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ANOTHER PLANET?

earthquake labrinthQuadrilla Resources have been prevented from beginning fracking for shale gas in the areas around Blackpool until next year because the area is home to tens of thousands of migratory birds who nest in the Fylde peninsula. So good news for local residents too who will be spared any more earth tremors – dozens were triggered in Lancashire two years ago when fracking first started – and the possible contamination of drinking water supplies.

red-kite-430Bird news! there is a big debate raging amongst conservationists over the success of raptors – birds of prey – in the UK. Our own Greener Festival Awards logo is based on the Red Kite which was successfully reintroduced back into England – and has thrived since – and buzzards and kestrels have seen numbers soar. But many bird lovers point out that other bird populations such as the grey partridge and  lapwings have been decimated by the very success of the raptors. A recent study in Scotland showed the negative effect of predation on the populations of golden plover, red grouse, hen harrier, curlew and skylarks  and although habitat degradation no doubt plays a part, and there are vested interests around grouse shooting businesses, a solution is now being sought to reduce the impact of raptors on bird populations.

There is growing concern that plans to merge Natural England with the UK’s Environment Agency will be a disaster for wildlife and the coutryside as the two organisations have such widely differing priorities. The heads of more than 20 environment groups including the RSPB, The Campaign to Protect Rural England and Friends of the Earth have written an open letter to the Times expressing their concern over the planned merger of two bodies that have “different remits and areas of expertise”. Defra said ministers were still open minded about the review.

However, our increasingly woeful Environment Secretary Owen Paterson MP seems likely to delay a ban on neonicotinoid pesticides being used on crops like rape and cotton that is  being proposed by the EU to save the bee population. More on 38 degrees here http://www.38degrees.org.uk/page/s/ban-the-pesticides-that-are-harming-our-bees

More on bees (the ones we have left) – ever heard of ‘honey laundreing‘ – well this seems to be the process of filtering out the pollen so the honey is crystal clear – BUT – coould come from almost anywhere. Now one of the USA’s top honey packaging companies, Groeb farms,  has admitted it has been importing Chinese honey and relabelling it as domestic product. More on Treehugger here

Treehugger also has a rather cool info-graphic explaining the ‘terrifying math’ of global warming – you can get that here – http://www.treehugger.com/fossil-fuels/infographic-explains-terrifying-math-global-warming.html

Oil rich Abu Dhabi has opened the world’s largest solar power plant – yes – really! The writing is on the wall! The 100MW plant will provide electricity for 20,000 homes and covers an area equivalent to 285 football pitches – and cost $600 million.

“Burnable ice” is the latest idea for fuel – albeit fossil fuel: The Japanese ship Chikyu has been drilling 330M under the seabead, itself 1000M under water –  and has found solid deposits of methane  known as ‘fire ice’.  Methane hydrate is found all around the world in seabeds near continental margins, and under in the Arctic under land and is seen as a future source of cheaper – and cleaner (not clean!!) energy.

Local councils in the UK are claiming that landfill taxes are ‘too high’. The taxes, which have risen from £24 per tonne in 2008 to £80 in 2012, raised £0.75 billion this uear – and were a major deterrent to waste to landfill and promote recycling and reuse. They rise by 11% next year.

The Campaign to Protect Rural England says that the country’s new planning laws are resulting in the opinions of  local communities being largely ignored as house builders get permission to build over green fields and countryside. The CPRE say that 20 big housing developments have been imposed on open countryside since the changes took effect. All were initially refused by local authorities.

ALLOTMENTS4US website  Housekeeping.org has just published a really good article titled 21 Blogs for Novice Gardeners on How to Create the Best Spring Gardenand you can find it in their blog at http://www.housekeeping.org/blog/21-blogs-for-novice-gardeners-on-how-to-create-the-best-spring-garden

ethical awards 2013AND IT’S YOUR LAST CHANCE TO NOMINATE A YOUNG GREEN CHAMPION – OR ENTER YOURSELF – WITH £6000 UP FOR GRABS – THANKS TO THE OBSERVER AND ECOVER. MORE AT www.observer.co.uk/ethicalawards. The deadline is Friday 22nd March.