Thank you for all your kind thoughts asking us whether we’re frazzled in the South of France. We are, but it could be worse – we could be dodging bullets in Birkenhead!
It seems to us your concerns are obviously prompted by our lack of recent reporting. You’re right – C’est finis. Why wallow in Wirral merde when we can dip our toes in the Med?
So the next few weeks will be us tying up a few loose ends before we sail into the sunset. First off we bring you some good (ish) news stories courtesy of campaign group ‘For Trees’ that have been languishing in our inbox . We thank them for their past contributions and wish them best of luck with their future campaigning :
Dear tree supporter,
Thankyou if you came to support the SUCCESSFUL protest call for Climate Crisis vote at Wallasey Town Hall on Monday. Please feel free to quote from the e-mail below to hold your Councillors to their word that they have acknowledged the Climate Emergency (it was a unanimous vote!) and that they intend to act on it:
Copy us in at ‘For Trees’ if you are happy to share. The letter was also copied to Margaret Greenwood MP.
The extraordinary meeting can be viewed on the webcam recording on the wirral.gov.uk website.
Things are moving fast…a glyphosate motion was also passed (with amendments) on Monday so keeping the pressure on is definitely having BIG results
Thankyou for voting the Climate Emergency through on Monday. I hope it isn’t just ‘on paper’ so to speak, but that the Council now take actions, accordingly, to make change; learning from the good practices, and leads that other Councils are taking; For example; NOT building on the Greenbelt, and as Dir. Greenpeace, Ed Gillespie said; avoiding demolitions and the “Wimpy-fication” or in Wirral’s case “Red-Rowification” of our towns but moving (….and quickly) to eco-build practices such as can be seen on Lang Lane, West Kirby (No. 21) with a focus on insulation, photo-voltaic inclusion, triple-glazing,etc.
And extreme weather buffering, and effective flood defense, by trees;
At the climate Crisis / Cool Partnership last week, held at Port Sunlight, Ed Gillespie quoted a current annual loss of 10 billion trees.
With the enforced ‘roll-out’ of 5G technology, thousands of trees are being lopped and felled; trees and hedgerows are being removed from our cities and countryside. Many telecommunication papers state that trees are a ‘problem’ for the 5G radiation frequencies. Wirral has been no exception…felling has been relentless over the last 10 years…and is accelerating! We need to protect our existing trees from the ruthless telecommunication companies whose priority is to make billions in profit. Us, our trees and wildlife depend on us to protect them.
While planting is ESSENTIAL if we are to try and address the climate emergency. We must not be hood-winked into believing that planting schemes REPLACE mature tonnages of timbers, that are being removed at an accelerating rate; I would refer you to the 90,000 tree saplings that perished last year, which were planted under the HS2 terms of contract ‘in mitigation’ of the loss of woodland caused by the rail construction and had no care programme included.
As an ecologist, I address the loss of habitat, as well as the carbon released and the flood mitigation lost/loss of pollutant filtering/ loss of harmful radiation blockage/ loss of buffering of severe weather systems etc, when mature trees are removed. Many trees can live over 1,000 years old maintaining an ecosystem that cannot exist on young timbers. Hollow trees are strong (as are hollow wind-turbines and hollow bones) and it is by no means an indicator that a tree is unhealthy; the majority of our most ancient trees are, in fact, hollow and yet this is being rolled out as a ‘reason’ for felling. Wirral Council has accelerated its programme of felling systematically over the past 10 years (as can be evidenced in the ‘tree-loss monitoring document’, L. Stothard)
No-one can predict which trees will fall, but cutting and removing their limbs will make trees vulnerable to diseases and will unbalance them; trees balance themselves; lollipopping them renders them top-heavy. Tree-loss is contributing to lung and respiratory diseases, birth defects from increased particulates and heavy metals in our atmosphere and loss of general health and well-being.
There is very little acknowledgment of the fact that many of our indigenous tree species can take literally decades before they fruit (eg Quercus robur, the English oak, once called the common oak)-another reason that we need to RETAIN any mature trees as well as plant new ones. ….it’s all about the carbon lock-up of course too, which saplings cannot even come close; the suggestion of the loss of a mature tree being replaced with a minimum tree mass of the age of that tree is more appropriate; For example; removing a 50 year old tree needs to have a minimum of 50 years worth of trees put back; such as 10 trees of 5 years old or 25 trees of 2 years old ;and most importantly ALL WITH A CARE PROGRAMME .
A falling tree is simply an act of nature; 92% of accidents linked with trees are where people are carrying out ‘tree-work’ (cutting or felling). And yet this statistic is not considered in the HSE table of risk where, even so, the risk is merely 1 in 20 million…well BELOW negligible risk.
