Eastbourne’s downland is saved by people power from a sell-off!
The Keep Our Downs Public campaign has won! Eastbourne Borough Council has announced publicly and unequivocally that it has abandoned all plans to sell off the downland farms on the Eastbourne Downland Estate and has committed to retaining council ownership of the whole estate. The popular support for the campaign against the sell-off was the main reason the council gave for its decision, and our petition that so many people signed was very much an integral part of the campaign. So, if you helped in any way with the campaign, thank you for your support. Every signature mattered, every letter to the council mattered, every person who came along to the campaign rallies and meetings mattered. People power clearly made the difference.
But this is not the end of the matter, as there is now an urgent need to engage with the council on a review of the management strategy for the downland farms so that the future of the downland is properly assured. Eastbourne and District Friends of the Earth is working with the many other groups within the campaign to help build a constructive, ongoing conversation with Eastbourne Borough Council about the best way forward for this iconic landscape so as to maximise the public benefit derived from it whilst at the same time maximising protection for the wildlife there.
We will be contacting all our supporters again in the near future about how this conversation with the council is progressing and about ways in which people can contribute to this conversation, or help protect the South Downs from future threats to its wildlife and natural beauty.
In the meantime, you can savour this moment of victory and rejoice in your part in this!
Andrew Durling, Co-ordinator, Eastbourne & District Friends of the Earth
Press release for 17th November 2016:
Residents say: keep our downs public
On Wednesday 16th November just before a full council meeting of Eastbourne Borough Council a large crowd gathered on the steps of Eastbourne Town Hall to protest against the council’s intention to sell off four farms on the Eastbourne Downland Estate, comprising over 3,000 acres, or 75%, of the total estate.The demand of the protestors was simple: there should be no sell-off, and the farms should remain in the care of Eastbourne Borough Council to manage for the benefit of all Eastbourne residents, for all visitors to the Downs, and for the protection and enhancement of the downland wildlife that makes visiting the Downs such an enjoyable experience.Jenny Shorter, a spokesperson for the Keep Our Downs Public campaign group, said:“People really care about keeping the Downs in public ownership.The council has been ensuring the downland is effectively managed for decades and there will be no guarantees on what happens to these farms if the sales go through. Once they are in private hands there are less controls on the use of the land.”The protest was called by the Keep Our Downs Public campaign and Eastbourne Friends of the Earth. During the protest, the Leader of Eastbourne Borough Council, David Tutt made an offer to the protestors of holding discussions with him and his colleagues about the proposed sale of the farms and expressed his willingness to listen to concerns about the sale. That offer will be taken up by the Keep Our Downs Public campaign, although the need for such discussions can be avoided if the council immediately halts its proposed sale of the farms.
Press release on May 9th 2016:
On the weekend of May 7th and 8th, volunteers from Eastbourne & District Friends of the Earth, in collaboration with the staff of Lush Cosmetics store in the Arndale Centre, invited the public to find out more about the wild British bees that are so important a part of our local nature and which are crucial in ensuring that we can continue to enjoy the fruits and flowers we all love.
Hundreds of people stopped by the colourful bee display inside and outside the Lush store to take away bee booklets and posters, and to sign a petition calling upon the government to ban all those pesticides that have now been found by research to be significantly harming our bees, thereby undermining those pollination services that nature, and our farming and horticultural industries, rely upon. People were also given advice about how they can help bees themselves by planting bee-friendly flowers and herbs in their gardens and making ‘bee hotels’.
Andy Durling, Co-ordinator for Eastbourne & District Friends of the Earth, said:
“I and my colleagues were blown away by the enthusiastic response of the public to our celebration of all things bright and beautiful about our British bees. It’s so encouraging to see how many people realise just how precious our bees are, both for nature and for us. We hope that the government will recognise this by doing much more to protect our bees than they have done so far. All our wild bees must be protected, especially from the neonicotinoid pesticides that do so much harm to them, if our food security and the quality of our British countryside is to be maintained”.
The signatures collected for the petition will be handed in to Eastbourne MP, Caroline Ansell, in due course.
