Monday, 30 December 2013

The state of public transport in Wales


Here's a short and interesting transport article from Planet magazine. Extract:
"Wales’ decrepit public transport system is a natural result of our decades-long love affair with the private car. Since the Beeching axe decimated Wales’ rail network, transport policy has operated on the assumption that most of us drive. The predictable result is that large swathes of the population are cut off, in rural areas especially; transport poverty soars; public health deteriorates; local ecosystems suffer; and millions of tailpipes pump carbon."

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Something for the ladies

The mooncup is getting more of the recognition it deserves.

Big Issue

"The Mooncup is a reusable menstrual cup, around two inches long and made from soft medical grade silicone. It is worn internally a lot lower than a tampon but, while tampons and pads absorb menstrual fluid, the Mooncup collects it. This means it doesn’t cause dryness or irritation, and also that it collects far more (three times as much as a tampon!). Because the Mooncup is reusable, you only need one so it saves you money and helps the environment, too." Mooncup site.



Friday, 20 December 2013

Best to avoid Gordon Ramsay and foie gras...


"Crammed into tiny cages, caked in filth, riddled with sores and in agony from broken beaks and wings, these are the ducks used to make foie gras at Gordon Ramsay’s restaurants. Campaigners last night branded the horrific conditions the “worst ever seen” after being shown the pictures of shocking cruelty at plants that supply the celebrity chef with the posh dish. Ducks lie dead and dying, many have painful eye injuries and abscesses and all are force-fed grain through a tube to make their livers 10 times the normal size during a two-week ordeal in a ­windowless shed before they are slaughtered." Full text.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Aberystwyth posed to become another identikit chain-store town


CIN had posted about the opportunity to object to the ruinous Mill Street developments. Here's a guest post we were asked to put up.



It was with disappointment, but not surprise, that I heard that the Tesco planning permission had been approved.

According to the BBC news story, "After the decision, council leader Ellen ap Gwynn said: 'Now that the statutory process has been completed, work on the Mill Street development can begin in earnest.'" I remember going to the packed Morlan Centre debate about this proposal and I can recall hearing various Plaid Cymru councillors speak against this proposal. What’s changed? They’re now in power.

But I don’t want to turn this into a political point, because I think whoever was in power would have voted this through – it’s their ‘big idea’ so they’re bound to support it. The plans were approved by Ceredigion's development control (aka planning) committee on 13th November 2013 by 19 votes to one. The only person sensible and brave enough to object was Mark Strong, saying he didn’t want to face independent shopkeepers struggling and telling him he’d “made a mistake” in three years’ time (reference). Well done Mark! (The list of who is on the committee can be found here, and if you don’t know who all those surnames are, their full  names and council elected areas are here - everyone except for Mark voted for the development).

Friday, 22 November 2013

Aberystwyth Coast Care Group


Aberystwyth Coast Care Group is starting this Sunday, 24th November. They carry out beach cleans in Aberystwyth on the 2nd and 4th Sunday of the month.
All welcome! Equipment Provided. Meeting at The Pier at 11.00am.
They looking forward to seeing you there!
For more information email or go to their Facebook page.
Join in and help to prevent this from happening. It's a worthy cause, and CIN members often take part in litter picks.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Ceredigion's MP wants to overturn protection laws


Sadly Mark Williams, MP for Ceredigion, wants to repeal the Hunting Act (which exists to protect wildlife from being killed for fun, or for barbaric traditions). His decision signals support for hunting and killing wildlife.

Hopefully his support is a waste of time since there are no plans to discuss this in Parliament, but it is still disgraceful that MPs attempt to grub votes from the more primitive members of their constituency by trying to overturn protective laws. It's not a surprise to see his name on the list with the pro-hunt Conservatives (see image). You'll find full lists of MPs and their position on the topic here.

[In the interests of balance it should be mentioned that Mark Williams is very pro-public transport, which is obviously a very good thing.]

Saturday, 16 November 2013

The Earth is a living thing



A video about our impact on the Earth, and honouring some people who fought to protect it.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Allotments


Allotments are a great idea for those without gardens (which will be an increasing amount of people as the population grows). Above is a short article from The Big Issue which talks about the changes to allotment availability in Wales.