Wirral cannot afford to lose ANY MORE of our mature trees. The Council is committing willful blindness in their continuation of tree-fellings and Councils and the Government face retrospective litigation linked to tree-loss because they KNOW. Please help to stop the felling and prove that the declaration of Wirral being in a Climate Emergency is being addressed;
no trees =no life….literally I’m afraid
Diane Johnson, BSc Ecology, PGCE,
Dear tree supporter,
Great news! The motion to have a glyphosate-free Wirral HAS BEEN PASSED! Well done to every one of you who were involved in pushing for this. Wirral will be a lot healthier because of this decision. Here is the motion;
GLYPHOSATE-FREE WIRRAL Proposed by Councillor Steve Hayes Seconded by Councillor Chris Cooke Council notes:
The use of pesticides such as glyphosate in the UK has increased by 60% in real terms since 1990 . Italy, Portugal and the Canadian city of Vancouver have all banned the use of glyphosate [or glyphosate-based weed killers] and France is working towards this. Mosanto and German owner Bayer face 9,000 lawsuits in the USA from those that believe their illnesses are caused by their products, the first plaintiff won unanimously with many more to follow . Recent studies published in ScienceDirect show a 41% increased risk of Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma caused by exposure from glyphosate-based weed killers and products . Council believes: There is compelling evidence that glyphosate and a wide range of other herbicides and pesticides may be harmful to human health The use of pesticides and weed killers reduces biodiversity, impacting negatively on insects, birds and bees, in a time when the world is losing 2.5% of its insect population per-year . Harmful weed killer residues can creep into the food chain. Pets and children should not be playing in parks, in our streets or any area treated with such chemicals. Council recommends that cabinet resolves to: Phase out the use of all pesticides and weed killers on council land. Cut out all use of glyphosate-based treatments in all council-owned parks within one year and across all council-owned land within two years. Trial pesticide-free alternatives during this period. Particularly those adopted by the likes of Hammersmith and Fulham and Lewes Councils who use biodegradable foam or hot steam treatments on weeds. Grant an exception to the above ban regarding the control of Japanese knotweed, or other invasive species, where there are currently no effective mechanical techniques available. However, in this case chemicals such as glyphosate will only be stem-injected, rather than sprayed, to reduce its spread in the environment. Grant an exception on sprays only in relation to Giant Hogweed where it’s not safe to be dug out or safely removed by other means and then cordon off the surrounding area. Write to the prime minister to inform the government of this Council’s opposition to glyphosate-based pesticides and to call for a UK-wide programme to phase out their use. 1. http://www.pan-uk.org/pesticides-agriculture-uk/ Link to external page/site 2. https://www.theguardian.com/science/2018/oct/07/monsanto-trial-cancer-appeal-glyphosatechemical Link to external page/site 3. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1383574218300887 Link to external page/site 4. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/feb/10/plummeting-insect-numbers-threatencollapse-of-nature- Link to external page/site (5) VERGES AND POLLINATORS
An amendment to the motion which was passed proposed that this should be banned AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. ; Thus we will hopefully avoid ANY further spraying (although park workers were recorded spraying in Grange Park, West Kirby on 17.7.19….AFTER the motion was passed in Council.
The shared letter below was sent to all the Councillors who voted AGAINST the ‘Glyphosate-free Wirral’ motion on Monday- in the meeting ‘Spartan grass’ was quoted as a ‘reason’ for this (we understand that beach spraying had been proposed as an amendment although it didn’t get passed). The Climate Crisis is NOT a party political issue, For Trees is working cross-party to try and bring everyone on board.
As always, feel free to share this or use as a template to support your letters
The ‘For Trees’ Team
In response to your vote on Monday’s Council meeting, on the motion; “Glyphosate-free Wirral”.
I don’t know if you are aware that Spartan grass; from the genus Spartina; Spartina anglica and Spartina maritima are native to Britain and are considered as coastal ecosystem engineers.
The grass establishes as primary vegetation which provides food for pollinators and thus encourages bird-life. Accumulation of sand is enabled where the grassy clumps can establish and, in time, other species are able to establish such as marram grass or Ammophila.
These grasses ‘capture’ sand and are able to thrive under conditions of high winds and shifting sands. This allows the accumulation of a more fertile layer and has an essential role in stabilizing to PREVENT COASTAL EROSION.
The three-fold system that follows is;
1. The establishment of a rich ecosystem of dunes as can be seen at Red Rocks, for example where protected species inhabit, such as the natterjack toad.
2. An influx of tourism, such as can be seen in Formby dune system. And….
3. The development and retention of a natural flood defense system.
…..Which costs NOTHING…and yet is highly effective and essentially permanent.
My nephews live besides Hoylake beach and stay well away from the herbicide spraying zone (all year round). They move as far out as is plausible to play in the sand as their parents are more than aware that any inevitable traces of glyphosate, which has clearly been linked to illnesses such as non-Hodgkin Lymphoma and, as such, is a threat to their health.
Now that Wirral Council has “got on board” with the Climate Emergency, I wonder how many Councillors went to hear Ed Gillespie, Director of Greenpeace’s talk on; Climate change, and what we need to do, or changes we need to make; IMMEDIATELY, to reverse the crisis?
Education is needed to address those people who cry;
“but trees will spoil the view” and
“But it might look like Parkgate”
……Yes; but we will all still be breathing, with any luck, and Britain/Wirral won’t be a part-sunken, infertile desert!
I was privileged to have studied for a degree in Ecology, in the days when people would ask me ‘What is ecology?’ but really, people have little excuse now, not to understand the need to pull together to protect and enhance our natural environment. There has been enough public education and call from the youth to say; Look after the environment, it’s an emergency!
and, as a Councillor bound to the laws of the Aarhus Convention, it is your statutory duty to educate others as to the actions that you take in making these changes.
I look forward to your response.