Andrew Cooper Talk – 20/07/2016

andrew cooperOn Wednesday 20th July, Cllr Andrew Cooper visited Barnsley for a free, public talk on Energy. Andrew is the Green Party’s Energy Spokesperson, and has been a Councillor in Kirklees for 17 years. In that time, he has implemented a number of Green Party policies on housing and energy. He is also the Lead European elections candidate for the Yorkshire region.

The first thing that strikes me about Andrew is his passion for what he does. His enthusiasm and pro-active work ethic resonates when he is speaking, and his knowledge from 20+ years working in the energy efficiency industry makes it clear why he is Green Party’s energy spokesperson.

The conversation started with the last General Election. Despite not winning, the Greens have the best energy policies of any mainstream, UK party. Policies such as the Free Home Insulation Programme, which aimed to insulate 4 million homes every year, were discussed at the meeting. Such a programme would cost £4bn a year and create 80,000 jobs. More information can be found here. Andrew talked about the future benefits of this scheme, which would decrease energy use and emissions, save people money on their energy bills, and therefore mean less money going to energy providers – win, win, win!

Andrew then talked about his job as a councilor in Kirklees, and how he has introduced Green housing and energy policies to the area with enormous success. He has already led a successful effort in insulating 50,000 homes across Kirklees for free. This was directly inspired from Green Party national policy. Approximately £3 million a year has been saved in energy bills from these newly insulated homes. Imagine if this policy was rolled out across the UK!

We then moved on to discussing solar energy, which Andrew has called for a massive re-investment in after the industry has declined in recent years. When creating the solar policies for the Green Party, Andrew explained how he visited solar companies and consulted with professionals for their input. He said:

I approached them and asked them for their most ambitious but realistic solar policy.

By going directly to the professionals, the Green Party was able to create a progressive, yet robust solar policy, which would benefit the environment and stand up to scrutiny.

The conversation topic then moved on to Passivhaus (pronounced: passive-house), a standard to which properties are built which can save 10% of energy use, which equals to a saving of around £1,000 a year in energy bills. It is Green Party policy that all new build homes and buildings should be built to Passivhaus standard.

Fracking was also a heated topic of discussion, after Barnsley Councils recent Local Plan has revealed that the council will generally support fracking in the area. It is, however, a completely different story in Kirklees, where the Green Party motion to oppose fracking was passed. In their Local Plan, the council are clear about the fact that fracking applications in the area will be considered providing  the company can produce evidence that their operations will have not have a negative impact on climate change. Clever, right?
This policy doesn’t necessarily mean the government will abide or even listen, but it sends out a message about what their values as a council are.

Finally, the conversation moved to discussing the current government’s green energy initiatives, and the EU. So far, tariffs have been cut for solar energy, it has been made even harder to utilise offshore wind energy, and the climate change department has been scrapped by Theresa May. Andrew stated that this current government have come up with the worst energy efficiency programme he has ever known, and the repercussions for this will be huge.

As for the EU, Andrew explained how all countries that are part of the European Union were expected to follow the 2020 climate change and energy targets. This legislation set targets for countries to achieve a 20% cut in greenhouse gas emissions (from 1990 levels), 20% of EU energy from renewable, and a 20% improvement in energy efficiency. As we are now quickly approaching the deadline, countries like Sweden and Germany are steaming ahead and will not only achieve, but surpass their green energy targets. The UK, on the other hand, will almost certainly fail theirs, despite been given only a 15% target to achieve.

This is not only disgraceful, and proof of how backwards recent governments have been in their energy and climate change initiatives, but the UK will also be expected to pay a hefty fine for not reaching the target – a cost which was completely avoidable.

This isn’t just about green energy, it’s also about conserving energy and reducing demand. This is why Green Party polices on insulating homes and Passivhaus are so important, and would be effective in reducing energy consumption and climate change.

Finally, we were reminded that when all else fails, plant trees! Take carbon out of the atmosphere and highlight the fact that the government needs to do more.

