Thursday, 15 December 2011

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Carillion could axe 1,000 solar panel jobs in Newcastle

Carillion's energy services division evolved from the takeover Eaga in Newcastle and its 1,000 staff

From BBC

One thousand workers on Tyneside are being warned they could face redundancy from the UK's largest installers of solar panels.

Carillion has launched a 90-day consultation with employees at its energy services division.

It blames government plans to halve the money people get when they sell solar energy to the national grid.

But energy Secretary Chris Huhne said it had acted to conserve the solar panels budget by the end of 2012.

The government said the decision to cut the feed-in tariff was intended to make subsidies sustainable given that the cost of solar panels was falling.

Mr Huhne said he was not convinced many jobs will be lost.

'Price worth paying?'

He added: "A lot of the businesses that have been involved in it have been growing at an incredible pace precisely because there's been such a big fall in the cost of solar panels.

"The original subsidies which had been designed without any view of the real world by the last labour government have not been brought down in line with the fall in cost of the solar panels.

"All we've done is move them back in line so that the industry can grow sustainably."

Carillion bought the Newcastle company Eaga, one of the UK's biggest suppliers of heating and renewable energy services, in February for £306m.

The electricity produced by the solar panels it supplies to homes across the country had earned 43p per unit when fed into the national grid because of government subsidies to encourage green energy.

But the company said the government's proposed cut to the feed-in tariff to 21p per unit on 12 December was greater and sooner than expected.

Because of the resulting "significant" reduction in its market, Carillion said it had put all the staff in its solar panels business on notice of redundancy.

Labour's shadow energy secretary, Caroline Flint, said the plan could leave many people on Tyneside out of work and asked whether the government believed "creating unemployment on this scale is a price worth paying".

In a statement Carillion added that solar panels were only part of its business, which "remains focused on energy services markets that continue to offer strong prospects for growth".

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Welcome to the Oakland General Strike

(Wednesday, November 2)

[NOTE: This invitation is addressed primarily to friends and contacts in the San Francisco Bay Area (approx. 1000 people and groups), but I have also sent it to some 3000 other friends and contacts across the country and around the world, as well as posting it at this website, because I believe that many other people will be interested in hearing about what has been going on here. —KK]

Dear Bay Area Friends,

As most of you probably know, the police raid and destruction of the Occupy Oakland encampments last Tuesday, followed by the notorious police violence against protesters later the same day, provoked such an immense expression of outrage from thousands of people in the Bay Area and around the world that the Oakland city government was thrown completely on the defensive. The next day police were scarcely to be seen. The fence surrounding Frank Ogawa Plaza was still in place, but the occupiers calmly took it down and began reoccupying the same spot. That evening, by a vote of 1484 to 46 (with 77 abstentions), the general assembly decided to call for a General Strike in Oakland on Wednesday, November 2. You can see their declaration, a press conference, and other information at

The fact that they reoccupied the encampment less than 48 hours after it had been demolished is astonishing enough. But that they immediately shifted to the offensive with such a marvelously audacious venture leaves me almost speechless with admiration. I hope that their appeal meets with correspondingly large-minded and supportive responses by people in Oakland and elsewhere in the Bay Area. Occupiers in many other cities have already been venturing outside their encampments for various types of demonstrations (e.g. the marches to banks and CEO residences in New York City), but this general-strike appeal is upping the ante and moving toward a new level of active engagement with people in the whole community. Occupy Oakland people have been fanning out into the city, speaking with workers and small businesses, with teachers and students, with religious groups and all sorts of other community organizations, in order to enlist support for the strike. At this point I don’t think anyone really knows what the response will actually be, but there are a number of promising indications. In addition to support from nurses’ and teachers’ associations and a number of other unions (see, the Longshoremen’s Union is collaborating with Occupy Oakland to bring about a shutdown of the Port of Oakland in solidarity with striking workers elsewhere on the West Coast.

