with its ingenuity is looking at wave, tidal and offshore wind power. The north sea is a challenging environment but we have expertise from the oil, gas and fishing industries in the NE. It would be good to export tidal & wind turbines and we could build them here!

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Daylight savings Bill goes through!!

So on tenderhooks we waited to hear if the Bill had got through this bizarre voting system for Early Day motions - would it get talked out by opposing MPs? Would the snow and far flung MPs who had to get back to their constituencies make a difference? the count was quite close but we won!!

Legislation that could lead to a trial shift of the UK clocks forward by an hour cleared an important parliamentary hurdle today. . .
guardian article

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Pakistan Flood Relief Benefit - the Results

Well the snow that started on Wednesday, just before the benefit, has settled in and as I look outside my window a transit van is having some problems . . . Despite snow, other events and perhaps the flood fading from memory we made £150 and I would like to thank everyone involved in what was a wonderful event. The Avenue church's acoustics and setting were perfect for the brilliant, talented "Pieces of Eight" A Copella choir. To sing well without musical accompaniment is the ultimate vocal challenge and the audience were not disappointed. Richard Massaras MCing guided us through and his comedy with Harry was entertaining. Lee Kyle's flags of the nations met with real approval and he tailored it for the audience he had rather than a student one! I think we had some comic geniuses in the making (perhaps a new Peter Kaye!) and we saw it here in Middlesbrough :-)

We had plugs, notices and posters in/on Radio Tees, the Echo, the Gazette, the Roman Catholic website and church, Anglican church, quakers, methodists, the co-op and interestingly on Regional TV news where one of our colourful posters was spotted in a Nunthorpe snow report!
Why did Friends of the Earth do this event for Pakistan? Well we felt we could and had to do something and could not sit idly by. Floods like this one are more likely to happen with climate change.

Our efforts have paid for a heavy-duty family tent that will get them through winter and food for a couple of months, I think saving lives, sent to Pakistan with our love. Well done everyone.

The video link I had planned to play is below and only 3 minutes long, explaining things so well, please have a look. Angelina Jolie's UNHCR reports were also well informed - not just a pretty face is Angelina.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Daylight Robbery

We got into the Northern Echo and I think the Gazette about the Daylight Savings campaign to try and make the most of our daylight. Click on the link below.

BRITISH Summer Time ends early tomorrow and the clocks go back an hour. But what if it didn’t? ...
Daylight robbery

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Middlesbrough Mima meeting big success

Following on from the Middlesbrough Skyride we had a great time at Cafe Prego, Mima. It was a nice venue, very central and everyone must have wanted to have a look, cos we got eleven people coming!! I am sure we will book again.

We discussed the "fix the foodchain" and "get serious" campaigns and our plans for the future. We have a lot happening with the Stockton group starting up, conference and lots of cycling!!

Anyrate we are a friendly group so if you are interested in green things come along and welcome.

Friday, 20 August 2010

Middlesbrough Town meal feeding 5000?

Last year the town meal actually had over 10,000 visitors so for Friends of the Earth to be invited to help out is certainly a big thing. To be held in Central square Sat 25th September. We hope to show what you can do in a small handkerchief, concrete backyard building on Darlingtons dumpy bag allotment at Lingfield Point. If you are interested get in touch.

Monday, 16 August 2010

August and September meetings

- Thursday 26th August 6.30-8pm Mima, Cafe Prego
I've never been to Mima before so this will be interesting. Mima is very central and if you come early you can look around the galleries. Car parking is free after 4pm and there is cycle parking right outside the cafe so you can keep it in sight. We have an update on the "Fix the Foodchain campaign" and details of the Sky Ride Click here Cafe Prego

- Wed 8th September 7pm NEW STOCKTON GROUP, the Hub cycle centre, Bridge road, stockton Hope to have lots of people here fro the launch of Stocktons New group
click here

- Thursday 23rd September 7-8.30pm, Friends meeting house, 131 Cambridge Road, Linthorpe, Mbro. TS5 5HL Carla our network developer should be coming to this meeting and we should have tea and cake!! We should have the latest info from our the national conference. Map and Google streetview here

Middlesbrough Sky Ride takes off

This Sunday Middlesbrough cyclists took to the streets in an truly amazing event, the Mbro Sky ride. What a triumph!! From 10 to 2 pm streets were cordoned off to 4 wheel traffic making the ride nice and safe. It was quite surreal cycling down the wrong side of the road or through red traffic lights, I couldn't quite shake the habit of warily looking over my shoulder for cars though.