The Barnsley Green Party can be found on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/GreenPartyBarnsley/
We hold meetings at 7pm on the second Thursday of every month, at the YMCA in Barnsley.

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Dale Turner – Your Candidate for Penistone East

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Help elect Barnsley’s first Green councillor! Click here to support our campaign.

I am standing as the Green Party candidate in Penistone East Ward in the Barnsley local elections on 5th May 2016.

We have been canvassing hard recently in the area and spending what little funds we have on producing excellent literature to help get our message across to the electorate. Unlike the major political parties we are up against, we don’t have large financial backers and other funds to call on.

This is where you may be able to help. As a Green Party member or supporter, you can make a donation to help us fund our campaign this time and also give us a kick-start towards future elections and the production of a quarterly newsletter.

So why not help us build on the Green Surge and achieve our goal of electing Barnsley’s first Green councillor.

However much you can give would be very much appreciated by myself and everyone on our team who is working so hard to achieve our goal.

So if you can, get involved and let’s bring about the change to local politics that Barnsley really needs.

Please give what you can spare and help elect me to represent the good people of Penistone East on 5th May 2016.

All Barnsley wards that the Green party is standing a candidate:

Central – Kate Raynor
Old Town – Amy Walker
Kingstone – Chris Scarfe
Dodworth – Ian Parker
Worsbrough – Lauren Conway
St Helens – Alan Jones
Penistone West – Richard Trotman
Penistone East – Dale Turner

Natalie Bennett to visit Barnsley!

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Natalie Bennett, Leader of the Green Party
Friday 11 March, 6.30pm
The Core, Country Way, Barnsley S70 2JW

Barnsley Green Party are proud to present and evening with Natalie Bennett, leader of the Green Party, at the Core in Barnsley.

Natalie has been the elected leader of the Green Party since September 2012. She was previously the Co-ordinator of Camden Greens and founding chair of the Green Party Women’s Group. In the 2015 General Election, she stood in Holborn and St Pancras, winning 13% of the vote.

Within the party she’s been an active worker on policy, on issues ranging from the abolition of the Corporation of the City of London to abortion rights, proportional liability on the roads to job-share MPs and a 40% quota for women on major company boards, the treatment of women offenders and the rights of asylum-seekers and sex workers.

Natalie served as the internal communications coordinator for the party from September 2007-2010 and was the founding chair of Green Party Women.

Natalie will be visiting local projects during the day then is speaking from 6.30pm. It’s “pay what you can afford” event with a suggested donation of £2/£3. It would be great to see as many people as possible there. We’re also planning to hold a raffle; if you are able to donate a prize let us know.

We would like to hear your views

Barnsley Green Party think that it is important to give Barnsley people a voice. We want to understand your concerns about where you live and know what you think the important issues are in your area.

Please take part in our poll and choose a category. You can leave additional comments in the contact form below. It would also be helpful to know which Barnsley council ward you live in.

Would you be happy to discuss these issues further? If so please contact us.

Thank you for your time and consideration!

Appeal for local groups to meet with Green Party leader

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Do you have a local group worth shouting about? Natalie Bennett, leader of the Green Party is visiting Barnsley on Friday 11 March and would like to meet with some of our community groups.

“Natalie’s visit could really help to raise the profile of the fantastic work that many of our local groups carry out in the community,” explained Barnsley Green Party’s Dale Turner.

“We would like to hear from any local groups around Barnsley centre that are open on a Friday afternoon and would like to meet with Natalie.”

Any interested groups should contact Barnsley Green Party on 07769 688170 or email info@barnsley.greenparty.org.uk.

Natalie Bennett to visit Barnsley

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Exciting news! Natalie Bennett, the leader of the Green Party has agreed to visit us in Barnsley on Friday 11 March 2016.

We are currently finalising the details of a venue for Natalie to deliver a speech to a public meeting and hope that as many Barnsley Green Party members as possible will attend.

More details soon.

Can we still afford the luxury of green belt? Yes we can!

On January 29th, the Barnsley Chronicle published a letter by Michael Clynch, an architect from near Penistone, under the title ‘Can we still afford the luxury of green belt?’

