London 03/22/2017

Out of respect for the victims of the terrorist attack in the center of London (UK) today we shall not be broadcasting – so to speak – today. Normal operation shall be resumed tomorrow, all being well.

London03-22-17-Terror

Ecotricity customers boost England’s national woods and forests

Customers joining Britain’s leading green energy company, Ecotricity, can support new conservation projects in England’s national woods and forests.

Ecoticitry_webA new partnership with Forest Enterprise England, the Forestry Commission agency that manages England’s national woods and forests, could lead to thousands of pounds going towards a new conservation fund.

Ecotricity will donate up to £50 for anyone who signs up to the company’s green electricity and gas using the Forestry Commission sign-up offer.

New customers will also receive a £10 discount on a Discovery Pass, the membership scheme which allows free car parking and a range of other benefits at local forests managed by Forest Enterprise England.

Dale Vince, founder of Ecotricity, said: “Trees and forests are really important. Sustainably managed, they can provide vital wildlife habitat, carbon sinks and a great place to visit.”

“So to team up with Forestry Enterprise England is something we’re really pleased to be doing.”

Simon Hodgson, Forest Enterprise England Chief Executive said: “Alongside the income we generate from suppling sustainably-grown timber, we look for new business partnerships that offer additional sources of revenue to invest in the nation’s forests we manage.

“The extra funding helps us make them more interesting and exciting places to visit and we can continue with our conservation work. We’ve had great successes over the years including ospreys in north England and purple emperor butterflies in the south.”

The Forestry Commission is one of the largest land-owners in England and works to maintain and preserve woodlands and forests. It also conducts scientific research and promotes recreation across the estates, including walking and cycling.

Ecotricity was founded in 1995 as the world’s first green energy company and now supplies almost 200,000 customers across Britain from a growing fleet of wind and sun parks. Ecotricity is a ‘not-for-dividend’ enterprise that, on average over the last eleven years, has invested more per customer in building new sources of green electricity than any other energy company in Britain.

England has more than 254,000 hectares of woods and forests cared for by Forest Enterprise England, an agency of the Forestry Commission. They make sure that every year the land and forests they care for become even more special places for wildlife to live, for people to enjoy and for businesses to thrive.

Almost 69% of the land the manage is designated in some way: Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), National Park, Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), Special Area for Conservation (SAC), Special Protection Area (SPA), Ancient Woodland, RAMSAR wetland site, Local Nature Reserve (LNR), National Nature Reserve (NNR), Heritage Coat or Scheduled Ancient Monument (SAM).

This press release is presented for your information only.

Full Disclosure Statement: The GREEN (LIVING) REVIEW received no compensation for any component of this article.

Keith Taylor MEP welcomes vote to ban import of new GM maize

Keith Taylor, Green MEP for the South East, is welcoming a vote by MEPs in the European Parliament's Environment Committee today (21 March) against the import of a range of genetically modified maize varieties for use in feed and food.

The majority of MEPs voted against proposals to authorise several genetically modified maize varieties from Syngenta [1].

Commenting after the vote, Mr Taylor, a member of the European Parliament's Environment Committee, said: "It's a great Green success that the majority of MEPs have voted against the import and use of untested GM maize in the European Union. It is the sixth time in just over a year that the European Parliament has signalled it's opposition to the approval of new GM foods. The proposal voted down today would have approved 20 different varieties of GM maize of which only a handful have even been tested by the European Food Authority (EFSA) and most have not yet been produced. To give them the green light would have been completely irresponsible."

"MEPs have sent a strong signal that as long as complete and up-to-date scientific data is not available, permission must not be granted. I am urging the governments of the EU to take this message from the Environment Committee seriously and vote against importing genetically modified maize into the European Union next week."

"Worryingly, UK Ministers have suggested Brexit could be 'an opportunity' to water down GM crop regulations in Britain [2]. As Greens, we will be fighting to make sure this doesn't happen; it is vital we maintain and strengthen EU GM safeguards post-Brexit. For the health of British people, the environment and farmers, the UK must not be flooded with untested genetically modified crops."

