Hello and welcome to the latest Campaigns’ Digest. It’s been a busy couple of months, with our Energy We Can All Afford panel discussion, as well as our first stalls of the year and the Away Day to strategize for our new local campaign: Let’s Get Moving. As usual, if there’s anything that catches your eye then please get in touch to get involved!
Energy & Climate Change
Our Energy We Can All Afford event was a great success. Between 70 and 80 people attended the event, co-organised with the University of Birmingham People & Planet Society, which featured some very interesting discussion and a high level of debate. We’ve now moved on to trying to get our MPs to sign and vote for the decarbonisation target amendment to the Energy Bill. See the Beyond Energy We Can All Afford article for full details of the latest in the campaign.
The other recent news was the attempt by EDF to sue the No Dash for Gas protesters for £5 million for their occupation of West Burton Power Station in November. Friends of the Earth and other NGOs were concerned that the legal threat could lead to many more such legal threats by companies, and therefore deter future activists from exercising their democratic right to protest. After quick but very successful campaigning by a cross-section of civil society organisations, EDF have now withdrawn their threat of legal action. The protesters still face criminal charges and possible jail terms. With the sentencing for the majority of the protesters on the 20th March having been put back a couple of months, we shall be watching this story with interest.
Since going to press for the last issue, we submitted our response to Centro’s New Transport Prospectus. We highlighted the need to have more ambitious modal shift targets and to prioritise particular infrastructure projects in what was a very aspirational document.
Since the last issue we’ve also had our Away Day to strategize for the new campaign, and have decided to focus on walking and cycling as a way of reducing traffic levels and improving air quality. You can read more about this in Adam McCusker’s blog about the day.
Birmingham City Council are trying to start a cycling revolution! Which means they are applying for a ‘Cycle City Ambition Grant’ from the Government which they will use to fund what they are calling the ‘Big Cycle Plan’; a 20 year plan to improve cycling infrastructure and increase uptake of cycling in Birmingham. They are asking for people to sign online to show their support for Birmingham’s bid, you can sign up and find more information here: http://www.birmingham.gov.uk/bcr. It’s important that they can show there is a lot of public support for the plan in order to increase their chances of winning the bid.
We submitted our response to the Waste Scrutiny’s call for evidence for the inquiry, really emphasising the point that the end of the waste incinerator contract with Veolia in 2018 is an opportunity to design a really sustainable waste collection system. John Newson outlines how this could be done in his The Future of Waste story. We will be attending the waste inquiry meetings going forward and highlighting how ambitious the city could really be!
The Stirchley ASDA saga rumbles on with the planning appeal going to a Public Inquiry, which starts on 8th May and will last around 10 days. Needless to say we will be continuing to watch this proposal with interest.
The City Council have announced plans for the city centre based wholesale markets to be moved to Witton or Washwood Heath in 2016. However, there is also an option to redevelop the current site, and a number of groups, including Birmingham Friends of the Earth, are arguing that this is by far the best option. You can read more about this issue in the article by Karen Leach and Jamie Stone of Localise West Midlands.
At a special meeting in January, we decided to fund three projects with the money raised from There’s Something Funny in the Honey. One is for a bee-friendly area being set up by Balsall Heath is Our Planet at a Jubilee Garden in Balsall Heath, the second is for a bee-friendly foraging corridor in Highbury Park being organised by Highbury Community Orchard, and finally one is for bee-friendly wildflower plants on the wall of our very own Warehouse! We’re looking forward to seeing these projects develop, and you can find out about how we’re planning to promote them in our article on the Return of the Bee Cause by Rebecca Pollard.
At the West Midlands Friends of the Earth Regional Gathering on Saturday 2nd March, we all got buzzy with training and planning around the Bee Cause in 2013. We now feel energised about the campaign going forward and are looking forward to getting our MPs to support the bees! Again, see the Bee Cause article for more information about what we have planned!