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Edwin Poots
His views on incineration, plastic
bags and planning.
page 02
Ice-age u-turn
Drawing a line in the
glacial sand.
page 03
Green New Deal
The solution to recession, unstable
fuel bills and carbon emissions.
page 04
The wave
Making waves for climate justice.
page 04
Copenhagen climate talks
Have they failed before
they’ve started?
Edwin Poots
Edwin Poots, Environment
Minister, shares his thoughts
on some of the issues in his
Friends of
the Earth
Lisa Fagan
Interim Director
Tel: 028 9023 3600
Email: [email protected]
Declan Allison
Tel: 028 9089 7591
Email: [email protected]
Courtesy of the Northern Ireland Assembly
7 Donegall Street Place
Belfast BT1 2FN
Tel: 028 9023 3488
Fax: 028 9024 7556
Email: [email protected]
Website: www.foe.co.uk/ni
Energy-from-waste: My Department is
committed to the Waste Management
Strategy, which places waste prevention
as the top priority, followed by recycling,
then energy recovery and finally landfill.
Edwin Poots MLA is the
Environment Minister.
Great progress has been made in
recycling and we are on course to meet
the strict 2010 EU targets for landfill
diversion. Through further increases in
recycling, and the introduction of
Mechanical Biological Treatment
(MBT), Northern Ireland will be able to
meet its short term targets but this alone
would not represent best value in the
longer term.
potentially heat, while diverting waste from landfill and contributing to our
renewable energy targets.
Carrier Bags: The results of the latest voluntary agreement with supermarkets
revealed that in Northern Ireland carrier bag usage has been reduced by 38 per
cent, a reduction of some 7.6 million bags. Although this trend is positive, more
needs to be done.
Given the current economic climate, I prefer not to overburden shoppers with
additional costs if the voluntary approach succeeds. However, it is important that
everyone plays their part by using their own bags when shopping. While plastic
bags make up less than 1 per cent of household waste, packaging is responsible
for around 20 per cent. Greater effort is required to tackle this problem in
conjunction with efforts to further reduce the consumption of single use bags.
Planning Reform: I am committed to ensuring that we have a modern, efficient
and effective planning system which serves the needs of all in Northern Ireland.
I believe that the proposed reforms, which have recently been subject to public
consultation, will help us to transform our planning system into a more effective
and responsive one which helps to enable appropriate development, while
balancing this with the aims of protection of the built and natural environment,
and contributing to sustainable development.
Even if we manage, as planned, to
radically change attitudes towards waste, reducing waste arisings and increasing
recycling to at least 50 per cent of our household waste by 2020, we will still
require energy recovery to ensure we meet our landfill diversion targets cost
My officials have been analysing all of the consultation responses received to
determine what impact, if any, these will have on the initial policy proposals.
Following consideration of the consultation responses I intend to take the final
proposals to the Executive in January 2010.
Stephanie Kerr
Office Manager
(maternity cover)
Tel: 028 9023 3488
Email: [email protected]
I understand the concerns of opponents of energy-from-waste. However, the
proposed facilities will employ modern technology and will have to comply with
strict emissions regulations. These facilities will generate electricity and
It is essential that all the key stakeholders in the planning system play their part
in ensuring that we have a fit for purpose planning system in place to meet the
needs of all its users.
Local Groups
Activist round-up
Banbridge and Mourne
Friends of the Earth
Bonnie Horsman
Tel: 07730 401331
Email: [email protected]
Friends of the Earth
(meets in Coleraine)
Clare Armour
Tel: 028 2955 7289
Email: [email protected]
Friends of the Earth
Andrew McMurray
Tel: 07909 900883
Email: [email protected]
Friends of the Earth
Allison Neill-Rabaux
Tel: 07890 190889
Email: [email protected]
Website: www.cfoe.org.uk
The Belfast local group has achieved early successes in
its campaign to create Northern Ireland’s first cycle city.
