Theresa May told to ‘get a grip’ on rail crisis by regional news titles

From The Guardian: Theresa May is coming under pressure over the rail chaos in northern England as some of the area’s largest newspapers join together to demand that she “get a grip” on the government’s response.

The news came after the transport secretary, Chris Grayling, faced calls to resign as he was questioned by MPs and announced an inquiry into the botched timetabling changes that have caused delays and cancellations for hundreds of thousands of people.

As he came under increasing pressure in the Commons, titles that collectively sell an average of more than 300,000 copies per edition said Grayling “should take accountability”, while the prime minister should “should take a personal grip of resolving the crisis”.

The 25 titles, which are owned by various groups and include the Manchester Evening News, the Liverpool Echo and the Yorkshire Post, called on May to lead an emergency summit in Downing Street this week to find a solution to the crisis, and urged a review of rail franchising. They also urged Northern Rail to clarify its plans for a compensation scheme for passengers who have been hit by crippling disruption.

[Read full story on the Guardian website…]

UK citizens are suing the Tory Government over climate negligence

From OpenDemocracy: The UK government is leading us to climate tragedy, by failing to align its climate change targets with science and international law. So 11 UK citizens, plus the charity Plan B, have started legal action against it.

The Tory Government knows its domestic target for carbon emissions reductions by 2050, unchanged since 2008, is inconsistent with the Paris Agreement. It does not deny this, but makes lame excuses about the difficulty of setting a more ambitious target.

[Read full article on OpenDemocracy…]

Found: The strongest evidence so far that fracking can harm people

From Yahoo! News: Babies born within 1.9 miles of fracking sites are at greater risk of being born with low birth weight, researchers say – increasing the likelihood of infant mortality, ADHD and asthma.

Researchers led by Michael Greenstone of the University of Chicago analysed records of more than 1.1 million births in Pennsylvania from 2004 to 2013.

The researchers found no health effects in babies born further away than 1.9 miles from fracking sites – but the closer babies were, the more likely they were to be underweight.

[Read full article on Yahoo! News…]

“Tories’ Brexit bonfire of red tape poses serious risk to our air quality”

Ibrahim Dogus writes on LabourList: By the eighth day of this year, London had already breached annual air pollution limits set by the EU. By September, the situation had deteriorated to the extent that mayor Sadiq Khan was forced to trigger a emergency high alert on the capital’s air quality, with warnings displayed in public and those with lung and other problems warned not to engage in strenuous exercise to avoid any health problems.

High levels of NO2 can lead towards asthma, heart problems and even cancer. But bad air isn’t just bad for our health. It is a drain on the economy, with six million workdays lost to sickness related to, or exacerbated by, the problem. It has been estimated that illness associated with air quality costs Britain more than £24bn per year – and that is before the additional pressure on our already strained health service is taken into account.

Evidence shows that spikes in air pollution may also see a dip in workplace productivity, exacerbating one of the economy’s chronic problems. A better environment, with improved quality of air, would be a boost to the entire economy in addition to our health.

“The Tories’ rebranding won’t wash: being green is about more than fluffy bunnies”

Green Party MEP Molly Scott Cato writes in the Guardian: The problem for the Tories is that being green is about so much more than fluffy bunnies. While individual policies on animal protection are welcome, in a nation full of animal lovers they are easy wins. They also ignore the central lesson of ecology, a lesson that Gove and his fellow Tories have never been able to grasp: that life on Earth is one system. Nature abhors not only a vacuum but also compartmentalisation. Those lovely beavers and polar bears need somewhere to live; more than compassion and concern they need a habitat. And if you let a fracking company pollute the waterways or throw subsidies at fossil fuels then the beavers will die and the polar bears will starve.

First, will he persuade his government to ban fracking and go all out for renewables? Fracking poses huge threats to some of our most fragile and treasured landscapes and will expose communities and wildlife to noise, air, light and water pollution. The government remains committed to this destructive industry and in the recent budget, Philip Hammond left Britain’s renewable energy industry out in the cold with no new subsidies for low-carbon electricity generation until 2025.