Barnsley Green Party member Dale Turner has responded.

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Dale Turner of Barnsley Green Party

Michael Clynch: Currently the Barnsley borough has 77% of its land designated green belt. Most of the land is agricultural, but much is of poor quality, of little visual value and often with oddly drawn boundaries which defy logic and common sense. Nationally only around 11% of land is actually built over including highways and railways. Much of the land has green belt status. The original purpose of green belt land was intended to prevent “ribbon developments” where developers bought up road frontage land connecting towns and villages. Build costs were low because highway access and drainage was freely available. Unfortunately green belt has achieved an almost religious status among Friends of the Earth and other unelected quangos and lobby groups who would prefer no development at all and certainly no housing where people would actually like to live.

Dale Turner: We should all be thankful that we are lucky enough to live in an area with such a high proportion of designated green belt.

As Michael mentioned the main purposes of green belt land are to check the unrestricted sprawl of large built up areas and to prevent neighbouring towns merging into one another. However there are other purposes which are to assist in safeguarding the countryside from encroachment, to preserve the setting and special character of historic towns, and to assist in urban generation, by encouraging the recycling of derelict and other urban land. We must also remember that we share this planet and the land within it with other species and flora and fauna. Green belt land protects their habitat and allows the planet to provide enough oxygen for us human beings to thrive. So the more green belt land we build on, the less oxygen is provided for the human race to live harmoniously alongside the other species and flora and fauna of this planet. We are only one species amongst many so what right have we to use up all the land for our own ends.

MC: The government has wisely abandoned ‘zero carbon’ housing initiatives not least because the Royal Institute of British Architects calculated that it would add £50,000 build costs to a family home.

DT: As for the government wisely abandoning zero carbon housing initiatives because of costs it is stated in research carried out by the “Sweett Group for the Zero Carbon Hub” that current additional build costs of a semi-detached house are under £5,000 and it is expected that these will reduce to £3,500 by 2020. This seems to be very much at odds with the figure of £50,000 quoted by Michael.

MC: The green lobby has covered the country with useless windmills and forced up energy costs massively for factories and homes and is a major reason we recently lost our steel industry.

DT: The useless windmills that Michael refers to are currently along with other renewable sources such as solar power generating 21.6% of the UK’s electricity grid. A survey conducted by consultants for the parliamentary climate change committee states that the UK could be generating at least 65% of the UK’s demand by 2030, but only with sufficient investment. The main reason that the UK has all but lost its steel industry is almost entirely due to the flooding of the UK and European markets by cheap massively subsidised Chinese steel driving prices and down and meaning the UK’s steel industry is unable to compete. In short successive UK governments have allowed unfair competition to decimate our steel industry and have stood by and let it happen.

MC: Recent flooding is not caused by global warming, but by lack of river clearance in the green ‘biodiversity’ cause i.e. care of a few fresh water mussels and crayfish counts more than people’s lives.

DT: Whilst the recent flooding is not exclusively caused by global warming it contributes massively to the changes in our weather patterns and the repeat of 200 year flooding events 3 times in one decade is all the proof we need. Climate change sceptics need to wake up and smell the coffee. The other major factor in the recent floods in the north was the clearing of bogs on the moors by landowners to provide grouse shooting for the wealthy few. We must not overlook the fact that these floods were predicted and could have been reduced, if not fully prevented, had the government not cut the funding it had promised to deliver.

MC: The ‘no fracking’ group are following a similar route. There is a great opportunity or England with new sources of gas in a well regulated industry. This will provide reduced heating costs for our homes and factories as it has done abroad with no real risks.

DT: The ‘no fracking’ group are protecting us all from an inept industry, with no real regulation that will destroy our beautiful countryside and pollute our air, cause earthquakes, pollute our drinking water with a toxic mix of chemicals used to fracture the bedrock. Each well will use up to 5 million gallons of our precious clean water over its lifetime. The toxic mix will escape via split or deteriorating well casings and pollute our water supply and farmland, and once it is polluted there is no treatment that can remedy this. Also property values near to wells will be adversely affected. Need I go on, the scientific evidence is there for all to see from the USA and Australia where local communities are fighting back to ban fracking in a number of states now they can see the effects on their landscape and the massive risk to health it brings.

