Outstanding-Third year in a row

It is not just the Friends of the Earth Falkirk volunteers who think that our Falkirk community gardens are outstanding. Each year are gardens are inspected by Keep Scotland Beautiful as part of the Its Your Neighbourhood Awards. The inspection has a number of themes that the gardens are assessed against. This year, for the third year in a row we were assessed at the highest level- Outstanding. The picture above shows Sandra and Jessica accepting the award at the Stirling prize giving event. 

The souvenir newsletter form the event is available to download here:www.keepscotlandbeautiful.org/media/250406/iyn-souvenir-newsletter-2015.pdf


Reflections of Hands over the Forth

HANDS OVER OUR FORTH by Daphne and Zella Paterson age 8

We woke up early and made our banners. They said “Solar Power, Wind Power, People Power”. Unfortunately mum spelled Power wrong on one of them. We got on the wrong bus with lots of people but then we got off and walked over to the other bus. The bus was full and we were with mum and dad and Sandra.

It took a long time to get to Edinburgh.

When we got off the bus, it was lovely and sunny. We had to wait a few minutes because people weren’t ready yet. While we waited, we saw a kestrel looking for some prey, but it was distracted so many times. For instance, once a crow tried to interfere. It was distracting it so the kestrel had to give up the prey and fight the crow. The two birds went away, close to the Forth bridge and did a few tricks like loop de loops, and then the kestrel finally shook off the crow and went back to hunting. Then magpies came and bothered the poor kestrel even more!

Then we got together for photo shoots. Some people had big banners and they were singing “No U.C.G. in Scotland”. There were lots of people so I went to the front to see better. A man asked mum’s permission to take our photo, he was from the Edinburgh Evening News. I wrapped my banner around me. 

It was a lovely surprise when we met Adam and Lucas who are our Quaker friends. We didn’t know they were going to be there.
We ran ahead up the bridge to get good views and to get our freedom from the grownups. These are some of the things we saw: 

We saw 2 people wearing Muppet helmets on a big motorbike. One had a blue Muppet head with the blue Saltire, and the other had a pink Saltire - they were both really fluffy! Then they drove across the bridge and hooted and we all waved which made me feel pumped!
We saw two little dogs wearing jumpers saying FRACK OFF and I pointed this out to Adam and he said it was a good joke.
We saw a huge container ship, it went underneath us and it hooted which was supercalifragilisticexpialidocious ;)

We walked right up to the middle of the bridge with thousands of people. There was a drone flying up and down to take videos of us. We waved at the drone.Then we all held hands and shouted but we had to let go hands when it was time to eat our sandwiches. 
There was a very good piper.

We were protesting because other countries like Australia are really suffering from fracking and these other ways of getting gas. We don’t want it to start in Scotland, we would rather use solar power and wind.  
That is what happened on Saturday 11th of October 2015!!

P.S. A big thank you to all the people that organised this great day!!!!! : ]


Our Forth Video and Hands over Our Forth event

Portobello-based community group "Our Forth" have created this 10 minute video about why the Forth needs protecting and how the local community are responding:https://vimeo.com/129339751 

Hands over Our Forth
Sunday 11th October, 2pm on the Forth Road Bridge
Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1642166826064509/
Petition: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/no-ucg-in-our-forth

People from all over Scotland and beyond are invited to join this family-friendly event to call for Underground Coal Gasification (UCG) to be included in the Scottish Government's temporary ban on fracking. The aim of the event is to create a line of people joining hands across the Forth Road Bridge, from the North Queensferry side in Fife to the South Queensferry side and needs about2,000 people for this to work! 



Reacting to news in Cluff Natural Resources interim statement that Cluff has put off indefinitely its plans for Scotland’s first Underground Coal Gasification project, Ms Flick Monk, Unconventional Gas Campaigner at Friends of the Earth Scotland said:

“Cluff’s change of mind is testament to the huge level of organised opposition to unconventional gas within the local communities around the Firth of Forth. This is great news for all those who have campaigned against this crazy scheme to burn coal seams under the Forth.

“Cluff is clearly running scared at the strength of feeling within both the community and the SNP grassroots membership, who have put out a powerful call to get Underground Coal Gasification included in the current moratorium on unconventional gas. Cluff has now revised its plans twice regarding the Kincardine UCG project, clearly because it is aware of how unwanted the development is by communities living around the Forth.

