Friday, 31 January 2014

PRESS RELEASE - HS2 REPORT: IF THE GOVERNMENT WON'T TRUST THE PUBLIC, WHY SHOULD THE PUBLIC TRUST THE GOVERNMENT? ASKS GREEN PARTY CANDIDATE



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Andrew Cooper, 01484 667519 | 07721 348619
Green Party Energy Spokesperson, Kirklees councillor
Yorkshire & Humber Lead Euro candidate.

A leading Yorkshire & The Humber Green Party Euro-candidate has condemned the decision by the Coalition Government to block a report that is believed to be highly critical of the planned High Speed 2 railway line which is proposed to cut a swathe through scores of communities in our region.

Cllr Andrew Cooper said,
"I am appalled that the Government has used an obscure legality to overturn the decision of the Information Commissioner to release this report. I am even more disturbed that the Government
Minister, Patrick McLoughlin, who announced the decision claims literally that "there is a strong public interest against (the report's) disclosure" (1) to the public. Mr McLoughlin was previously quoted arguing for its suppression because it would create "political and presentational difficulties" (2). That doesn't sound like having anything at all to do with the public interest - quite the opposite, in fact. It is being done to protect the Coalition, not the country and certainly not our County."

The report was drawn up for the Major Projects Authority, which used it to review the plans, currently costed at over $42 billions but likely to be even more expensive if it goes ahead. Leaked documents from the MPA late last year suggested that the review concluded that the viability of the HS2 project was doubtful, but the Government has steadfastly refused to release any details in spite of being ordered to do so by the Information Commissioner. It has now invoked a rarely used power to veto the Commissioner's instruction.

"The HS2 project is revealing just how controlling, patronising and secretive our Government has become," said Cllr Andrew Cooper."If they won't trust the public, how on earth is the public supposed to trust them?"

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

PRESS RELEASE -Coalition fails industry, the consumer and the Environment by opposing EU Renewable Energy Target

Green Party Energy Spokesperson Councilor Andrew Cooper has condemned the Government for lobbying against a new binding Renewable Energy Target for the UK by 2030.

Today the EU Commission has confirmed that there will be no mandatory Renewable Energy target in 2030 to follow on from the legally binding 2020 Renewable Energy target.

Councillor Cooper said,

"It is hardly surprising that the Coalition Government is arguing for no 2030 Renewable Energy Target as it is one of the few countries in Europe that is currently dismally failing to achieve its 2020 target. Shamefully the UK has only got to reach 15% of total energy from renewable sources  by 2020 compared with 20% across the EU. Feeble UK govt energy policies have meant for a long time that the government which promoted itself as 'the greenest government ever' were heading for failure from day one."

"The flawed argument the government has used against a mandatory EU target is that it would push up energy prices. This position lacks credibility. If you significantly invest in energy efficiency and large scale insulation measures you will achieve permanent cuts in demand, making it easier to achieve your  percentage renewable energy target. This will help people reduce their energy bills and avoid fuel poverty at the same time. It is not simply just a matter of building more wind and solar farms to accommodate demand. Investment in energy efficiency gives us more choices in our energy mix and the Coalition has singularly failed to grasp this. They lack the vision, the policies and the commitment to take control of the important issues affecting the UKs Energy needs. You really have to ask yourself what the point is of the supposedly 'green' Lib Dems if this is the best we can expect from this Government"

ENDS

Sunday, 19 January 2014

PRESS RELEASE New homes must reduce the impact of Flooding and heavy rainfall

Andrew Cooper speaking at a Parliamentary Select Cttee on flood funding in 2013
A Green Party speaker has expressed shock that the Government may be about to tear up plans that protect against flooding in favour of an easier planning regime for builders.
Cllr Andrew Cooper, who is lead Green candidate for Yorkshire & The Humber in May’s European elections and also speaks nationally for the party on energy and the environment, said that the aims of the 2010 Flood Act to ensure that building developments minimised the risk of flooding are more important now than ever.

“Just in the last fortnight, we have seen phenomenal weather storms that have battered towns and communities across Britain,” said Cllr Andrew Cooper. “Our region was perhaps spared the worst this time, but we have had plenty of instances of severe flooding across Yorkshire and the Humber – just ask people in Hebden Bridge, Barrow Haven or Walsden[1]. It is important that the Government and local authorities ensure that developers build housing that doesn’t just withstand the growing number of extreme weather events we are seeing, but plays a part in reducing the impact of heavy rainfall and floods.”