To see families, mums, dads and kids cycling through the streets of Middlesbrough it gladdened your heart. Live bands and entertainment were provided around the 5 mile route and made it a real treat - a full day out. For the youngsters BMX team Extreme and the unicyclists laid on a stunning acrobatic display very impressive and inspiring.

We had three people on the ride, myself and Joe and his little 6 year old boy who was just really learning to ride his own bike without stabilizers. It was a touching, special moment that you don't forget.

Friends of the Earth helped publicize the event by getting members involved and running a special radio programme on CVFM community radio. We hoped to have a stall available but they had already been allocated - perhaps next time!

It looks like a new golden age of cycling has begun and the mbro Sky ride has caught the crest of the wave encouraging a new generation of cyclists. FoE hopes it is made an annual event.

The Gazette article is a very good one with a great photo slideshow click here to view it

Friday, 23 July 2010

what a venue! July Friends of the Earth meeting

Our July Friends of the Earth meeting is at Linthorpe cemetery Thursday 29th July, 7pm a 53 acre nature reserve, the biggest treed area in Mbro, which is jam packed with wildlife, flora and fauna and what wonderful, beautiful 100 year old trees.
Follow the link below to see a map and further venue details, but we are in the education centre that used to be the old Hebrew prayer house, a squarish building opposite where the old General hospital on Ayresome Green Lane used to be.
If you are interested in green issues, animals, allotments, cycling, renewable energy, food . . . . come along,please take this opportunity to get involved or give us a ring/email.

Boro Mela big success

The Middlesbrough Mela in its 20th year was very busy, and a big success. The Friends of the Earth's stall concentrated on getting new members, but we also had a colouring carbon footprint competition for the kids that went down well. It was great to meet the public and chat with other stallholders. Estimates are that some 7000 people came on the Saturday but there were many more on the Sunday.

The delicious smells wafting from the food stalls, the hubbub of the market, the rhythm of bangra music and the bright colours of the crowd were a heady mix, and it all went off with no trouble at all! The stalls varied from the council and fire brigade, to food stalls and fancy goods, to jewelery and clothes. On the Sunday morning the wind had picked up which made it difficult to put up banners and display boards but the stallholders all helped one another out and by mid-day it had died down and the sun came out and brought out even more people.
Here's looking forward to the 21st boro Mela!

Monday, 5 July 2010

Greener Living Roadshow

In Holland over 30% of journeys are made by bicycle - thats a stunning fact. In the UK its only about 2% bike-it website and there is not any real reason why it is not higher in the teesvalley. FoE actually ran two stalls one to reduce cycle crime and the other to try and recruit more people to start a Friends of the Earth just for Stockton.

Apart from being able to try out lots of different types of bike there were other stalls included the 10:10 campaign, CTC, the carbon trust, the real nappy people and things like solar panel and insulation companies.

The day went well and the new venue of Ropner park was lovely.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Cycle theft puts off cyclists

Imagine if people left their mobile phones unattended outside a shop for 5 minutes, would you be surprised if they were stolen? Well this is what happens to hundreds of bikes, an opportunist thief will zoom off with your bike given the chance and because they are usually untraceable you are unlikely to get it back. This happened to two of my friends and it certainly put one off cycling again.
But what about the lady who locked her bike up outside a Berwick Hills supermarket in plain sight and came out to just the cut lock? What can you do especially if you have a nice bike? Its not just David Cameron with this problem.

Advice is that you use two locks, a shackle and a chain, that thieves would use different methods to break - its unlikely that they would have bolt cutters and a hammer and chisel. Lock it to a proper bike stand if possible so that it cannot be lifted off (Dave Cameron take note!). Have a look at the bikeoff website We are liaising with Cleveland police to see if FoE and Middlesbrough Environment City can help with this problem.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Seamer & Hilton windfarm given green light

After at least 3 years and 7 expensive inquiries/meetings, the Seamer and Hilton wind farm has finally been approved. Five turbines 125m high and about 600m from the nearest residence will be built astride a lane that joins the two villages. Stringent conditions on safety, abnormal load delivery and monitoring were made by Stockton and Hambleton councils.

