In this issue:
Community orchard
Food festival on 28th June
Public meeting on 25th June
Pennine Community Power
Green News
Todmorden festival
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Newsletter of Blackshaw Environmental Action Team (BEAT) - May 2015, issue no 37
Contact BEAT:
Ashley Sharp (secretary), tel: 07855 746295, email:
Finn Jensen (treasurer), tel: 01422 846863, email:

Colden School came to our community orchard with head teacher Tony Greenwood to plant 35 fruit bushes (Jostaberry, Gooseberry, Blackcurrent, etc). They spent the morning working hard digging holes, planting bushes, putting newspapers and mats around the bushes for mulching and tidying up at the end.

BEAT purchased the fruit bushes from Incredible Edible Farm in Walsden.

Before the work started Mark Simmonds talked to the pupils about how the fungi in the soil works in a partnership with the fruit bushes and trees – with the plants giving sugar to the fungi and the fungi giving nutrients to the plants. It started a good talk about how we can help look after nature. We pointed out the bat boxes in the trees across the road put up by BEAT.

We have now put sheep fencing around the fruit bushes so they will not be eaten by the sheep when they are eating the grass for us.

Many thanks to Colden School and Mark for their help. The pupils were encouraged to come back to the orchard and watch how everything is growing and to pick free fruit.

BEAT has worked with Colden School on other projects over the years with the support of Tony Greenwood, who is retiring this Summer. We wish him all the best and thank him for his support.

The food festival on Sunday 28th June at the New Delight Inn (Newdy) will also be the formal launch of BEAT’s community orchard. The orchard is only a few minutes’ walk from the Newdy – along the stream where the red telephone box is. This will give you an opportunity to see the 75 fruit trees and the 35 fruit bushes.

The food festival is organised by Great Rock Coop, Charlestown Allotment Group, Blackshaw Optimistic Gardeners and BEAT. There will be stalls outside the Newdy, live music in a marquee, childrens' activities (face painting, ‘Name a Veg’ game) and talks inside the Newdy.

It will start at 12 noon and finish at 8pm, with most stalls packing up at 5pm. There might even be Irish music in the pub until late in the evening. Face painting will be from 1-5pm. The stalls will sell food for you to take home, sample and have warm food to eat while you are at the festival.

The live music in the marquee will be from 12 noon to 8pm with a variety of musicians. Like from 1-3 pm we have Catfish Skillet - fast driving tunes and old timey harmonies from the Pennine Appalachia. Americana string band.

From 5-6 pm we have singer Charlie Carr and keyboard player Dave Nelson. They started working together last year and have produced some unusual jazzy arrangements of tunes not normally found in the jazz repertoire. These include songs sung by Roy Orbison, Elvis Costello, Robert Wyatt, Judy Collins, Alicia Keys, the Beatles and Oasis and many more.

Among the talks inside the Newdy will be Lili and Ben from Valley Organics at lunch time and Paulo at 4pm on aquaponics and the work they are doing in Todmorden.

We have a Facebook page that gives updates on the preparations for the festival. You can find at

If you want to be involved in organising the food festival the next meeting is on Thursday 28th May at 8pm at the Newdy. Everyone is welcome – both on 28th May and on 28th June.
Public meeting on Thursday 25th June
This public meeting will take place at Blackshaw Head Methodist Church, starting at 7.30pm. We have two speakers:
1.         “The Birds and the Bees” – Hugh Firman, Conservation Officer for Calderdale Council, will give an illustrated talk, explaining why grasslands are so important for a range of species and what can be done to conserve and restore them.
2.         Beth Morgan from Rooting and Fruiting,, will be speaking on 'What is radical mycology?'
Her talk will cover what she does, integrated food-fungi gardening, mycore mediation and benefits to our local community with questions and answers.
It will tie in nicely with her report released for the Winston Churchill Trust.
'Food Justice' is a report of the Food and Fairness Inquiry. You can find the whole 55 page report (105 pages in book format) here:

The inquiry looked a wide ranging issues related to our food system. Although it concentrates on the UK food system there are links to our large food imports, how these imports are controlled by a few international corporations and how poor farmers in the developing countries are losing out.

