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A Havant Friend of the Earth looks back over 2011?

Well, whatever else happened, the weather was the star attraction with a bitter winter, a parched spring, tropical autumn and now a drought. And there were disappointments for those anxious about air quality, solar power, forests, countryside, biodiversity and climate change.

Environment Minister, Caroline Spellman, managed the rare feat of uniting nature lovers and environmentalists of all ages everywhere against her plans to sell-off part of England’s forests. A hasty apology and withdrawal followed.

Next up were major changes to the planning system leading to the shredding of the present policies and their replacement by 50 pages of generalisations. Over 220,000 people joined the protest led by the National Trust, FOE, CPRE, many others and now most recently joined by MPs demanding that the new version’s default YES option be dropped.

Fans of nuclear energy met reality after the Fukushima disaster triggered a global review of the nuclear power safety. But this produced a surge in demand for fossil fuels to backfill the energy gap. Despite the global downturn, emissions actually increased in 2011,in the UK’s by 3 %.That still means that since 1990 UK emissions have dropped by almost a quarter mostly from energy and business sources while transport and the residential sector have increased.

George Osborne reckons being green could be a burden on British business. He axed solar subsidies, says Britain should no longer be setting the green pace (did we ever), hands out largesse to some of the country’s biggest polluters and hints at weakening biodiversity. But there is more money for rail electrification. Meanwhile, Natural England, the government’s spokesmen, had its budget cut and told to toe the line.

The conclusion to the Durban UN Climate Change Conference added up to little more than an agreement to make agreement in 2015. Still it keeps the process alive.

Nearer home Havant FOE launched our first ever green week, supported a major planning battle, helped save or postpone felling of healthy trees, spoke up for Havant’s allotments and continued to promote sustainability as well as support national campaigns on renewable energy.

 

Ray Cobbett

Dec 2011

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