Newsletter of Blackshaw Environmental Action Team (
April 2016 - issue no 45.
Village clean up
Thanks to everyone who helped with the village clean-up on 9th April. A lot of litter was collected – more than normal. Special thanks to Phil Knowles for organising the clean-up, to the cake makers and to the Chapel for letting BEAT use the venue.
Community orchard
On 16th April a group of volunteers filled over one hundred bags with wood chip and took them to the community orchard. Some of the volunteers were asylum seekers. The wood chip was delivered by Calderdale Council and transported to the community orchard by Phil D. Many thanks to them all.

We will spread the woodchip around the fruit trees and bushes as mulching. We will do this on Saturday 11th June at 12 noon with the help of some of the asylum seekers. Everyone is welcome to come and help us. It should take less than an hour.

Also thanks to Paul and Judith for giving BEAT some blackcurrant bushes for the community orchard. The bushes have now been planted and are likely to give a lot of soft fruit this Summer.
Floods update

A lot is happening after the floods on Boxing Day as many local people and various agencies want to do everything possible to reduce the risk of future flooding. We know that we are going to have more and more extreme weather events in the years to come, including more heavy downpours.

In the last issue of UpBEAT we reported on a community initiative inspired by the natural flood management in Pickering. Here is another interesting article on Pickering:

The Hebden Bridge Partnership held a public meeting on Monday April 4th 2016, HB Town Hall to give a three-month update on work they have been involved in. There were about sixty people  present.
1. Introduction
Bob Deacon (chair) welcomed all to the meeting and explained what the Partnership had been doing. This included: a submission to the Flood Commission (available on the web:, frequent contact with the Environmental Agency showing that the EA is listening and action over Northern Powergrid’s cavalier approach to compensation. He pointed to the slower recovery by businesses in Hebden Bridge compared with other Calderdale towns. He stressed the need to engage the community in flood resilience and alleviation works and that various agencies have worked closely together.
2. Mark Thompson
Mark Thompson, Director of Economy and Environment, gave information on Calderdale’s grants programme. Nearly £2m had been paid out to 886 businesses as business recovery grants. The Repair and Renew resilience grants were also available: 95 applications had been received, and 51 grants awarded. An economic assessment survey suggested that the economic impact in the Calderdale economy of the floods was £170m. This was a bigger hit than the 2012 floods.
As regards households, 1500 households had received the £500 grant and three months’ Council Tax exemption. 151 applications for the Repair and Renew Grants had been received, and 41 awarded to date.
Mark also pointed out the problem of damaged infrastructure (eg Scout Rd, the main road). A £19m highway grant had just been received from central government. Mark advised that a ‘stop fence’ was being put in place in Scout Rd and asbestos removed. This work should be complete by the end of June.
In response to a question Mark explained that the Council is planning for the next flooding incidentt so a response can be done more quickly and more effectively. He said that about one hundred households are still out of their homes and half a dozen of them are classified as homeless.
3. Emma Bolger, Community Foundation for Calderdale
Emma advised that the flood appeal (including government matched funding) had raised £3.1m. 1600 emergency grants of £200 had been made to households; 350 displacement grants (£300) had also been made. A further grant fund, for white goods etc, was available, and 350 grants (c £500) had been made.
For businesses, Calderdale Rising crowdfunding had brought in £150,000. Separate appeals had brought in £152,000.
CFFC was also making grants to charities and not-for-profit organisations affected by the floods. £50,000 had been granted to date.
In terms of ‘legacy’, £20,000 was invested in the Watermark scheme and £500,000 had been pledged for the new Flood Save scheme.
Questions were asked of these speakers on: scenario planning, grants for environmental work, displaced person, accessibility grants. There is funding available for natural flood management.
4. Andrew Coen, Environment Agency
Andrew advised that the EA’s contractors, who had been working on immediate river-bed and culvert clearances, had nearly completed this work. For the future, 40-50 schemes were planned for the whole valley (cost £7-£10m), and the contractor had been appointed. The contractor would establish an office in Mytholmroyd, and work should hopefully start in May, with the bulk of the work completed by the year end. In Hebden Bridge, the focus was on both the river and on surface water. EA was in discussion with Yorkshire Water regarding containment. Measures such as higher walls would be dealt with sensitively. There was an issue where the Calder and Hebden Water met; one possibility could be to culvert the Hebden under Riverside playground. For surface water, works similar to that undertaken recently at Nutclough could be the answer; the aim is to convay water off the hillsides into the rivers without entering the town. EA was committed to public engagement, and was looking to establish a stakeholder group with, eg, CMBC, EA, community groups, HRTC, business community and the Partnership).

In Mytholmroyd, the scheme had been fast-tracked. The EA is looking to purchase the shop premises beside the river, for demolition. A comprehensive scheme was proposed, including river widening and higher walls. White Lee Clough was also being studied.