In any case, even if a relatively small number of people actually strike, the mere act of putting such a notion on the agenda is already awakening people to new possibilities. The general strike is not intended to be a mere work stoppage, but a day for positive, creative public dialogue. Leading up to it, there are open meetings every day at 5:00 p.m. at Occupy Oakland where people are discussing what they are doing, or what they propose to do, to prepare for the strike (publicity, outreach, coordination). You are welcome to observe any of those meetings, and to participate if you feel so inclined. During the day of the strike, there will be large gatherings at the same location (Frank Ogawa Plaza at 14th & Broadway) at 9:00 a.m., 12:00 noon, and 5:00 p.m. (the latter gathering segueing into a march to the Port of Oakland), as well as the daily general assembly at 7:00 p.m. But there will be countless other public discussions, large and small, planned and spontaneous, in workplaces and on street corners, some of them initiated by people such as yourself. You don’t have to wait for Occupy Oakland or anyone else to take your own initiatives.

A delightfully mischievous example of such an independent initiative is the fake Mayor’s Apology perpetrated by a good friend of mine. Using the situationist tactic of détournement, he has taken a currently potent image in the spectacle and turned its fetish-power against itself in order to break through what is seen as “possible” or “realistic” and encourage a more imaginative and uninhibited collective brainstorming. (He explains his motives here.)

If you decide to strike, note that Occupy Oakland has declared: “If an employer fires or disciplines a worker for taking the day off, we will picket that business.” However, the Occupy Oakland people realize that many people may not be able or willing strike, especially on such short notice and when many people are still under misimpressions they have derived from the mainstream media. They welcome every form of engagement, suggesting that, if nothing else, you take this opportunity to talk about these issues with your friends and neighbors and fellow workers, as well as to visit Occupy Oakland and get a little sense of what’s going on, whether at the scheduled gatherings at 9:00, 12:00 and 5:00, or at other times simply to roam around the encampment, meet people and get a little feel of the ambience.

For those of you who may be worried about “children missing school”: Children will learn more about community and society and democracy and history in this one day than they will in a month of ordinary schooling. Reports are that practically every Oakland teacher supports the aims of the strike, but that they are not sure whether to actually go on strike, or if so, in what manner. My suggestion is that teachers engage in an active, “teach-in” strike, not just staying home, but going to their classes and opening the entire day up to discussion of these issues: “What have you heard about the Occupy movement, children? Why do you think people are doing it? Do you know what a strike is? Did you know that many of the things we take for granted were achieved because people in your parents’ or you grandparents’ generation engaged in strikes? Did you know that the last general strike in America took place right here in Oakland in 1946?” Perhaps followed by a field trip to visit Occupy Oakland. Whether or not the teachers do this, I am sure that many conscientious parents will make a special point of taking their children to some of the gatherings and events, and that this will be one of the most rich and memorable days in their lives.

For those who may worry about the risk to themselves: Relax. The people taking the risks are the people who occupy public spaces and refuse to leave, knowing that they may be arrested, or who intentionally remain in the streets when told to disperse. As long as you don’t do either of those things, about the only risk you run in visiting an occupation or attending one of the mass gatherings is that you might find yourself questioning your previous priorities in life.

I also encourage you to stop being distracted by the never-ending string of silly objections, most of which are not true and most of which would not be any big deal even if they were true (an occupation failed to get a permit, or it is violating some city sanitary code, or some participant used hostile language against the police, etc.). This is an all-embracing movement and, among other challenges, it’s bringing together people of all walks of life, including homeless people and others who have suffered far more than you and I and who may bear some psychological scars from their sufferings. In such circumstances there will naturally be some problems to work out; and they are being worked out as the occupiers find that they need to deal with them. The people doing the on-the-ground occupying and who are being beaten and arrested by the thousands in cities all over the country are true heroes and they deserve the same kind of support as the civil rights workers did fifty years ago. (For just one example of the sick brutality the Occupy Oakland arrestees have been enduring, see this account by a 43-year-old disabled woman.) Yet they, and all of us who are with them in our hearts, are also filled with a joy that most people in this society are missing, because after a long period of social idiocy and despair we are finally waking up together, and we can see that the momentum of history is on our side. This is not just a protest, or even a series of protests, it’s an international social movement. It’s not about passing this or that new law, much less about electing this or that politician; it’s about people coming together all over the world to reassess the entire social order and to figure out how best to change it.

