Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Less plastic: refuse, reuse, reduce

There are questions around whether we should 'reduce, reuse, recycle':
Futures Forum: Reduce, reuse, recycle >>> >>> 'What's Wrong with the Three Rs of Environmentalism'

Maybe we need to actually 'refuse' in the first place, which would have a real impact:

An organisation in Devon is pushing this:


We’re a beach-loving, family-run organisation based in South Devon, in the UK.

We set up Less Plastic in 2015 in response to the endless tide of ocean plastic washing up on our beautiful local beaches.

We’re passionate about raising awareness of the issues caused by the ocean plastic crisis, and our aim is simple – to provide easy-to-action ocean-friendly alternatives that add up to make a BIG difference.

We offer inspiration, strategies & products to tackle ocean plastic – for individuals, businesses and organisations of all sizes.

Our Less Plastic consultancy services and eco-marketing expertise will enable your organisation to drastically reduce its plastic waste, save money, enhance its reputation and increase sales from eco-aware customers too.

We’re also proud to run monthly beach cleans with Surfers Against Sewage, highlighting the issues caused by single-use plastic and striving for plastic free coastlines. In addition, we’re working on several community projects to reduce plastic use, including a Borrow-A-Bag scheme in our home town.


Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Knowle relocation project: "Hard to say how much it has cost so far, what the current projected cost is..."

The East Devon Watch blog asks a few pertinent questions:


20 FEB 2018

With the new barn-like EDDC HQ taking shape in Honiton, how is the project going? How much has it cost so far? What is the current projected cost?

Hard to say. Owl searched for news of the “Office Relocation Project Executive Group” and was directed to its website:


where readers are told to consult the project archive:


Alas, the last document posted there was on 20 February 2013 (in response to the requirement of the Information Tribunal which EDDC lost) and Owl’s attempt to find anything more up-to-date (including current costings and financing arrangements) has so far failed.

Perhaps an EDDC councillor or officer can let Owl know where the latest information is – and who is in charge of the project these days?

Well, officers and councillors must read this blog! I have been pointed to ANOTHER website (thanks):


and here is the latest update:


Archive 8 states on 18 October 2017:

“Progress – going well. Costs remain within budget allowances. Spend to date is £3.745,000 leaving a balance of £6,840,148m.”

and on 15 November 2017:

“Progress – going well. Costs remain within budget allowances. Spend
to date is £1.403m leaving a balance of £6.482m with a contingency of £245,000. Completion date is scheduled for 15 October 2018 with a relocation date of 21 December.”


Now – Can anyone explain the discrepancy? £3,745,000 spent to date in October 2017 and £1,403,000 to date a month later?

So, how is EDDC’s office relocation going? Update and some odd figures | East Devon Watch

It's been a long story:

"From the beginning of its relocation project, EDDC claimed it would be ‘cost neutral’[1] – but after vacillating between the options over some years, the costs have now escalated.[2] Indeed, the primary reasons for relocation have focussed on ‘cost’ – and these have been proven time and again to be totally spurious[3], if not hopelessly under-estimated.[4]"


Sidmouth Plastic Warriors > Clean up around Woolbrook > first reports from a great day

Again, the One Show talked plastic this evening 
- and how difficult it is for families to live with less plastic:
BBC iPlayer - The One Show - 20/02/2018

Meanwhile in Woolbrook last Saturday...
Futures Forum: Sidmouth Plastic Warriors > in action tomorrow Saturday 17th February > Clean up around Woolbrook

... the Plastic Warriors did fantastically, with fifty volunteers showing up:
We Love Sidmouth - Clean Up Around Woolbrook

Lots of very useful info and inspiration on the group's Twitter account 
- including this photo from Saturday's event:

Sidmouth Plastic Warriors (@SidPlasticWar) | Twitter

Angie was at the ready down by the Youth Centre with tea and bickies:

fantastic achievement today with our pick followed by plastic free tea 😆 (shame about all the in the donation from though 😩)

store, we LOVE your spirit. Thanks so much for getting involved with our pick in today 💚🌎💚

Sidmouth Plastic Warriors (@SidPlasticWar) | Twitter

We'll be seeing more of them on Thursday this week:
Futures Forum: Make Sidmouth plastic free > meeting Thursday 22nd February > reports

"Everything's gone green!' @ Radio 4's Costing the Earth > "Is it the Attenborough Effect, the power of the newly-green Daily Mail or a blatant attempt to woo the youth vote?"

It's the 'Attenborough Effect':
The Attenborough effect: Searches for plastic recycling rocket after Blue Planet II | Resource Magazine

It's the power of the newly-green Daily Mail:
Nine in ten rivers in England fail pollution levels  | Daily Mail Online
Environment department has just TWO electric cars | Daily Mail Online
'You're f***ing up the environment: EPA chief Pruitt had to fly first class after insults | Daily Mail Online
Climate change to make intense floods more frequent,... | Daily Mail Online

It's a blatant attempt to woo the youth vote:

That's what today's Costing the Earth on Radio 4 considered:

Everything's Gone Green!

