Thursday, 29 March 2012

Bee-friendly campaign

40 people from as far away as Sheffield met at Darlington for a Friends of the Earth event “Bee prepared” planning a wonderful campaign about re-connecting with nature, bees and bio-diversity.

Bees are having a bad time at the moment with disease, pesticides and pollution causing colony collapse; there is lots of evidence to suggest that increasing forage (wild flowers, clover, hedging etc) and different sources makes bees more resistant to this. Over 97% of wild flower UK meadows have been lost.

Bees make £50m a year for the UK but if there were no bees to pollinate orchards, tomatoes, strawberries etc it would cost 1.8 BILLION a year to hand pollinate them as they have to do in some parts of China. "The way humanity manages or mismanages its nature-based assets, including pollinators, will in part define our collective future in the 21st century," said Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director in an article for the Independent. "The fact is that of the 100 crop species that provide 90 per cent of the world's food, over 70 are pollinated by bees. Human beings have fabricated the illusion that in the 21st century they have the technological prowess to be independent of nature. Bees underline the reality that we are more, not less, dependent on nature's services in a world of close to seven billion people.”

We hope to make a major feature of the RHS “Britain in Bloom” contest which this years theme is “Wild about Wildflowers” and to try and push its Environmental responsibility core area. Locally Stockton-on-tees has won BiB twice and so it is likely that we can make a real difference. Also Mbro, Redcar and Stockton FoE have good links with all three councils, so things like mowing later in season, planting bee friendly flowers and some set aside areas could be achievable. Nationally we hope for some legislation.

One of the more fun things we plan to do is have an educational aspect to the campaign in schools and so our youngsters showed us how to make some costumes. So it is quite likely that you may see Friends of the Earth stall at a garden centre or park.

After the conference we went along to Darlingtons Grow zone, at Lingfield point, where Darlington Friends of the Earth have built a glorious allotment.

If you can help us in any way please step forward, there are active groups in Mbro, Darlington and we hope to start ones in other area meeting places!

Rob Tucker 01642-294580

Friday, 2 March 2012

Housing estate in Mbro gets Eco-makeover!

The Spencerbeck estate in Middlesbrough is getting an eco-makeover with new external cladding being installed from Ellerbeck way to Ainsworth Way. The insulation should save tenants £400-800 a year in lower fuel bills and for private homeowners add value to their house . “The house is 2-3 degrees warmer and there are no cold spots” a householder said, “the houses look brighter and cleaner as well”. The scheme is part of a deal with Coast & Country and an energy supplier which also includes topping up loft insulation and new gas boilers if needed.

Andy Cameron, project manager said “There are 52 people working on both the Spencerbeck and Bankfield sites mostly Middlesbrough & Redcar locals although some live further afield. We have had some delays due to cold weather affecting the adhesive, but we are cracking on. We hope to finish August/Sept this year”.

The 4 inch thick polystyrene like cladding is stuck to the wall and then secured by plastic screws encase of high winds. Several coats of render are then applied to a mesh and then finally a coloured waterproofing coat.

This re-investment in the area will mean new signage for the buildings and also improvements like the small parking walls tidied. Each home makeover is worth about £5-8000. “This will significantly reduce peoples fuel bills year on year and families carbon footprints BUT they need to turn down their thermostats and wear jumpers to adjust rather than opening windows and letting the heat out!” Rob Tucker of Friends of the Earth said.

There are no plans yet for the Overfields and Netherfields areas, which also have the same house type, but C&C and Erimus must be considering things.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Ormesby Hall tree planting, big success

Middlesbrough and Redcar Friends of the Earth and National trust volunteers planted free trees from the Woodland Trust this Wednesday, leap day, to improve native woodland cover for wildlife at Ormesby Halls cherry walk.

Adam Cracknell, Gardener & Warden for the National Trust said “we get a great deal of wildlife here from squirrels and field mice, to tawny owls and foxes. A real variety of different birds as well”.

Friends of the Earth co-ordinator, Rob Tucker said "Tree planting is a fantastic and fun way for us to do something lasting in our local area. We hope our trees will help attract even more wildlife and make a real difference to everyone who will see them. It's incredible to think that in just 5 years, our trees will be as tall as us!"

Hundreds of communities across the UK will celebrate with a public tree planting event, more are encouraged to follow this example by registering for a free tree pack for spring or autumn 2012 for their local area, as part of the Trust's Jubilee Woods Project.

Victoria Hodson from the Woodland Trust added: "We are delighted Friends of the Earth are using our free tree scheme to plant more trees at Ormesby Hall. Communities are growing their own fruits and food, creating shade and shelter, and providing new homes for wildlife as part of our Jubilee Woods Project to celebrate Queen Elizabeth's Diamond Jubilee, and we would love more communities to get involved."

Communities can take part by applying for a free pack at .