“Underground Coal Gasification is a highly risky technology that has caused widespread environmental damage in test projects around the world. The SNP conference is clearly heading for a very lively debate.

“Scotland’s ambitious plans for a safe energy future can not include coal and should instead focus on maximising our natural advantages in renewables. Climate science tells us that globally we must leave 80% of fossil fuels in the ground if we are to avoid catastrophic temperature rises of over 2C.

“With the threat of an imminent planning application in the Forth now lifted, it is certainly time for the Scottish Government to put a moratorium on this experimental technology so that the full health and environmental impacts can be assessed. Communities around the Solway Firth are also facing the possibility of Underground Coal Gasification from the company Five Quarter. They should be given the same safeguards as communities facing coal-bed methane extraction and fracking have been with the moratorium.“
Some Background

  1. Cluff Natural Resources Interim Results statement Tuesday 25th August http://www.cluffnaturalresources.com/documents/Interims25.08.15.pdf “While we continue to work with regulators and Halliburton on the technical aspects of the demonstrator project there are a number of external factors, including the on-going commission recently set up by the Scottish Government to review Scotland’s energy needs which is due to report in September 2015, a motion at the SNP Party Conference calling for the inclusion of UCG in its moratorium on onshore oil and gas and the Scottish Parliamentary Elections in May 2016, which have the ability to impact the development of the Kincardine Project. Accordingly we have deemed it prudent to await clarity on these matters before committing fully to, in particular, the expense of an Environmental Impact Study. As a result, work on a planning application will likely be postponed until after such time as the political situation is more certain. Preparatory work including site selection studies, modelling and design work are however well underway.”
  2. Cluff Natural Resources have plans to set fire to coal seams under the Firth of Forth and capture the gas produced http://www.cluffnaturalresources.com/projects.aspx

CalaChem Energy from Waste proposal

CalaChem are currently engaged in a community consultation to share their plans for a £150 million energy from waste plant at their site in Grangemouth1 . The new plant will replace an existing fossil fuel burning combined heat and power plant. As it is just at the consultation stage the level of information isn't as detailed as required at the planning stage and does not include an environmental impact assessment. The company hopes to start construction next spring and that the facility will be fully operational in 2018.

CalChem claim the new plant, “will help Scotland meet it’s zero waste targets because we will be burning waste rather than having it go to landfill”.2  Energy to waste is supported in principle by the Scottish Government and the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency, SEPA, but burning waste is clearly not the best option within the mix of generating less waste and recycling more. Energy from waste is not a renewable energy as it relies on the flammable fossil fuels within the the RDF to fire up the incinerator to create the heat to generate the heat and electricity. SEPA’s explanation of Energy from waste facilities  explain that, like all other combustable plants burning solid or liquid fuels, the incineration process can produce emissions in the form of:

acid gases, particulates, dioxins and heavy metals to air;

Energy from waste incinerators are industrial installations that burn the waste and rubbish that we throw out with our bins everyday. Incinerators can make electricity or produce heat and reduce the amount of waste going to landfill. These incinerators are often called ‘Energy- from-Waste’ or ‘Waste-to-Energy’ plants.

Possible issues associated with ‘Energy from Waste’ facilities:
  • They destroy valuable resources that we should be preserving and recycling. Reducing the rubbish we make and recycling more is a better plan of action for Scotland.
  • They can pollute our air and can be a danger to our health.
  • They create toxic ash from the burnt rubbish that needs landfilled.
  • They increase the number of trucks on local roads- CalaChem state 40 lorries a day.
  • They add to climate change by releasing carbon from waste.
  • They can lead to less recycling because paper and plastic are needed to keep incinerators burning.
  • They waste energy in other sectors. Recycling plastic can save five times more energy  compared with incineration.
  • They create fewer jobs than recycling.

2 Falkirk Herald June 18, 2015

Air Pollution
Some of the substances released can cause or worsen breathing problems, for example nitrogen oxides (NOx gases), sulphur oxides (SOx gases), and small dust particles called particulates (PM10 and PM2.5). Other substances like heavy metals and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are known to have various ill effects on human health. Many of these substances appear to be safe for humans at low concentrations. It’s more difficult however to be sure that there is no danger in the long-term, for example over years or decades of low concentrations.