Their target is for 10 per cent of all journeys in Belfast to be made by bike by
2020. This would put Belfast in the top 10 cycling cities in the UK.
So far they have: published a report entitled, “Belfast Cycle City”; staged a mass
cycle from Belfast city centre to Comber; persuaded Belfast Lord Mayor Naomi
Long to support the campaign; and delivered a copy of the report to Minister for
Regional Development, Conor Murphy. Mr Murphy is currently receiving advice
from his Department on the proposals and Belfast City Council will vote in full
in November on adopting the report’s recommendations.
Two Friends of the Earth local groups have organised screenings of the climate
change documentary, The Age of Stupid. Bannside hosted their event on 12
September in Coleraine Town Hall, while North Down held their event at the
Excelsior cinema, Comber on 15 October.
Age of Stupid screenings are an easy way to promote climate change activism in
your community. If you would like to organise your own screening of the film,
go to www.indiescreenings.net to find out more.
Friends of the Earth
Keith Bradford
Tel: 028 4461 2260
Email: [email protected]
Courtesy of Belfast Friends of the Earth
Niall Bakewell
Activism Co-ordinator
Tel: 028 9089 7592
Email: [email protected]
Belfast Friends of the Earth is campaigning for 10 per
cent of all journeys in Belfast to be made by bike.
Thank you John and good luck
After a decade as Director of Friends of the Earth in
Northern Ireland, John Woods has moved on to pastures new.
Friends of the Earth
Contact Niall Bakewell
Tel: 028 9089 7592
Friends of the Earth
Leanna Filbey
Tel: 07919 098751
Email: [email protected]
North Down and Ards
Friends of the Earth
Lorna Hamilton
Tel: 028 9146 2789
Email: [email protected]
Much like the global temperature, John’s 10 years at the helm were marked by a
series of highs and lows underscored by a clear upward trend in the
organisation’s confidence, expertise, media exposure and reputation. John also
managed to lever in additional resources to enable the team to grow from two
full-time staff to a complement of five.
John has been a tireless campaigner for environmental justice and sustainable
development. Campaign high points under John’s watch have included successful
alliance building on public transport; well researched alternatives to road
building; creating a vision for local food production; effective lobbying for the
quarry tax; a suite of complaints to the European Commission on breaches of
EU law and subsequent Judicial Reviews; and impressive consensus building for
an independent Environmental Protection Agency.
John was instrumental in establishing Friends of
the Earth Ireland and worked closely with the
southern team on climate change.
Recently John has been instrumental in establishing the
Green New Deal Group and began discussions
exploring alternatives to GDP that included
happiness and well-being.
The staff and volunteers of Friends of the
Earth would like to thank John for his
leadership over the past 10 years and
wish him well for the future. We’re sure
we haven’t seen the last of him.
Editor: Declan Allison Contributors: Niall Bakewell, Lisa Fagan Edwin Poots MLA, Jim Kitchen and David Gordon. Designed by: LSD Limited. Printed on: Paper made from 100% post-consumer waste.
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Friends of the Earth is a collective name for Friends of the Earth Trust, registered charity 281681, company number 1533942, and Friends of the Earth Limited, company number 1012357, both of which may use the above information.
In both cases the registered office is at 26-28 Underwood Street, London N1 7JQ Tel: 020 7490 1555 Fax: 020 7490 0881 Email: [email protected] Website: www.foe.co.uk, company number 1012357 © Friends of the Earth 2009. All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced by any means nor translated into a machine language without written permission. Friends of the Earth would like to keep you up to date on our work and what you are helping us to achieve.
If you would prefer not to receive any further communication from us please contact: [email protected] or call 028 9023 3488 with your contact details.
Ice-age u-turn
Friends of the Earth claimed victory late last year when the then Environment Minister
Sammy Wilson made a climb-down on the protection of an ice-age site in County Tyrone.