Whether we ultimately win or not, this movement is not going away any time soon. You’ll have plenty of other opportunities to take part during the coming months and coming years. Nevertheless, in the future, when your children or grandchildren ask you what you were doing when these historic events were just beginning, right in your own cities, don’t you think you’ll feel a little funny having to say that you didn’t even bother to go take a look?

As a final note, I would like to remind you that, while the current focus is on Occupy Oakland, there are also occupations in San Francisco and Berkeley and over a dozen other Bay Area cities, as well as in hundreds of other locations all over the country. Each of them is independent; some are large, some are small; they have various modes of organization and various styles, ranging from mild to militant. But they all deserve your support and input. Check out the ones near you. Even if you don’t wish to join the actual occupation, you are welcome to take part in their general assemblies, and there are many other ways to support them. Above all, if your local politicians and police are harassing them, tell them in no uncertain terms to stop doing so.

October 31, 2011

Invitation to the Oakland General Strike of November 2, 2011, called by the general assembly of Occupy Oakland on October 26.

No copyright.

Friday, 21 October 2011

Urgent - help stop plans to destroy wildlife at Gosforth Park

We need your help to save the fields surrounding Gosforth Nature Reserve in Newcastle from being turned into 600 homes by the end of the decade. This would have a devastating effect on wildlife and the nature reserve, which is a SSSI and Local Wildlife Site.

These fields are home to otters, roe deer, badgers, bats, owls and songbirds and are an important wildlife corridor and part of the Green Belt. The reserve is one of Newcastles last remaining wildlife areas and is home to rare birds, plants and animals including Englands last urban population of red squirrels.

Newcastle City Council is setting out its latest development plans which they are calling their One Core Strategy, this includes a Strategic Land Review in which they have identified potential sites for new development. They are proposing that 8,000 new homes are built in the Green Belt, including 600 new homes in the fields next to Gosforth Park Nature Reserve, which they are calling Salters Lane Neighbourhood Growth Area the fields are conveniently owned by Persimmon Homes.

The fields that would be destroyed provide essential foraging habitat for wildlife that lives in the nature reserve. Without this habitat this wildlife will be lost forever. This includes families of badgers and roe deer, brown hare, several species of bats and birds such as barn owl, kestrel, and buzzard. Other wildlife in the reserve that would be badly affected by this development includes otters, red squirrels, voles, shrews and small birds.? The area is also attractive and peaceful countryside that is well used and loved by local walkers, nature enthusiasts, dog walkers and cyclists.

This areas is so valuable for wildlife that 10 years ago Newcastle Council designated this area as a Strategic Wildlife Corridor linking Jesmond Dene to the wider countryside. Further developments since then make this wildlife corridor even more important today. The Government?s Environmental White Paper, published in June, highlights the importance of creating buffer zones around important wildlife sites and retaining wildlife corridors; the Councils proposal clearly goes against this Government advice.

The Council is consulting people on their views of these plans. You have until 18th November to tell them what you think.

YOUR VIEWS WILL MAKE A DIFFERENCE. You can stop the destruction of our wildlife and countryside by telling the Council that you object to their plans. The more people who object the better the chance we have to stop this terrible proposal and to save our wildlife and open spaces for future generations.

You can view the Councils full plans at

If you want to give them your views on their plans to build houses next to the nature reserve then the policy that you are objecting to is Policy CS3 1a Salters Lane Neighbourhood Growth Area.

To give your comments online go to and follow the instructions. Alternatively send your comments by email to planning& or write to

Harvey Emms
Director of Planning
Newcastle City Council
Civic Centre

Local residents, the Natural History Society of Northumbria and Northumberland Wildlife Trust are encouraging people who live, work or visit Newcastle to contact the Council and object to these plans and ask the Council to protect this important wildlife area for future generations.

To demonstrate our opposition we are holding a public walk-about of the area at 11am on Sunday 30th October (meet at the entrance to the nature reserve, and there will be a public meeting with Newcastle planners held at Gosforth Civic Hall, 7pm on Tuesday 15th November. Please come along to these events to show your support.

Please forward this email to neighbours, friends or colleagues and ask them to give thier views as well or help to circulate on Facebook and Twitter - I attach a flyer which you may wish to use to help spread the word.

