Friday, 7 April 2017

The Silent Killer: Air Pollution - Q&A - Festival of Debate Spring 2017

Sheffield Friends of the Earth has organised a public talk called The Silent Killer: Air Pollution - Q&A for this spring's Festival of Debate.

An expert panel will be discussing the health risks of air pollution, which is estimated to lead to the premature deaths of 500 people in Sheffield every year, and calculated to cause £160 million in lost working days in the city due to illness.

The expert panel includes:
Everyone is welcome to attend this free event so please come along and ask your questions about this invisible threat. You must book a ticket via the link here.

The talk will take place on Monday 22nd May from 18.00 - 19.30 in the Raynor Lounge (Level 1) at the University of Sheffield Students' Union. The full address is:

University of Sheffield Students' Union
Raynor Lounge (Level 1)
Western Bank
S10 2TG

To find the Students' Union and transport options see the link here
To view floor plans inside the Student's Union see the link here

Useful Resources and Links

Monday, 20 March 2017

Air Pollution Campaign Update - March 2017

Air Pollution Map
Richard has found a couple of useful local websites: this wasn't an easy site for me to navigate, but it has a lot of air pollution info.

care4air is the South Yorkshire clean air campaign. This seems to be run by the councils but it does have a lot of info and links.

On the council's digital map there seems to be a view that the city centre air quality is okay. Richard's analysis hasn't found this to be the case. Readings on Lady's Bridge, Arundel Gate near Crucible, Pond Street, Waingate, Leopold St, Fitzalan Sq were all high. There were no tubes on Fargate, Church St, High St, the crossing between Millennium Galleries and SHU on Arundel Gate, around Cumberland St/South St/ Eyre St. There are more gaps around the city centre and the wider city.

There has been a recent entry on the FoE map on Gell St near Springfield School in the city centre. The reading is high which backs up what I was saying.

Sheffield FoE tubes have not yet been entered on the FoE map. The tubes have a shelf life of eight weeks.

Air Pollution Day of Action:
Richard suggested passing on the media stunt ideas for the air pollution campaign to national Friends of the Earth. Shaun passed them on, along with a copy of the article from the Star where we were installing the diffusion tubes.

Festival of Debate 
Aaron has organised a talk for this spring's Festival of Debate. It is called "The Silent Killer: Air Pollution - Q&A" and will take place on Monday 22nd May - 18.00 - 19.30 at the Sheffield University Students' Union - Raynor Lounge. Anyone is welcome to attend.

Our expert panel including Greg Fell, Sheffield's Director of Public Health, Jane Thomas a former senior campaigner with Friends of the Earth UK, Natasha Askaroff (Healthy Planet) and Harriet Edwards (British Lung Foundation) will be discussing the health risks of air pollution, which is estimated to lead to the premature deaths of 500 people in Sheffield every year, and calculated to cause £160 million in lost working days in the city due to illness. Come along and ask your questions about this invisible threat.

Sheffield Friends of the Earth will be contributing £90 for the cost of the venue.

Friends of the Earth Air Pollution Update
Momentum in the fight for clean air is growing. A recent YouGov poll for Friends of the Earth showed that nearly two thirds of adults in the UK are worried about air pollution. But surprisingly, it also revealed that just 1 in 10 think the air they breathe is dirty – despite most areas of the UK breaching EU pollution limits.

To improve awareness of the problem, we’ve launched our ‘Clean Air Kits’ - a ground-breaking citizen science project that enables people all over the country to discover what their local pollution levels are.

We’re delighted that so far over 2,000 individuals and 45 local groups have started measuring pollution near them. The results are plotted on our national air quality map and will inform a report presented to Ministers ahead of the Government’s final air quality plan this summer.

We're offering our local groups up to 10 free air monitoring tubes.

We're planning a week of action from 24 June - 2 July to heap the pressure on the government. Lots more info on how you can get involved soon!