Ceredigion County Council are doing a good job of hiding theirs - I couldn't find anything on their site about allotments, whether by browsing or searching. Probably because there are such long waiting lists to get one. Ceredigion were one of the counties trying to double the costs for using them, which would make them financially unviable. There's a brief summary elsewhere.

Additional: Ceredigion County Council recently updated their website. Surely it was an opportunity to add information about allotments in the county? They didn't take it. They responded to our request about this on 21st November 2013: "Unfortunately there is currently no information on our website relating to the Council managed allotments."

To be honest, that makes sense. If they included information about their statutory requirements to provide allotments, it might make it easier for people to find out about or apply for them! Craziness. No, much better to spend money on making the website more confusing to navigate, whilst refusing to put up information about services people want to know about and use.

Friday, 18 October 2013

Train survey


If you live in, or near, or visit Aberystwyth, and use the main rail line or the Cambrian coast line, you have until Sunday 20th to make your views known about the train connections. This could be a chance to get an hourly service!

Please fill in the survey if you can and/or pass on to others.

Note that the survey was partly designed for use on the train itself so asks you about your current journey. You can ignore these questions.

There is plenty of space to include your comments about your views. Some of the things that bother CIN:

  • Confusing pricing on tickets.
  • Expensive.
  • Station toilets often charged for even if you have a ticket (e.g. Birmingham), or closed (Aberystwyth).
  • A pain to take bikes on the train, no guarantee you'll be allowed. No secure, dry bike racks at stations for leaving your bike.
  • Should be linked bus times at destination points. 
The main thrust of the survey is on the hourly service so do mention if it would mean you might commute by train instead of car etc.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Move Your Money


Banks have been in the limelight this year, dodgy practices exposed, huge payments to their mismanagers and so on. Have any of you switched to more ethical options, rather than support such nasty businesses? The Guardian ran a 'Move Your Money' campaign which they update occasionally. We covered some alternatives last year. If you want to know more about the 'bankers' bonuses' issue, this is a good summary.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

The impact of our over-consumption


Midway Island is a bird paradise in the North Pacific Ocean (over 2,000 miles from the nearest continent).

Watch this short, almost wordless, video about the birds there, and the impact of our lifestyles. We need to stop creating waste - why keep buying bottled drinks when you can just fill bottles yourself, re-using them and preventing waste?

Friday, 27 September 2013

IPCC climate report:yep, humans are the cause


The latest update on the state of the world's climate will be released on Friday in Stockholm, Sweden. Advance quote:
"Scientists are more convinced than ever that the planet is warming and that humans are responsible for the majority of it, especially over the past 50 years."

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Deadline for the Mill Street supermarket swamp

Supermarkets and their wasteful packaging

Application A130640 Mill Street: Tesco and M&S. Deadline for comments on the application: Wednesday 11th September 2013. If you have views on this, you can make them known to the Council.

"You can only comment or make an objection on 'planning' issues such as; the planning history of the site, the visual impact of the development, affect on public amenity, access, traffic and highway considerations or the impact on listed buildings, conservation areas, or protected trees." 
CCC page. (You can search applications here; online form here).

You can see all our posts about the proposed supermarket glut at Mill Street, Aberystwyth, here.

Friday, 23 August 2013

Streets of trees


Wouldn't it be lovely if every city and town in the world had streets like this? Porto Alegre, Brazil.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Cycling debate in the House of Commons


A landmark debate on cycling will take place in the House of Commons on Monday, September 2, when MPs will debate the findings of the Get Britain Cycling report. This calls on the Government to increase investment in cycling across the UK.

This debate came about because almost 70,000 people signed a petition. The next step is to write to your MP and ask them to attend the debate on your behalf.

The result could improve safety for the 750,000 cyclists who already commute to work by bike in Britain, and also have a significant impact in reducing traffic jams for motorists, easing overcrowding on public transport and saving millions from local health budgets.

Act on this here.