Eastbourne & District Friends of the Earth (a local group affliated to the national Friends of the Earth charity) is on Twitter at @eastbournefoe and on Facebook
More about Friends of the Earth’s national campaign to save British bees can be found at: https://www.foe.co.uk/page/bee-cause
The Great British Bee Celebration
How do we love bees? Let us count the ways…
Come on down to the Lush Cosmetics store in Eastbourne’s Arndale Centre on Saturday 7th, and Sunday 8th, May where we’ll be celebrating all the wonderful things bees do for us! There’ll be lots of bee goodies to drool over and take away, including bee bingo, bee spotting guides, bee booklets, advice on how to create a Bee & Bee in your back garden, and details of the Great British Bee Count that will begin later on in May, when we’ll all get the chance to record the bees we see by using a free smartphone app. This will help conservation groups in their efforts to save our wild British bees. Plus we’ll have a petition for you to sign to ban the nasty neonicotinoid petitions that are harming our precious bees so badly.
Plus, Lush have kindly allowed us to continue our stall on Sunday 8th May as well, between 11.00am and 4.00pm, so if you miss us on Saturday, come on down on Sunday to say hello and join in the fun! Further details of pour event are here.
Climate Change: The Ultimate End of the Pier Show!
Are you concerned about climate change and its impacts? Do you wish to join millions of people around the world to send a message to world leaders that the threat of climate change should be addressed with the utmost urgency so that we can have a safe climate future for ourselves and our children? Then you are warmly invited to come along to the Peoples Climate March in Eastbourne on September 21st. This event will be one of over 1500 events worldwide on the same day. We will be meeting at Eastbourne Pier at 11.30am in preparation for a photoshoot at 12 noon before a short walk through the town centre. We will be asking people to sign the Avaaz petition demanding a transition to 100% clean energy as soon as possible so that the carbon emissions that cause global warming can be reduced as fast as possible. The messages and photos of the day will be presented to the world leaders gathering in New York on September 23rd for the UN Climate Summit called by the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, to inject urgency into the political and diplomatic process leading up to the crucial COP21 climate talks in Paris next year, when the world will have the best – and perhaps last – chance ever of securing a global deal to reduce carbon emissions enough to keep global warming to less than 2 degrees C.
The more of us who stand up to be counted on climate change, the more pressure world leaders will be under to secure the deal we need for a safe climate future for us all, especially for us here in Eastbourne, which is literally on the front line of climate change due to the rising sea level, the consequence of the melting of the world’s ice sheets. The latest IPCC report predicts that sea level will rise globally by at least 1 metre by 2100, and and positive feedbacks discovered since the IPCC report was published (eg,. the discovery that the West Antarctic ice sheet has tipped over into irreversible and increasingly rapid collapse) means that the sea level rise may be a lot quicker and a lot bigger than 1 metre! As much of Eastbourne is already vulnerable to flooding from the sea (according to the Environment Agency, about 17,500 homes are at risk of such flooding), then Eastbourne not only has a challenge to adapt to climate change as effectively as possible but also has a vested interest in seeing the best possible mitigation of climate change so that sea level rise is kept to a minimum.
The stakes could not be higher! Just as we do not want our beloved Eastbourne Pier to suffer damage from fire, so we would not want the pier, and much of Eastbourne too, to be swept away by the rising seas! Just as we had to come together as a people and a nation in the immediate run-up to the Second World War to prepare for the immense challenge that everyone know was coming, so we now face the challenge of building a collective will to face the greatest challenge of them all: climate change. Everyone one of us counts. Your voice matters. So join with us on September 21st at Eastbourne Pier for the ultimate End of the Pier Show!
Eastbourne MP backs Schools Run on Sun!
Petition to keep East Sussex Frack-Free
On Tuesday 15th July, a petition against fracking, signed by hundreds of East Sussex residents, was formally handed in to the Chair of East Sussex County Council, Councillor Colin Belsey, by a delegation made up of Andrew Durling, Co-ordinator of Eastbourne & District Friends of the Earth, Lib Dem County Councillor for Eastbourne Devonshire, Steve Wallis, and Janelle Rakow, from The Warrior’s Call: Pagans United Against Fracking.
Several oil and gas exploration companies currently have licences to search for shale oil and gas in parts of East Sussex and have expressed a strong desire to do so in many other parts of East Sussex too. Some are already exploring in West Sussex, most notably Cuadrilla at Balcombe, most of whose residents strongly opposed any attempt to frack there.