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Tory councillors ridiculed as they are drowned out by traffic noise while arguing against cycle path

From Cycling Weekly: An attempt by Conservative activists to promote their campaign against a new Cycle Superhighway in south-west London has somewhat backfired after a video posted online showed three men struggling to be heard above the noise of passing traffic.

While the three men talk about how they think the segregated cycle path will “destroy the character” of the “village high street”, they are drowned out by the sound of passing cars, vans and lorries, with Cllr McGregor’s introduction also interrupted by what sounds to be a truck reversing just off camera.

The video was picked up by Guardian writer Peter Walker, who said that you “genuinely couldn’t make it up”, before other Twitter users, including a certain Ned Boulting, weighed in with their thoughts on the video, also pointing out that getting more people on bikes would reduce pollution in the area and, as shown by studies elsewhere in London, provide increased trade for local businesses.

[Read full article on Cycling Weekly…]

UK trade minister lobbied Brazil on behalf of oil giants

From The Guardian: The Tory government successfully lobbied Brazil on behalf of BP and Shell to address the oil giants’ concerns over Brazilian taxation, environmental regulation and rules on using local firms, government documents reveal.

Greenpeace accused the department of acting as a “lobbying arm of the fossil fuel industry”.

Rebecca Newsom, senior political adviser at Greenpeace, said: “This is a double embarrassment for the UK government. Liam Fox’s trade minister has been lobbying the Brazilian government over a huge oil project that would undermine the climate efforts Britain made at the UN summit in Bonn. Read more

Pollutants from fracking could pose health risk to children, warn researchers

From The Guardian: Pollutants released during fracking processes could pose a health risk to infants and children, according to researchers studying chemicals involved in shale gas operations.

In the UK, fracking is backed by the Tory Government and the first drilling in six years is expected to begin this week in the North Yorkshire village of Kirby Misperton, despite staunch opposition from protesters.

However, other countries have banned the practice, including France, Ireland, and Germany, citing environmental concerns, with the Scottish parliament today backing the Scottish government’s ban.

Now scientists analysing studies looking into the presence of chemicals at fracking sites in the US say the presence of pollutants ranging from airborne particulates to heavy metals could affect the neurodevelopment of babies and children in the area.

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Government spent £365,000 fighting losing battle against air pollution claims

From The Independent: The Government spent £365,000 trying unsuccessfully to fight legal claims that its plans for tackling dangerous levels of air pollution were insufficient. Environmental action group ClientEarth successfully argued the UK was breaking the law by not reducing diesel emissions quickly enough.

[Read full article on Independent website…]

UK Government slammed after handing Scotland’s railways a massive ‘real-terms cut’

From The National: Scottish ministers have demanded a “fair funding deal” for Scotland’s railways after the UK Government announced a “real terms cut” in investment over future years.

The Treasury said the Scottish Government will receive more than £3.6 billion over five years from 2019/20, an increase of £600 million on the previous period. But the Scottish Government said this is a “real terms cut” that will lead to a £600 million shortfall as it needs £4.2 billion over that period.

But the Scottish Government said that changes due to be introduced by the UK Government in 2019 will lead to a shortfall that will have a “massive impact” on the country’s railways.

[Read full article on The National website…]

The Tory government has massively raised the number of badgers it wants to slaughter

From Daily Mirror: The government has revealed that badger culling will take place in 11 new areas, taking the total kill zones to 21 in Devon, Cornwall, Wiltshire, Somerset, Cheshire, Dorset, Herefordshire and Gloucestershire. The maximum number of animals lined up in the marksmen’s cross hairs this season is 33,437 compared with 14,213 last year.

[Read full article on Daily Mirror website…]

Tory Government sparks fury by scrapping rail electrification plans

From The Guardian: Plans to make the railway network faster, greener and cleaner by electrifying lines have been scrapped by the government after massive budget overruns, prompting fury at “years of broken promises”.

The plans to modernise the line from Cardiff to Swansea, the Midland mainline and tracks in the Lake District were dropped on Thursday after Network Rail spent huge sums on engineering works, with costs in the Great Western region alone going as much as £1.9bn over budget.

Network Rail’s electrification works around the country, most notably on the Great Western mainline from London to Swansea, which started in 2014, were described as a vital upgrade that would bring cleaner, faster and more reliable services for passengers.