The report looks at the three major challenges for the UK food system: ensuring food security, making food environmentally sustainable and promoting public health. So far fairness has been largely absent in this debate, which the report makes up for. The report involved researchers, campaigning organisations, producers and distributors of food and consumer groups.

The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) defines food security this way: "Food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life."

The report argues that only by creating a fairer society can the health of the whole population be improved. Social justice is just as important as environmental and economic aspects of the food system but often receives less attention.

"More than a billion people are undernourished worldwide, meaning that almost one-sixth of the world's population cannot meet their minimum energy requirements. ... Nearly 200 million children under five in poor countries are stunted or chronically undernourished, while close to 130 million are underweight." (page 34 of the report).

This is at a time when the world produces enough food to feed everyone and where even in countries with food surpluses there are millions of malnourished children.

The report argues for greater UK government involvement in addressing these shortcomings. The OECD countries - the rich countries - give support to their domestic farmers to the tune of US$258billion in 2007, representing 23% of total farm receipts.

Agricultural research has shifted from the public sector to the private sector over recent years, with the result that the research is concentrated on where the largest profits are expected, usually for the benefit of large food corporations. This shift in research funding has particularly hit small-scale farmers.

The food system is a big contributor to our greenhouse gas emissions and global warming, about a fifth of the UK's consumption-related emissions, rising to around a third if proportionate indirect emissions from global land use changes like deforestation are included.

Likewise, our food system also has a huge impact on our water use. About 70% of the world's abstracted water is used for irrigated agriculture. Two-thirds of the water used the UK originates from imported goods (often in the of food) - much of it from water stressed regions.

"Food production is by far the biggest cause of land and marine species loss. Globally, over 4,000 assessed plant and animal species are threatened by agricultural expansion and intensification." (page 44).

The report is quite clear about the tension between making the food system more sustainable (reducing greenhouse gas emissions, water usage, safeguarding biodiversity, etc) - which  will make food more expensive - and the need for everyone to have access to sufficient and healthy food. Only a fairer society can solve that tension.
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Antarctic Larsen-C ice shelf at risk of collapse, study warns
In the past 20 years, warming temperatures have caused two ice shelves in Antarctica to collapse into the ocean. New research points to a third shelf, more than twice the size of Wales, which has thinned so much that it could now also face collapse.
The loss of the shelf would allow glaciers to flow more quickly into the ocean, pushing sea levels beyond current projections for this century, the researchers say.
Green News
Carbon Brief runs through how DECC allocates its budget of around £8 billion a year, or just over one per cent of the total government budget.
In the June 2010 spending review, DECC's budget was trimmed by 2.5%. The department accepted another 8% cut at the June 2013 spending review. A further 1.1% reduction was announced in the December 2013 autumn statement. These cuts, added up to 11.3%.
Casualties of these cuts included the closure of the Low Carbon Buildings Programme, as well as reduced grants to the Energy Saving Trust and the Carbon Trust, which aim to help organisations save energy and avoid emissions. DECC staffing levels and support for the development of deep geothermal energy were also reduced.
Almost all of the roughly £7.9 billion DECC budget during 2013/14 went towards cleaning up the UK's nuclear legacy (pie chart, below right) through the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), a government quango responsible for 95.8% of DECC budget that year - £7.5 billion.
Core budget for the department (2.9%), the Renewable Heat Incentive (0.8%)  and grants to its other external agencies including the Coal Authority and the Committee on Climate Change (0.5%) made up the remaining £334 million of budget. 
In DECC's case most of this budget relates to nuclear decommissioning. The estimated cost of cleaning up the Sellafield nuclear site rose by an estimated £5 billion to £53 billion in February this year, according to a March statement from Public Accounts Committee chair Margaret Hodge.
Fossil fuel companies are benefiting from global subsidies of $5.3tn (£3.4tn) a year, equivalent to $10m every minute of every day, according to a startling new estimate by the International Monetary Fund.
The Conservatives claim that onshore wind farms often fail to win public support, and are unable by themselves to provide the firm capacity that a stable energy system requires.
But despite the party's negative stance on onshore wind, the same edition of the Sunday Times also featured a YouGov poll of more than 1500 Tory voters, which showed that 52% felt that the government should either encourage or allow the building of more onshore wind farms. This contrasted with just 18% of Tory voters that felt that onshore wind farms should be banned.
The YouGov poll supported the findings of a seperate survey released by ComRes last year, which revealed that Conservative MPs are much more likely to oppose onshore windfarms than the national average of the public.
The Tories have already been lambasted by the renewable energy industry and green groups over the matter. After the manifesto release, RenewableUK reiterated that onshore wind "is one of the cheapest of all sources of energy"; while Ecotricity previously said the policy would pose "an existential threat - to our climate and our country". 