For a report on the formal handover of the petition on 15th July, go to: http://investigatingbalcombeandcuadrilla.com/2014/07/15/refuse-fracking-in-east-sussex-councillors-urged/
Eastbourne has highest number of homes at risk of floods in East Sussex, according to new figures revealed by Friends of the Earth
Yesterday Friends of the Earth released a press statement about flooding risks in Eastbourne, which is very timely given the battering that the Eastbourne area has undergone during the recent winter storms and the potential threat of flooding from the sea that occurred during those storms:
NEW FIGURES SHOW 17,347 HOMES AT FLOOD RISK IN EASTBOURNE
According to an analysis of Environment Agency data released yesterday by Friends of the Earth, there are 17,347 homes at flood risk in the Eastbourne area. This includes 800 homes which have been judged by the Environment Agency to be at significant risk. This is the highest figure in constituencies in East Sussex.
Eastbourne has suffered severely this winter with homes and businesses affected by power cuts. Nationally, over 6,000 homes have been affected by the winter floods. However, the figures show there is a much larger number of properties in the UK that could face flooding in future. This is a concern as climate change is set to make flooding more widespread.
Worse still, the Government’s own Climate Change Risk Assessment estimates that almost one million UK homes could be at significant flood risk by the 2020s, up from the 370,000 currently at significant risk nationwide. Yet the Government is spending £500 million less on flood defences than is required to keep pace with climate change, according to its own advisors, while cutting spending on energy efficiency and bringing uncertainty to renewable energy projects.
Friends of the Earth South East Regional Campaigner Brenda Pollack, said:
“Flooding is devastating for anyone that is affected by it and as a country we must do much more to prepare for the impacts of climate change. Without proper investment in flood defences, hundreds of thousands more homes could be put at risk of flooding.”
“Prevention is better than cure, so it’s also vital that the Government redouble efforts to stop climate change becoming worse.”
“We are asking Stephen Lloyd MP to support the call for flood defences in line with the risks posed by climate change, and for more investment to make homes energy efficient, switch to renewable energy and get off climate-changing and polluting fossil fuels.”
Friends of the Earth’s Flood Risk map is at http://www.foe.co.uk/get_involved/page_41807.html
Eastbourne & District Friends of the Earth today released its own press statement in support of the flooding analysis by Friends of the Earth:
In response to recent news that the cliffs at Birling Gap, near Eastbourne, are revealing large cracks in the chalk cliffs as a result of the many storms that have battered the south coast this winter, Andrew Durling of Eastbourne & District Friends of the Earth, said:
“This is shocking news and just shows how climate change is leading to more than just problems of flooding. Eastbourne and the surrounding areas are particularly at risk because so many homes have been built at or very near sea level and the local sea defences are very vulnerable to the rapid increase in sea level and storm surges that climate scientists are predicting for the next few decades.
“We need to see local councils and national government investing properly in flood prevention and climate adaptation measures in line with climate change predictions. Otherwise we’ll end up shelling out more to mop up afterwards.
The predictions show we are going to see more severe weather events due to climate change. Eastbourne and the coast nearby is likely to be hit harder and faster than other areas. This is a wake up call for the authorities to do more about protecting people’s homes and lives and talk less about building homes in flood plains or building new roads, such as the Bexhill-Hastings Link Road, that destroy the ecosystems that help reduce flooding risks”
Notes to editors
1. Of the homes identified by the Environment Agency as being at risk of flooding, the agency has split the risk levels into low, moderate and significant.
The chance of flooding in any given year:
× Low = 1 in 200 to 1 in 1000
× Moderate = 1 in 75 to 1 in 200
× Significant = More than 1 in 75
2. Over 6,000 homes have been flooded this winter: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/feb/19/uk-flooding-victims-council-tax-rebates-david-cameron
3. Figures for homes projected to be at future flood risk taken from the Government’s Climate Change Risk Assessment, 2012: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/69487/pb13698-climate-risk-assessment.pdf
4. Details of homes projected to be at flood risk in future are contained in this technical annex: http://randd.defra.gov.uk/Document.aspx?Document=10075_CCRAfortheFloodsandCoastalErosionSector16July2012.pdf– see page 204 of the report (p.232 in the PDF).
