28 Jul 2009

Big Green Gathering's closure an opportunity to support Vestas?

I've already noted the actions to help Vestas - see here - Vestas Blades UK, which manufactures wind turbine blades on the Isle of Wight, is due to close on 31st July. 600 jobs will be lost immediately and many more that depend on Vestas will follow. It is madness and rightly there is much much noise - how can a Government bail out the banks and the car industry but let our future in renewables collapse in the Isle of Wight? See Molly's great comment here.

This week there was also news that t he police, following orders from on high have forced the cancellation of the Big Green Gathering. More on that outrage below but there are various calls for folk instead to make their way to support Vestas - as one Green said: "Let's show Ed, the nimbys and the police that the answer is indeed blowing in the wind. We need radical change, we need renewable energy, we need to work in solidarity with the workers. There's a pot of tea and revolution brewing. Be the change, be the camp, bring a tent. Get down to the Isle of Wight pronto. Invite all your mates."

London’s Green MEP, Jean Lambert, who has joined protestors to demand action from the Government to support the wind energy industry and protect green jobs, said: “In its Energy White Paper, the government announced a major expansion of renewable energy capacity, including wind power, and yet this factory is set to close due to the slow growth of the onshore wind market and delays in our planning system. This planned closure really flies in the face of the promised green jobs bonanza. If these jobs are lost, knowledge and skills in green manufacturing will be lost too. In the midst of this recession, and given the global threats from climate change, we need radical action now to protect jobs and expand our green industries. The Vestas factory provides a model for the way in which Britain's manufacturing industry could be positively and sustainably rebuilt to provide green jobs and proven, environmentally-sound energy sources for the future. I fully support the actions of the workers and urge people to lend their voices to this vital campaign. Now is the time for the Government to step in to save these jobs and invest in sustainable green manufacturing for the future."

While we are on the subject of supporting direct action I hope folk can send messages of support to the Vestas workers - http://savevestas.wordpress.com/ email: savevestas@googlemailcom

Big Green Gathering Shut Down

“It’s political” Chief Superintendent tells BGG Director

I have to say I was shocked to hear about this - and also to read that apparently Chief Superintendent Paul Richards admitted to a Big Green Gathering Director that the decision to shut down the Big Green Gathering was political and confirmed to the Chair of the Big Green Gathering that orders had come from the highest level. This is Britain's biggest green festival - a five day event which was expecting 15,000-20,000 people to turn up for the event in the Mendip hills, Somerset. Here is more from the press release:

During a meeting between the police and directors of the Big Green Gathering, the superintendent said the decision to shut down the BGG was taken over a week ago, confirming the statement from the BGG lawyer that the ‘injunction was a red herring.’

Directors from the BGG are horrified at this partisan interpretation of licencing law. Big Green Gathering Chair Brig Oubridge said, “At the multi-agency meeting on Thursday 23rd July, we were still negotiating with the police and the council under the genuine belief that things were progressing and we were continuing to spend money on infrastructure, wages and security. If they knew they were going to cancel the event, we can only conclude that this drive to increase expenditure appears to be a deliberate attempt to bankrupt the Big Green Gathering.
The injunction served on the Big Green Gathering was primarily addressing the fact that the Big Green Gathering did not obtain the necessary road closure despite the fact that the Highways Agency had previously indicated that this would be done.

The Big Green Gathering has been running an event since 1994 and never before has public safety been an issue. The BGG has an exemplary record on health and safety and crime levels have always been low for the number of people on site.
Despite the concerns over the behaviour of the Council and the Police, event organisers will work with them to ensure the safety of those at the premises and ensure that they leave the land in an orderly fashion.

Brig concluded, “We are very aware of our responsibilities to those already on the site and very sad for all those who were coming to enjoy one of the most peaceful festivals in the UK.”

This is deeply disappointing and indeed shocking that the decision is political - words fail me - this has always been a wonderfully positive event - the Big Green Gathering grew out of the original Green Gatherings of the 1980s and the Green Fields section of the Glastonbury music festival. The first event took place at Watchfield, south Oxfordshire, in July 1994, and was attended by about 1,600 people. In 1995 the event moved to Lower Pertwood farm on the Wiltshire downs, one of Britain's largest and most successful organic farms. By 1998 it was attracting more than 7,000 visitors and participants.

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