This type of threat to Gosforth Park and other nature reserves is set to become more common if the government's planning reforms go ahead. We would encourage you to write to your MP asking them to influence the Government's reforms so that they benefit the natural environment not just the development industry. The Wildlife Truts have a web-page to help you do this,1WPE,ZLI4G,1OEK7,1

The wildlife at Gosforth Park really needs your support at this critical time. We really hope that you will take a few minutes to contact Newcastle City Council to object to their plans, and if possible join us on the 30th October or 15th November.

Kind Regards
James Littlewood

Natural History Society of Northumbria
Great North Museum: Hancock
Barras Bridge
Newcastle upon Tyne, NE2 4PT

Tel: 0191 232 6386

Registered Charity 526770

Tuesday, 11 October 2011


Application to Opencast Bradley/Billingside to be determined Tuesday 15th Feb‏

Hello again
We're about to enter our 3rd and final round with UK Coal, regarding their planning application to opencast the Bradley/Billingside site (Pont Valley).
You may remember this was unanimously rejected at Durham County Hall earlier this year, we believe the excellent turnout of supporters helped enormously, despite a recommendation for approval. UK Coal wasted no time in appealing against this decision, and this has now gone to public enquiry. This is our last chance to stop this application, if the decision falls in favour of UK Coal, then there is nothing further we can do to stop this travesty.
We really need your help and support again.
The public enquirey will be held at:
Leadgate Workingmen's Social Club and Institute
33 St Ives Road
Co. Durham
Commencing on Tuesday 25th October at 10.00. It is scheduled to last 16 days. If you would like to speak at the enquiry, you must register on the first day - we can do that for you if you are unable to attend on 25th.
Members of our group will be speaking on 1st and 2nd November. Just like February's hearing we believe that a show of support will help our argument, so please try and find sometime to come along and cheer us on.
I'll let you all know more details as they come in.
Hope to see you there, please rally the troops

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Ratcliffe Power Station - Protest against the Attack on the M&E Industry

Time: Friday, October 7 · 6:30am - 9:30am

Location: Ratcliffe On Soar Power Station, Nottinghamshire

Directions -

Ratcliffe Power Station
Ratcliffe On Sour
NG11 0EE

At a meeting on Monday (3rd October), the sparks on the site voted to walk out this Friday.

This is the first protest for Nottinghamshire in the battle against companies pulling out of the national JIB agreement. They are attempting to impose average pay cuts of 35%, alongside numerous other attacks on terms and conditions.

The action is unofficial - we can't afford to wait for UNITE to initiate a ballot, although everyone is still pushing for this.

Spread the word, join the lads from the site, get involved and save our industry"

Friday, 29 July 2011

Scotland Outdoor Skillshare 2011

Is taking place Friday 26 - Monday 29 August. Make sure to arrive on Thursday and leave on Tuesday! We've just uploaded much more information about the event on the website:

It'll be great fun and packed with exciting workshops. Please help us publicise the skillshare by telling all your mates. We can also send you posters and flyers.

Monday, 27 June 2011

Camp Frack - Weekend of 17th-18th September

Join the resistance to the “fracking” invasion! Stop the massive expansion of shale gas extraction in the UK! We need renewables and powerdown - not another source of fossil fuel!

Fracking operations at Singleton
Fracking operations at Singleton

Join the resistance to the “fracking” invasion! Stop the massive expansion of shale gas extraction in the UK! We need renewables and powerdown - not another source of fossil fuel!

Camp Frack will take place adjacent to the UK's first fracking operations at Singleton, near Blackpool (nearest train station Poulton Le Fylde). It will be organised with the support of a local farmer who is providing the land. It will involve locals, grassroots groups, individuals and NGO's in workshops and discussions on shale gas and on forming effective UK wide resistance against it. It will involve raising local awareness about the problems with shale gas and an action day of protest against the drilling activities currently in progress in the Blackpool area.

