With neighbouring groups, Wivey Action on Climate & Environment presented a petition to a full meeting of Taunton Deane Borough Council on 22 February 2018, calling on the local authority to resolve to become a single-use plastic free council. 861 local people* had signed to show their support through a campaign on the 38 Degrees community petition website. After a debate involving many councillors from all parties, the Council unanimously backed our petition.
The petition called for single-use plastic products to be phased out in all council activities, where reasonable and possible, by April 2019, and for alternatives to be championed, such as reusable water bottles, cups and cutlery.
Councillors showed that they shared our concern about the damage being done to marine wildlife by throwaway plastics. Many attended the meeting with reusable mugs and bottles, including the Lady Mayor, Councillor Hazel Prior-Sankey.
The Council should now submit a public report by October 2018, which summarises single-use plastic within the council, progress and plans for phasing it out, including by encouraging others; with a further update by April 2019.
*861 people signed the petition including 15 signing a paper copy.
Wiveliscombe Town Council joined a growing number of Somerset parish and town councils to oppose fracking at it’s monthly meeting in December 2017.
After discussing a paper presented by Dave Mansell, the following motion was unanimously agreed:
The town council has noted that licences have been awarded for oil and gas exploration in parts of Somerset, including an area along the coast from Minehead through Watchet to Burnham-on Sea. If approved by permitting authorities, extraction could be by drilling and hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as fracking. The town council is concerned this could pose a threat to water supplies, public health and the countryside, and, instead of new supplies of fossil fuels, prefers investment in clean energy sources to address the global threat of climate change. On current evidence, Wiveliscombe Town Council opposes exploration for oil and gas in Somerset, which could then lead to extraction by fracking.
At our November 2017 meeting, there were two illustrated and fascinating talks on the signs and effects of climate change in the Wiveliscombe area.
Simon Ratsey, who has been recording local weather since the 1960s, covered indicators of climate change.
Gareth Varney, who works for the Environment Agency, considered changes in local rainfall, groundwater and river flows.
Findings included annual temperatures now being 1.2°C warmer than in the 1960s and recent summers being warmer and wetter. Air frosts have decreased and the growing season has extended by about two weeks.
The Somerset floods in 2013/14 followed sustained rain over several months, which was above average intensity and frequency. Other contributors to flooding include increased run-off related to building and changes in crops or tree cover.
Rising sea levels from climate change could be Somerset’s biggest concern, as 1,000s of miles of tidal defences will need raising to continue to protect low lying homes.
Click on both names above for a summary of each talk and links to the slides shown for both presentations.
For information on the global effects of climate change see:
On 19 September 2017, about 30 people attended a showing at the primary school hall of A Plastic Ocean. This is a documentary adventure film looking at the global effects of plastics pollution and the technology and policy solutions that can, if implemented in time, change things for the better.
The showing of this film reflects thought being given to widen our group’s remit, which will be considered at our AGM in November.
A Plastic Ocean (trailer on YouTube) showed the horrible problems being caused by plastic pollution throughout the world, which is killing wildlife and threatening our health.
Additional slides (click to view) were shown and discussed on the sources of plastics pollution and actions being taken to help prevent it. The slides included:
A landfill site near Bridgwater, which is typical of landfill operations in the UK and most European countries, which are well managed and regulated. The site has been lined with a membrane and clay and will be capped and covered when it is eventually full. Tipped waste is covered at the end of each day with inert material. Leachate (water from site) is treated and about half the gas produced is captured.
Studies of mis-managed plastics waste have found that over 60% entering the world’s oceans comes from five Asian countries, including China and Indonesia.
An action plan from Green Alliance for the UK suggests that the most effective measure would be a deposit return scheme for plastic bottles. The plan also calls for enforcement of bans on maritime waste and to stop pellet pollution from industry, treatment of waste water to catch synthetic fibres from washing clothes and a ban on microbeads in all products.
Previous proposals to extract plastics from giant circulations in major ocean gyres are now realised to not be feasible, as the waste breaks down into small fragments and falls to the sea floor. It is more important to prevent the continuing flow of plastics waste into our seas.
Plastic bank is an interesting solution to provide value for recycling plastic waste in developing countries to help stop it being thrown away.
WasteAid UK shares waste management and recycling skills, and aims to make lasting changes to keep communities healthy and plastic out of the oceans.
In the UK, charges for carrier bags have reduced use by over 80%, starting with Wales in 2011 and, eventually, England in 2015. In July 2017, Michael Gove announced there would be a ban for some microbeads in cosmetics within a year. In September 2017, the Scottish Government announced a deposit return scheme for beverage containers within a year.
Bristol-based consultancy, Eunomia have suggested some plastics pollution can more easily be cleaned up on beaches before it is broken into smaller pieces.
Chris Goodall gave an excellent presentation on 26 June 2017* covering the subject of his latest book The Switch. He explained why a rapid transition to renewable energy is affordable and technically feasible, especially for solar power and storage. Click here to view notes and some slides from the meeting.
* Joint meeting at Taunton Quaker Meeting House by Transition Athelney, Forum 21, Taunton Transition Town, Transition Town Wellington and Wivey Action on Climate.