Also:

  • The number of journeys to train stations by bicycle has increased by 40 per cent since 2009, to 39 million this year: more than half of the 107,000 daily bike rides are made by commuters. Read more.
  • There will be a widespread ban on cars in London within the next 20 years, according to one of Britain’s leading architects, who has called for cities to be designed for pedestrians and cyclists rather than for traffic. Read more.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Denmark leads the way in wind energy


When it comes to renewable energy Denmark has an impressive track record, and it is getting better all the time. In March 2013 the 36th 3.6 megawatt (MW) wind turbine was installed to further utilise the substantial offshore wind energy potential available to the country. Now, Denmark has reached a 1 GW power capacity, which is enough to generate electricity for 25% of the nation. In the future, Denmark plans to increase this percentage to 50% and continue to create a sustainable renewable energy infrastructure through both technology and energy efficient policy. It looks likely that they may even generate far more than they need within 20 years, leading to incredibly low electricity prices and therefore also transport prices when using electric cars. They're really facing a glowing future in that respect, unlike the UK and US.

Read more in this Forbes article.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Live animals being sold as keyrings in China


Just when you thought you knew every type of cruelty to other living beings... In China live animals are being put into plastic pouches as keyrings, where they slowly die. Read more about it here and on this site. If you hate the idea of this then there's a petition you can sign here.

Friday, 14 June 2013

Ceredigion County Council - ignoring you when they feel like it

Is this a new member of staff in Ceredigion County Council?

We've mentioned many times in the past the frustrations of contacting Ceredigion County Council. Emails to their main contact address are routinely ignored. One of our own from over a month ago still hasn't even had an acknowledgement. Sadly this isn't an exception, it seems to be the norm, and we've heard many other people voice this complaint. Emails and letters ignored, no matter how many times you follow it up: only by making a formal complaint do you then have a chance of getting a response. What does the Council do all day? Oh, I forgot, they're busy making plans to knock down homes.

We've been copied into emails illustrating a good example of the complete ineptitude of the Council. We'll summarise the chain of events here.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Aberystwyth event this Saturday

Want to forget about Ceredigion Homewrecking County Council for a while on Saturday 15th June? Good news then!

Animal Rescue Cymru will be supporting Hillside Animal Sanctuary and having a stall at Bethel Baptist Chapel Vestry, Baker St. Aberystwyth (opposite the Treehouse).

Face painting, stalls etc.

Doors open at 10.30am and close at 4pm.

They are also asking for any donations of bric-a-brac for a stall, take things along or ring 01545 561205 in advance.

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Making the Connection


This 30 minute film explores lifestyles which combine healthy food with tackling many of the ethical and global challenges facing us today and into the future. It is divided into eight chapters and features a dietician, an MP, chefs, farmers, an elite athlete, and environmental groups. It explains how diet affects your health, the environment, the animals and a growing world population.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

CCC Homewreckers again


Ceredigion County Council went ahead and voted to forcibly remove someone from their home so it can be bulldozed to make way for more shops - even though the development could have gone ahead without destroying homes. See this post for background. Ceredigion County Council are homewreckers. The leader of the Council is Ellen ap Gwynn, who supports this completely. So much for Plaid Cymru caring about people's homes. She has also ignored communications on this issue, despite Councillors being obligated to reply.

The topic was covered by the Cambrian News here - but they omitted the fact that the original footprint of land on offer didn't include this row of houses, and the development could go ahead without destroying homes. The County Council have done their best to avoid mentioning this fact, which seems incredibly dishonest as well as callous. They could have this scheme and still have the houses, they've just chosen not to.

The other dishonesty is that the Council claim this will 'create jobs', that meaningless promise designed to make silly plans look good. However, the number of residents in the town will not go up (in fact, it will go down if the Council get their way in demolishing town homes). There is a limited market of buyers, so custom going to the new shops will be instead of custom going to the existing shops in the town, and the independents. There is only a limited pot of money. Jobs created in one place will lead to the loss from others when they're competing (and all the supermarkets are with each other and with the local independent shops, which are the first to close since they can't compete with the loss-leader tactics of a multinational). Then when independents close we'll lose jobs from the town, and find the jobs we're left with are low-pay, low-satisfaction, low-skill work. And the County Council will be responsible for that. Remember that at the next elections, and don't vote for homewreckers!

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Ceredigion County Council - official home wreckers


Cambrian News, Thu 23 May 2013, pp1&3.
"M&S and Tesco more important than homes"

We covered the threat to homes from Ceredigion County Council last August and as far back as November 2011. The article above shows the horrible attitude of the Council and it is stunning that they are trying to force someone out of their home with a Compulsory Purchase Order, in order to build more shops. This seems to be a hypocritical case of putting the interests of big business over human rights.