Last winter the Minister revealed his
intention to designate a 350 acre site
at Lisnaragh near Donemana,
reversing his earlier refusal to
protect the site.
The site was declared an Area of
Special Scientific Interest (ASSI) in
late March 2008, marking the
beginning of a six month period of
consultation with landowners. But
despite assurances from his officials
and statutory advisors that the
science was robust and the
consultation comprehensive, Mr
Wilson refused to confirm the ASSI,
instead rescinding it. His decision
followed pressure from landowners
and the Assembly Environment
Committee. The announcement that
he would re-declare the site came in
response to the prospect of judicial
review, as Interim Director Lisa Fagan
"We wrote to the Minister setting out
the six legal errors he made in
rescinding Lisnaragh ASSI. We
warned him that unless he redesignated the site, we would begin a
legal challenge.”
The site merits designation because it
contains a 'moraine' created by
glaciers retreating along the Burn
Dennet valley at the end of the last ice
age, between 13,000 and 17,000 years
ago. The moraine is commercially as
well as geologically valuable: the
glaciers left sand and gravel deposits
in their wake, prompting opposition
from local landowners. But ASSI
legislation does not allow the
consideration of commercial factors:
"Either the site meets the geological
criteria and must be designated, or it
does not. The legislation is clear:
ASSI designation is a matter of
scientific judgement, not ministerial
She concluded:
"Mr Wilson's interference in the
scientific work of the Department he
controlled undermined the many
hardworking officials who are doing
their best to give Northern Ireland's
environment the protection it
deserves. Sammy Wilson
unintentionally, but convincingly,
made the case for an independent
environmental protection agency,
something he has vociferously
The relisting of Lisnaragh
ASSI should protect it
from over exploitation for
sand and gravel.
road to
Bairbre de Brún, MEP, discusses the prospects for a climate
change agreement in December.
Next month in Copenhagen thousands of delegates, organisations and activists
from more than 190 countries will gather for the crucial UN climate talks.
I will attend as part of the European Parliament delegation. Copenhagen must
deliver an ambitious agreement and an agreement which treats the developing
world fairly.
Industrialised countries need to show more ambition, consistent with the 2oC
target. They need to ensure they are making emissions reductions at home as well
as providing sufficient, stable and predictable finance and technical help to
developing countries.
We need a framework that allows for further developments on figures for both
emissions reductions and finance as our knowledge of the scale of the challenge
develops based on the latest science.
Assistance to help developing countries face the climate challenge will be a big
issue both before and at the Copenhagen conference and will include providing
new and increased financing, over and above overseas development aid. Some
estimates put the required figure at €120bn annually.
Developing countries must also have a full participatory role in deciding how this
funding is managed and distributed. Finding a system to distribute funding that is
deemed efficient, accountable, effective and representative will be important in
ensuring early finance for the least developed countries in particular.
Meanwhile the complexities of the US lawmaking process mean that much may
remain unclear about the exact figures the US will commit to for both emissions
reductions and financing at Copenhagen. The House of Representatives has passed
climate legislation but the Senate now looks unlikely to do so before the end of
the year.
Many of the emerging economies now have
climate action plans that go some
considerable way in the right direction.
Whether they will commit to putting on
the table what is asked of them by other
partners remains to be seen.
The EU has binding targets for emissions
reductions but these targets need to be
met, and increased in line with the latest
After a false start, Belfast
City Council finally voted
against a proposed waste
incinerator on 22 June.
Belfast City Council is one of 11
councils in the ARC21 waste
umbrella group. ARC21's waste
management plan includes
incineration but no facility has been
developed yet.
The council was considering
proposals for an incinerator and a
Mechanical and Biological Treatment
plant. After a city wide consultation
the council rejected incineration in a
contested vote. The vote was retaken
on 22 June and the council again
rejected the incinerator proposal.
Declan Allison, Campaigner with
Friends of the Earth said:
“This is a brave decision by Belfast
City Council. Incineration is not the
answer to our waste problems. Waste
should be seen as a valuable resource
to be reused, recycled or composted.