The reduction of heating costs from shale gas is a complete myth and the continued development of renewable energy sources will render this irrelevant. Most of the gas will be exported abroad once it has been produced anyway.

MC: We need many new homes and not just on expensive to reclaim brown field sites. The green lobby should recognise a period of silence from them would be a good idea.

DT: I agree we need to build many new ‘affordable and sustainable’ homes and doing this on brown field sites is much better than stealing green belt land for this purpose. To meet our commitment to the Paris Climate summit of limiting increase in global temperatures of no more than 1.5% much more is needed to be done by the government and every single one of us. Not just moving towards renewable energy sources but also reducing our consumption of the planets resources. Unless we all strive to reduce our usage of this planets resources it will all be too late sadly, not for us but for future generations.

It is only the green lobby speaking up that will save our planet from catastrophe.

Standing for election: you can do it too!

Barnsley Green Party member Kate Raynor, talks of her experience standing as a local candidate in last year’s elections.

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I have lived in Penistone East for around 5 and a half years, having moved to Silkstone from Barnsley town centre. I stood in the local elections for Penistone East in May 2015 which was my first involvement with local politics. I’ve always lived in Barnsley and have a great affection for the area.

I work for a local company, volunteer for a charity which provides meals for the homeless, and help run the youth club at the village church. Silkstone has become our home and as a family we really enjoy village life and getting involved in the things that go on here.

When I first decided to stand in the local elections I had only been a Green party member for a matter of weeks. I hadn’t even attended a local meeting yet. I had joined on a bit of a whim but the values and ideology of the party struck a chord with me.

I had initially felt quite happy to pay my membership fee and assume someone else would take responsibility for the rest. A request was sent out looking for paper candidates to stand in as many areas as possible.

I’ve been so disillusioned with politics in recent years but feel strongly that democracy and women’s suffrage are really valuable. I knew that others, like me, would want to vote but may not feel represented in the options on their ballot paper. As no one else came forward to represent my ward, I decided to sign up, to allow myself to vote for a party I agreed with as much as anything else.

It was the first year that Barnsley had stood any candidates, in local or national elections. So the experience was new and daunting for all of us. As well as a number of local candidates, we had a national candidate who stood for Barnsley Central. He had political experience and it was quite motivating to hear him speak about Green Party politics.

I chose not to do any campaigning for myself. I work, have two children and several other commitments. I didn’t feel ready to actually BE a councillor yet. Efforts were also concentrated on the national candidate and I was quite happy to help with that and allow my nomination to slip quietly by.

The main hurdle, and the only real effort, was the paperwork. After a frantic night of form filling in the nominating officer’s living room, with some great support from regional officers who checked over everything to make sure we got it right, we did it!

It felt a little surreal, but quite exciting, to see my name on the ballot paper. Quite a few people I hadn’t expected to be green supporters were fairly enthusiastic when they told me they’d voted for me. It prompted some interesting discussions with people I would never normally discuss politics with.

I found it really encouraging that there was an interest and affinity towards Green Party opinion, especially because all the current councillors in my ward and most historically, are Conservative.

When the results came in that we had got 14% of the vote we were gobsmacked! The candidate we stood in nationals got a similar number of votes throughout the whole constituency and on the back of some fantastic public speaking and a lot of leafleting.

I can’t take any credit at all. Of course some people knew me locally, but there had been no publicity or press release to say who I was or what I would do as a councillor. I can only imagine it was a general appetite for change which led to 949 people to vote for me under the Green Party banner.

I think it’s really important that people have the chance to vote for someone they actually want. Instead of it being a case of choosing the best of a bad bunch. I don’t think the local party had anticipated Penistone East being of interest, but now, on the back of that result, it will be our target ward for the 2016 elections with Dale Turner standing this time.

