Oxford Friends of the Earth June 2018 bulletin
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Welcome to Oxford Friends of the Earth’s June Bulletin. Firstly, thank you to all who responded to our GDPR emails – it’s great to have you back! Summer is here and there is a lot happening…read on!
Highlights this month
- Support our campaign on the Oxford-Cambridge Expressway
- Help us launch the Oxfordshire Clean Air Charter
- Tackling single-use plastics at the Westgate Centre
- OxFoE stalls and call for volunteers
OxFoE wins Local Group of the Year!
We are delighted that OxFoE won an Earthmover ‘Local Group of the Year’ award at Friends of the Earth’s national Basecamp event on 2 June. We were one of three winners – the other two were Chester (who’ve done great work on plastics) and Leicester.
Two meetings this month!
We have two meetings in rapid succession this month. On Wednesday 13 June we have our monthly meeting (7.30 – 9.00 pm at Friends’ Meeting House, 43 St Giles, Oxford). We’ll be discussing air pollution and our new Clean Air Charter, action on plastics, plans for work on climate change in the autumn and more.
On Thursday 14 June we have a special meeting on the Oxford-Cambridge Expressway (see below for more info) at 8.00 – 10.00 pm in the Mary Town Room, West Oxford Community Centre, Botley Road, Oxford.
This month’s priority action is:
Lobby your MP on the Oxford-Cambridge Expressway and please sign the petition below. For your letter to your MP, highlight the points below and please stress that building new settlements 20 miles away for car-borne commuters (many of whom will work in London) will do nothing to meet the need for affordable homes for Oxford.
Oxford Friends of the Earth says NO to the Expressway – we need your help!
The government is trying to present the proposed Oxford-Cambridge Expressway as a ‘done deal’ and limit discussion to which route (or ‘corridor’) should be chosen. Friends of the Earth does not accept this. The need for a high-speed route between the two cities has never been properly discussed, and the Oxfordshire end of this where major new roads would be built will be a massive environmental disaster. We want to see the proposed Oxford-Cambridge rail link built first before making any decisions about roads.
Please write to your MP and councillors on this and sign the petition.
- The current proposals are completely at odds with UK commitments on climate change
- There has been no public inquiry into the idea (not just the routes)
- The Expressway conflicts with the current Local Transport Plan for Oxfordshire (LTP4), which looks to reduce emissions, enhance air quality and support the transition to a low carbon economy as well as reducing the proportion of journeys made by private car.
Just how bad this will be for the environment is not clear! There has been no Strategic Environmental Assessment of the Expressway (which is a legal requirement). Both BBOWT and RSPB have major concerns on environmental impacts. The Expressway will generate more traffic and more air pollution and is designed to support more housing. This would be centred on commuting rather than increasing housing density within the existing built environment. We need affordable housing close to, or with easy public transport links to, existing jobs.
So please sign and share the petition, and come to our public meeting on 14 June. OxFoE will be responding to the consultation on the Expressway. A briefing to help you to make your own submission is available from Steve Dawe.
Clean Air campaign
On 21 June, national Clean Air Day, OxFoE will launch the Oxfordshire Clean Air Charter. Our Charter will be open for signing by any group or individual, looks for Oxfordshire to be a ‘clean air county’ with all areas at ‘safe’ levels by the end of 2020. It calls on the County, City and District Councils to act to:
- Control polluting vehicles
- Promote a shift from car use to more sustainable forms of transport
- Create safe and ‘liveable’ streets for walking and cycling
- Invest in improving public transport across the county
We have successfully secured £710 funding from Friends of the Earth for our work on the Oxfordshire Clean Air Charter. At Oxford’s Big Green Day and a public meeting in Wallingford around 90 people have already signed to support .
We will also support anti-idling actions with local schools on 13 and 21 June as part of our joint campaign with Oxford City Council. Other areas in the county are now developing linked campaigns. There has been a lull in activity due to staff absences but we are now back on track and keen to see progress. If you can help on 21 June with our launch of the Oxfordhshire Clean Air Charter or anti-idling action at a local school please see our Facebook group or email Jacky Penning-Rowsell.
Petition to Oxfordshire County Council (7 November 2017) follow up: still no reply from the council to our letter querying points in their response to the petition. One of these points concerned the progress of the Air Pollution Action Group (composed of county and district councillors and officers) which was set up in December 2017 to restrict the access of polluting traffic in the most polluted areas of the county. It still appears that this group has yet to meet – thanks to those of you who wrote letters last month pushing for action! We have also sent individual letters to the 12 councillors for the areas with illegal levels of NOx asking them “in the meantime to ensure that the council takes action to bring the pollution levels below the illegal limits in these locations without further delay”.