Incineration destroys that resource.”
Mr Allison continued:
“Proponents of incineration prefer to
describe it as energy-from-waste and
group it with sustainable energy
generation such as wind, tidal and solar.
However, if the need to replace the
materials burnt in an incinerator is
factored in, incineration is really a net
user of energy – hardly a sustainable
The decision to reject incineration
gives the council space to develop a
sustainable waste strategy. Evidence
from the Waste and Resources Action
Plan (WRAP) suggests a well designed
waste collection system can maximise
recycling and composting, and reduce
waste as home-owners can clearly see
how much they generate. In contrast,
opponents of incineration say there is
a real danger it could undermine
recycling schemes as waste is
diverted to feed the plant resulting in
a de facto waste maximisation policy
for Northern Ireland.
Concluding, Declan Allison said:
“ARC21should reconsider anaerobic
digestion if it wants to develop
sustainable energy-from-waste. It is a
proven technology and produces a
biogas that can be used in an energy
efficient combined heat and power
Planning Service is currently
considering another application for an
incinerator near Ballysillan.
Putting renewables at the heart of
our executive strategy alongside
energy efficiency can place us
on the right path to a
sustainable and prosperous
economy, with all
departments making their
own contribution.
A lot remains to be done
and time is running short.
We all need to step up a
gear. The deadline is not
being set by developed or
developing countries but
by the planet.
Bairbre de Brún is
one of three MEPs
for Northern
Courtesy of Sinn Feín
Belfast rejects incinerator
Meanwhile at home the Executive and
Assembly have a role to play. A major initiative
on energy efficiency and home insulation in
particular can lower the level of premature deaths
each winter due to fuel poverty and maintain
or create jobs in construction as well as
helping to meet our climate goals.
I s s u e
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The Northern Ireland
‘Green New Deal’
Jim Kitchen, Head of the Sustainable Development Commission, explains how business
leaders, trades unions, environmentalists and civic society have come together to explore
the potential for a Green New Deal for Northern Ireland.
In the eyes of many the Executive in
Northern Ireland is in an unenviable
position. Indeed, at first sight it may
appear that it is constrained in what it
can do to arrest rising unemployment,
much less restore employment to
previous levels. Yet key policy levers industrial and energy policy,
education and training, the
environment and social policy - are in
devolved hands.
It is crucial that all sectors - public
and private, community and voluntary
- work together to provide solutions
that will help our elected
representatives, benefit the entire
community, kick start the local
economy, and secure the transition to
a low carbon future. A coalition
working to these principles could
make a positive contribution to
society, the economy, and the
The Green New Deal Group is such a
coalition. Using the skills and
expertise of a number of different
civic society groups it hopes to act as
an aide to government and policy
makers here.
of innovative, exciting and world
leading businesses in Northern
The main goals of the Northern
Ireland Green New Deal are to:
“The vast range of experience, talent,
and the tradition of innovation
represented in the Green New Deal
Group make it an exciting and
credible driver for assisting with
economic recovery. The
recommendations that it will make in
a number of key areas should have a
positive impact on thousands of
families across Northern Ireland.”
Refurbish existing homes with
full insulation and renewable
Transform the energy
performance of public and
commercial buildings.
‘Decarbonise’, regionalise and
localise the supplies of both
electricity and heat.
Create around 24,000 ‘green
collar’ jobs.
Commenting, Nigel Smyth, Director
of the CBI said:
“An opportunity exists for the
Executive to promote sustainability
through a Green New Deal and
achieve the goals in the Programme
for Government. This will help to lay
the foundation for a new generation
Detailed papers on each of these key
areas are currently being prepared by
the Group. These will form the basis
of a comprehensive plan with
common goals and committed
Summing up Jim Kitchen said:
“In recent weeks the Green New Deal
Group has made presentations to a
number of governmental and nongovernmental bodies. The benefits of
The Green New Deal could
create thousands of jobs in
home insulation.
quickly and reduce inequality,
particularly by tackling fuel poverty.