[1]The Commission has submitted a proposal to authorise genetically modified maize varieties from Syngenta. This would allow the use of five different characteristics (Bt11 × 59122 × MIR604 × 1507 × GA21) and their combinations. This could bring more than 20 different genetically modified maize varieties to the European market. The Standing Committee of EU Member States "Plants, Animals, Food and Feed" was unable to reach an opinion on the Commission proposal on 27 January. The text will now be presented to an appeal committee on 27 March. If there is still no decision, it will be returned to the Commission.

[2]http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/government-review-gm-crop-regulations-preparation-brexit-european-union-a7381276.html

Note: Keith is the Green MEP for the South East of England and is one of 50Greens/EFA MEPs in the European Parliament. He sits on the Committee on Transport and Tourism, and the Committee on Environment, Public Healthand Food Safety. He isa member of the European Parliament’s delegation to the Palestinian Legislative Council which works to forge greater links between MEPs and parliamentarians in Palestine. Keith is also Vice Chair of the parliament’s Intergroup on animal welfare and a member of the parliament’s Intergroup on LGBTI Rights.

This press release is presented for your information only.

Full Disclosure Statement: The GREEN (LIVING) REVIEW received no compensation for any component of this article.

Brockham: letters reveal oil firm warned at least twice it didn't have planning permission to drill new side-track well

Camp2Keith Taylor MEP at the Leith Hill 'protection camp'; Keith joins local residents and campaigners, from groups such as A Voice for Leith Hill, Mole Valley Green Party, Greenpeace, and Frack Free Surrey, Credit: Office of Keith Taylor MEP.

A row over unauthorised oil drilling in Brockham, Surrey [1] continues as newly obtained documents confirm the oil and gas company Angus Energy was warned by Surrey County Council as far back as September 2016 that it would need planning permission to drill a new well on site.

Angus Energy has openly admitted that it drilled a new side-track well earlier this year but claims the work was covered by existing planning permission [2]. However, a Freedom of Information request to Surrey County Council [3], seen by Green MEP for the South East Keith Taylor, reveals planners made clear this was not the case in two separate letters sent in September and December 2016.

Commenting on the revelations, Mr Taylor said: “The drilling, without permission, of a new well is an outrageous breach of an already deeply strained trust. It is little wonder why residents and campaigners simply don’t trust the oil and gas drilling industry or the Government ‘regulations’ utterly failing to protect our environment and our local communities. Regulations that are being openly flaunted by the industry.”

“The documents show Angus Energy was warned on at least two occasions that it did not have the required planning permission to drill a new side-track well. Angus has either deliberately misled its investors and the public or misunderstood clear advice from Surrey County Council. The situation suggests the regime for regulating and monitoring oil drilling isn’t fit for purpose. Had there not been a small, but dedicated group of campaigners resident at the protection camp on the site then this breach would not have even come to light.”

“I am calling on Surrey County Council to send a strong message to oil and gas companies who might be tempted to play fast and loose across the region; action and sanction against planning breaches must swift and effective. Letting Angus Energy off the hook would set an extremely concerning precedent."

[1] https://drillordrop.com/2017/03/09/council-extremely-disappointed-over-brockham-well-drilled-without-permission/

[2] http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/174596/angus-energy-denies-brockham-drilling-was-unauthorised-174596.html

[3] https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/dec_16_jan_17_works_at_brockham?nocache=incoming-952500#incoming-952500

Note: Keith is the Green MEP for the South East of England and is one of 50 Greens/EFA MEPs in the European Parliament. He sits on the Committee on Transport and Tourism, and the Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety. He is a member of the European Parliament’s delegation to the Palestinian Legislative Council which works to forge greater links between MEPs and parliamentarians in Palestine. Keith is also Vice Chair of the parliament’s Intergroup on animal welfare and a member of the parliament’s Intergroup on LGBTI Rights.

This press release is presented for your information only.

Full Disclosure Statement: The GREEN (LIVING) REVIEW received no compensation for any component of this article.

