Response to Porthcawl Regeneration Plans

Last week Sustainable Wales joined the Climate Emergency Campaigns with a constructive challenge to Bridgend Borough Council.

“When will Porthcawl become a Low-Carbon Community?”

The challenge, outlined in a document  delivered to Chief Officers and Councillors,  is to see Bridgend Borough Council at the forefront of leading Porthcawl’s transition into a low-carbon community.

Porthcawl Regneration

Porthcawl Regneration

The charity’s response is submitted at exactly the same time that voices, from octogenarian Sir David Attenborough to  teenager Greta Thunberg, are being raised to describe our climate emergency, whilst student strikes and Extinction Rebellion demonstrations are occurring internationally. 

Sustainable Wales (SW) wants Bridgend Borough Council to build on its planning, energy and transport strategies and take a pioneering leadership role amongst local authorities.

“Our challenge seems ambitious, says Margaret Minhinnick, SW Director, “but reflect the bare minimum of what should be achieved by any regeneration of Porthcawl.” 

Sustainable Wales has welcomed Bridgend County Borough Council’s outline plans for the regeneration of Porthcawl. “The resort could be ‘on the cusp’ of great things” she continued.

“Porthcawl can showcase the way ahead. The resort’s regeneration provides it with perhaps the most exciting moment in its history.  Ongoing consultation with the community is therefore vital.”

Storm Porthcawl Harbour SW LOGO cover.jpg

SW volunteer, Kristian Evans, a father of two young boys, says: “The ‘climate emergency’ is happening now. Our children will bear the consequences of our choices and we cannot ignore the scale of the challenges they are facing. Kicking the can down the road is not an option.”

"We urge BCBC to seize this opportunity to make our resort relevant”, Margaret and Kris say. “A ‘bog standard’ regeneration is not what the town requires or deserves."

The document, ‘Porthcawl: a low carbon future?’ is now available on-line, whilst copies  have been sent to relevant councillors and community action groups, such as Porthcawl Civic Trust, the resort’s Chamber of Trade, and BAVO.

Download the…

Press Release (Word docx).

Response Document from Sustainable Wales (PDF screen resolution).

Listen to the successful public meeting "Producing our own Energy"

An engaged audience listened and questioned the guest speakers: Chris Blake
Community Energy Wales, Robert Proctor RENEW Wales / Community Energy Wales, Shea Jones
Re-Energising Wales Project Officer, Institute of Welsh Affairs, Ceri Williams Bridgend C.B.C. and Margaret Minhinnick, Director Sustainable Wales.

The meeting was chaired by Richard Thomas (Sustainable Wales) and Introduced by Councillor Huw David, Leader of Bridgend County Borough Council. Welsh Government and Rural Development Plan (reach, BCBC) representatives were also present to talk with attendees and provide information on their current activities. Thanks to all who attended and spoke, and the help of the Grand Pavilion, Porthcawl staff for enabling the event to run smoothly. 

An audio podcast of the meeting is now available. Listen now or download below or directly access the recording at SoundCloud where it can be downloaded.

Original description details of the event.

Other podcasts are available from Sustainable Wales

This recording omits the Shine a Light? film as you can watch that separately on our site 

Response by Madeleine Moon, Bridgend MP over TTIP amendment vote

Original query to MP:

I urge you to support the ‘TTIP amendment’ which I understand is being tabled to the Queen’s Speech. I thoroughly disagree with the Government’s support of the EU-US deal (known as TTIP), and this is one of the very few opportunities which parliament will have to formally challenge this trade deal.

TTIP is a real threat to our public services, our food and environmental standards, and our democratic system. Although I oppose TTIP entirely, this amendment would at least ensure some protection to the NHS. And it sends a powerful message to the government on TTIP as a whole.

I would be grateful if you would respond to me to tell me how you plan to vote.


Madeleine Moon MP voting records

Madeleine Moon is the Labour MP for Bridgend. (Profile)


Response:

From: "MOON, Madeleine" <madeleine.moon.mp@parliament.uk>

Subject: RE: Please support the ‘TTIP amendment’

Date: 1 June 2016 12:42:23 BST

To: "mm@sustainablewales.org.uk

Dear Ms Minhinnick,

Thank you for your letter. The central purpose of TTIP is to remove trade barriers between the EU and the US. It is regarded by proponents, along with the UK’s continued membership of the EU and NATO and the retention of an independent nuclear deterrent, as an essential component of the UK’s future defence and economic security. It has been suggested that the rejection of TTIP would fragment European-US relations and would thereby assist the strategic objectives of the Putin regime in Russia. It has even been suggested by defence analysts that the Russian Government has provided assistance to organisations protesting against TTIP.