Friends of the Earth attended two of the council meetings supporting the application which were packed out with protestors. "SWAG gave a number of reasons to reject the wind farm and did a good job I felt highlighting how big an operation it is to install a wind farm and what is involved. I thought that this and their opinion that it would spoil the view were their only realistic objections - everything else, noise, distracting motorists, impact on wildlife etc were very dubious" Rob Tucker, co-ordinator said. "Friends of the Earth cannot be at every windfarm application meeting and each project should be looked at individually, but the amount of time spent on applications must be speeded up, its no wonder that wind energy companies decide to relocate abroad taking jobs with them when it takes this long to get permission for just 5 turbines!"

Redcar Question Time Hustings packed out

Friends of the Earth in Partnership with Redcar churches Together held a Question time style meeting with the parliamentary candidates Vera Baird (lab), Steven Mastin (Con), Ian Swales (Lib Dem) and Hannah Walter (Trade Union and Socialist Coalition). With only days to go before General election 2010 the electorate had a real chance to weigh up the candidates side by side.

Extra chairs had to be added to the aisles and there was standing room only as the Rev Catey Morrison expertly put questions collected from the audience on topics ranging from the MP expenses scandal, to Corus and empty shops, to youth and discrimination.
"Vera was very good in the debate, Steve proved to be a surprisingly nice teacher who gave some insightful views, Ian had the better green policies in my opinion and Hannah obviously cared passionately about what she had to say" said Rob Tucker co-ordinator of Mbro & Redcar Friends of the Earth. "it was a pleasent and interesting event. We learnt a lot from the previous Hustings in Middlesbrough and the format was changed to allow for the large audience - a number of people said how professional and well run the meeting was".

Middlesbrough question time hustings big success

Over a hundred people attended a "Question time" Hustings at St Barnabas church at Linthorpe road on the 29th April, just before the 2010 general election. Four candidates were invited John Walsh (con), Chris Foote-Wood (lib-dem), Sir Stuart Bell (lab) and Independent Joan McTigue. Sir Stuart Bell could not attend as he was on Church of England commisioner business and Middlesbrough labour councillor Barry Coppinger stood in for him.

Kendra Ullyart from Darlington Friends of the Earth chaired the meeting which ranged from questions on Corus and unemployment, to the arms race.

Friday, 23 April 2010

Its Question Time for local would-be MP's in Redcar

Not seen in recent times not one but two Question Time events for the Middlesbrough and Redcar areas are being run offering a real opportunity for voters to put their questions to their local candidates.
"The Redcar Question Time is going to be very interesting with 3-4 candidates and everything to play for. Local issues will be high on the agenda as well as the economy. This election is unusual, people are really thinking about who they are voting for and weighing up candidates and issues" said Friends of the Earth co-ordinator Rob Tucker.

The Rev Catey Morrison will be chairing the event and questions wil be taken beforehand from the audience on a number of topics.

The Redcar & Cleveland event takes place on;
Tuesday 4th May, 7-8.30pm
East Cleveland Baptist church,
Park Avenue,
Redcar. TS10 3LA

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Middlesbrough Question Time Husting

Come and meet your local prospective Parliamentary Candidates
With all the Election hoopla and hype, apart from who will be running the country, the most important thing out of the whole event to the people of Middesbrough, is how good an MP will they have? This is a unique opportunity to put your questions to the candidates, to meet them and find out what they are like. Are they going to work hard, have a good track record, stand up for Middlesbrough? What are their stances on the environment, MP expenses, education, crime, defence . . .

The event takes place on;
Thursday 29th April, 7-8.30pm
St Barnabas Church (see photo),
1a Saint Barnabas Road
Linthorpe, Middlesbrough TS5 6JR.