Costing the Earth

Tuesday 20th February 2018

In the last General Election environmental issues barely merited a mention. Nine months on and the Prime Minister is making keynote speeches on recycling and Michael Gove is issuing a flurry of policy initiatives to get the green-minded voter on-side.

Tom Heap sets out to discover why this remarkable transformation has taken place. Is it the Attenborough Effect, the power of the newly-green Daily Mail or a blatant attempt to woo the youth vote? Perhaps senior politicians have actually come to accept the gravity of Earth's predicament.

BBC Radio 4 - Costing the Earth, Everything's Gone Green!

There definitely seemed to be a greening of the new Environment Secretary:
Futures Forum: The new Environment Secretary is "determined to protect our precious environment, support our thriving fishing industry and help our globally renowned food and farming industries grow more, sell more and export more great British food and drink."

But not everyone's convinced:
Futures Forum: The UK government "should bring in an environment act immediately"

Monday, 19 February 2018

District Council to vote on zero single-use plastics > Wednesday 28th February

This coming Thursday sees a public meeting to look at ways to combat plastic waste:
Futures Forum: Make Sidmouth plastic free > meeting Thursday 22nd February > reports

Meanwhile, councils around the country are taking action:
Kirklees could be the first council in the country to ban single use plastic waste - Huddersfield Examiner
Ards and North Down Council BANS single use plastics - now they want others to follow - Belfast Live
Brighton council passes motion to ban single-use plastics | Resource Magazine

East Devon might be next, with a motion going to the next full council meeting on Wednesday 28th February:

Motion – Reducing the use of single-use plastics by 2020:

“That this Council resolves to lead by example to reduce the use of single-use plastic with a goal of zero single-use plastics by 2020. 
Washable options will be favoured and any unavoidable disposable goods purchased henceforth will be of the compostable variety. 
In addition Members commit to making alternative choices to reduce their own use of disposable plastic items and packaging."

Proposed by Councillor Cathy Gardner  
Seconded by Councillor Eleanor Rylance 

Supported by Councillor Val Ranger, Councillor Peter Faithfull, Councillor Eileen Wragg, Councillor Marianne Rixson, Councillor Geoff Jung, Councillor Susie Bond, Councillor Dawn Manley, Councillor Peter Burrows, Councillor John Dyson, Councillor David Barratt, Councillor Matthew Booth, Councillor Megan Armstrong. 

Agenda for CouncilWednesday, 28 February 2018; 6.30pm

Making space for wildlife > offsetting, rewilding or making half the planet a nature reserve

Where should we 'put' our wildlife?


This is from the Wildlife Trusts back in 2012:

The idea of a biodiversity offsetting system in England was announced in the Government’s Natural Environment White Paper - a 50-year vision for the natural environment published in 2011.
What is biodiversity offsetting?

Biodiversity offsetting is a proposed approach to compensate for habitats and species lost to development in one area, with the creation, enhancement or restoration of habitat in another. Under this system any negative impacts on the natural environment would then be compensated for, or ‘offset’ by developers.

A complex situation....

Biodiversity offsetting is a simple phrase for what is in reality a very complex idea. There are elements that are immediately problematic for any conservationist - some habitats have evolved over millennia and are irreplaceable; the phrase offsetting itself is in danger of greenwashing the facts ('nature damage compensation' would be more accurate); ecosystems are dynamic - many animals range over a network of habitats and this is difficult to plan and design for in human terms.

Thoughts on biodiversity offsetting | The Wildlife Trusts

And it was then that the notion was really taking off:
Futures Forum: Biodiversity and offsetting nightingales
The Unsung World – George Monbiot

Is it really just a matter of 'replacing habitats'? 
Or is really about making 'development' possible?
Futures Forum: New habitats, old habitats
Does habitat replacement let developers off the hook? | New Scientist

The former Environment Secretary didn't think so:
Futures Forum: Offsetting woodlands: “As someone who has planted an arboretum over recent years, the idea that I am going to trash ancient woodlands is an absolute outrage to me personally.”

Meanwhile, things seem to be getting complicated:
Futures Forum: Biodiversity offsetting "quietly dropped"
Monbiot's attacks on biodiversity offsetting are wide of the mark
Ex-Environment Secretary Owen Paterson’s plans for ancient woodland get the axe | The Independent

Perhaps it is possible - as with the project on the A14 to protect the water vole:
Water voles: surveys and mitigation for development projects - GOV.UK
A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon nominated for top environmental award - GOV.UK

And for the moment the nightingale colony in Medway, Kent is safe from 'development':

Finally, though:
"Why does wildlife have to lose out when it's possible to accommodate its needs"
asks James Fair in the latest issue of the BBC Wildlife magazine?
Mongolia's wild cats | Discover Wildlife

See page 62:
BBC Wildlife - January 2018 UK | Wildlife | Birds


Alternatively, we reintroduce species rather than displace them:
Futures Forum: On the River Otter: BBC Two's Hugh's Wild West goes in search of East Devon's beavers
Futures Forum: Rewilding Britain > restoring intensive farmland back to it's natural and uncultivated state - and becoming financially sustainable
Futures Forum: Reintroducing wolves to Devon