Preserving and canning made easy thanks to Ball

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

starterkit2The well-known US company Ball, with its iconic preserving/canning jars, has now also, finally some would say, arrived in the UK. Not that Britain never had canning jars and such. We did, in the form of Kilner Jars but we have heard very little of it in recent years. To some extent home canning went out of the window with an all year round supply of fresh fruit and vegetables from all around the globe. The recent shortage of certain vegetables from Spain, where the weather did not play nicely, should, however, tell us something about being unable to reply on such supplies, regardless of some politicians saying that we do not need farmers in this country because we can import all the food we want and need from abroad.

Obviously, aside from Kilner in Britain there is/was also Mason in the USA with canning jars and other countries, such as Germany, do, or did, have their own brands and designs.

So, why do I say “preserving and canning made easy thanks to Ball” or maybe simple would have been even better still? This is because Ball has brought out a starter kit that really does make it easy, at least from what I have seen, and water bath canning does not, as often believed, require a special pot and other gadgets, such as a special thermometer, etc., etc. I have been able to obtain a sample of the starter kit and shall report back on how it works. Just need to get a big enough pot as I do not have one, but thanks to ALDI a nice stainless steel stockpot (Made in India) could be obtained for less that £20. Unfortunately that one I had to pay for.

Some people seem to believe that in order to successfully preserve their garden's harvest by canning they have to have all the equipment and ideally a pressure canner even. Nothing could be further from the truth. Water bath canning is older than the pressure cooker/canner method and has worked for generations. While some of the gadgets make life easier they are not a necessity.

The water bath canning method is probably the oldest version of canning and still as valid today as then. Pressure canning may speed up the process – sorry, I am not entirely sure about this – but that may just be about all. All you really need is a large pot, like a stock pot (see above), and the appropriate canning jars. To all intents and purposes that is about all. Anything else just makes life – and the canning process – easier.

© 2017

EVERY TOWN NEEDS A REMAKERY

The Edinburgh Remakery is a social enterprise that teaches repair. The shop sells refurbished computers and furniture, and hosts workshops where people can come along and learn how to repair their own things. There’s a big vision behind it: “we want to generate a repair revolution. This means changing the way people use and dispose of resources, encouraging manufacturers to build things to last and to be fixable, and making sure the facilities are in place to allow people to repair and reuse.”

The Remakery was founded by Sophie Unwin, after spending a year in Nepal. There she saw a culture of repair and stewardship that was absent in our own throwaway society – but it used to be there. Previous generations knew how to fix things. This generation just needs some re-skilling, access to the tools to do it, and some encouragement to give it a go. It’s a similar idea to the Restart Project, with the added benefits of a permanent centre, and proceeds from the shop help to fund the community engagement work.

These projects are important right now, because those repair skills are still out there in society, and they might not be for very long. Many repair businesses have gone already. Those that remain are often struggling. Since there is little demand for repair, there’s a shortage of younger people ready to step up when older repairers retire. I’ve seen this myself in Luton. When I moved here a few years ago, the High Town area had a tailor, a lawnmower repair shop and a TV repair shop. The first two have since retired and the shops have closed. The TV place was destroyed earlier this year when a car drove into it, and the owner can’t afford to fix it. The shop is boarded up, and there’s a mobile number on the door if you want your TV repaired.

Read more here.

UN asks UK to suspend work on Hinkley Point

Move likely to embarrass British government as UN agency says lack of talks with Europe means it should refrain from further work

A United Nations committee has asked the UK to suspend work on the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station in Somerset because of the government’s failure to consult with European countries over the project.

The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) said last year that the UK had failed to meet its obligations to discuss the possible impact of an incident at Hinkley on neighbouring countries.

The UNECE has now gone a step further and said the UK should consider refraining from further works on the site of the new reactors.

The body said the government should wait until it has heard back from countries including Germany, Norway and the Netherlands on whether it would be helpful for them to be formally notified under a treaty on transboundary environmental impacts.

The UN request is an embarrassment for the government, which has faced several delays over the UK’s first atomic power station for a generation. But it is unlikely to derail the earthworks and building of a jetty at Hinkley, which is Europe’s biggest construction site.