If you love your home you won't want to leave it, yet the council want to imply that the fault is with a homeowner since they won't 'negotiate'. There is no 'negotiation', what the Council means is that someone refuses to give up their home due to Council bullying. And now the County Council is stepping up their bullying tactics and threatening to remove the home by legal force. Such hypocrisy. It would probably be different if it was a councillor’s home.

Friday, 17 May 2013

Something for the weekend


Nature Treks is a lovely piece of free software which lets you explore a calming natural paradise. The use of colour and sound is relaxing and great for forgetting the stresses of the day. The only downside is reminding us of how much more beautiful the world could be if we prized nature more than money and human expansion. Get the software here, and if you like it consider making a donation to the Nature Trek favoured charity, as explained on the Nature Treks home page.

Friday, 10 May 2013

Last rhinos in Mozambique killed by poachers


The last rhinos in Mozambique have been killed.

It is absolutely horrifying. One of thousands of species under threat from humans due to pollution or hunting. The problem is that the biggest animals which need the largest territories come into contact with humans most as we expand across the globe. And anything deemed either a pest, or of value dead (most species fall into one of those categories) comes off the worst in their contact with us. This is a process completed in the UK many years ago when the last wild bears, wolves and boars were killed by the British. Since then we have gone on to divide the land up with roads, fences and settlements. What happened to the rhinos has already been done here.

Monday, 29 April 2013

Puppy farms in Ceredigion


We'll hand this post over the the C.A.R.I.A.D. organisation, who wrote the piece below. They campaign to end puppy farming in Wales, an industry based around leaving dogs and puppies unattended in barns where the owners claim that they will visit the animals regularly in order to get a licence (at which point they can neglect the animals as they wish, since nothing is checked or enforced after that). The main problems the dogs here will be getting is neglect and the lack of socialisation: none of which will matter to those making money from the dogs, nor those licensing the business. Also there are thousands of rescue animals needing homes - we don't need to breed more dogs for sale.

The majority of puppies are bred in Wales and this is where the majority of breeding dogs remain in captivity and need help. But the majority of the puppies end up in England. In pet shops. On the internet. Being exchanged for cash on motorway services or in supermarket car parks. And when they become sick through intense inbreeding or have behavioural problems through lack of early socialisation, they end up as casualties of our throw-away society, because they are too much work or expense. Our pounds and shelters can no longer cope and beautiful dogs are languishing in shelters while people continue to buy ‘cute’ puppies bred in conditions that contravene the Animal Welfare Act 2006 – which, in a travesty of compassion, is not required to be mandatorily enforced by any department or organisation in the UK.

Friday, 26 April 2013

NASA illustrates the sustained long-term climate warming trend

 1968

2012

Worrying stuff: "NASA scientists say 2012 was the ninth warmest of any year since 1880, continuing a long-term trend of rising global temperatures. With the exception of 1998, the nine warmest years in the 132-year record all have occurred since 2000, with 2010 and 2005 ranking as the hottest years on record."

Their article includes a video illustrating this.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

The first organic nation


Bhutan plans to become the first country in the world to turn its agriculture completely organic, banning the sales of pesticides and herbicides. A paragon of sustainability, more than 95% of the population has clean water and electricity, 80% of the country is forested and, to the envy of many countries, it is carbon neutral and food secure. It would be great if Wales followed this lead.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Doorstep recycling in Ceredigion - improvements


Since 1st April the doorstep recycling scheme in Ceredigion now also collects Tetra Pak cartons and polystyrene, all in the same bag as the rest of your recycling. Read about it here. It is excellent news because it makes it much easier for people to recycle, with glass being the last remaining bulk item that isn't collected.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Low impact, natural building


New buildings aren't so bad when they're in tune with, and enhance, the natural environment. Unfortunately councils don't enforce any such thing, instead giving the go-ahead to all sorts of lifeless identikit buildings. The building below was built without planning permission, and although it is exactly the kind of building that our society should be embracing, the Pembrokeshire Council would rather have it demolished than put up with the fact that someone went ahead and built it without their permission. It's a fantastic design using local, low-impact materials, and local expertise and labour. And all for about £15,000, with the owner doing much of the work in a way that few people nowadays would have the dedication to undertake. It's an example of how the homes we live in could be very different, each unique and as environmentally-friendly as possible, part of the countryside rather than in place of it.