These are the outcomes that we can
all deliver on.”
investing now are clear. Not only will
it make a fundamental contribution to
the development of a low carbon
economy, it will also create jobs
Cold house for the environment?
David Gordon, Belfast
Telegraph Investigations
Correspondent, explores
politicians’ attitudes
towards the environment.
The last two and a half years must
have been tough going for anyone
working for environmental NGOs in
Northern Ireland. That’s one of the
dispiriting conclusions I reached in
reviewing the Assembly’s record since
the restoration of devolution in 2007.
One of the recurring themes of my
newly published book, The Fall of the
House of Paisley, is the hostility
within Stormont to green campaigners
and their causes. The prevailing mood,
in many of the places where it
mattered, seemed to be based on
“Thatcherism for Beginners”.
Environmental ‘policy’ often appeared
to consist of mainly wanting to ease
planning restrictions and other
regulations on developers and
If you doubt this, go and look at some
of the comments in the Assembly in
September 2007, when it looked like
a private developer was going to be
handed responsibility for a new
visitor centre at the Giant’s Causeway.
That plan did not work out too well,
but few wider lessons were learned.
The same simplistic faith in private
sector solutions lived on.
supporting action to counter climate
change was the official policy of his
party and the Executive. And yet the
Environment – yes, the Environment
Minister – did not believe in it.
Relatively few people batted an eye
at that massive contradiction. And
that surely speaks volumes about
what passes for politics here.
It has to be said that the system of
Government has not helped. Only one
party opposed the creation of an
independent environmental protection
agency. Yet because this party had
taken the Environment department,
the reform was blocked.
And then came a year of Sammy
Wilson as Environment Minister. The
central point on his climate change
scepticism is not the legitimacy or
otherwise of his views. It’s that
The Fall of the House of Paisley is
published by Gill and Macmillan
and went on sale on November 6.
Making waves for climate justice
At an outdoor concert and mass
action, organised by Stop Climate
Chaos Northern Ireland, activists will
get the opportunity to enjoy great
music and take part in a visually
impressive display of support for
strong, government-led action on
climate change.
The event will take place in Bank
Square in Belfast city centre – just
behind Tesco and right next to the
famous Kelly’s Cellars pub – from
1pm onwards. On stage will be
virtuoso violinist/composer Ruby
Colley, singer/songwriter Ken
Haddock, folk songstress Juliet Turner
and multi-cultural music collective
Beyond Skin. The event will be
compered by BBC broadcaster Joe
The action itself will involve everyone
in the crowd holding up something
blue, like a painted placard or a piece
of cloth, to form a vast undulating
Wave of colour, which will represent
both the rising sea levels caused by
climate change, and the rising tide of
support for a fair and robust global
deal on reducing carbon emissions.
Those wishing to participate in the
event are asked to bring along
anything blue that can be held aloft
during the action. People can dress in
blue or paint their faces or hands blue.
The organisers will also have a few
blue placards available on the day for
those without a prop.
Courtesy of SCC-NI.
After two years of ringing
the Changes, campaigners
will mark this year’s
International Day of Action
on Climate Change, on
Saturday 5 December, by
surfing The Wave of desire
for a just international
treaty at Copenhagen.
Ireland and ulster rugby star Stephen Ferris launches the ‘Get in
the game’ campaign for a Northern Ireland Climate Change Bill.
The coalition recently launched a
campaign, Get in the Game, which is
calling on the Stormont Executive to
introduce a Northern Ireland Climate
Change Bill to complement the
Westminster Climate Change Act, and
ensure that we make our fair share of
cuts to the UK’s carbon emissions.
To find out more about Stop Climate
Chaos Northern Ireland and The Wave
go to www.stopclimatechaosni.org