We plan to put some work in, to talk to the residents, understand what their issues are and how we might be able to help. And hopefully build a bit more of a presence in the area; maybe even gain a Green councillor so we can really make more of a difference.

If anyone is considering standing I’d urge you to. You don’t need to do any campaigning or publicity. Although I’d been warned that I may be contacted by press or public, I only received a single email to ask my view on a traffic concern. The chances of being elected are slim, but you could be giving a voice to hundreds of people who want to say; we want something different. We don’t want politics as usual.

Make a New Year’s resolution and be more Green in 2016

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As 2016 approaches and our thoughts turn to the coming year, perhaps this could be the year that you help to make a difference?

2016 promises to be a busy year for Barnsley Green Party. We have the local elections in May, fracking licences now extending over most of the borough, austerity is biting hard, the effects of climate change gathering pace and a substantial threat to our green belt, now is an important time to make a stand and to get involved.

There are many ways in which you can help.

Join the Green Party: Our membership continues to grow as we fight on many fronts, standing up for the environment, fighting austerity and holding those in power to account. Join us today.

Stand as a Green Candidate in the local elections: We aim to stand a candidate in each of the 21 wards in the Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council area. Even if you don’t expect to want or be able to do any campaigning, you could help give hundreds of people in your area the opportunity to vote Green, and give the party a foundation to build upon in future elections. More info here.

Help us to campaign: We have a number of campaigns planned for 2016, across a wide variety of issues. Maybe you could help us with an existing campaign, or perhaps you know of an issue on which you would like to make a stand? We welcome contributions for our website by party members on local and Green issues. Please contact us. You can also attend our monthly branch meetings.

Spread the Word: You can even help us without leaving your living room, by signing petitions, sharing our social media posts on Facebook and Twitter and making your friends and family aware of the issues on which we campaign. If you would like to be more active, you could help us to distribute leaflets. Please contact us for more info.

2016; there has never been a better year to be more Green!

Our next meeting is;

Thursday 14th January 2016 at 7pm

All meetings take place at the Barnsley YMCA, 1 Blucher St, Barnsley, S70 1AP.

Our local party contact is Dominic Wood. Call 01226 791188/07553 134015 or email info@barnsley.greenparty.org.uk.

Local groups condemn new fracking licences

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A day after MPs voted to allow fracking under national parks, new exploratory fracking licences have been released, including one which covers Barnsley.

93 licences to explore 159 blocks of land across the UK were granted on Thursday 17th December 2015. One of those blocks (SE30b) covers an area that includes Barnsley town centre, Cudworth, Barugh Green, Dodworth, Hood Green, Worsbrough, Birdwell, Ardsley and Elsecar.

Barnsley Green Party have condemned the newly released fracking licences. A spokesperson explained, “This is very bad news for Barnsley and the surrounding areas. Wherever fracking has been practised it has left behind a trail of environmental damage.

“When fracking moves into an area there may be a promise of quick benefits for local communities, but the reality is often that the few local jobs that are created dry up once the fracking is finished and communities are left to live with the consequences.

“Fracking will not even improve our energy security or bring down bills, as any gas produced will be sold on the open market and may not even be offered to British consumers.”

David Burley of Frack Free South Yorkshire joined the condemnation, commenting, “Only one week after signing the international agreement to curb climate change, our UK government seems hell-bent on doing the exact opposite, regardless of local wishes. Shale gas is yet another fossil fuel that scientists around the world say we should leave in the ground. This ‘dash for gas’ is bonkers.

“Fortunately, opposition continues to grow: South Yorkshire MPs Michael Dugher, Dan Jarvis, Ed Miliband and shadow front-bencher Louise Haigh have already called for a moratorium on fracking.

“Frack Free South Yorkshire will be actively supporting the ‘No Fracking in Barnsley’ campaign to give the people of Barnsley the facts about fracking.“

The independent campaign ‘No Fracking in Barnsley’ will hold a meeting on Tuesday 5th January 2016, from 6.30pm at Barnsley YMCA to discuss the threat of fracking in the area.