Autumn brings some new campaigns and some old favourites return in the form of annual events, such as In Town Without My Car Day and Buy Nothing Day.
Energy and Climate Change
The Big Energy Conversation that we have been involved with over the summer has led to us developing a great deal more knowledge about renewable energy schemes in Birmingham and people’s thoughts about how the situation can be improved. We have had some volunteers writing up great case studies that we can learn from on a local level and pass the information on to inform national campaigners, too.
The next step is a campaign where FoE will be taking on the power of big energy companies and trying to ensure that we switch to more community-based projects that share the benefits better and can take more people out of fuel poverty.
Our most urgent campaign for now is on the new National Planning Policy Framework, for which we urgently need to put pressure on MPs to make sure that significant amendments are made before it goes through the House of Commons as part of the localism bill. The desperately-needed protections for the environment are completely missing from the draft policy published by the government, so this would have a massive impact on our ability to protect local communities if it is passed. Read the main article for more details.
Local issues connected to this are also at the forefront of our thoughts at the moment and we are supporting local people running campaigns to protect the markets in the centre of Birmingham and to stop supermarkets in Acocks Green and Stirchley. You can read more about the Markets Campaign in our guest article and I’m sure that there will be more on supermarkets soon.
This month we have had some great support from Friends of the Earth nationally for our campaign to Halve Birmingham’s Rubbish, as they produced a survey showing how much people with food waste collections are in favour of them. This led to an appearance on radio to talk about it and we now have over 600 signatures on paper and electronic versions of our petition.
We will be launching our report on Birmingham’s waste at the Sustainability Forum at the beginning of October, which we hope will lead to the council taking forward the recommendations from it into their Municipal Waste Review.
For In Town Without My Car Day this year, we have been inspired by an idea from Brighton and ran five Bike Trains into the centre of Birmingham along different routes. This has taken on a lot of the work I mentioned in the last issue about working together with other cycling organisations. We have also had contact with lots of businesses who have helped to promote it and some lovely independent coffee shops who have helped us to feed all the cyclists at the end of the route. See the article for more details.
Hopefully this will lead to more collaboration and better contact for our other transport campaigns as we move into the new year. We are still pushing for proper trains to be running through Kings Heath, Moseley and other parts of the city as well as Bike Trains and hope that the government will keep its promise not to neglect those if the High Speed Rail line is built. We also hope to launch a new project soon to engage more communities in planning their streets to be safer and greener.