Events and reports

PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS WEBSITE IS NOT BEING REGULARLY UPDATED BUT BE ASSURED WE ARE STILL ACTIVE!  CONTACT US VIA THE CONTACT TAB IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN JOINING OUR GROUP.  WE MEET ON THE THIRD WEDNESDAY OF THE MONTH.

 

ANNUAL CAMPAIGNING REPORT NOVEMBER 2021

 

We continued to meet via Zoom through the lockdown and then resumed meeting at the Ashley Park Pub.  Carnivals and fetes were cancelled due to Covid 19 which was a shame as we usually set up a campaigning stall at two of these.  Despite that we have been actively campaigning.

 

A the start of the year we wrote to Dominic Raab and a follow up to Lord Callanan about the failed Green Homes grant scheme. This was later shelved by the Government.

 

We responded to Elmbridge Borough Council's and Surrey County Council's Carbon Management Plans.

 

In May we sent a mailout to all EBC election candidates asking them to sign a green pledge. We received a few pledges (though none were elected) and 2 offers of assistance in the future from elected candidates.

 

In September we sent a mailout to all junior schools in Elmbridge and Kingston publicising the Big Green Week and the We are the Voice performance in October.

 

In October we supported the We Are The Voice children's environmental choir with their performances in Kingston Market Square and at COP26 in Glasgow. Lots of groups helped with advertising as did Brenda Pollack, SE Regiional Co-ordinator at FOE head office who arranged a mailout to all registered supporters in the local area. The newly re-formed Kingston FOE helped with advertising and we now have good links with them.

 

In November members attended the COP26 Climate March in London.

 

Friends of the Earth demonstration, 6 November 2021

For Friends of the Earth, the most important day of the year is 6 November, in the middle of the COP26 conference. FoE will be demonstrating in Glasgow and in London. For Glasgow, see https://takeclimateaction.uk/get-involved/glasgow-trip-november-2021 , but finding accommodation at this stage is very difficult. For London, see https://actionnetwork.org/events/london-global-day-of-action-for-climate-justice-6th-nov .

 

Sing for the Climate, 30 October 2021

watv_211030.jpg

 

 See home page for more information.

 

Commenting on carbon management plans of Surrey County Council and Elmbridge Borough Council, 2021

 1. Introduction

 Both Surrey County Council and Elmbridge Borough Council have carbon management plans, which are intended to reduce carbon emissions to zero by 2050, as far as it can be done in a single county by local authorities that don’t control everything that happens in their area.

 We sent comments on SCC’s carbon management plan to SCC, comparing them with proposals by national Friends of the Earth and Ashden Climate Solutions in Action. For more detail about the documents that were used, see Section 6 below. We did the same with Elmbridge’s carbon management plan, but the Surrey document includes actions to be carried out by the boroughs, so we haven’t commented on Elmbridge’s plan here.

 2. Points not found

 Saying that a FoE or Ashden point is “Not found” in Surrey’s plan is not necessarily a criticism. For instance, the point may be documented elsewhere, or it may actually be in Surrey’s plan, but worded so differently that we didn’t recognise it.

 There were 16 “Not found” points, including:

 (FoE 17) Enforce building standards during construction and renovation.

(FoE 27) Introduce differential charges for parking permits or other car-related charges.

(FoE 34) Oppose fracking and other fossil fuel extraction, and where opposition to fracking has been overturned, support peaceful protest.

(Ashden 11) Establish urban consolidation centres (for last mile deliveries).

(Ashden 12) Encourage car sharing.

3. Incomplete

 In these cases, the FoE or Ashden point is mainly covered in Surrey’s plan, but some detail seems to be missing. There were 17 such points, including:

FoE no.

Text

Our comment

14

Help owner-occupied homes be more energy efficient. For example, by supporting energy companies to provide fuel-poor or vulnerable households with insulation.

“Develop an effective communication plan to help residents understand energy efficiency and to empower residents to take action in their own homes e.g. cavity wall insulation” (SCCS, p. 67); no mention of supporting energy companies or of fuel-poor or vulnerable households

19

Develop a heating and energy efficiency strategy for the area, including providing skills and training to increase local employment to aid recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Develop a Surrey-wide Renewable Energy Strategy that explores potential opportunities for renewable energy, decentralised systems and low carbon heating systems e.g. heat pumps and Combined Heat and Power” (SCCS, p. 65); no mention of skills or training

21

Prioritise transport investment in cycling, walking, trams and public transport, with a short-term priority of installing pop-up segregated cycleways on most roads, increasing space for pedestrians, and introducing a 20 mph speed-limit in urban areas.