The CalaChem facility is located within the Grangemouth Air Quality Management Zone
As well as the Petrochemical factories within this area, there is the ASDA distribution centre on the other side of Earl’s Road A904. The proposals for this plant requires 40 lorries of refuse derived fuel (RDF) a day to feed the incinerator.

Incinerators in the past, especially the scandal of the RECHEM incinerator in Bonny bridge  in the 1980’s, have had a negative impact on the health of the local residents. In recent years tough laws from the EU have forced incinerators to clean up but they still release toxic substances. 

More recently, Scotgen (Dumfries) Limited’s Dargavel energy-from-waste plant, in the Scottish Borders, was subject to numerous enforcement notices from the Scottish Environmental Protection agency. The first following multiple breaches of its pollution prevention and control (PPC) permit. In June 2012, the plant was shut down after one of its two waste lines breached emission limit values (ELV) for dioxins and furans, and SEPA demanded improvements were put in place. The second after a fire in July resulted in 800 tonnes of odorous waste being left on the site. 

Dioxins are a group of highly toxic, cancer-causing chemicals for which there is no safe concentration. It’s thought small amounts of dioxins are created as the gas from burnt waste cools. Dioxins are bio-accumulative which means they concentrate in fatty tissues. Because humans are at the top of the food-chain we’re likely to receive the highest dose of dioxins.

Stirling Council refused planing permission for an energy from waste plant in Throsk in 2012. One of the main concerns was the location in a small business park without sufficient infrastructure. In his appeal determination the Scottish Government reporter concluded: “The proposed waste to energy facility would be consistent with development plan allocation of the site and general thrust of national waste management policies. However, this is the wrong site for a waste to energy facility, principally due to its proximity to houses and a play area. In the absence of full details of the siting, design, height and layout of the buildings and chimney and of the site layout, it is not possible to properly assess the impact on nearby residents.


Our Annual Soup and Stovies Day 2015

The Bean Row community garden has had a bumper crop of potatoes, beans and rhubarb. The gardening team would like to invite you to our celebration of local food and community spirit and share a meal from our harvest. Our annual Soup and Stovies day will be held at Bean Row on Saturday 29th August, the same day as Falkirk's Charities Day- one of the busiest days of the year on Falkirk High Street. The event will be at lunch time between 12.30 and 1.30 and food will be on a first come first served. Fair Trade Tea and Coffee will also be available. on the same day Friends of the Earth Falkirk will have a stall on Falkirk High Street selling plants, books, homemade soup and a display of campaign materials. 


Important Heath Report on the risks of Fracking



Pedal on Parliament 4- Saturday 25th April 2015

Saturday 25th April 2015 – Pedal On Parliament 4 is go!
Cycling – making sense for Scotland 
Join us at the Meadows in Edinburgh at 12 noon to pedal down to the Scottish Parliament for a cycle-friendly Scotland

What POP wants
1. Proper funding for cycling (5% of the transport budget & 10% for active travel overall).
2. Design cycling into Scotland’s roads.
3. Slower speeds where people live, work and play
4. Integrate cycling into local transport strategies
5. Improved road traffic law and enforcement
6. Reduce the risk of HGVs to cyclists and pedestrians
7. A strategic and joined-up programme of road user training

8. Improved statistics supporting decision-making and policy

Friends of the Earth Falkirk will have representation at this event for the fourth year 

INEOS take their Fracking presentation on the road in Central Scotland

INEOS are holding public meetings in April across Central Scotland. The events are free but you need a ticket, you can register online using this link: http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/o/ineos-upstream-8022441725 . It is hoped as many people can get along to these events and hear what the public is being told.

Read Bella Caledonia’s coverage of the first meet held in Denny High School on 18th April:

INEOS bosses fail to ‘love bomb’ Denny residents

"If the performance by INEOS bosses at the first fracking community engagement event was reflective of the strength of their case – the shale industry should be worried."     Liz Thomson, Bella Caledonia

Meetings still to come:
Alloa Town Hall, 21st April, 7-9pm
Falkirk High School, 22nd April, 7-9pm
Kilsyth Academy, 23rd April, 7-9pm
Bishopbriggs Academy, 27th April, 7-9pm
Greenfaulds High School, Cumbernauld, 30th April 7-9pm


The Big Dig weekend gets the Spuds and Beans in for the year

On Saturday 21st March we had just the  ideal numbers of volunteers for the size of  our garden. The Big Dig weekend is now established as our springboard into our growing season. the group dug over the site, planted beans (the garden is on Bean Row, Falkirk) and potatoes. the site was given a good make over ready for additional planting once the soil heats up.