More details will be circulated in August regarding venue etc. To be kept up to date or for any questions email

Natural Gas Insiders Question Feasibility, Profitability of Industry

Newly disclosed figures and internal documents are raising fresh doubts about natural gas drilling in the United States. According to the New York Times, well-placed financial analysts and experts have circulated warnings about the feasibility and profitability of drilling in shale gas wells across the nation. An August 2009 memo from the firm IHS Drilling Data says, “The word in the world of independents is that the shale plays are just giant Ponzi schemes and the economics just do not work.” Earlier this year, an analyst at PNC Wealth Management compared natural gas projects to the dot-com boom, saying, “money is pouring in” even though drilling is “inherently unprofitable.” In another memo, a retired geologist for a major oil giant writes, “These corporate giants are having an Enron moment … They want to bend light to hide the truth.” A review of more than 9,000 wells shows many wells are failing to meet industry projections, with just 10 percent recouping their estimated costs after seven years. Just 20 percent of wells in three highly-regarded shale formations in Texas, Louisiana, and Arkansas are believed to actually be profitable. The previously undisclosed data could raise questions about whether companies are illegally inflating claims about the size and productivity of their wells. A former Enron executive who went on to work for an energy company compared the behavior of shale gas firms to his former employer, writing, “I wonder when they will start telling people these wells are just not what they thought they were going to be?”



A few months since Fukishima, nearly a year since Deepwater Horizon but the global elite aren’t resting on their laurels and it looks like we won’t have to wait too long for the fossil fuel industry to cause the next environmental apocalypse. New kid on the block is the appropriately named ‘fracking’ – or, more explicitly: hydraulic fracturing, a method of extracting natural gas from shale rock layers thousands of feet deep – and its coming here soon.

Already causing waves of mass panic across the US, fracking is a technique that involves pumping huge quantities of water, sand and highly toxic chemicals into shale formations, then blowing it all sky high with explosives in order to fracture the rocks, stick a bore down and get to the fuel resource. This energy-intensive process results in vast amounts of radioactive waste ‘water’, earthquakes and subsistence in the areas around the mines, noxious chemicals being vented into the air, and causes significantly more CO2 emissions than conventional gas extraction.


But it’s all hands on the rig in the scramble for more ‘homegrown’ alternatives to Arab oil. The recent surge in fracking is largely due to changes in the US Energy Policy Act, pushed by Dick Cheney in 2005. Known as the ‘Halliburton loophole’, it exempted fracking wells from federal regulation under the Safe Drinking Act - letting energy companies pollute Americans’ drinking water without having to by bothered by pesky government interference.

The fracturing fluid contains carcinogenic chemicals, such as benzene, and endocrine disruptors – compounds which can be blamed for a huge range of developmental problems such as birth defects, deformations of the body and sexual development problems. It’s made radioactive by the presence of radium, and other naturally occurring hazardous chemicals such as arsenic and mercury, all brought to the surface through the extraction process. It’s unclear exactly what goes into this noxious cocktail in the first place as the corporations using it are keeping conveniently schtum about their recipe and, despite Dow Chemical admitting to supplying antimicrobial poisons to go into the mix, no regulator is demanding disclosure from the gas miners.

Toxic sludge from over 71,000 wells is currently sitting in huge open storage tanks and leeching into the water table in Pennsylvania, Texas, Wyoming, Arkansas and other US states. The methane that the extractors are after is also seeping into underground aquifers, causing one of the most visible polluting effects: the phenomena of inflammable water. Residents of Pennsylvania, some living up to 1km from mining operations, have water coming out of their taps that has such a high methane content it will actually burst into flames if a match is held near it. An accidental spill in the same state has killed trees and contaminated waterways, with one local explaining, “it’s killed all the fish. [The pond] turns colours different times of the day. Now it’s fluorescent orange.”

Arkansas and Texas have seen unprecedented numbers of earthquakes since mining operations began. In six months Arkansas had over 1,000 earthquakes with more than a dozen registering over 3.0 on the Richter scale, 90% of which have all been within 6km of waste water disposal wells.

Not only is it polluted drinking water and unheard-of seismic activity, but air pollution in Texas has gone off the scale. Even considering the notoriously relaxed environmental quality standards in Texas, in some towns the carcinogen benzene is at levels 55 times higher than laws allow, and neurotoxicants xylene and carbon disulphide, and the blood poison napthalene were found to be up to 384 times over the safe limits.