Council Statement on Air Quality
Beatrice mentioned by email that the council's statement on air quality is:

"We want a city where our air quality is good, and where air pollution is reduced to a point well below the European Health Limit values. Despite our efforts to date, Sheffield is still in breach of EU
Air Quality Limit Values relating to Nitrogen Dioxide (NO₂) gas which should have been met by 1st January 2010. A key contributor is road traffic, in particular diesel vehicles, where engine technology is not performing as expected in urban areas like Sheffield. In terms of the standards set by the EU for fine Particulate Matter (PM10) dust pollution, all our monitoring stations are indicating that we are in compliance, although there is no safe limit for this pollutant. Our current approach is to encourage the take-up of low emission fuels and technologies which cause less pollution whilst making public transport, cycling and walking as attractive and easy as possible. Overall however, it is quite clear that air quality in Sheffield has not improved and this is a significant issue for the Council, one which impacts upon our citizens’ health and well-being and the City’s overall prosperity. As a result of a High Court Ruling on 21 November 2016, Government must produce a new National Air Quality Plan in draft by 24 April 2017 with a final version by 31 July 2017. Sheffield was not one of the areas originally identified by the Government as requiring a Clean Air Zone (CAZ) by 2020, but we are aware that a number of additional cities will be mandated to have a CAZ in the upcoming plan. Better air quality is vital for the long term sustainability, health and wellbeing of the city. We are ambitious to improve air quality in Sheffield and are keen to explore a range of measures to improve air quality across the city. "

This is what the recent budget said about air pollution so hopefully changes will be made later in the year:

"5.11 Air quality “The government is committed to improving air quality, and will consult on a detailed draft plan in the spring which will set out how the UK's air quality goals will be achieved. Alongside this, the government will continue to explore the appropriate tax treatment for diesel vehicles, and will engage with stakeholders ahead of making any tax changes at Autumn Budget 2017."

Habitats Campaign Update - March 2017

Smithy Wood
There was a demonstration about the proposal to build a motorway service station at Smithy Wood. See the BBC article here. The Sheffield Star reported that there are plans to build a rival motorway service station near the M1/parkway junction. See article here.

Rotherham Waste Site
We were contacted by a resident living in Kimberworth, Rotherham where the Environment Agency have granted  a variation to a permit that is allowing a local operator to deposit 205,000  tons of waste per year. The site is surrounded by an Ancient Woodland which  will be subject to damage because of this action. There has been a large public outcry and Rotherham Borough Council are involved. The only issue that  has not been discussed so far is the environmental impact of this action. David agreed to contact pass on this information to wildlife and woodland groups to see if they could help.

Renewable Energy Campaign Update - March 2017

It was mentioned at a previous meeting that Sheffield Climate Alliance (SCA) have secured a space in the Sheffield Telegraph to write a "Big Challenge" article each week for a year. SCA invited Sheffield Friends of the Earth to contribute an article so Shaun agreed to write a piece on storage options for renewable energy. The article submitted is as follows:

Critics of renewable energy suggest we’ll struggle to power the country because there are times when the wind isn’t blowing or the sun isn’t shining. However, a recent report by Friends of the Earth suggests that the majority of our electricity supply could run on renewables with the right mix of energy storage and smart technologies. Not only is this good for the environment, but it will create employment opportunities for people living in South Yorkshire’s cities.

Water is similar to renewable electricity because it is also intermittent. There are days, and even weeks, when the umbrellas can be put away, but everyone remembers the torrential downpours. The intermittency challenge for water was solved by storing it at different scales from water butts to giant reservoirs, thus allowing the taps to be turned on regardless of the weather.

The water butt storage equivalent for a solar home is to install a battery pack similar to Tesla’s Powerwall. The surplus electricity is stored for use when the clouds pass over during the day and at night when the sun has set. The battery would soon be exhausted if there were a number of consecutive cloudy days, but they could be topped up when there is excess wind power. Clearly it won’t allow homes in this country to be completely self-sufficient so other solutions will need adding to the storage portfolio.

Continuing with the water analogy, there are a number of technologies which could be classed as small dams. These include compressed air, flywheels, pumped hydro and large batteries. Typically they can help the national grid at peak times, but on their own they won’t solve the intermittency issue.

The large scale storage options, equivalent to big reservoirs, include Power to Gas. The basic idea is to run electrolysers whenever there is an oversupply of renewable electricity. These devices split water into its component parts of hydrogen and oxygen.

