Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Wildlife Trust Reserves



The Wildlife Trust has some great reserves all over the country, often supported by volunteers. Here is a list of the many reserves in Ceredigion - well worth visiting! Find out more about the Welsh Wildlife Trust here, and the parent organisation here.

Monday, 28 November 2016

Rainforest Action Network


The Rainforest Action Network is fighting on a number of fronts to defend wildlife, the environment, and human rights, even when it brings them into conflict with some of the biggest corporations in the world. Here are a few of their current campaigns:

Conflict Palm Oil
Conflict Palm Oil is found in roughly 50% of packaged foods sold in your local grocery store and stores across the globe. But most people don’t know about the devastation caused by its production. Across the globe, the production of Conflict Palm Oil drives deforestation, child labour, human trafficking, and is pushing species like the orangutan to the brink of extinction.
We need to demand that the world’s biggest snack food manufacturers — like PepsiCo — eliminate Conflict Palm Oil. You can help.

(Some of CIN's coverage: Say no to palm oil; Primary Rainforest Cleared For Massive Palm Oil Plantations In Peru)

Thursday, 3 November 2016

Scallop Dredging In Cardigan Bay To Go Ahead

The Welsh Government has ignored the results of its consultation and decided to allow scallop dredging in Cardigan Bay.

See the petition and this article: "TV presenter Iolo Williams calls AMs 'parasites' over Cardigan Bay scallop dredging announcement". Iolo said:
"I’m dismayed but not surprised that this bunch of worthless parasites has, once again, supported the destruction of an internationally important wildlife site. This does NOT support local, sustainable fisheries. It opens the door for ploughing the sea bed on an industrial scale. Worthless parasites just about sums up my view of AMs and their attitude towards one of our greatest assets, the natural environment. As well as the AMs, you can also throw NRW [Natural Resources Wales] into that same category. This is a spineless body that continually refuses to fight for our wildlife."
We totally agree. This overturns 2009's victory, but it seems like the Welsh Government had already decided what they wanted to do. Industrial fisheries in wildlife conservation areas, scraping up the sea floor and destroying marine habitats.

Currently this was a Labour decision - Labour minister (Lesley Griffiths), and a majority Labour government. Would the other parties have also gone against all the ecologists and the public consultation in order to get a bit more money? Possibly. Either way, people at the Welsh Government should be ashamed.

Friday, 28 October 2016

Ceredigion County Council Charging Twice For Bodily Functions



Ceredigion Council have shut down a number of public toilets in Aberystwyth and Ceredigion over the years. Now it has been discovered that the Council will charge money for another one in Aberystwyth (see here), and a lot of residents are rightly angry about it.

It's been asked before, and the Council hasn't answered, but this is the key question: what is someone meant to do if they need the toilet and don't have any money with them?

People don't pay council tax in exchange for one or two distant "award-winning toilets". People just want reasonable public toilets that they don't have to pay for twice. Public toilets are a core service that councils are meant to provide, not some cash cow to be milked in a pay-to-pee fiasco.

It's worth noting that the toilets on the Aberystwyth train station platform are closed much of the time, directing people to the public ones instead. What a rubbish "transport hub" that turned out to be, after Ceredigion Council wasted money on it.

We really need a law forcing rubbish Councils to provide enough public toilets. Something like this. Unfortunately that public health Wales bill was not passed, it fell at the last reading, though it is expected to be reintroduced as a bill in November - so still could become law. Contact your AM about it if you live in Wales and care about public toilet provision.

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Change Your Energy Supplier To A More Ethical One - Easy!


The government just allowed more fracking to go ahead but there's something really quick and easy we can do to stop it!

Change your energy supplier.

British Gas, EDF Energy, E.ON UK, npower, ScottishPower and SSE all support fracking. But there many other energy companies who get their energy from wind, solar, tidal, "green gas", and other renewable energy sources.

If you switch, your energy bill may even be cheaper, sicne the Big 6 energy suppliers have already been prosecuted for price-fixing.

98% of UK Households buy their energy from these companies, and yet most people are against fracking.