See FoE 7 for cycling and walking; otherwise not found

36

Aim to send no waste to landfill or incineration.

“0% of waste sent to landfill by 2030” (SCCS, p. 40, T); no mention of incineration

Ashden no.

Text

Our comment

18

Encourage and enable energy saving / low carbon behaviour by all council staff

“Our commitment to changing behaviour and operations towards sustainable modes of travel” (EBC 25); no mention of behaviour other than travel

         

 

4. Comments by Elmbridge FoE members

Members made 10 comments, including:

SCCS (p. 7) states that the Surrey Climate Commission is an "independent body that can play a key role in supporting and guiding the transition and in tracking progress and celebrating successes". How and when this organisation will be involved is not stated. This will need to be transparent. as well as who within SCC has overall responsibility (see FoE 2).

SCC has or had a Single Use Plastics Strategy, which was approved on 20 March 2018 and includes elimination of single use plastics. This is not now on the website. Does it still apply?

“Offsetting” and “net zero” are mentioned several times, but with little detail. There should be transparency with regards to any carbon offsetting to ensure that this has no negative environmental, social or economic impacts on other communities, particularly developing countries.

Trees - tree planting will not provide much reduction, but if they are going to do it, then can we point out that there should also be ongoing management of these new trees and also existing woodland to avoid the need to fell mature trees.

There are deadlines throughout the Climate Actions section, but in almost all cases they are 2022 or 2035. In each case, we think there should be at least one deadline between these two.

5. General comment

Although there are some omissions, we are impressed by the amount of work that has gone into this plan, and look forward to seeing how it works out in practice.

6. Method and documents

The starting point was www.surreycc.gov.uk/people-and-community/climate-change/what-are-we-doing (WAWD), which includes links to other documents. The carbon management plan is represented by Surrey’s Climate Change Strategy.pdf (SCCS) and Surrey’s New Tree Strategy.pdf (SNTS).

SCCS and SNTS were written jointly with borough authorities and other organisations, so we assume that they cover county and borough responsibilities. The FoE and Ashden proposals were written for local authorities generally, making no distinction between counties and boroughs.

For the FoE proposal, go to https://campaigning.friendsoftheearth.uk/climate/climate-change-campaigning-guide , click on “Get your Council to adopt a Climate Action Plan” and then on “Download the Climate Action Plan for Councils (PDF)”.

The Ashden proposal is used only where points in it don’t correspond to points in the FoE proposal. For the full Ashden 31-point proposal, go to https://ashden.org/climate-action-co-benefits-toolkit/ , go to the bottom of the page and click on “Download the spreadsheet”.

 

Meeting with Dominic Raab MP, 23 October 2020

Two of our members, Heather and Christine, met with local MP, Dominic Raab, to discuss recommendations put forward by Friends of the Earth relating to the Government’s Comprehensive Spending Review. This document covers 9 key priorities and in the half hour allotted we chose to discuss two of them.

Heather spoke to Dominic Raab with regards to the Government’s Green Homes Grant scheme. These are split into two stages, the first being insulation which has to be achieved before an application can be made for a second stage project, e.g. double glazing. There was concern that the scheme was due to end in March 2021 and Heather highlighted the lack of trained installers available. A document criticising the scheme produced by another member, Bill, was handed to Mr Raab.

Mr Raab advised that he would write to Rishi Sunak regarding this but no response has yet been received.

(The Green Homes Grant scheme has now been extended and the deadline is now end March 2022.)

Christine spoke to Mr Raab about the need to remove tax breaks from big polluters, taxing polluting activities and scrapping expenditure on climate wrecking infrastructure. Also, that financial bailouts to failing companies should come with strict conditions.

Christine also expressed the group’s concern that the UK government finances oil and gas projects in the global south and said that as a local group we supported Friends of the Earth’s legal challenge to the UK’s £1 billion dollar grant towards a major gas project in Mozambique. Mr Raab appeared to be sympathetic but did not offer us his support.

Heather and Christine also talked to Mr Raab briefly regarding the proposed planning reforms and threats to the Green Belt.

Dominic Raab was given a copy of Friends of the Earth’s MP Briefing on the Comprehensive Review which he is holding in the above photograph.