Central to Cllr Cooper’s concerns are calls from the House Builders’ Federation to drop planning requirements for drainage systems to be included in building developments[2]. Instead, the HBF argue that councils should be responsible for building and maintaining higher capacity sewage systems to take away excess water – councils have responded by asking the Government to let them bill owners’ of new houses for the cost of this if the HBF’s proposal is adopted.

“This is simply ludicrous,” Cllr Andrew Cooper said. “The HBF seems to be purely concerned about minimising developers’ costs, and maximising their profits, rather than considering the impact of their activities on local communities and even on the people they sell their houses to. Why should local taxpayers or new home owners foot the bill for building companies’ wanting to cut corners and save on their costs at the price of increased flooding?”

Cllr Andrew Cooper said that the Green Party has had deep concerns about the Coalition’s intentions on development even before it published its National Planning Policy Framework[3], which many environmental experts have argued is a gift to land-grabbing developers rather than a plan for sustainable housing.

“Any new building needs to take account of the changes to weather we are seeing already,” said Cllr Cooper, “but more than that, architects, planners and developers need to be thinking constantly about how their work impacts on our society and environment. Cutting costs today simply piles up an ever bigger price to pay in future"

[1] http://www.itv.com/news/calendar/story/2013-07-29/floods-in-north-yorkshire/
[2] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-25676973
[3] http://greenparty.org.uk/mediacentre/releases/green-party-responses-to-national-planning-policy-framework-consultation.html


Friday, 17 January 2014

Green Motion on Robin Hood Tax succeeds



















Today Kirklees has passed a motion in support of a Financial
 Transaction Tax. It could raise as much as £20 billion of additional 
revenue a year from a tiny tax of about 0.05% on transactions 
carried out by financial institutions– not ordinary individuals. 

Proceeds from the tax, also known as a Financial Transaction Tax
, could help get people back into work, be invested in infrastructure 
and public services, as well as helping us live up to our international
commitments.

Green Councillor Andrew Cooper said:

“The effects of reckless banking practices in the City of London have
 been felt by every community in the UK and many around the world – 
it is only right banks now pay their fair share to repair the damage they
 have caused.”

“If local councils are being asked to bear 28% cuts that have hit local 
people hard, it doesn’t seem unreasonable to ask the banks to pay 
a tax of as little as 0.05%.”

It would take less than one week of FTT revenue to fund the salaries 
of 4,000 new police constables, 4,000 newly qualified nurses and 
4,000 teachers.

The Council will resolve to write to the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime 
Minister, Leader of the Opposition, Chancellor and Shadow Chancellor
 of the Exchequer and Secretary of State for Communities and Local 
Government stating this Council’s support for implementing a 
wide-ranging Financial Transaction Tax that could help rebalance 
Britain away from an over-reliance on the City of London. 

The Council will also write to all local MPs outlining the Council’s position.

11 European countries, including its biggest economies – France, Germany,
 Italy and Spain – are set to introduce the policy as early as 2013 and it will
 raise them almost £30bn per year

You can find out more about the Financial Transaction Tax from the Robin
Hood Tax campaign. Website:www.robinhoodtax.org.uk

Sunday, 12 January 2014

PRESS RELEASE - "No Fracking Way!" - Say Greens



A Leading Green Politician has condemned the Coalition Government's proposed 'incentive ' to local Councils and communities accepting environmental damaging shale gas extraction (otherwise known as fracking.)

Green Kirklees Councillor Andrew Cooper who is also the Party's Energy Spokesperson said

The fracking process is subject to significant methane leakage which is a damaging greenouse gas. There are also a number of well documented instances of water courses being polluted. The process uses millions of gallons of water and toxic chemicals.

Government has backed environmentally damaging shale gas extraction just as it has scaled back support for people to insulate their homes through the Energy Company Obligation.

What the government really needs to do is properly invest in energy efficiency measures for households so they can permanently reduce their energy needs. The Coalitions Green Deal is a dismal failure and they have drastically cut the Energy Company Obligation to improve the insulation of homes. Government clearly has no interest in helping householders control their energy demand they simply want to

It is significant that there is no claim by the PM any more that fracked gas will reduce fuel bills for householders and it is clear that it will have no benefit for those households in fuel poverty.

It is also significant that this policy is not being applied to renewable energy installations demonstrating the governments growing lack of commitment to the green economic sector.

The Government supposedly believes in ‘localism’ and allowing Councils to make their own decisions. When Council funding is drastically cut by central government and they are then offered money to accept fracking on their land it is clearly nothing less than ‘bribery’. Councils should simply have access to 100% of the business rates collected in their area with no coercion from central government on how they spend it.

We are likely to see huge local opposition to fracking , and the Government knows it. Right round the world Greens are supporting local community campaigns against fracking in their neighbourhoods.