Big Dig 2015

This Saturday (21st March 2015)

there is an opportunity to join the Community Gardening team at the Bean Row Garden between 11am and 1pm. There are beans and potatoes to go in and the garden to be prepared for later planting. 


Fracking public meeting - 28 January, Grangemouth Town Hall

Time: 7pm to 9pm
 Grangemouth Town Hall, Bo'ness Road, Grangemouth, FK3 8AN
Time: 7pm to 9pm
Organisers: Falkirk Greens
Facebook event page: facebook.com/events/1519547514982481

Confirmed Speakers:
  • Professor Andrew Watterson (School of Health Sciences, University of Stirling)
  • Andrew Kinnell (Stirling SSP)
  • Norman Philip (Friends of the Earth Falkirk)
  • others to be confirmed

There will be a second peaceful protest outside Ineos's head office in Grangemouth on January 25th, organised by "No Fracking Falkirk". See facebook.com/events/750775465014490 for details. 


Community Garden Update January 2015

The highlight of 2014 had to be the, now annual, Soup and Stovies day at our Bean Row Urban Vegetable Garden where the food on offer was produced from the harvest just off the High Street . The other annual event for the volunteers from Friends of the Earth Falkirk included collecting an “Outstanding” rating from the It’s Your Neighbourhood Awards hosted by Keep Scotland Beautiful. For getting the highest rating for two years in a row the group received a second award at the ceremony  this year, a Certificate of Distinction.

News came that the group’s original garden at the Old Polish Club on Arnot Street, was likely be removed to allow access for the demolition of the old club and the development of housing during 2015. The group removed the majority of plants from the garden but ensured that the look of the garden was not compromised while it remained in place. The group looked for new garden opportunities and cleared litter and weeds from the the car park of the new Salvation Army Furniture Store in the centre of town. It is currently unclear if this garden will develop into a group project during 2015 due to developments at the site.  

The main aim for the group this year will be to ensure that the three remaining gardens enhance the town centre and continue to address the issues of litter and waste within the town. Campaigning will continue to promote local food and composting through our Bean Row Garden.

Friends of the Earth Falkirk will be presenting a workshop at the Falkirk Litter Strategy Awards evening at the end of January.

Happy New Year

Hope 2015 is treating you well so far. 

On the last Wednesday of January- January 28th, our usual meeting evening, there is a Fracking meeting at Grangemouth Town Hall- 7pm to 9pm. The meeting hosted by the Falkirk Green Party will have representatives from a number of political parties, Professor Andrew Watterson, Stirling Uni on the Health Risks to workers - http://rms.stir.ac.uk/converis-stirling/person/11350, and me, Norman Philip, representing Friends of the Earth Falkirk. We are able to have a stall at the event and it is hoped that as many members as possible are able to attend the event. It should be informative and an opportunity to keep up to date with Unconventional Gas issues, both on our doorstep and across the whole central belt of Scotland. 

A second Fracking Demonstration will be held outside INEOS Grangemouth on Sunday 25th January, 2pm. The December gathering was well organised and, despite the bitter cold, wind and rain, there were representatives from communities across Falkirk and the central belt. Our group were represented and it is hoped we will have a presence at the latest latest event.

This Wednesday, 14th January, The Macrobert at Stirling Uni is a screening A Dangerous Game http://www.macrobert.org/event/a-dangerous-game/?dm_i=1NNM,33CTR,AJDDUF,B3HQD,1  a follow up to the inspirational You’ve Been Trumped. The screening will be followed by a panel discussion. I thought this might be a good opportunity for a group outing if people want to go along together. I would be happy to co-ordinate car sharing if anyone wants a list to Stirling. If you would like to arrange a lift or offer space in your care just reply to this email.

On Thursday 29th January Friends of the Earth Falkirk have been asked to provide a workshop on community gardening at the Falkirk Council Litter Strategy Awards. The cog core group will meet before this event to prepare the 20 minute workshop.