 

Recycling visit

 The group at the MRF

The group at the MRF

In November 2019, we visited the recycling centre at Randalls Road, Leatherhead, to see how the content of recycling bins is sorted for sale to companies that do the recycling. This facility (called a Materials Recycling Facility, MRF) is operated by Grundon Waste Management Ltd., which processes recycling from Elmbridge, Mole Valley and Woking.

There is a description of how MRFs in general are organised at www.recyclingbins.co.uk/blog/how-is-recycling-sorted/ . In short, glass, paper etc., plastics and metals (essentially cans) are separated by a combination of “trommels” and “ballistic separators”, and then sorted separately. However, we didn’t see the whole system, so we can’t be certain that what we saw was organised in exactly this way.

Glass is crushed.

Paper and cardboard are sorted manually by people who have good eye/hand co-ordination. They do shifts lasting 2 hours, picking out anything that is not recyclable. They are mostly Eastern Europeans.

Plastics are sorted by optical air jet sorters into different types. Because these use light to identify the different types, black plastic cannot be sorted.

Cans are sorted into metal and aluminium by powerful magnets.

Finally, each type of item is formed into large (about 2 metre) cubes held together with plastic straps, then transported elsewhere for processing. They can contain small amounts of contamination.

Other things we learned:

The plant itself is powered by 100% renewable energy, (solar panels on roof and gas generated on site).

They spot check each truck load and if there are a lot of nappies or food waste they have to send it all to rubbish.

They don't like broken glass.

They like bottles/cans to be washed.

Grundon aims to make a profit, so they like newspaper and brown cardboard.

The need for educating the public was highlighted – re dos and don’ts (no glitter paper, no small amounts of foil, wash out food containers etc.).

One person sorts a random small batch by hand so they know the proportion of each item coming in (don't know how often this is done).

 It gets dusty, so the machines are cleaned regularly.

 This facility does not handle lightbulbs. Compact fluorescent lightbulbs, while helping the environment by using less energy to power them, have the unfortunate problem of containing mercury. These items must be taken to a local council facility for proper disposal. (e.g. Shepperton recycling centre in Charlton Lane).

 This facility is for the sorting of items only, as no washing of items takes place here. This means that washing of items is preferable, but it is not necessarily required, as some residents simply wouldn't do it. Small dribbles of Coke or milk would be likely to remain in their respective bottles, which would then have to be removed at the washing facility in Norfolk, before items could be reprocessed. The items are washed and sold to an English or Dutch company (dependent on material).

 Despite some residents’ concerns, we were assured by Grundon that none of these items will end up strewn across the landscape of Asian countries, which has been the case with some unscrupulous companies. China now is also refusing to be the dumping ground for western waste.

 Comments:

 The major problem is that different councils around the country are all operating their own schemes. This leads to confusion, especially when people are moving from one area to another. Local councils need to be much clearer regarding what can, and cannot be recycled. Tetra paks for example can be recycled in Kingston on Thames, but not Elmbridge.

 Reduce-Reuse-Recycle should be the E.B.C. main aim. Unfortunately, Elmbridge does not require residents to self sort items, thus creating the need for places like Randalls Road to exist. However, the problem is that the general public often get it wrong, even if they try to get it right. This is particularly true about plastics, some of which can be "downcycled" (recycled as a lower quality product), and some can't.

 If you want to know more:

 For ballistic separators (also called density separators), see www.tinsleycompany.com/recycling/what-is-a-ballistic-separator/ .

 For trommels (also called screening drums), see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trommel_screen .

 For optical air jet sorters, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Optical_sorting .

 

Climate

 Lobbying Parliament, 2019 

 Lobbying Parliament, 2019

 The Climate Campaign is one that FOE has been running for many years. "The Big Ask" campaign in the early 2000's saw us out on the streets getting people to contact their MP about climate change. Altogether 200,000 people across the country did just that. FOE drafted an EDM which got cross party support and in 2008 The Climate Change Act was passed, requiring an 80% reduction of carbon emissions by 2050. In 2019, the government proposed changing the target to 100% net emissions..