John Sauven, the executive director of Greenpeace UK, said: “Opposition to Hinkley started with knowledgeable energy specialists and environmentalists. It grew to involve a wide array of businesses and media commentators. Now it includes neighbouring countries and a UN body. This letter from a UN body shows the UK still has a mindset of doing what we like without listening to the widespread concerns.”

A spokesman for EDF, the French state-owned company building Hinkley, said: “We have carried out all the environmental impact assessments (EIA) required for Hinkley Point C, including assessing any likely significant transboundary impacts. In considering the EIA the UK Planning Inspectorate concluded there was no likelihood of significant transboundary effects.

“The UK supreme court has already rejected a challenge from An Taisce which claimed that the government should have consulted other member states before making its decision on the development.”

Read more here.

New International Gardens and Lifestyle Show

New International Gardens and Lifestyle Show – IGA –opens April 13, 2017 in Berlin

clichtschwaermer_mg_6339A new international gardens and consumer lifestyle show – IGA – which stands for ‘International Garten Ausstellung’ – will open in Berlin on April 13 and run until October 15, 2017. Ideal for a weekend visit to Berlin or longer, IGA features garden designs from all over the world, including for Great Britain, ‘The Garden of Vulcan’ by British landscape designer Tom Stuart Smith . ‘IGA’ takes place in Germany only once every 10 years and is being hosted by Berlin for the first time.

Bigger than all three RHS shows combined, IGA focuses on green urban lifestyle under the motto of ‘an OCEAN of colours’ and will appeal to anyone interested not only in gardens and horticulture, but also Berlin and the surrounding regions. IGA has its own cable car, which swoops visitors into the show ground from the local underground station, providing a unique aerial view on arrival. The 104-hectare showground is divided into five large areas featuring different attractions, such as an open-air performance stage, an energy-efficient tropical hall in the Balinese Garden, art exhibitions, children’s play areas, restaurants and a visitor centre.

Sustainability has been a high priority during the planning and development process: at the IGA ‘Campus’ area, there will be hands on environmental education through more than 2,500 events to try out and discover, suitable for all ages. IGA is easy to reach from the UK and Ireland: there direct flights to Berlin from Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, London and Manchester and efficient local public transport connections from Berlin city centre. Day tickets for adults and for families to IGA cost €20.00 and there are various prices for evening visits, schools and groups – children’s day tickets are free. Tickets can be booked online or through reputable tour operators and travel agents.

IGA is expected to provide yet another tourism draw for Destination Deutschland, which last year reached a record high for international incoming tourism to Germany. For the period January – December 2016, 80.8 million overnight stays were recorded, compared to 2015. For the UK, there was a 0.9% rise for the period January – November 2016 and overnight stays by visitors from Ireland showed an increase of 9.3%, compared to the same period in 2015.

This press release is presented without editing for your information only.

Full Disclosure Statement: The GREEN (LIVING) REVIEW received no compensation for any component of this article.

Are You Killing Your Trees With Mulch?

Are you killing your trees with mulch? Mulch is fabulous for trees, but incorrect mulching techniques can stress and even kill your trees.

Benefits of Mulch

Each year, in the forest, leaves and needles fall providing a protective covering for trees. As they decompose, they nourish the soil. Mulch can provide the same nourishing protection for the trees on your property whether those trees are deciduous, coniferous, or fruit-bearing.

Mulch discourages weeds, helps to maintain a uniform soil temperature, adds nutrients, and conserves moisture. It also helps to prevent compaction and reduce soil erosion. Mulch can prevent competition from grass which robs nutrients and moisture from the soil. And when trees are mulched, keeping grass away from the base, there is no risk of damage from lawn mowers and weed-whackers. All in all, a win-win situation.

What Mulch to Use

Bark mulch is the most often used material for tree mulch and is fine. Even better are wood chips which contain entire small branches, leaves and needles. These ramial wood chips are especially useful in providing nutrients as they break down. Needles also make a good mulch under conifer trees, and shredded leaves under deciduous trees. It is best not to use black plastic since it can interfere with water and oxygen supply to the tree’s roots.

Read more here.