And there are all sorts of exciting projects happening...
... at home:

Rewilding London: Walthamstow Wetlands by Kinnear Landscape Architects and Witherford Watson Mann | Building | Architects Journal

... and abroad:
Siberian tigers seen during rewilding training in NE China's Harbin - Xinhua | English.news.cn
Chile Establishes 10 Million Acres Of National Parks in 'Gigantic' Move For Conservation | HuffPost
'Rewilding' Australia: not only do we need the outback, the outback needs us | Environment | The Guardian
New nature organisation aims to 'rewild' Finland | Yle Uutiset | yle.fi


As the last link above suggests, though, we can't either 'displace' people:
Futures Forum: National Parks and people-free spaces

But perhaps we need to be radical:
Futures Forum: Protecting 30 percent of our oceans

A conference in London next week will address these issues:

Should we give up half of the Earth to wildlife?

Populations of all kinds of wildlife are declining at alarming speed. One radical solution is to make 50% of the planet a nature reserve

The orangutan is one of our planet’s most distinctive and intelligent creatures. It has been observed using primitive tools, such as the branch of a tree, to hunt food, and is capable of complex social behaviour. Orangutans also played a special role in humanity’s own intellectual history when, in the 19th century, Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace, co-developers of the theory of natural selection, used observations of them to hone their ideas about evolution.
For good measure, conservationists say numbers are likely to fall by at least another 45,000 by 2050, thanks to the expansion of palm oil plantations, which are replacing their forest homes. One of Earth’s most spectacular creatures is heading towards oblivion, along with the vaquita dolphin, the Javan rhinoceros, the western lowland gorilla, the Amur leopard and many other species whose numbers are today declining dramatically. All of these are threatened with the fate that has already befallen the Tasmanian tiger, the dodo, the ivory-billed woodpecker and the baiji dolphin – victims of humanity’s urge to kill, exploit and cultivate.But humanity has not repaid orangutans with kindness. The numbers of these distinctive, red-maned primates are now plummeting thanks to our destruction of their habitats and illegal hunting of the species. Last week, an international study revealed that its population in Borneo, the animal’s last main stronghold, now stands at between 70,000 and 100,000, less than half of what it was in 1995. “I expected to see a fairly steep decline, but I did not anticipate it would be this large,” said one of the study’s co-authors, Serge Wich of Liverpool John Moores University.
As a result, scientists warn that humanity could soon be left increasingly isolated on a planet bereft of wildlife and inhabited only by ourselves plus domesticated animals and their parasites. This grim scenario will form the background to a key conference – Safeguarding Space for Nature and Securing Our Future – to be held in London on 27-28 February.
The aim of the symposium is straightforward: to highlight ways of establishing sufficient reserves and protected areas to halt or seriously limit the major extinction event that humanity now faces.
According to one recent report, the number of wild animals on Earth has halved in the past 40 years, as humans kill for food in unsustainable numbers and pollute or destroy habitats, and worse probably lies ahead.

Two European grey wolves in Finland. As Wolf numbers have flourished, they have come into conflict with humans.
 Two European grey wolves in Finland. As Wolf numbers have flourished, they have come into conflict with humans. Photograph: Alamy

Action is urgently need, say scientists. This point was acknowledged in 2010 at a major international conference in Japan, where governments agreed to establish a network of reserves and protected seas that would, by 2020, cover 17% of Earth’s land surface and 10% of our oceans.
“With more than two years to go, we now have about 15% of land protected and about 7% of oceans,” said one of the London conference’s organisers, Mike Hoffman, of the Zoological Society of London.

Should we give up half of the Earth to wildlife? | Environment | The Guardian

Sunday, 18 February 2018

Knowle relocation project: and failing to sell luxury flats

PegasusLife are in the business of selling high to high-earners nearing or at retirement age - or, to put it another way, "persuading retired people to trade in the equity in their home for the lease of a retirement flat":
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: PegasusLife appeal >>> deadline today for submissions >>> the issues
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: of Paradise Papers and specialising in vulture funds

Actually, new-builds are a bad investment, so it seems:
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: Why do 'half of new-build retirement homes sell at a loss'?

Especially in the retirement market:
The hidden costs of retirement properties - Telegraph
Incredible story of how McCarthy & Stone retirement flat in Clacton-on-Sea fell from £250,000 to £60,000 in eight years - The Sun

Meanwhile, in London, the high-end market is not doing so well, as this report from a couple of weeks ago shows:
Ghost towers: half of new-build luxury London flats fail to sell | Business | The Guardian

As for East Devon, a correspondent notes that pressure is also coming from Westminster to stop building so many luxury flats which aren't selling:

"The government have put out to local authorities that they want to see more investment in heritage. 
Basically none of these expensive developments are selling and they are not looking good. 
So authorities can change Local Plans if it means investing in heritage where they think realistically apartments won't sell..."

See what the Overview committee at East Devon has to say on the matter:
Overview committee minutes - East Devon

Although both District Council and developer would like it otherwise:
Futures Forum: "Is Sidmouth to become simply a ghetto for the super-rich and a cash-cow for the Council? "