5. The Government’s advisers at the Committee on Climate Change have warned that current flood defence investment falls £500 million behind what is required to keep pace with climate change. Blog and briefing here: http://www.theccc.org.uk/blog/more-money-for-flood-defence-repairs/
6. For more than 40 years we’ve seen that the wellbeing of people and planet go hand in hand – and it’s been the inspiration for our campaigns. Together with thousands of people like you we’ve secured safer food and water, defended wildlife and natural habitats, championed the move to clean energy and acted to keep our climate stable. Be a Friend of the Earth – see things differently. For further information visit www.foe.co.uk
Here is the press release that was issued to the local media regarding our recent Bee Tea:
TEA PARTY IN EASTBOURNE TO CELEBRATE BEES
Eastbourne & District Friends of the Earth, in collaboration with The Co-operative Society, held a Bee Tea on Friday November 22nd at Eastbourne Town Hall to highlight the crucial role bees play in pollinating many of our fruit and vegetables.
About 60 members of the public attended to find out more about the decline of Britain’s bees whilst enjoying a tasty spread that included many bee-pollinated ingredients.
The Rt Hon Stephen Lloyd, MP for Eastbourne, was one of the special guests. He has issued this statement about his experience of the Bee Tea:
“It was a real pleasure to pop along to Eastbourne Friends of the Earth Bees Tea at the Town Hall the other day. I have been an active supporter of their campaign from the very beginning as it always made complete sense to me that the humble bee plays such a vital role in the entire bio-diversity jigsaw. It was an excellent opportunity to bring the packed room up to speed with what is happening in Government around this important issue, and for all of us to applaud the sensational progress being made by Eastbourne Borough Council over this issue. In under a year and a half our council has planted an incredible 40 ‘bee beds’ across town. I suspect this means Eastbourne, as in so many other areas, is leading the whole of the UK on this initiative.”
Andrew Durling, Co-ordinator of the group, said:
“We’re hoping this event will encourage people in Eastbourne and other areas of East Sussex to do their bit for bees locally, and to join our call for the government to implement an ambitious national Bee Action Plan that addresses all the causes of the decline in the health and numbers of bees. We hope everybody eventually understands just how much of our food supply relies on bees and how endangered our wild bees really are”.
The Bee Tea is part of Friends of the Earth’s Bee Cause Campaign www.foe.co.uk/bees, helping to save Britain’s bees, such as the iconic Flower Potter Bee, which is highly dependent on rare habitats found only in places like the Cuckmere Valley and other parts of the South Downs.
Members of Eastbourne & District Friends of the Earth have already worked closely with Eastbourne Borough Council and local community groups in planting wildflower meadows and bee-friendly flower beds in parks and public spaces throughout Eastbourne to provide much-needed food for the local bee population. Councillors and officers from Eastbourne Borough Council explained at the Bee Tea just how much has been done for bees so far in Eastbourne’s public spaces.
The Bee Cause campaign is supporting individuals to make change in their gardens and communities to help bees. Friends of the Earth’s Bee Cause campaign has already secured a promise from Government for a National Pollinator Strategy. But we need to make sure that the Strategy is ambitious enough to reverse bee decline in the UK.
To read a briefing on the report by Friends of the Earth on bees, visit http://www.foe.co.uk/resource/briefings/bees_report_briefing.pdf. To read the full report visit www.foe.co.uk/beesreport.
Friends of the Earth has already won commitment from the Bees Minister, Lord de Mauley,for a Bee Action Plan. We are now asking the Government to make their plan ambitious enough to reverse bee decline.
For more than 40 years we’ve seen that the wellbeing of people and planet go hand in hand – and it’s been the inspiration for our campaigns. Together with thousands of people like you we’ve secured safer food and water, defended wildlife and natural habitats, championed the move to clean energy and acted to keep our climate stable. Be a Friend of the Earth – see things differently. For further information visit www.foe.co.uk.
Join us for a
Day of Action against Fracking!
Environmental campaigners like us, all around the world, are coming together for Global Frackdown Day, on Saturday October 19th, to protest against fracking for shale gas/oil in our local communities. Fracking poses immense risks to our local environment, has damaging consequences for the climate, and is not needed anyway as there are much cleaner sources of energy generation like wind or solar that are ready to go now and which are far more popular and far less intrusive to local communities than fracking.
We will be holding a campaign stall in Terminus Road, Eastbourne (near Barclays Bank) on October 19th, from 10.00am to 4.00pm, and doing a photoshoot stunt to demonstrate to the local media how unwanted fracking is locally and how dirty we think fracking is.
If you wish to join us in helping to run the stall, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to receive full details of exactly when and where the stall and photoshoot will happen.
For more information on why we oppose fracking, see: http://www.foe.co.uk/resource/briefing_notes/fracking_faqs.pdf