The hydrogen can be used to fuel hydrogen vehicles, which in principle could be plugged into homes to act as a power station on wheels. Another option is to store the hydrogen in storage tanks which can be converted back to electricity using a fuel cell when required. In some cases it can even be injected directly into the gas network. Because hydrogen can be difficult to store, it is often easier to mix it with other gasses to produce a green gas.

Anaerobic digestion (AD) is a process which allows organic waste (for example, food, manure, sewage and grass) to rot down. The end result is a liquid fertiliser and a number of gasses including methane and carbon dioxide. The methane is normally cleaned up and burnt to generate electricity. However, it would probably be better to pump the methane into the national gas network where it can be used to generate electricity or to heat homes when there isn’t a lot of renewable energy.  The carbon dioxide extracted from the AD process can be mixed with the hydrogen to produce more methane. Again this could be pumped into the gas network for use at a later time.

As the gasses have come from waste plant sources rather than digging up fossil fuels, the process can be considered carbon neutral and isn’t a threat to the planet’s climate.

The first stage of the renewable journey has been to install and demonstrate that renewables work. The big challenge for the second leg of the journey is to ramp up the UK’s renewable capacity along with storage and smart technologies. This will allow us to keep the lights on regardless of the weather, fight climate change and create jobs.

Fracking Campaign Update - March 2017

We have heard a rumour of landowners in the Stannington area of Sheffield being approached by Ineos - presumably for seismic testing or even drilling. Stannington is in Ineos' PEDL301 - their licence stipulates a work programme in which a well of 3500 metres depth has to be drilled by July 2021. If anyone hears anything please let us know and we'll pass on the message to Sheffield Against Fracking and Frack free South Yorkshire.

NHS Sustainability and Transformation Plan - March 2017

Aaron has been to a public meeting regarding the NHS Sustainability and Transformation Plan. The basic message is that environmental sustainability and how it affects our health is not addressed.

You can download the plan here and the link to the CCG Sustainability and Transformation Plan survey is here.

Stalls Update - March 2017

There is a stall on Saturday 8th July. Richard and Shaun were planning to do it but it is down to Shaun now. Is anyone else free to help? It only has to be for an hour or two.

Any Other Business - March 2017

Campaigns survey
There are many campaigns that Friends of the Earth could run. But with limited resources they need to make a choice, focusing on the package of campaigns that a) makes the biggest real-world difference in protecting our environment, b) gets more people volunteering their time with us on and offline and c) raises the money we need to function.

The Senior Leadership Team will consider results alongside input from staff and office volunteers by the 29 March and make the final choices regarding our work for next year, subject to Board approval. These are great opportunities for you to feed into the direction Friends of the Earth will take regarding our local group network and our campaigning impact.

If you’re planning to visit a garden centre or DIY store to get your garden ready for spring, why not help with our new peat survey? With the National Trust, RSPB and Plantlife we’re asking people to help us get a snapshot of how many shops are still selling peat and if they are offering their customers a decent range of peat-free alternatives. You can help by using our quick online / mobile phone survey by 27 March, telling us where and when you saw peat being sold.

Monday, 20 February 2017

Air Pollution Campaign Update - February 2017

We received good press coverage of the our local air pollution monitoring campaign which involved several members of the group placing 5 diffusion tubes around the city to monitor pollution levels.(see below). Our press release asked the public for suggestions where the second batch of monitoring tubes could be placed. The Star's article didn't mention this so we are now going to place most of the second batch were there are currently gaps in in monitoring around Sheffield. This will be based on Sheffield City Council's air pollution digital monitoring map. We agreed that a tube from the second batch would be saved so we could place it out side Radio Sheffield's studio. Aaron will contact the radio station to see if he can arrange an interview, ideally when the results from the first batch are available.

A letter from Louise Haigh MP to Richard focuses on the need for a national framework and enforcement mechanisms since national consultation on clean air zones (and using information from British Lung Foundation).

We agreed that whilst we had shared campaigning interests with the Green Party, as a non-party political group, we could not directly endorse their specific campaign and it would be better to work together under Sheffield Climate alliance, for example. Positive “quick win” activities could be generated and shared with national Friends of the Earth. For example, getting motorists to “Beep if you want to go electric” or could use an app generated by Festival of Debate team to highlight poor air quality.

