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Bill Oddie Joins Opencast Coal Mine Protest



Yesterday Bill Oddie joined activists in Northumberland protesting an opencast coal mine. The naturalist and broadcaster attended a beach party and picnic where protestors rallied against proposals for a huge opencast coal mine near Newcastle. Banks Mining, part of the Banks Group, has put forward the proposal.

The event, organised by Save Druridge and supported by Friends of the Earth and other groups, is being held to celebrate Druridge Bay, which is under threat from plans for a huge opencast coal mine that will cause massive environmental destruction next to one of Northumberland’s most beautiful and loved beaches.

The proposal, by Banks Mining, would see up to three million tonnes of coal excavated by 2023 on a site spreading across a square mile of land.

National and local campaigners are opposing the development because the opencast mine would scar the landscape, affect habitats and bird life in the area, impact on tourism and lead to more climate-changing carbon emissions.

Bill Oddie, Naturalist and broadcaster, said: “When I heard that there was a threat of opencast mining in Druridge Bay I honestly thought it had to be a rather sick April Fool’s Day prank. Heaven knows, we are used enough to having to combat new developments, but this is a grotesque step back to the bad old days. It is a matter of history that opencast mining was responsible for the major desecration of this part of Northumberland.

“It was a glorious step forward when the mining ceased and wonderfully successful regeneration began to take place. For years it has flourished.

“I myself have had tremendous pleasure enjoying the rich wildlife and imaginative management of Druridge Bay, Cresswell, Hauxley and other areas which combine to form one the finest wild areas in Britain. It is a tribute to what can be done. It must not become a monument to desecration. That opencast mining could once again be the Nemesis is simply staggeringly ironic.”

Local resident and Save Druridge member Lynne Tate said: “Northumberland were given a Silver Award last year in British Tourism, just missing out to Cornwall for Gold. This shows how much tourism has grown in our county.

“The proposed opencast mine will not only cause devastation in the form of pollution from dust, fumes, traffic, noise and wildlife displacement, but could also harm our tourism industry, which is growing year upon year and hugely boosting employment.

“Many people would bypass Druridge Bay if an opencast mine were allowed. It doesn’t make economic sense to give planning to a company which has just mothballed a mine at Rusha in Scotland three years early. We hope the planning committee sees sense and throws this application onto the scrapheap where it belongs.”

Friends of the Earth campaigner Guy Shrubsole, who spoke at the event, said: “Digging an opencast coal mine at Druridge Bay would desecrate the local landscape, be a tragedy for the region’s tourism and a disaster for the climate.

“It’s clear that the balance of public opinion in Northumberland is firmly opposed to the mine. It’s time to leave fossil fuels in the ground. Northumberland councillors should be in no doubt that this is also a decision of national significance and will echo for years to come – they can and must reject this mine.”

Photograph: Save Druridge


Build, Buy, Or Retrofit? 3 Green Housing Considerations



green housing techniques

Green housing is in high demand, but it’s not yet widely available, posing a serious problem: if you want to live an eco-friendly lifestyle, do you invest in building something new and optimize it for sustainability, or do you retrofit a preexisting building?

The big problem when it comes to choosing between these two options is that building a new home creates more waste than retrofitting specific features of an existing home, but it may be more efficient in the long-run. For those concerned with waste and their environmental footprint, the short term and long term impacts of housing are in close competition with each other.

New Construction Options

One reason that new construction is so desired among green living enthusiasts is that it can be built to reflect our highest priorities. Worried about the environmental costs of heating your home? New construction can be built using passive solar design, a strategy that uses natural light and shade to heat or cool the home. Builders can add optimal insulation, build with all sustainable materials, and build exactly to the scale you need.

In fact, scale is a serious concern for new home buyers and builders alike. Individuals interested in green housing will actively avoid building more home than they need – scaling to the square foot matter because that’s more space you need to heat or cool – and this is harder to do when buying. You’re stuck with someone else’s design. In this vein, Missouri S&T’s Nest Home design, which uses recycled shipping containers, combines the tiny home trend with reuse and sustainability.