ENDS

Leo Sayer’s Australian Anti Fracking Campaign Song ‘No Fracking Way’


PRESS RELEASE - GREENS OPPOSE THREATS TO ANCIENT WOODLAND (and Clannad with 'Ancient Forest')

Wood at Farnley Tyas - Liz Rainer

Ancient woodland in Yorkshire and the Humber could be sacrificed to building under proposals which open a new front in the battle to protect our environment.

Environment Secretary Owen Paterson has suggested that developers could encroach upon ancient woodland if that was "offset" by planting new trees elsewhere.

But this is more than about numbers. Ancient woodland, by definition, has been in existence since at least 1600. New planting could not replicate the rich biodiversity which has grown up over centuries in places such as Smithy Wood, Sheffield, Bowden Housteads at Handsworth, nor the sites threatened by HS2, Water Haigh Woodland Park near Leeds and Woodhouse Washlands, near Sheffield.

Andrew Cooper, lead candidate for the Green Party in Yorkshire and the Humber at this year's Euro elections said:

"The Government obsession with HS2 and with woodland selloffs cannot be permitted to destroy nature's surviving crown jewels. Ministers are working in Brussels to weaken EU conservation laws; at home, they have slashed the budgets of official conservation bodies and are now looking for ways to smooth the path for development, even in special areas.

"The Conservatives have lost their one-time calling as conservers of our natural and cultural heritage. Here in Britain we shouldn’t be leaving it to the EU to be the force for good in nature conservation. It means preserving, not destroying, our remaining ancient woodlands."

The Government sees biodiversity offsetting as a means to make the planning system more efficient. The Greens see ancient woodland as being like a person: it isn't replaceable, it's a unique organism and old ones contain a depth and complexity that only long undisturbed stretches of time can create.

ENDS




Sunday, 5 January 2014

Kitchener - We don't need you! - Letter to Yorkshire and Humber Region Newspapers


Dear Sir,

Lord Kitchener, the great World War I recruiter, is to be the new face of the £2 coin.

Like so many of the statues of military men to be found around Westminster, Kitchener is a reminder of the days of industrial warfare and of the military and political leaders who made huge blunders costing millions of lives.

This was a case of 'lions led by donkeys' as has been described by several historians of World War One.

Shouldn’t 2014 be about remembering the monumental folly of war?

A  different, progressive choice for the £2 coin could have been a war poet, Wilfred Owen, Robert Graves, or Siegfried Sassoon. Or better still Vera Brittain, showing the female side of service and loss and working for a better world.

Instead they chose Kitchener – a man whose driving force was putting a million men more in the field than the enemy – knowing they were machine gun fodder and regardless of how many came back.

We really ought to be commemorating the end of World War I and not the beginning.

Yours sincerely,
Andrew Cooper
Yorkshire & Humber Green Party

Friday, 3 January 2014

Harder to Treat

For those of us working in the energy efficiency business the term ‘hard to treat’ refers to properties that cannot be cost effectively insulated using materials such as mineral fibre wool in the walls or the loft space.

A typical hard to treat property would be stone built and constructed around 1900 or before. Across West Yorkshire there are hundreds of thousands of these terraced properties which, though they have a cavity wall, have stone ties between the 2 walls to give it stability. Modern properties have metal ties and can be insulated relatively cheaply using mineral fibre wool. Stone tied properties can’t be insulated in this way due to the possibility of ‘cold bridging’ across the cavity wall creating cold spots and damaging condensation on the internal wall. Its at this point we come to the good news/bad news section of this blogpost.

The good news is that there is a material which can insulate these cavity walls called ‘Technitherm’. It is a polyurethane foam which is manufactured over the hill in Lancashire but don’t let that put you off. It has higher thermal performance properties than mineral fibre wool and as such is deemed to warm up the walls sufficiently to make the cold bridging issue insignificant according to the Building Research Establishment. It is of course more expensive than standard insulation but under some of the funding levels which were obtained under the Energy Company Obligation it was just about possible to fully fund the installation of insulation to these properties.

Now for the bad news, due to the proposed changes to the Energy Company Obligation funding hard to treat properties will effectively be impossible. In many areas these homes are predominantly occupied by households on modest or low incomes. A huge opportunity to develop a new mass insulation programme has been lost to gain a minor temporary and short term reduction in energy bills in response to a campaign run by the energy companies themselves and the right wing media such as ‘The Sun’.

There are millions of homes that could benefit from hard to treat cavity wall insulation products and you have to wonder at the wisdom of spending somewhere between £50-80 Billion of public funds on HS2 when it could be used to improve the properties of people in fuel poverty putting money back in their pockets and not bolstering the profits of the Big Six