Improvements to town drains and to the canal were being considered, and the EA saw the opportunities of working with Calder High and with the Calder & Colne Trust. A catchment plan for the area would involve four stages, and would include discussion with the Walshaw estate, the possible risk caused by wind farm foundations and others.
Questions were asked on: natural flood defences, misuse of Stewardship grants to farmers, how to access details of EA work, how far ahead EA was looking and planning for, had a formal scoping report been published, are management regimes for drains/sewage adequate.
5. Steve Barnbrook, Flood Commission
Steve introduced himself as the lead officer providing secretarial back-up to the Commission. The Commission had held five successful public meetings.
He drew attention to the issue of emotional well-being (including fear of future flooding) which had already been identified.
The Commission had already received a great deal of evidence and submissions.
Steve stressed the importance of transparency by the Commission in its work; minutes were made public (via Calderdale website).
Recommendations by the Commission would have to be based on evidence. He foresaw the Commission making several recommendations.
Questions were asked on: deadline for submissions (asap!), website (via, stakeholders for emotional well-being deliberations
6. Simon Waring, Ryburne Brokers
Simon briefly explained the Flood Re cover scheme, launched by the industry and government that day. He then explained the outline of the local Flood Save scheme, which would be run by the Community Foundation in conjunction with the Calderdale Credit Union, and which would offer match funding for businesses and others unable to get Flood Re cover, based on savings made in the Flood Save credit union account.
These minutes of the meeting by Andrew Bibi are with additions by Finn Jensen.
Book review

Fred Pearce: Turning up the Heat: Our Perilous Future in the Global Greenhouse (1989). Paladon, £4.99, 230 pages

Although this book was written in 1989 – and therefore a bit out of date with the fast-moving science on climate change – it is a worthwhile book to read even for people familiar with climate change. Pearce's journalistic style makes it easy to read – even if you do not have a great knowledge of science.

The first chapter is the great story on how the ozone hole over the Antarctic took the scientific community by surprise, and how the politicians around the world took immediate action and agreed on the Montreal Protocols to solve the problem. It is a perfect template for how the politicians and everyone else should deal with climate change, peak oil and water shortages, etc.

Chapter 2 looks at how the Earth has evolved over the last 4.6 billion years, how life was created, how there has been a pattern of mass extinctions every 26 million years and introduces Loveluck's Gaia (the theory that Earth is a living organism).

A chapter on 'Shifting Sands' shows how deserts grow, partly as a result of our irrigation systems that leave salt on agricultural land, making it dead soil.

'Life and Death of the Rainforests' evidences the rapid decline of rainforests, namely due to timber harvests or short-term agricultural use as the soil loses its value after a couple of years of harvest. This not only leads to rapid climate change but also to a dramatic loss of the world's biodiversity, loss of rain and loss of the world's lungs, etc.

'Turning up the Heat' gives us a short history of the development of climate science from Joseph Fourier (born 1768) to James Hansen, Graeme Pearman and many other great scientists.

'Strange Case of the Vanishing Carbon' looks at the various carbon reservoirs: atmosphere, soil, ocean, sedimentary rocks etc, including how much forests and other plants can absorb with rising levels of CO2. “Since 1983, the forests of Europe and North America have been hit by a strange and widespread sickness” - resulting in millions of trees dying, possibly due to the increase in temperatures that bring new diseases. This is is just one of the many examples of rapid (and unforeseen) changes due to climate change.

'The Shape of Things to Come' looks at the extreme weather events and their increased frequency: floods, droughts, storms etc.

How much methane do cows and other herbivore animals produce, what happens when the tundra melts and releases billions of tons of methane? And what about some of the pollutants from the cars, like nitrogen oxides that can create acid rain, and carbon monoxide that stops the atmosphere cleansing itself of pollutants, including methane? And have you heard of hydroxyl, one of a number of chemicals called 'free radicals' as they create mayhem wherever they go? All of this – and much more – is explained in 'Greenhouse Cocktail'.

'Before the Flood' looks at the increase in sea levels due to the melting of the ice masses on land. West Antarctica alone could melt within 100 years according to some estimates, causing a sea level rise of 5-6 metres – which would impact Hamburg, New York, Beijing, Seoul, London, Bangkok, Sydney, New Orleans, Venice, Cairo, Shanghai, Washington DC and Miami, to name but a few. These 14 cities had a population of over 80 million people in 1987.

In 'Postscript: All Aboard the Gaian Ark', Pearce looks at the unknown loss of biodiversity due to human actions. 1.1 million species are known but there might be up to 30 million species of insects alone in the world. So we do not know how many are getting lost and how quickly. Thomas Lovejoy of the World Wildlife Fund for Nature estimates that at least 500,000 will be extinguished during the next two decades – and this was written in 1987, so they may already have gone!

Does any of this matter? Pearce gives some interesting examples of genes worth billions of dollars plucked from the edge of extinction. He is therefore in favour of giving genes a value through allowing companies to patent them – so they have a financial interest in preserving them... and potentially earn billions. He does not even ask if this is not a job for governments!
Contact BEAT: Finn Jensen,

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Blackshaw Environmental Action Team · Warcock Hill Barn · Long Caursway · Hebden Bridge, HX7 7JB · United Kingdom

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