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ANOTHER PLANET?

Portishead’s Adrian Utley has composed a fifteen minute “aural landscape” (ie soundtrack) to a walk amid the ancient forests of Croft Castle in Hertfordshire. He’s done it as part of the ‘Sonic Journey’ project, as is commissioned by Sounduk and the National Trust.

The UK’s highly controversial badger slaughter faced another legal challenge from lawyers acting for the Badgers Trust. The Trust has served papers on Natural England, the government agency licensing the cull, pointing out escalating costs and disputed evidence pf any benefit to cattle farmers saying its time for the government to ‘reconsider’.  Defra and the National Farmers Union both insist that the cull would go ahead although two ministers cancelled media interviews . More than 150,000 people have signed an online petition against the cull, sparking a  Parliamentary debate scheduled for Thursday 25th October – and then on the Tuesday 23rd – suddenly the cull was suspended for at least a year as ministers looked at new reports apparently l showing even more badgers would need to be killed. Lord Krebs, the man who instigated trial badger  culls in 1997 told the UK Government that it should scrap its approach saying “long term culling of badgers is estimated to reduce the instance of TB in cattle by 16% – in other words 84% of the problem still remains. Ministers responsible for the muddle: Owen Paterson MP and David Heath MP.

“Fears grow over Conservatives links to lobbyists for fossil fuels”. Wonder why Top Tory George Osbourne seems to keen on shale gas extraction and fracking? Interestingly the boss of energy company Vitol has given £550,000 to the Tory party. Hmmmmmmmmm. More here .

21 Super Kids that Will Save the World from Adults – more on TreeHugger here http://www.treehugger.com/culture/future-bright-21-super-kids-will-save-world-adults.html

“Harnessing our low carbon potential isn’t just right environmentally, but is a central plank of energy security”. These wise words come from the now sacked energy minister Charles Hendry MP who points out that whilst a minister he indeed approved more gas fired power stations than ever before – but that the UK cannot rely on gas alone in the future and that energy security can only be delivered with a mix in technologies and that ‘renewables harness the the exceptional resources of these islands” – although Hendry still supports coal alongside carbon capture and storage and nuclear.  This comment sums it up : Every part of our society depends on energy, yet we don’t have a plan. You can read this article by Andrew Simms in full from the Observer here . And guess who is in charge of PR and lobbying for the energy companies in the UK now? None other than ex Tory MP Angela Knight, now CEO of Energy UK, and previously with the British Banker’s Association, joining just as the bankers extraordinary (and costly) incompetence and arrogance became  clear in 2007. Minister responsible for the muddle: George Osbourne MP.

Live Nation has reportedly said that it will not re-bid for the rights to stage festivals and concerts in London’s Hyde Park, claiming licensing restrictions put in place in recent years have hindered the company’s efforts to stage events there, and that the tender process put in place by the Royal Parks Agency for a new five-year contract to use the park for live events is “flawed”. The move would put an end to the Wireless and Hard Rock Calling festivals as well as Live Nation’s series of major summer concert events.

The two members of Russian rock band Pussy Riot who were each sentenced to two years in prison for religious hooliganism have been sent to separate labour camps. Defence lawyers said Nadezhda Tolokonnikova has been sent to Mordovia and Maria Alyokhina to Perm, part of a “Gulag archipelago” on the edges of European Russia. One supporter of the band tweeted: “Of all the possible options, these are the cruellest prison camps.”

Summer rain in the UK and the droughts and extreme heat in countries such as Russia and the USA will push up the cost if UK foods. Already carrots are up 49%, cabbage 72% and cauliflowers have doubled in price. The overall rate of food inflation is estimated at 4% for 2013.

Ikea is planning to build wind farms in the UK as part of an estimated E1.5 billion investment. It aims to generate 70% of its own power from renewables within 3 years and 100% by 2020 – and export surplus power to suppliers and customers.  Ikea had already allocated E590 million to wind and solar farms in Poland, Germany, France, Sweden and the UK saying that there was a strong business case for the move  “energy prices are going to increase overall by perhaps 30 to 40% in this decade and there will be more carbon pricing in markets around the world” and an independent energy supply would give the company complete ‘price security’ to help mitigate climate change which Ikea regards as a threat to its business. In Sweden Ikea expects to generate all of its own electricity within 18 months from the Glotesvalen wind farm.

Tory MP Peter Lilley has been elected to the House of Commons Energy and Climate Change Committee. He was just one of three MPs to vote against the Climate Change Act 2008 and acts as a consultant for Tethys Petroleum which operates in Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, who paid Lilley £47,000 last year.

A new fungus, chalara fraxinea, which causes rapid leaf drop and  ‘dieback’ in ash trees has hit the UK, having spread across continental Europe over the last 25 years.  Ash trees in Denmark have been reduced by 90% since 2003. The Government is planning to ban imported ash trees and may cull trees to stop what could be an “environmental disaster” if the disease takes hold in the UK. There are 80 million ash trees in the UK and the disease is seen as a far bigger threat than Dutch Elm disease which hit the UK in the 1970s. The new disease was found for the first time this week on a mature tree in Suffolk. Whist transmission of the fungus is not yet fully understood, it is thought spores could have been blown across the North Sea.  They may also be carried by animals.There is no known cure or vaccine. In fact I’s been a miserable year for Britain’s trees – there is a dearth of conkers after  horse chestnuts trees had their blossom washed away in the wet wet April (as did apples and pear trees) and they are also suffering after attacks by the leaf miner moth(cameraria ohridella)  and a fungal disease known as bleeding canker which causes lesions, allowing sap to seep out. Larches are under attack from a fungus like disease called phytophthora ramorum , oaks from the oak processionary moth and the bee population is also at a record  all time low. UPDATE (28.10.12) – the disease has now been found at more than twenty sites in East Anglia much to the alarm of conservationists. Ash provides more than 30% of UK woodlands.

The Drax power station is set to switch three of its six units from burning coal to burning biomass. The first unit will be converted by spring 2013, the second in 2014 and the third in 2014.  With penalties for burning fossil fuels expected, a full move to biomass is expected.

A Chinese electric car manufacturer, Build Your Dreams, will provide electric taxis for London in a move welcomed by Mayor Boris Johnson The 50 cabs will be provided to Green Tomato Cars. Each cab will be able to travel for 186 miles before needing to be recharged.

The MAMA Group has announced it has taken a 50% stake in the All Tomorrow’s Parties company, promoters of the holiday-camp based ATP festivals and the I’ll Be Your Mirror events. ATP founder Barry Hogan was forced to restructure his company earlier this year, putting one business into administration, after a difficult time the UK festivals market. However, the restructuring did not stop any planned events from going ahead. The ATP team will also assist in the booking of talent for other MAMA Festivals, including Lovebox, Wilderness and The Great Escape.