Well over 500 people of all ages were out in Todmorden, West Yorkshire on Sunday 3rd May, for a festival of climate alternatives with dozens of events and activities about climate change.

People from across Yorkshire and the North West came to the town centre for a day of live music, craft and stalls, with conferences, talks and workshops about climate change in the Town Hall.
Fundevogel was packed for a very special event with many high quality poems being read and performed on climate change and wider environmental themes. The words “smouldering in the wake of a phoenix” were used by Gaia Holmes in one of her poems to powerfully describe climate change. “We will explore the possibility of getting a collection published” said event organiser Robert Baylis.

Todmorden campaigner Joseph Mobbs was among the 12,000-strong crowd at the original village of alternatives in Bayonne. He joined forces with a gardener and a former teacher, a chartered environmentalist, a former immigration law specialist, a young mother-of-two and a goat-keeping anthropologist to organise one back at home in the UK.

There was a vegetarian and vegan cafe with low carbon food in the Town Hall and the organisers would like to say a huge thank you to SUMA for sponsoring the food, to Calderdale MBC and Todmorden town council for funds and assistance, to Unlimited and Santander who supported the idea from the beginning with a Spark award, to Gordon Riggs for donating compost and bits for childrens' activities, to all the volunteer stewards and to all the organisations, businesses and individuals who came to present and discuss solutions to climate change.

The festival brought together and was a forum for campaigners and change makers under the same umbrella of working on environmental justice and empowering ordinary people to act. Joe said “we cannot leave it to political leaders to rescue the international agreement on emissions limits in December. Climate change is the biggest challenge we have faced since World War II, we need to build grassroots solidarity and international networks now if we want limits on greenhouse gas emissions to be written into international law in Paris.”

Inspired to action by demonstrations, stalls and talks from groups and organisations already tackling climate change, festival goers signed pledges to reduce their carbon footprint by making small changes to their personal lifestyle,.Organiser Janet Rogers said “We lucky people in wealthy countries should want less and buy less, just because we can afford it doesn‘t mean we should, we should do what little we can.”

The “Incredible Conference” with founding members and leaders of the Incredible Edible movement which plants edible crops in urban spaces and was born in Todmorden filled the council chamber. “Who needs 5-a-day when you can have edible landscapes,” said Incredible Edible founder, Pam Warhurst.

“Whether or not a binding legal agreement to limit greenhouse gas emissions is made in Paris, encouraging and bringing together those working on climate change in their own homes, streets and communities is important” said Joe. Alternatiba Todmorden included speeches, debates, information stalls, live bands and a café selling local, sustainable and fair-trade vegan food as well as a polar bear and a street party with world music DJs. The music went on into the night in venues around Todmorden.

Pennine Community Power and Calderdale Community Energy ran a workshop in the town hall to encourage new people getting involved in community energy schemes.
Copyright © 2015 Blackshaw Environmental Action Team, All rights reserved.

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