It's easy. Just switch via http://unfrack.me from a pro-fracking energy company to a more ethical one.

Monday, 26 September 2016

The Future Of Agriculture In Wales


Members of the Climate Change, Environment and Rural Affairs Committee (National Assembly For Wales) want to know what people's ideas are about the future support for agriculture, land management and rural communities in Wales. You can post your ideas and rate/comment on those posted by others at this site. More information here.

Some of our favourite points and comments:

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Packaging

Waste! So much of it. Some good news: France just banned plastic cups and cutlery. Of course the wasteful traditional packaging industry has threatened legal action, and thanks to ridiculous things like TTIP maybe they might even win. Still, good that France has the courage to stand up to the bad guys, unlike the UK Government and councils.

As consumers we should check everything we buy - is the packaging compostable? Recyclable? If not then don't buy it and complain to the company. Many scummy companies try to hide that information. If they are not clear about it, then they're hiding something. Don't support them.

Maybe one day we'll even go further than compostable packaging as the gold standard: what about edible packaging?

We sometimes highlight good companies. Here are some more!

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

More Badgers To Be Killed


"The Badger Trust has condemned a decision by the government (announced officially today, 30th August, 2016) to expand badger culling to 7 new areas of the country (covering parts of Herefordshire, Gloucestershire, Cornwall, Devon, and Dorset), despite the complete failure of the policy over the last 4 years."

"By extending the badger culls to 5 news areas of the country the taxpayer is now facing a bill in the region of £100 million by 2020" and "We could kill every badger in England but bovine TB would continue to spread in cattle herds, due to inaccurate TB testing, excessive numbers of cattle movements and poor biosecurity controls."

Please sign new petition or support the Badger Trust.

[Additional wildlife issue: a petition to ban snares in Wales]

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Coffee Cup Chaos


"Every day hundreds of thousands of Britons put their coffee cup into a recycling bin. They're wrong - those cups aren't recyclable, and the UK throws away 2.5bn of them a year. [...] The millions of coffee cups we use every day are, in effect, virgin materials with a single use, thrown almost immediately into the bin - a horrendous waste, with a hefty carbon footprint."

That's from this new BBC article The waste mountain of coffee cups. Well worth a read. Also the cup is the most expensive part of the drink. A shame councils don't treat this waste as a consideration when granting trading licences.

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

No Place For Exploitative Entertainment

 

Circus Mondao, one of the few animal circuses left in the UK, was in Aberystwyth recently, where we were treated to the view of camels shivering in the pouring rain. The circus tried to deflect attention from their practices, and unfortunately the Cambrian News quoted them without bothering to check facts: for example, the Circus Licensing Panel of DEFRA (hardly known for showing much care for animals) had a number of concerns about Circus Mondao as recently as March 2016. The DEFRA report says there are "concerns about insufficient outdoor exercise space", "concerns about the amount of exercise being provided" and concerns about poor record keeping in relation to exercise records and veterinary visits for their zebra, two camels and two reindeer.

In 2012 the UK Government said that it would implement a ban on wild animals in circuses, but thanks to persistent blocking by three Conservative MPs this ban hasn't been put in place yet; even if they do go ahead with it we may well need a separate bill for Wales as animal welfare is a devolved issue. There are currently only two UK circuses with wild animals, Peter Jolly’s Circus and Circus Mondao.

The Welsh Government really should implement a ban on wild animals in circuses in Wales. Many local authority councils (including Ceredigion, I think) already ban wild animal circuses on public land, but it still means such circuses can operate in Wales on private land, as has happened here with Mondao. The majority of the population want to see a total ban, and this is backed by commitments in political manifestos by the Conservatives, Labour, Liberal Democrats, the Green Party and Plaid Cymru. The British Veterinary Association and the RSPCA back a ban on wild animals in circuses. More general animal circus information can be found on the ADI site or this site.