Oxfordshire Action on Plastic Pollution
At Oxford’s Big Green Day Out on 9 June, 200 people signed postcards calling for MPs to “pledge their support for robust measures to urgently reduce single-use plastic in the UK and to significantly improve recycling of plastic and the UK’s capacity to process recyclable plastic for reuse”. We’ll be collecting signed postcards on our stalls over summer and sending to MPs.
Last month, Oxfordshire Action on Plastic Pollution surveyed shoppers outside Oxford’s Westgate shopping centre on their attitudes towards plastic pollution. We found that almost everyone was aware of the environmental problems caused by plastic pollution (97% of those asked) and many (77%) were trying to reduce the amount of plastic they use.
However, perhaps the biggest surprise – and a wake-up call for the Westgate Centre was the high proportion of shoppers who would rather that the Westgate used less plastic. 84% of those surveyed wanted the Westgate food outlets to stop using disposable plastic cutlery and cups. When we excluded those who don’t use the centre, the figure rises to 97%. So 97% of those who use the Westgate Centre want the food outlets to stop using plastic cutlery and cups.
We will now be researching the Westgate Centre’s management company to find out whether they already have any policies on plastics before we contact them to ask them to encourage phasing out of single-use plastics in the cafes and restaurants at the Westgate. Follow the latest action in Oxfordshire Action on Plastic's Facebook group.
Refill Oxford is looking for volunteers to help sign up cafes, bars, restaurants, pubs and other businesses in Oxford to become Refill ‘stations’. The idea is to create a network of Refill points around the city so that people can easily refill their water bottles, rather than buying a new one. This will dramatically reduce the millions of single-use plastic water bottles used in the UK every year. If you’re interested in volunteering for the Refill Oxford scheme, email Refill Oxford. A few hours volunteering for Refill Oxford and you could help to significantly reduce plastic waste in our city. Refill Oxford is part of a national campaign run by City to Sea. The scheme is already working successfully in lots of cities, towns and areas across the UK.
Great British Bee Count
OxFoE’s stall at the Wild Fair was buzzing with activity on 2 June! We’re promoting the Great British Bee Count, ongoing until 30 June and currently with over 200,000 bees spotted so far! This year also marks the 5th anniversary of the Oxford Bee World – our wildflower patches at The Kidneys nature park in East Oxford. Fiona will be presenting OxFoE’s work on this project at Wild Oxfordshire’s Local Environment Groups Conference on 21 July (see below for more info).
Volunteers are needed for our upcoming stalls! We would really welcome a few more people to help for an hour or two. We can offer full briefing on what to do. No technical skills needed – just a readiness to engage with people! Contact Fiona if you would like to help on:
- 23 June (between 2.00 – 5.00 pm) for West Oxford Bee Festival, St Frideswide Church, Botley Rd, Oxford
- 1 July (between 11.00 am – 5.00 pm) for Cowley Road Carnival, Oxford
Dates for the diary
13 June: Next OxFoE meeting, 7.30 – 9.00 pm Friends’ Meeting House, 43 St Giles, Oxford
14 June: The Cambridge-Oxford Expressway: discussion meeting, 8.00 – 10.00 pm, West Oxford Community Centre, Botley Road, Oxford Facebook event page here.
15 June: Nuclear Free Local Authorities English Forum Summer Seminar, 10.30 am – 1.30 pm, Long Room, Oxford Town Hall, St Aldates, Oxford OX1 1BX. Nuclear transports, nuclear transparency and delivering decentralised energy: A free seminar for Councils and local organisations on issues of concern and how Councils can play a major role in delivering low carbon energy. Contact Sean Morris for further information and to register.
16 June: Celebrate 10 years of Wind Power in Oxfordshire! Westmill community windfarm has its 10th birthday with live music by the turbines, giant kites, food and drink and more. The event is free and there’s a free bus from Oxford (and a cycle ride for the fitter of you!). Event details here and you can also book a bus trip to the event.
16 – 24 June: Oxford Green Week! Over 50 events are taking place – details can be found here.
23 June: West Oxford Bee Festival, St Frideswide Church, Botley Rd, 2.00 – 5.00 pm.
30 June – 6 July: National Climate Action Speak Up week.
1 July: Cowley Road Carnival, 11.00 am – 5.00 pm. OxFoE stall volunteers needed! Contact Fiona.
21 July: Wild Oxfordshire's Local Environment Groups Conference – habitat creation and management for bumble bees and other pollinators, 10.00 am – 4.30 pm, Chadlington Memorial Hall, Chadlington, Chipping Norton OX7 3NX. Fiona will be speaking about OxFoE’s wildflower work over the past 5 years at The Kidneys nature park in East Oxford.
18 August: Elder Stubbs festival, 12.00 – 5.00 pm, Elder Stubbs allotments, Rymers Lane, Oxford OX4 3DY. OxFoE stall volunteers needed – please contact Fiona.
Thanks for reading!
Jan McHarry (Bulletin Editor, Chris Church and Fiona Tavner (Group Coordinator).