The Simple Retrofit

From an environmental perspective, there’s an obvious problem with building a new home: it’s an activity of mass consumption. There are already 120 million single-family homes and duplexes in the United States; do we really need more?

Extensive development alone is a good enough reason to intelligently retrofit an existing home rather than building new green structures, but the key is to do so with as little waste as possible. One option for retrofitting older homes is to install new smart home technology that can automate home regulation to reduce energy use.

Real estate agent Roxanne DeBerry sees clients struggle with issues of efficiency on a regular basis. That’s why she recommends tools like the Nest Thermostat, which develops a responsive heating and cooling schedule for the home and can be remotely adjusted via smartphone. Other smart tools for home efficiency include choosing Energy Star appliances and installing water-saving faucets and low-pressure toilets. These small changes add up.

Big Innovations

Ultimately, the most effective approach to green housing is likely to be aggressive retrofitting of everything from period homes to more recent construction. This will reduce material use where possible and prevent further aggressive land use. And finally, designers, activists, and engineers are coming together to develop such structures.

In the UK, for example, designers are interested in finding ways to adapt period houses for greater sustainability without compromising their aesthetics. Many have added solar panels, increased their insulation levels, and recently they even developed imitation sash triple glazed windows. As some have pointed out, the high cost of heating these homes without such changes will push these homes out of relevance without these changes. This is a way of saving existing structures.

Harvard is also working on retrofitting homes for sustainability. Their HouseZero project is designed for near-zero energy use and zero carbon emissions using geothermal heating and temperature radiant surfaces. The buildings bridge the gap between starting over and putting up with unmanageable heating and cooling bills.

It will take a long time to transition the majority of individuals to energy efficient, green housing but we’re headed in the right direction. What will your next home be like? As long as the answer is sustainable, you’re part of the solution to our chronic overuse – of land, energy, water, and more.

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How the Auto Industry is Lowering Emissions



auto industry to clean air pollution

Currently, the automotive industry is undergoing an enormous change in a bid to lower carbon emissions. This has been pushed by the Government and their clean air plans, where they have outlined a plan to ban the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2040.

Public Health Crisis

It is said that the levels of air pollution lead to 40,000 early deaths in the UK, with London being somewhere that is particularly bad. This has led to the new T-Charge, where heavy polluting cars will pay a new charge on top of the existing congestion charge. Other cities have taken action too, with Oxford recently announcing that they will be banning petrol and diesel cars from the city centre by 2020.

Eco-Friendly Vehicles

It is clear that the Government is taking action, but what about the auto industry? With the sale of petrol and diesel plummeting and a sharp rise in alternatively fuelled vehicles, it is clear that the industry is taking note and switching focus to green cars. There are now all kinds of fantastic eco-friendly cars available and a type to suit every motorist whether it is a small city car or an SUV.

Used Cars

Of course, it is the cars that are currently on the road that are causing the problem. The used car market is enormous and filled with polluting automobiles, but there are steps that you can take to avoid dangerous automobiles. It is now more important than ever to get vehicle checks carried out through HPI, as these can reveal important information about the automobile’s past and they find that 1 in 3 cars has a hidden secret of some kind. Additionally, they can now perform recall checks to see if the manufacturer has recalled that particular automobile. This allows people to shop confidently and find vehicles that are not doing as much damage to the environment as others.

Public Perception

With the rise in sales of alternatively fuelled vehicles, it is now becoming increasingly more common to see them on UK roads. Public perception has changed drastically in the last few years and this is because of the air pollution crisis, as well as the fact that there are now so many different reasons to switch to electric cars, such as Government grants and no road tax. A similar change in public opinion has happened in the United States, with electric car sales up by 47% in 2017.


The US is leading the way for lowering emissions as they have declined by 758 million metric tons since 2005, which is the largest amount by far with the UK in second with a decline of 170 million metric tons. Whilst it is clear that these two nations are doing a good job, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done in order to improve the air quality and stop so many premature deaths as a result of pollution.

With the Government’s plans, incentives to make the change and a change in public perception, it seems that the electric car revolution is fully underway.

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