The church is a wonderful venue right in the middle of Linthorpe Road at the heart of Middlesbrough. With room for 300 (see internal photo), good accoustics, audiovisual and kitchen - but we need to know numbers for catering and layout so please email with numbers if you are coming to rob'at'
We are running the Hustings in partnership with "Churches Together" and the Rev Catey Morrison will be chairing the meeting. We have to be very organised so please be on time.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Middlesbrough & Redcar Local Hustings Question Time

Friends of the Earth in partnership with Churches Together will be holding two general election "Question Time" type hustings in the Middlesbrough and Redcar & Cleveland constituencies. Details are still being planned but we hope to announce dates and venues shortly.

Friday, 19 March 2010

Port Clarence Biomass plant approved

Friends of the Earth attended the planning committee that unanimously approved the power station that will use 400,000 tonnes of Palm Kernel Shells a year from Malaysia. It was a close call to oppose it, but we felt that it should use another fuel source. Power stations that use palm oil are at the pre-planning stage in the Teesside area, and they should be rejected!

We wish this project well and hope that it really does use Combined Heat and Power and puts Teesside on the map with a power station as iconic as Battersea.

Northern Echo article

Friday, 12 March 2010

BEI Teesside Biomass power station for Port Clarence?

The striking design offers the possibilities of real jobs on Teesside but should it be re-thought?  Teesside is an ideal location for biomass power stations, with good port facilities, experienced workforce, good grid connections and an industrial heritage - indeed we were the first in the country with the Sembcorp Biomass Power Station at Wilton International and there are two more planned at Teesport and  Billingham.  However FoE has some reservations about the BEI-Teesside scheme that plans to import Palm oil kernel biomass from Malaysia 9,000 miles away rather than using waste wood or sustainable wood from the UK or Scandinavia.

Last month a proposed Biofuel power station in Bristol was refused permission due to concerns over their use of palm oil.  Some Palm oil plantations in Indonesia and Malaysia impact on wildlife (especially Orangutans), local people, burning /cutting down rain forest, and the environment in general.  

At present, the use of palm oil products for fuel makes a mockery of the high govt subsidy that developers would get for producing power in this way.

FoE are looking into the details closely and may object to the scheme when it comes to the planning committee meeting on Wed 17th March at Stockton library.  If there was a different source of biomass used Foe would not have an objection.

Application at Stockton council;

Evening Gazette article

Optimistic industrial report on Palm Oil Kernel use
BEI's environmental report

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Cycle to work and cycling safety

Cycling more is a great thing to do for the environment, fitness and to save money, and most of us have a bike rusting away in the garage or shed un-used.
Of course there are lots of cycle ways and routes that are away from major traffic, a journey by push bike would probably be a more direct, different route to the one you would make by car. but I felt to deal with busy roads, roundabouts and big lorries I could do with some help, so I contacted Redcar council (all the councils have schemes) and got real help to cut down the risk of cycling.
The most common accident is where someone opens a car door and knocks the cyclist over! Simply cycle well wide of any parked cars. Road positioning is also key to stopping cars forcing you into the side of the road or at junctions.
If you are thinking of cycling to work you can get 50% off the cost of the bicycle and equipment, with the rest being spread out over an interest free loan taken from salary. Cannot get better than that.
I enjoyed my course and learnt a lot as well, so contact your local council for lessons, just google it! Cycle to work scheme

Witton Castle to get renewables makeover?

Witton castle, in county durham, is a country estate that has a lot of potential for renewables. The owner is keen to promote nature with its David Bellamy award caravan park, nature walks and wildlife. Renewable energy fits in with this ethos.
The estate has the potential for biomass heating, several possible hydro sites from existing dammed lakes and other renewables.
We will let you know of any developments as they come up.

Renewable energy sites found by FoE

Tocketts Mill - caravan park

SO if you were looking to site a small scale hydro scheme or other renewables where would be a good place to look? Well the advice we were given was look for place names that have mill or wier in the title. So Tocketts mill came to mind! Dating back in places to the Domesday book the historic mill is now used at weekends by a historic society and the converted stables resturant is very popular with upto a 100 people at the weekends.
FoE came at just the right time to look at renewables because the park was upgrading its elelctricity supply and boilers and we could get them a grant that allowed a free 3-5 day survey. The site is also off the mains gas supply, they use LPG so their energy bill would be a lot higher. We will keep you posted on developements!