The Clean Air campaign day of action is 24th June and we need to think about ideas for a stunt.

As part of this spring's Festival of Debate we are planning to host a panel with Medact on air pollution with, hopefully, Prof Jeremy Wight in May. We still need other/additional panel members.

  1. Richard to check digital map and suggest locations before the next meeting; 
  2. Richard to ask John when we might get next batch; 
  3. Aaron to contact Radio Sheffield re interview ideally when results available.
  4. All to consider ideas for quick win actions. Richard and Aaron to further investigate their specific ideas.
  5. Aaron organising FoD event and contacting other potential panel members – suggestions please.

Food Campaign Update - February 2017

John has been in contact with Bev from SCA and will be meeting her very soon and would be keen to continue the flexitarian food campaign. We were planning to review the food campaign but this has been postponed until the next meeting as John wasn't able to attend this meeting.

We need to review the food campaign and what might be the most productive future activities to maximise impact, potentially to get campaign to a bigger audience and work with other groups. There is the potential to write a 500-600 word article for a weekly Sheffield Telegraph feature.

  1. All to review the food campaign next meeting. 
  2. Shaun to consider drafting an article for the telegraph about energy storage to address concerns people have about "intermittent" renewables. There is scope for people to write about other issues including food.

Fracking Update - February 2017

Richard reported back on a very positive public meeting and the Anti-Fracking Network meeting held in Sheffield and hosted by Friends of the Earth. The meetings involved anti-fracking groups from all parts of the region was very productive with groups expressing a wish to come together again.

There have been multiple articles in local papers in response to the 8 page INEOS “advert” for fracking, largely against fracking.

Richard attending a meeting in Doncaster this week and there is a march planned for Saturday 25 Feb starting 12 noon from Mosborough to Eckington, then to Marsh Lane. Activities are generally hotting up around Marsh Lane where INEOS plan to drill an exploratory well.

On the 4 March there is an all day event to “Power Up” to share expertise from the University of Sheffield's Planning Department.

See the diary for all up and coming events!

  1. All to consider attending fracking meetings and march if possible. 

Habitats Update - February 2017

Smithy Wood
David wasn't at this month's meeting so there is no update.

Sheffield Trees Action Group (STAG)
Richard used Beatrice’s presentation at the tree action group conference. The Woodland Trust attended and they are taking an interest in “urban.trees”. Their  “Tree Charter” is worth signposting - see the link here. They could also raise profile of Smithy Wood campaign which is already on their website,

New street lighting will also potentially cause problems for trees as well as wildlife (research briefing shared at meeting by David G, Solar Active) but evidence consistently ignored. Future opportunities may include “Wilder Visions” programme and UKECONET. For more details about LED street lighting contact

  1. Aaron to report back at next meeting: on “Wilder Visions” international programme/UKECONET led by SHU researcher Prof Ian Rotherham.

Trade Deals Update - February 2017

Actions to date have included a joint event with Global Justice, a petition and lobbying of local MEPs in Sheffield and Leeds.

The EU parliament voted on CETA. UKIP did not attend and local Labour MPs voted for it, so parts will rapidly come into effect, but individual countries need to ratify fully for full implementation. UK unlikely to oppose so it depends on other countries to block it.

Stalls - February 2017

We don't have any stalls booked for this summer.

The Climate Activism Zone is planned for Peace in the Park but we need to identify both dates and activities for our 2017 stalls.

  1. Liddy to book for 8th July Beighton.Gala – Shaun and Richard are both available at the moment – more volunteers are needed to man the stall. Can you help? 
  2. Discuss further stalls at the next meeting.

Other News - February 2017

Solar Active AGM takes place on 27th April, Howard Building Sheffield Hallam University with a Health & Wellbeing focus. Sheffield FoE can support and publicise via the website. see

Climate Refugees Conference – attended by Aaron; need for more joined up policy in relation to climate change, refugee related campaign and other policy areas – similar issues in relation to State of Sheffield report and local city policies; still need to get specific “win-win” policies where we can offer solutions.

  1. David G to send information to Shaun for website link.
  2. Aaron to raise at next Sheffield Climate Alliance meeting; all can consider writing letters to local media in response to local policy documents suggesting missed opportunities for more joined up policy.