Circuses can never simulate the natural habitat of a wild animal. There are no educational or conservation reasons for animal circuses. They are only aimed at profit and entertainment, neither of which are justifiable. Other countries across Europe and the world have banned the use of wild animals in circuses. Instead of exploiting animals, we should encourage and support human circuses such as the amazing Welsh circus No Fit State.

Saturday, 25 June 2016

EU Referendum - What Next?


In the EU referendum the other day, Ceredigion was one of the few Welsh counties that had a majority who voted to remain within the EU. Sadly not enough to swing the overall vote, but it was a strong statement.

Still, the UK ref results were so close it is surprising that the Government seems to be contemplating acting on it. The referendum was not legally binding and nor was it decisive – 51.9% vs 48.1% would not be enough of a majority to convict in a court of law, so it shouldn’t be enough to enact such a huge change; and because a third of people did not vote, that 2% difference is far less than 2% of the UK population. Many people are now stating that they would change their vote if they had the chance again, especially those who wanted to make a point but didn’t expect it to actually lead to such a huge change. There certainly isn’t a clear lead one way or the other, which is why it's surprising that many people are acting as if leaving the EU as a result is a foregone conclusion. It isn’t. An ideal way forward would be to try and fix some EU issues that people have problems with (e.g. the EU’s secret and undemocratic TTIP negotiations; concerns such as the huge subsidies to animal agriculture when there are more important roles that are not subsidised, and so on). Then the UK could hold another referendum in a year or so, hopefully with a clearer majority one way or the other. That would be better than rash decisions based on an incredibly marginal voting difference. Many people were annoyed at only having the choice of leaving or staying – many want to stay, but also to see some reform, and that was not a choice the UK citizens were given. It should have been.

Well over a million people have already signed this petition requesting a second referendum. There is plenty of room for adopting this approach – some of the options are covered here. Let's hope politicians support this more reasonable reaction to the results of the EU referendum vote, which were indicative and something to be learned from, but certainly not convincing enough to drive a radical and potentially regrettable action such as leaving the EU as a result of it.

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Passing The Buck


We've been forwarded details of another example of environmental ineptitude (or neglect) from Ceredigion County Council and the Welsh Government. We've been given permission to reproduce the details here. It's certainly a typical case.

A number of people had reported shopping trolleys dumped in the river at Aberystwyth. Ceredigion County Council are responsible for dealing with flytipping and litter in Ceredigion (a job they fail at miserably). The trolleys were in shallow water by the edge - a Council worker could have safely waded in and removed them easily at that point.

A number of reports of shopping trolleys in the river 
at Aberystwyth - why wasn't the Council doing anything?
From FixMyStreet.

When the trolleys were found to be still in the water it was followed up with Ceredigion County Council, who responded by saying they weren't responsible for it, and to try contacting Natural Resources Wales. They didn't even forward the details on, just washed their hands of the issue.

Friday, 20 May 2016

Renewable Energies Meet Demand


Can renewable energies keep us going? Hell yes! Look at the news from this week:

Germany raises renewable bar again: clean energy meets nearly 100% of demand
Portugal runs for four days straight on renewable energy alone

That is in addition to news from Denmark, Costa Rica, Norway, Iceland and Tokelau.

If we also cut our energy usage (we waste so much) then this is a totally viable future. Good news for once!

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Items That Last Longer Than A Fortnight


So much gets wasted nowadays. My kettle broke recently. It had been made so it wasn't repairable. Planned obsolescence and throwaway culture joining forces. If Governments said things had to last for 5-10 years I bet we'd suddenly see the quality improve once companies couldn't get away with shoddy items with inherent weak points.

It's interesting to see some companies trying to fight back against this, such as the BuyMeOnce site. Pay more for something, but then have it for life, not just for Christmas. Have an item you care for, repair if necessary, rather than throw away. Until environmental cost is built in to financial cost, it's up to the consumer to be responsible. It's not like we can rely on politicians to do that for us.

Friday, 29 April 2016

Voting Time Approaches


There's a week to go until the National Assembly for Wales elections. Remember you get two votes - your local constituency area (a named person/party) and your larger region (a vote for a party).