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Fracking poses ‘significant’ risk to humans and should be temporarily banned across EU, says new report

From The Independent: A major new scientific study has concluded that the controversial gas extraction technique known as fracking poses a “significant” risk to human health and British wildlife, and highlights serious shortcomings in the UK’s regulatory regime, which the report says will only get worse as the Government makes further budget cuts.

[Read full article on Independent website…]

If you vote Conservative on Thursday, you are voting for foxes to be chased to exhaustion and killed by hounds, as sport for rich men

 

#CruelTories: 84% of the public believe foxhunting should not be made legal again.Scientific evidence shows that the…

Posted by Stop The Tories Channel on Sunday, June 4, 2017

84% of the public believe foxhunting should not be made legal again.

Scientific evidence shows that the animals targeted in hunting suffer physical and mental stress when chased by a hunt – whether or not they are eventually killed.

The Burns Report produced in the year 2000 stated that “There is a lack of firm scientific evidence about the effect on the welfare of a fox of being closely pursued, caught and killed above ground by hounds. We are satisfied, nevertheless, that this experience seriously compromises the welfare of the fox.” That is one of the reasons hunting with dogs for sport was banned in Britain over a decade ago.

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Tories will ‘override the public’ on fracking

From The Argus: Oil and gas drilling would be “railroaded” through against the wishes of residents if Conservative manifesto pledges come into law, environmentalists have warned.

Friends of the Earth have warned eight Sussex constituencies could be affected by Tory proposals to remove the need for a planning application to allow non-fracking drilling.

The environmental campaigners are also critical of plans which could take decisions on fracking applications away from accountable locally elected councils and hand it to the Planning Inspectorate.

The warning comes as controversial drilling has begun this week in the Sussex countryside.

[Read full article in The Argus…]

Tories’ plans will see more than 50,000 lives cut short by air pollution by 2030 in London alone, Greens claim

From The Independent: The lives of more than 50,000 people in London alone will be cut short by air pollution by 2030 because the Government’s latest plan to address the problem is so ineffective, the Green Party has claimed. Ministers have a track record of failure on the issue, having twice been ordered by a judge to come up with stronger proposals to bring air quality to within legally binding EU safety limits.

[Read full article on Independent website…]

Conservatives back fracking and seek to take some shale decisions away from local councils

From Drill Or Drop: A Conservative government would take some decisions on shale gas drilling plans out of local control.

In the manifesto published this morning, the party said:

  • Drilling that did not involve fracking would be classed as permitted development and would not need planning permission
  • Major shale planning decisions could be made by a government minister rather than a local council planning committee.

This marks a major change in policy for the Conservatives, who have previously promised “local people know best” and there would be “no compromise” in taking account of the views of local communities.

The Conservatives are now the only the only major party in the UK to support fracking. Labour and Lib Dem manifestos, published earlier this week, promised to ban or oppose it.

This is a big difference from the 2015 election, when only the Greens promised an outright ban, as it has done again this year.

[Read full article on Drill Or Drop website…]

#GE17: Conservatives isolated as only major party to back fracking

From DesmogUK: The Tories are now the only major party in the UK that does not oppose fracking.

Both Labour and the Liberal Democrats promised to ban or oppose the practice in this general election campaign.

Labour’s manifesto promised an outright ban, and said the party was against fracking because “it would lock us into an energy infrastructure based on fossil fuels, long after the point in 2030 when the Committee on Climate Change says gas in the UK must sharply decline”.

The Liberal Democrats’ manifesto said the party opposes fracking “because of its adverse impact on climate change, the energy mix, and the local environment.”

But the Conservatives maintained that there is a role for the fledgling industry.

[Read full article on DesmogUK website…]

Theresa May announces she wants to bring back fox hunting

From The Independent: Theresa May has announced she hopes to bring back fox hunting.

The Conservatives will renew a pledge to hold a free vote on overturning 2004 ban on the blood sport, Ms May said. “As it happens, personally I have always been in favour of fox hunting, and we maintain our commitment, we have had a commitment previously as a Conservative Party, to allow a free vote.”

 

[Read full article on Independent website…]

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