  Since then, the group has been going on the annual Climate March organised by the Campaign Against Climate Change. On 26 June 2019, with other FoE groups, we met on the Embankment opposite Parliament, and invited our MP Dominic Raab to meet us, but he was too busy. On 20 September 2019, members joined schools strike marches in Guildford and London. Earlier in 2020, we had a stall and made a presentation at the Sustainability Fair at the Riverhouse Barn in Walton, outlining FOE's Climate Action Plan. This aims for zero greenhouse gas emission by 2045 which would be consistent with the Paris Climate Agreement to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels. For the full plan, see https://cdn.friendsoftheearth.uk/sites/default/files/downloads/Pathway-net-zero-greenhouse-gas-emissions-UK.pdf .

  Elmbridge Borough Council has recently set up a Climate Emergency Working Group to ensure that the Council progresses its commitment to decarbonisation. For its decisions so far, see www.elmbridge.gov.uk/news/climate-emergency-update/ . Members of our group have attended these meetings and will continue to be involved.

  Surrey County Council have pledged to plant 1.2million trees by 2030 (one per resident) and is working with local councils, residents, organisations, charities and businesses in order to achieve this.  EBC has also set up a planting and landscaping scheme and applications for funding for community projects are welcome.  The deadline for these is 18 September 2020.

 

Transport

 We have met Dominic Raab MP to talk about improvements in bus services,but since we are in an affluent borough he explained that there is no chance that he can secure Government funds for this. It is disappointing that the environment is not being considered in this political decision-making. The reduction in cars on the road due to the Covid-19 restrictions has lead to immense improvements in air quality. Car use will increase again once restrictions are relaxed if there is no alternative.

 Over the years we have campaigned locally against the expansion of Heathrow, replying to consultations and lobbying local MPs. Thanks to the legal action brought about by central FOE and others, at the moment it looks like the 3rd runway will not go ahead.

 

Plastics

 The plastics campaign has been going for a few years with some successes in terms of getting the problem of plastic pollution in the public eye and on the political agenda. However there is a long way to go before we can be sure that micro plastic particles in our seas and rivers are being reduced and that plastic pollution is not ending up stuck in beaks or stomachs of feeding animals.

 The problem is that plastic is a really useful material, used widely in everyday life. Yet it cannot at the moment be truly recycled. Some items can't be recycled at all, and some are just turned into a lower grade of plastic. Plastic bottles can be turned into polyester to make a fleece jumper, but that fleece will shed tiny plastic particles into the environment.

 In 2018 the EU agreed a single-use plastics directive which will come into force in mid-2021. 7 plastic products will be banned including plates, cutlery, expanded polystyrene food containers, cups and cotton buds. Also, manufacturers will have to pay for waste management and clean up. As we are leaving the EU, it is not clear if this will apply in the UK.

 In early 2019 the Plastic Pollution Bill got its first reading in the UK Parliament. It was drawn up by FOE and the WI and sponsored by Lib Dem MP Ian Carmichael. It got support from a cross party group of MPs. We went to see Dominic Raab MP to ask him to support the Bill and presented him with a reusable bamboo coffee cup. He was sympathetic to the cause, but being from a legal background rarely signs up to anything on the spot. Subsequently he didn't put his name to the Bill.

 The Bill set targets for reduction of plastic pollution, formulation of a strategy, annual reports and an advisory committee. It failed to complete its passage through before the end of the session. More than 300,000 people have signed a FOE petition to get the Government to introduce a new law to phase out plastic pollution. Let's hope that once Parliament gets back to business as usual a new Bill can be introduced.

 In the meantime we have been giving people ideas to help them reduce their use of plastic. These include:

 Buying less stuff

 Re-using bags for groceries

 Using re-usable containers for drinks

 Taking a packed lunch instead of buying a sandwich

 Buying loose leaf tea and loose fruit and veg

 Buying products in paper or cardboard packaging

 Using a bamboo toothbrush and razor

 Using bars of soap and shampoo

 

Bee campaign

  bees

  The bee campaign at Molesey Carnival, 2016

 The Bee campaign was finally successful in 2018 by achieving its aim of getting an EU ban on neonicotinoids. These type of pesticides had been shown to be harmful to bees which, as pollinators, are an important part of the food production chain. The campaign was one of the more easy ones to run, with bee shaped postcards addressed to MPs for people to sign. They proved to be a great attraction to people at our stalls at Molesey Carnival and Cobham Heritage Day and a couple of hundred landed on Dominic Raab's desk alone. We also hired a bee costume on a couple of occasions, gave away wildflower seeds and sold bee hotels and honey. We had great support from the general public, particularly children.