It's possible to support the home and object to the council's plans to demolish it - follow the instructions here if you wish to do so.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Trees to line Aberystwyth road


It's great to be able to report about some wonderful green news for Aberystwyth. We've previously covered the proposal to make the approach to Aberystwyth more welcoming and improve the environment, and are delighted to say that not only has the initial phase of planting already started (around Parc y Llyn and along past the government offices) but it has recently been announced that the regeneration money is being put to green use by lining the whole of Boulevard St Brieuc with up to 300 trees. This is an excellent greening project and will improve the environment in terms of wildlife, air quality and visual quality. Well done Forestry Commission and the Greener Aberystwyth Group.

Monday, 4 March 2013

Science Corrupted

Universities continue to play a part in the secretive world of experimenting on and killing animals behind closed doors. Cardiff University cuts up kittens, while Aberystwyth University kills thousands of animals in the average year, while encouraging dissection and experimenting with adding further artificial additives to the food chain. The number of cruel experiments in Wales keeps going up - 53,000 per year at the last count.

It seems appropriate to mention the recent report Science Corrupted, which exposes the nightmare world of genetically modified mice used for research. (Yes, Aberystwyth University kills mice too). Please take a look and watch the film on this site. Also this article from last week is interesting, looking at the culture of secrecy around vivisection.

At the end of 2012 Aberystwyth University were asked about the experiments they do. They were asked about specific experiments which an ex-employee told us take place involving cows, but in their response evaded the question by saying "we do not identify with the description [of the experiments]". They then ignored the related questions.

IBERS, and its former elements of the BBSRC-funded Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research and the University Institute of Rural Sciences, have been conducting research involving cattle for many years. Worryingly, although the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 is already a weak thing that allows untold cruelty to take place, many Aberystwyth University experiments on animals do not require Home Office approval because "the research conducted is of an applied agricultural nature". Hence the fact that the details of the experiments are kept from the public, the tax payers, the charity givers, no doubt because people would then be disgusted with what the university does.

Friday, 8 February 2013

Missed opportunities and greening Aberystwyth

Missed opportunities. That could be the slogan for those in charge of planning for Aberystwyth (and Ceredigion). The Aberystwyth Gateway Transport Infrastructure project has gobbled up £2.5 million of our money. The centre of the town now has less greenery than before, and what have we gained? Slightly different pavements and moved, draughty bus shelters that are confusingly labelled with both numbers and letters. People were appalled at the work that was done (we gave a sample of some comments last February). It's no surprise when those in charge of planning refuse to demand that green spaces or trees to be incorporated into proposals. The 'infrastructure project' also failed to incorporate cycling into the changes, another missed opportunity which shows that the money wasn't really being spent on an integrated transport network. A spokesperson for the worthy Sustrans said of the Aberystwyth project:
"The simple provision of a dedicated cycle lane would have made the whole area safer for everyone. The council has neglected to include this in the redevelopment and this just illustrates their lack of vision and their total disregard for the needs of cyclists. It was a wonderful opportunity to have a safe route for cyclists incorporated into the development, but the result is that cyclists have to negotiate a busy and dangerous area. Aberystwyth’s ‘transport gateway’ has become a disincentive to people to use sustainable forms of transport." [Cambrian News]
Missed opportunity.

Let's campaign to try and improve at least a few areas, since the Council can't be relied on to do that. There is a proposal to green Aberystwyth's approach road - see this mention in the GAG news page, and watch the video below.

 
That would be a huge improvement on the current situation!

Friday, 1 February 2013

New trees on a campus



We've criticised Aberystwyth University for cutting down trees many times in the past (just scan through the 'Welsh Universities' posts) but for once we have good news. In Aberystwyth University's 'Strategic Plan 2012-2017' document they list one of their aims as:
"Managing our Penglais Campus as a nature reserve, recognising and celebrating our historic landscapes and its unique bio diversity."
As the image above shows, they have started to plant some new trees, which is a positive step. We'll monitor their developments in this area. All organisations should seek to increase their green spaces, and the County Council should build the requirement into all developments in the county.