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Lambs Hill-Stillington windfarm and CHP exhibition Mon 15th Feb 2010

Banks Developments, a well established company, are proposing a windfarm and CHP (Combined Heat and Power) scheme near Stillington in the Stockton council area. They have yet to go to the scoping stage but Banks hope to put in an application for a wind test mast soon.

This is very early days for the scheme with the exact location of the turbines and number still undecided. There is a railway line running through the proposed site and FoE thinks that this may mean that there will be few dwellings overlooked. A number of issues need to be addressed and we await further details.

Banks already have one operational windfarm built and have been granted planning permission for three others in the UK.

Monday, 8 February 2010

Seamer & Hilton windfarm

The Seamer/Hilton windfarm is a 5 turbine project which unfortunately sits in both the stockton and Hambleton council areas. This means twice as many meetings! After sitting through 4 planning meetings (not including the 2 for the test mast), plus an appeal to the Secretary of State that held things up for a further month, we now have a three day planning appeal in March 2010 for the two turbines that are in the Hambleton council area.

We would like to think that the support FoE has given to this project made the difference - it was 5 for and 5 against at the Stockton meeting and the chairperson with the deciding vote voted for the project. Both council planning offices recommended the project. Watch this space.

“Fix the foodchain” and “Get serious” campaigns

Middlesbrough & Redcar Friends of the Earth have been working on two campaigns

Fix the Foodchain

Agriculture generates more CO2 emmisions than transport believe it or not! We are trying to get farms to go back to what they used to do by producing food for their animals to eat locally on the farm rather than soya feed from South America which may be from cut down rainforest. Beans and grain can be grown actually on the farm and Mbro FoE have came across a number of local farmers who still do this. We also want the government to support local farmers that do this by sourcing meat for school meals and our armed forces from them.

Get Serious campaign

We want Middlesbrough and Redcar councils to reduce their emissions by 40% by 2020. Redcar and Cleveland have signed up for the 10:10 campaign and we will be working with thiem to achieve this. Middlesbrough council are following the "One Planet living" framework and should reach the 40% target if the govt increases its renewable energy percentage.

Joint Windfarm policy, Darlington FoE

Middlesbrough and Darlington Friend of the Earth groups have visited four windfarms to see for ourselves what they are like and write a report we can submit to councillors.

Lobbying MP’s Vera Baird and Stuart Bell

Members visited both Vera Baird (MP for Redcar and Cleveland) and Stuart Bell (Middlesbrough MP) about the Copenhagen Climate conference and the 10:10 campaign.

Seamer Hilton Wind farm Mon 29th March Planning appeal

The Stockton council area part of the windfarm has been approved. The Hambleton council two turbines are going to appeal.

North East get together, Newcastle - Sat 16th Jan

Rob Tucker attended and travelled by bus and back to Newcastle where we met up with groups from around the North East.

Age Of Stupid film screenings Middlesbrough, Redcar and Stockton

Using our contacts we were able to partner up with the councils to screen the Climate change film the "Age of Stupid" in Darlington, Stockton, Middlesbrough and Redcar. The Mbro screening was on Thursday 3rd Dec 2009. We had over 70 people there including a dozen councillors. After the film we had a panel discussion. The Middlesbrough screening was at "The Crypt" underneath Middlesbrough town hall and the Redcar screening at the Eston City Learning Centre , all venues were convenient for councillors.

Wave London March Sat 5th Dec

Four members from our FoE group travelled down to London for the big march by coach. We stayed overnight in a Premier hotel close to London had a really nice breakfast to last us through the day and then continued to the march in the morning and met up with another member. We unravelled our banner at Hyde park and then bumped into Darlington FoE who had travelled down by train with 10 members and it was great to see them.

Lots of different groups were there from the Co-op and trade unions, to WWF, greenpeace, Quakers and other faith groups. The march was extremely good natured with families with young children attending and absolutely no trouble - I think the police had some easy over time!

We missed the Archbishop of Caterbury giving his address, and the speeches at speakers corner, we went straight to Hannover?? Square where the march was assembling.

There were some amazing costumes with everyone wearing blue to make a Wave that encirled Parliament. About 40,000 people attended. The event really brought us together as a group.