It's worth checking whether your inbuilt preference matches current policies by taking a quiz. There's a specific Wales one which I prefer (BBC mention), and a more detailed one which goes beyond yes/no answers. The latter survey gives your results on a map to show you where similar like-minded people live.

Sunday, 3 April 2016

Ceredigion County Council Wasting Money And Pulling Out Hedges

[A guest post sent to CIN]

The bottom of my garden was a nice, shady, private area. I’d had a new fence fitted and had been planting new bushes, trees and flowers in that area. My neighbours had trees and bushes too. It acted as a good boundary between our land and that of the Council’s: green, and it assured security and privacy on both sides.

The Council obviously has far too much money, because last week their workmen ripped out the existing fences, trees and hedges, to replace them with an ugly high wire mesh.


I am extremely annoyed at this waste and damage – basically a form of vandalism, to my mind.

Saturday, 19 March 2016

Democracy In Ceredigion



We've complained many times about Ceredigion County Council not being democratic (and ignoring any voice they don't agree with). This week they ran a ballot with local traders as to whether they wanted to take part in Aberystwyth as a Business Improvement District. It would mean extra taxes on the businesses, and vague ideas of how they might be spent.

Only 44% of the eligible voters were actually part of the ballot. Some of the voting papers were rejected by the Council. Of those remaining only just over half of those said they wanted a "Business Improvement District" (BID). So only c.23% of all eligible voters said they wanted the scheme to go ahead, yet Ceredigion County Council have counted that as sufficient and are pushing ahead with the scheme and the extra charges on local traders. Apparently they also included papers pressuring traders to vote "Yes" with the ballot paper (but no information from those opposing the scheme) in an attempt to skew the voting. Without that manipulation they probably wouldn't have even had 23% of the votes. I would hardly call that a mandate to proceed. Of course you wouldn't realise what a lack of support it had when you read the misleading statements about how "traders voted yes!" That's spin for you.

Update (24th March): "It has now been revealed that the 14 votes cast by Ceredigion Council for each of its premises in the town proved the difference between a ‘yes’ and ‘no’ vote." Source: Cambrian News.
Wow, we thought it was corrupt before, but this is shocking! They certainly tried to keep that quiet. What 14 shops does the Council run in town? The National Assembly for Wales could possibly declare the vote void because of all these shenanigans by the County Council. It needs investigating.

So, going off the figures here, only 44% of the people voted; if we remove the non-business votes of the Council we find that only c. 21% of the people in the area voted for this extra BID tax; yet it was passed, and those pushing for it claimed this result to be a show of support! We'd already mentioned the spin that Councillors and advocates for this new tax were putting forward, and the same Cambrian News gives another example:
Cllr Gareth Lloyd, Ceredigion council’s Cabinet member for economic and community development, said: “By voting in favour of the BID, Aberystwyth business owners have demonstrated their appetite to make changes locally on the issues that are of importance to them and, in so doing, to improve the town centre." 
Right, so more business voted against it; an even greater number didn't think it was of enough interest even to vote; yet that "demonstrates an appetite"? A pretty small appetite. More like a minor grumble, pushed through with dodgy practices.

Saturday, 6 February 2016

Peace Tree Planting in Aberystwyth



A peace tree will be planted at Queen's Square, Aberystwyth (opposite the Town Library) on 12 February 2016 at 12:30. Come along! More information here.

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Scallop Dredging In Cardigan Bay



There's a Welsh Government Consultation called "Scallop Fishing in Cardigan Bay – New Management Measures". We'd recommend responding to it if you care about our marine environment.

How to respond - one of the following
Consultation responses must be submitted by 17th February 2016.

Suggestions for consultation response

The consultation can be completed very quickly and straightforwardly using the on-line form or email.

Q 2. Do you agree with the introduction of a Scallop permit scheme which would apply to Cardigan Bay, allowing conditions to be applicable out to 12 nautical miles?

No! Reject the idea that Cardigan Bay SAC should be opened up to damaging dredging. You can reply to this question and no other. You can include reasons in the open box, Question 17.