10 Tips for New Garden Farmers

lettuces growing on hugulkultur bed

A journal entry from my pre-gardening days reads as follows:

I just returned from the farmers’ market with two pounds of apricots, half a pound of ground cherries, a bag each of arugula, radishes, pepper cress and kale. One of the farmers gave me a peach spray, which now brightens my kitchen.

I’m grateful to these family farmers who till the land, and then bring their produce and other wonderful foods to the city. Hard work, I imagine, and not particularly lucrative. Still, I hope I’m not romanticizing their life when I dream of working the land and depending less on others to grow and raise my food.

Living in the city, I do what I can to support organic, local, biodynamic farming. I shop at the farmers’ market and food coop, have a sideline as a food educator at CSAs, prepare most of my meals from scratch. Yet, in my life, the farm-to-table cycle remains incomplete. With the exception of a few potted herbs on the windowsill, I have little chance to grow or raise what I eat. Sometimes I bring fruit and vegetable scraps to the food scrap collection site in the park. Other times I toss them in the trash. In either situation, I miss out on the pleasure of returning them to nature myself and in so doing nourishing soil and soul.

Now, four years into growing much of the produce we eat, I realize that garden farming connects me even more deeply than I had imagined to the earth, the life cycle, my body and food. It is also more difficult not only physically, but mentally as well. Had I known more from the start, no doubt it would have been easier and more effective. It is in this spirit that I am sharing some of what I’ve learned.

I make no claims to expertise. Certainly, there are professional gardeners, farmers and agricultural scientists who know much more than I do. Still, my hope is that those newer than I to growing their own food may benefit from these tips.

1. Plant Edible Woody Perennials First

Edible woody perennials include fruit trees, berry bushes and grapevines. Since these perennials take several years to mature, the sooner you plant them the sooner they bear fruit. I resisted at first. Planting fourteen fruit trees by hand is labor intensive. And since we had no source of free cultivars, buying the trees also made a dent in our wallet. Fortunately, my wife prevailed. Now, four springs later, apple, cherry, peach, plum and pear blossoms dot our trees. Our Chinese apricot tree is laden with tiny hard fruit.

The second spring we planted a variety of bushes including raspberry, gooseberry, choke cherry, goji berry, service berry, sea buckthorn berry, nero aronia, and currant. We planted elderberry, hazelnut and persimmon trees. We also planted grapes.

These botanical treasures contribute to making us feel rooted in our homestead. They also contribute to self-reliance by feeding us well. As for finances, already they’ve more than paid us back.

2. Plant Edible Herbaceous Perennials Next

I wish I’d learned this tip sooner. Come early spring, it’s such a pleasure to see sorrel leaves poking through the snow. Soon after the rhubarb, lovage, dandelion, walking onions, and asparagus appear. Our perennial roots and herbs include garlic chives, culinary lavender, oregano, thyme, horseradish, hyssop, and sage. (Rosemary, which we hoped would be perennial, turned out not to be in our zone four climate, and so we plant it anew each year.)

Once planted, perennial edibles provide good food early in the season with little work. And some (including sorrel, horseradish, hyssop, oregano, and thyme) have another benefit as well: they do a wonderful job of keeping grass and other weeds at bay.

3. Grow What You Love (and What You Can)

Midwinter when it’s minus twenty and snow drifts cover the porch, we enjoy sitting by the fire planning our garden. It’s easy that time of year to get carried away. Yes, we’d enjoy a walnut tree. But we lack the climate, soil constitution, and acreage (not to mention the energy) to grow everything we’d like. Easy to rule out in our zone four climate are heat-loving trees such as avocado and lime. And as much as we’d like to have blueberries, the pH of our soil would make growing these a daunting task.

So how do we decide? First, we eliminate what we cannot grow. Then we decide what we like. We also experiment. Over the years, we’ve learned, for instance, that although we adore broccoli, it tends not to flourish in our garden. So much planting, watering and weeding all for a few buggy florets.

Potatoes, on the other hand, thrive. So do sunchokes, lettuces, arugula, radishes, chard, cress, parsnips, nasturtiums and many other species of edible plants. Our raspberry bushes produce so well and with so little effort that each summer we invite neighbors to pick from our patch.

Read more here.