But don’t worry, at least there’s lots of cold hard cash involved. BP paid more than $3billion for fracking rights in 2008, BHP Bilton spent $5 billion on sites in Arkansas, and Shell have snapped $4.7 billion’s worth of assets in the Marcellus Shale formation in West Virginia and prime mining land in Pennsylvania. The Marcellus Shale is a formation the size of Greece, more than a mile underground, and valued at around $2 trillion dollars. No wonder they’re happy to pay out small change in reparations if needed, as Cabot Oil & Gas did recently when coughing up $4 million in damages to 14 families in Dimock, Pennsylvania, and agreeing to replenish the water supply after a defective well-casing poisoned the drinking water.

Photos and Video of the camp:

Sunday, 12 June 2011


Tuesday June 14 / 7 to 9 pm
Star & Shadow
Planning Meeting to GENERALISE THE STRIKE!
j30 - Generalise the Strike - Day of action against the cuts
30th June 2011 may well turn out to be the most important step forward in a mass fight against public sector cuts. Hundreds of thousands of workers could be involved in strike action, from as many as four or five different unions including NUT, PCS, UCU and ATL.
Often strike action can be ignored by those in power but also the vast majority of workers not in unions or directly effected by the issues. Therefore we, rank & file union members, students, precarious workers & unemployed are calling for a mass show of solidarity for those taking strike action and to generalise the strike on June 30th.
From early morning pickets, direct actions, occupations & demonstrations - whatever you're into - lets all do it on June 30th and amplify the resistance to austerity.

Monday, 30 May 2011

Newcastle Green festival 4th & 5th June 2011

12-6pm Leazes Park

The festival offers a huge range of entertainment, activities, workshops and information to spread a message of environmental protection and social justice……and all running on green power sources.

Newcastle Community Green Festival is an annual, free event, now in its 16th year and is run entirely by a team of volunteers from the local community.

But also For the first time we are hosting the WEA / Co-op sustainability event; with a question time style panel including Newcastle MP Chi Onwurah, and Mayor Geoff O'Brien, at 12 noon till 1.30pm on the Saturday, and practical workshops for all ages organised by Science City throughout the weekend. On Sunday from 2-3.30pm there is the chance to hear what local environmental groups are doing and how you can get involved.

Ride your bicycle to the festival! There will be lots of cycle related activities over the weekend and a chance to have your trusty steed looked over by our on site bike doctor. Dedicated cycle racks will be available.

Circus skills a-plenty! The circus team is planning a real corker this year so come join in with juggling/hulahooping/plate-spinning and a whole lot more. Watch out for the extreme unicycling!

The 2011 music line-up is up on the website - click the entertainment links on the sidebar to find out more about our two stages Green World and Lakeside. Lakeside stage running order has been added.

check the website for more info.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Pont Valley Walk

Sunday 15th May
10 am
Dipton Community Centre
Followed by soup and cake
Route is 800 feet descend / ascend with 800 years of history
£2.50 Suggested donation

Friday, 11 February 2011

Victory in Dipton!

Application to Opencast Bradley/Billingside to be determined Tuesday 15th Feb

Hello All
After nearly 4 years of waiting the application to surface mine the Bradley/Billingside site (Pont Valley) is to be determined next Tuesday 15th Feb, at 2pm in Durham County Hall.
We have several speakers against the application, but need as many bodies as possible to show the the strength of feeling.
Please come along and support us.
We've also seen a notice about a planned demo (see link) but they have the time wrong, can someone please let them know. I have too many security measures on my pc and can't access their site!!

Unbelievably the planning officer has recommended that the members approve this application, so it's vital we have a good turn out.

Hope to see you there


Victory Update!

The members unanimously voted to reject the application to surface mine the *Bradley Site* = don't stop campaigning though, we need now to muster action and funds in case there is an appeal to fight. UK Coal left the meeting *considering their position* refusing a press comment.

Monday, 10 January 2011

Green Jobs and Economic Alternatives

Open Workshop
Million Climate Jobs campaign and the trade unions CWU PCS TSSA & UCU
More importantly we want all interested parties to engage in discussions around what is to be done, by whom, where, and how.....
Bridge Hotel, Newcastle 1 – 4 pm
(What a crap title but should be an excellent meeting; following up the worker environmentlist movement building of the Class, Coal and Climate meeting that was as the same venue last year. Jobs; the exploitation of the many by the few; are the driving force behind everything we are fighting! (ed))