Nevertheless, many fear that the deal will have unintended consequences and could open up our public services, particularly the NHS, to acquisitions by US companies. As you know, Michael Bowsher QC, the former chair of the EU law committee of the Bar, has recommended that the UK Government push for a provision excluding the NHS from TTIP. In a recent letter to Lord Livingston, the European Trade Commissioner, Cecilia Malmström, sought to address and allay these concerns: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/398608/Letter_to_Lord_Livingston_from_Cecilia_Malmstr_m_NHS_TTIP.pdf. She states that under the deal:

Member States do not have to open public health services to competition from private providers, nor do they have to outsource services to private providers; Member States are free to change their policies and bring back outsourced services back into the public sector whenever they choose to do so, in a manner respecting property rights (which in any event are protected under UK law);  It makes no difference whether a Member State already allows some services to be outsourced to private providers, or not.

Until government provides details of how the ‘Investor-State Dispute Settlement’ (ISDS) will work in TTIP, however, the deal’s critics will remain unconvinced. Under this mechanism private investors will potentially have the right to sue the UK government for introducing any regulation that could potentially damage the corporation’s investment or future profits. Supporters of the deal, such as the Labour MP John Spellar, doubt the likelihood an ISDS being used to challenge government policy or to open up public services to private investment. They point to the fact that under pre-existing trade deals, the government has only been subject to an ISDS on two occasions. During a recent debate, Helen Goodman MP responded to this point by suggesting that her concerns are ‘not about the number of court cases taken; it is about ministerial action being inhibited for fear of those court cases’. By exposing the government to the threat of lawsuits by litigious US companies, this provision could prevent or dissuade the government from responsibly regulating the UK economy. It was for this reason that MPs on the BIS Commons Select Committee recently criticised the government’s uncritical support for TTIP: http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/mar/25/mps-denounce-government-ttip-plans.

Critics who argue that TTIP will increase the power of international corporations to circumvent UK government regulations are worried about its consequences for climate change and the green energy industry. One of the key objectives of European negotiators is to have the US ban on oil exports repealed. As well as increasing the transatlantic trade in oil, a repeal would also facilitate the export of Canadian-mined sand and tar to the EU. The greenhouse gasses emitted in the extraction of these substances is thought to be 23 percent high than the average fuels used in the EU. The import of cheap oil and natural gas extracted through ‘fracking’ could also undermine the production of renewable energies in the EU and UK.

There have also been concerns about the secretive manner in which the deal has been negotiated. The recent attempts of the American car industry to cover-up the safety standards report so as not to deter European policy-makers from signing up to TTIP, have undermined the credibility of the deal. The automotive industry will profit more than any other from TTIP and critics are concerned that these predatory business practices may become established in the UK.

TTIP has the potential to benefit the UK economy. Britain is a trading nation and balanced trade deals have a positive impact on jobs and growth. The government and EU trade negotiators must therefore respond constructively to critics of TTIP and arrive at a deal that benefits workers, consumers and public-service users.

I was unable to vote on the TTIP Amendment in the Queen's Speech. Because I was 'paired' with a Tory MP who had suddenly fallen very ill, my absence did not affect the outcome of the vote.

Yours sincerely,

Madeleine

Schumacher Institute Discussion Paper in advance of COP 21: ‘Carbon landscape: a pre-COP21 perspective’

As we run up to COP 21 in Paris we have produced a discussion paper called ‘Carbon landscape: a pre-COP21 perspective’. This presents the picture of carbon management and regulation as it applies today and it considers the impact that current and future regulatory developments are likely to have on UK businesses and their environments.  It also reports on progress made - the extent to which the UK is on track to meet its carbon reduction targets.
Download here (PDF)

Businesses operating in the UK are increasingly required to comply with a raft of environmental regulation and legislation relating to their carbon emissions as well as their broader energy efficiency. In addition, companies must consider the changing cultural backdrop which is leaning towards green investment and polluter divestment. In this report we consider the impact that current and future regulatory developments are likely to have on UK businesses and the environment in which they operate. We also consider the extent to which the UK is on track to meet its carbon reduction targets and any factors that may influence its progress. 

Schumacher Institute website

COP 21 Paris website

The Sustainable Innovation Forum (SIF15) is the largest business focused event held during the annual Conference of Parties (COP), taking place this year on 7- 8 December at COP21 at Stade de France (gate E) in Paris.

Building on year-round work from Climate Action and the UN Environment Programme, the 2 day Forum will convene cross-sector participants from business, Government, finance, UN, NGO and civil society to create an unparalleled opportunity to bolster business innovation and bring scale to the emerging green economy.