The floods

Weather and climate

Pruning workshop on 17th Jan

PCP public meeting on 4th Jan
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Newsletter of Blackshaw Environmental Action Team (BEAT -                                         January 2016 - Issue no 42
The floods
Across Northern England and Scotland communities were badly hit by flooding over the Christmas period. The Upper Calder Valley was no exception. Businesses and homes were badly damaged and the clean-up is ongoing.

In the midst of all the depressing sites in Todmorden, Hebden Bridge and Mytholmroyd we also saw the community spirit kicking into action. Hundreds of volunteers came out to help with the clean-up and donations were made to those affected by the flooding. Everyone wants their town to get back on its feet.

On Saturday 16th January there is a meeting in the Town Hall in Hebden Bridge on how to get the economy going again, the support for homes and businesses affected. It has been arranged by Hebden Bridge Partnership and starts at 11am and finishes at 1pm.

On Thursday 21st January Friends of the Earth Calderdale is having a public meeting at the Birchcliffe Centre 7-10pm on how to reduce the risk of flooding in the future. Speakers from Treesponsibility, Hebden Bridge Town Council, Calderdale Council, Environmental Agency, etc are invited.

Pickering in Yorkshire avoided the flooding partly due to the work they had done on the hillsides around Pickering – to slow the flow of water from the hills into the valley. This article explains how:

Councillor Collins from Calderdale Council commented on the lessons from Pickering: “We'll look at helping to spread the Pickering message. Shortly before the floods, we met with key people from the Moors for the Future project, which is based in the Peak District but covers a huge area up to the Dales, including Calderdale - and, most importantly, has access to major funding sources. The council is now preparing to work with them on developing potential local schemes broadly aligned with the Pickering approach (peat retention, planting sphagnum moss, gulley restoration, tree planting etc). In addition, we'll be working on further water storage ideas with the Environment Agency. Obviously, one of the over-riding issues is the damaging behaviour of private landowners in our huge moorland areas. Just listening to people over the last few days, it's clear that anger here is reaching boiling point. Now is perhaps the time for a cross-community campaign to compel change.”

A campaign has be running in our area to stop the burning of heather on the moors as this increases the run-off of water from the hills down to the valley. Some landowners do this burning to encourage new growth of heather in order to increase the numbers of grouse for shooting so the landowners can obtain a commercial income – see the Ban the Burn campaign at
Weather and climate
Weather and climate is not the same thing – where weather is short-term climate is long-term. It is therefore not possible to say if a particular weather event – like the floods – is linked to climate change or not.

What can be said with certainty is that with a warming planet we are likely to see more extreme weather events, like flooding, droughts, etc. We have already seen an increase in these extreme weather events across the world and governments understand that it is getting worse as it will be a risk to civilisation as we know it if we do not stop global warming.

The main reason for the global warming is our use of fossil fuels (oil, gas and coal) but there are  also other contributors, like change of land use (deforestation, increased meat production, etc). To avoid climate disaster we have to leave around 75% of all fossil fuels in the ground instead of burning them and produce alternative energy systems.

With this in mind nearly two hundred governments met in Paris in December 2015 to come to an agreement on how to limit the warming of planet Earth. They reached an agreement based on voluntary commitments from each country on how they would limit greenhouse gas emissions, offer financial assistance to developing countries, etc.

However, even if all countries implement what they have promised to do in the next 10-15 years we will still reach a 2.7-3.7 degree increase in global warming – well above the 1.5-2 degree that has been set as the maximum the planet should warm to stay safe. If all promises are implemented fully we will still have higher greenhouse gas emissions in 2030 than we have today.

What is more, the governments assume it will be possible to have negative emissions on a grand scale after 2030 by growing a lot of biomass (trees, etc) and store the CO2 from this biomass in the ground. This is a highly risky assumption as the technology for this is not fully developed and it is questionable if there will be the land available to grow all this biomass, partly because it might compete with a growing need for more food production.

The Paris agreement does not include shipping and flights – both big contributors to greenhouse gas emissions.

So unless the governments, including the UK one, make more radical reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and make them soon the Paris agreement will not save us from climate disaster. We will therefore have to increase the pressure on our government to take the necessary steps.

Some scientists have dismissed the Paris agreement as inadequate:
Community orchard
On Sunday 17th January we will have a pruning workshop at the community orchard with Mark Simmonds. Everyone is welcome and it does not cost anything to participate – although BEAT always welcomes donations to support its work.

If too many people turn up on the 17th we will also be doing other work on the community orchard: planting a couple of fruit trees to replace the ones that have died and making steps from the gate to the picnic table and bench.

We will meet at the orchard at 10.30am. If you have not been there before it is only a couple of minutes’ walk from the New Delight Inn (the Newdy) at Jack Bridge. Just follow the road past the red telephone box. You cannot park at the orchard.
Pennine Community Power public meeting on 4th February

The meeting will have two speakers:

Louise Marix Evans, PCP Director and member of Quantum Strategy and Technology and author of the recent Community Energy England report recently featured in the Guardian will give an update on the future for community renewables in the light of recent changes.

Jez Tweed of Calderdale MBC who will talk about Calderdale Community Energy.

Date and Time: Thursday 4th February 2016 at 8.15 pm

Venue: Heptonstall Social and Bowling Club, Acre Lane, Heptonstall, HX7 7LT

    (ample parking at the club)
Contact BEAT: Ashley Sharp (secretary), tel: 07855 746295, email:
Finn Jensen (treasurer), tel: 01422 846863, email: