Green IW Budget praised

Footprint Trust praises Council’s ‘Green Budget’

Local environmental charity the Footprint Trust has praised the greener aspects of the Council’s budget.

Speaking for the Trust, Ray Harrington-Vail said,

“The Council should be congratulated on its promotion of bus use. The dramatic increase in young people using the buses, thanks to the 50p flat fare, is to be particularly welcomed.”

“The Council’s investment in cycle routes shows a clear vision for the future and will encourage more people to cycle.”

“The £30.5m to rebuild Cowes High School as a zero-carbon centre of learning is to be welcomed. This new complex will be water and energy efficient and will act as a beacon for other new-builds in the country. We welcome the Council’s commitment to sustainable schools.”

We are pleased that the Council has listened to our comments about rewarding motorists who drive ‘greener’ cars.

“We welcome the aim to explore the use of renewable energy for Council buildings and the desire for the Island to move towards becoming more self-sufficient.”

The Trust has recently commented on the Council’s One Island consultation and has expressed concern that issues such as wildlife and countryside were not being fully addressed. It also supported the Wind Farm application near Wellow, pointing out that there were no other sustainable options available in the short-term.

‘Issues such as dog muck and graffiti are an annoyance but they will not destroy the planet. Climate Change and failing to protect rare habitats could. We need to insist that all new buildings are built to a high environmental standard – the proposed Cowes Learning Centre is a fantastic step in the right direction.”

“The Footprint Trust is more than happy to give praise were it is due, we are delighted to be able to work with the Council on many worthwhile projects.”


Ray Harrington-Vail

01983 822282

IW Council’s Budget

Click to access budget_speach_2007-08.pdf

Local Food – Miles Better Meeting

“Local Food – Miles Better!” Says Climate Change group

The IW Action on Climate Change group is to hold an open evening to look at local and regional food and its impact on the local environment. Some ninety five per cent of fruit is imported into the UK along with around fifty per cent of vegetables*. On a positive side there is a growing demand for local food with farmers’ and producers’ markets springing up all over the country.

Food miles increased by 15 per cent in the ten years to 2002, leading to a 12 per cent increase in carbon emissions from food transport. The cost of food miles to the UK, including time lost from congestion, road wear and tear, ill health from pollution and noise, and road crashes, is £9 billion a year. The average distance we drive to shop for food each year in the UK is 898 miles, compared with 747 in 1992.*

Speakers will look at issues such as ‘food miles’ and the local economy as well as addressing issues such as pollution and climate change. The date for the event is Thursday 27th September 2007 at 7pm at Newport’s Riverside Centre. The main speaker will be Mr Paul Heathcote of Afton Park Nursery, renowned for their Apple Days and Chinashop Rare Breeds.

The meeting will also welcome Christopher Wakeley as the new organiser of the Action on Climate Change group. The meeting will be chaired by Ray Harrington-Vail of the Footprint Trust, who is sponsoring the meeting, as part of their commitment to reducing the ‘ecological footprint’ of the Island.

Speaking for the Footprint Trust, Ray said,

“This educational initiative is seeking to inform the public and businesses about the challenges of climate change. It aims to give a positive message as to what can be done in our daily actions to reduce our impact on the planet. We support the NFU campaign for local food.”

“We were delighted at the recent commitment from the IW Council announcing that it is committing itself to cutting carbon by 4% per annum and that it is working with Carbon Trust to achieve this saving. We hope to be working with Council in looking for ways to help the public and businesses also achieve similar reductions.”

For more information about the group please visit


* Source: Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs 2005

Can planting trees save the planet?

Can planting trees save the planet?

Carbon offsetting has become one of the buzz phases of the last year. It appeals to individuals and businesses that wish to carry on their current lifestyles and practices and buy a bit of green credibility.

But can planting trees really help negate are extravagant planet-damaging ways? The only people who really seem to think this can help are those who are selling the trees.
Planting trees to neutralise carbon emissions has become a big business: £60m worth of trees have been bought in 2007 up from £20m in 2005. By 2010 the market is expected to reach £300m.

Trees, carrots and any vegetation does absorb carbon during its growing process but this will soon be released when the plant dies is eaten or burnt. Most trees do not live to a majestic old age, the majority succumb to disease or predation in their early years.

Most of the trees being planted will only live a few years. To do any good they would have to grow very quickly and then be felled and then sunk into the deep ocean. Alternatively they could be stored where they could not rot such as used as a building material.

Not destroying tropical forests would also make sense from an ecological and climate change point of view. But planting trees to offset carbon emissions could contribute to global warming if they are planted outside the tropics, scientists believe. Forests in the mid and high latitudes could make their parts of the world more than 3C warmer than would have occurred if the trees did not exist.

The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in the USA, has shown that only tropical rainforests are beneficial in helping slow global warming. The problem is that while the carbon dioxide forests use for photosynthesis indirectly helps cool the Earth by reducing the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, forests also trap heat from the sunlight they absorb. We must also protect moorlands from destruction as these do take-up and store carbon.

The whole idea of planting trees to soak-up carbon is based on a misunderstanding of the carbon cycle and the ability of trees to store enough carbon to make any real effect. The internationally renown Botanist and landscape historian Dr Oliver Rackham, has likened tree planting offsetting schemes to drinking water to stop rising sea levels!

There is increasing criticism from climate scientists of the benefits of forestry schemes to offset carbon emissions. Kevin Anderson, a scientist with the UK’s Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, warned recently that offsetting was a dangerous delaying technique that helped people “sleep well at night when we shouldn’t sleep well at night”.

If you are feeling guilty about all that carbon your putting into the environment it might be better to support a charity, which is helping to develop renewable energy in developing countries. Practical Action funds ‘appropriate’ or ‘intermediate technology’ for example, by developing efficient low cost cooking stoves which work from local biomass green fuels. They also support other options such as micro-hydro plants, small scale wind generators and solar lanterns. They state on their website ‘Our climate is changing and it’s the world’s poorest people who are hardest hit by devastating droughts, floods and other extreme weather events. This is a massive injustice – climate change is caused by the world’s richest countries.’

If people wish to really do something to reduce their over-use of fossil fuels they need to change the way they operate. Walk more – fly less… would be a good strap-line. But not likely to make much money for the various off-setting schemes.


Ways to cut carbon include:
· Replacing CO2-producing energy with human energy technologies … a project in India has replaced diesel pumps with people-operated pumps for irrigation.
· Introducing energy-saving light bulbs, which use 80% less electricity on average, reducing energy consumption and therefore the amount of pollution by power stations. Inefficient coal power stations in Kazakhstan create three times as much CO2 when producing electricity as UK counterparts. Because electricity is so cheap, many schools and homes use cheaper, but inefficient, traditional bulbs instead.
· Efficient stove projects. In Mexico more efficient stoves have been introduced because they are cheaper and burn less fuel. They also make the kitchen safer as they produce less smoke, and cut CO2 by 1.5 tonnes a year, a home.
· Renewable energy projects, such as wind farms in India.

Here are a number of sites that give more information. The Footprint Trust is not responsible for their content….

Information from a number of resources including, New Scientist magazine, The Resource Recovery Forum and The Guardian.

The Footprint Trust – Ray Harrington-Vail June 2007

Sitting on an Asset – Your sofa could help an island family…

With the summer here, many people will head to the nearest furniture or DIY store. But what are you to do with your old furniture or those curtains that grandma gave you? Many hotels and businesses also choose to have a refit at this time of year and are in a similar predicament.

The Storeroom project provides a free collection service for households and businesses who wish to dispose of good quality furniture, curtains and linen. They offer an island-wide pick-up service and with all charities they ask that people do not give them rubbish as they have to pay for disposal. For details call 298679. The Storeroom is an innovative project of the Real World Trust.

The furniture collected by the Storeroom is passed on to individuals and families who desperately need basic furnishings. If you know of anyone who could benefit from the Storeroom’s help please get in touch.

The Footprint Trust has commended the Storeroom for taking some 300 tonnes of useable furniture out of the waste-stream last year.

Visit the charity’s shop Tat n Treasure, located at 76 Regent Street, Shanklin. They are keen to receive quality donations of bric-a-brac and similar items. Income from the shop helps fund the Storeroom’s activities.

The Storeroom is always looking for more volunteers to help with repair of furniture, driving and other rewarding tasks.

The Storeroom is able to offer this service thanks to funding and support from a number of bodies including, Defra, CRED, the Isle of Wight Council and the Lloyds-TSB Foundation.

To find out about other recycling initiatives on the Island please visit;

Or call the IW Council switchboard on 821000.

River Wardens wanted

River warden’s scheme launch success

The Isle of Wight Council’s Medina Riverside Park has undergone a transformation since the involvement of the Isle of Wight Estuaries Project. As well as funding practical improvements, such as litter clearance, hedgelaying and new picnic benches, the project has recruited a local expert to help set up a volunteer group of local river enthusiasts.

The recent open evening to discuss the setting up of a Medina River Warden scheme was very successful. Eighteen people came and heard Ray Harrington-Vail of the Footprint Trust explain the idea behind the volunteer project. Using these eager volunteers and others to be recruited over the summer, the warden scheme should be set up this autumn. The Trust has already set up the popular IW Pond Warden scheme, and will be using its experience and expertise to help the Estuaries Project establish the River Wardens scheme.

River Wardens will get involved with a variety of tasks, which would not only benefit the river but also give invaluable training and experience to those who undertook the role. For example, a river warden could monitor activities on the river. Litter picking and practical nature conservation work could be undertaken. River wardens could inform and educate and act as ambassadors for the Medina which may include helping with guided walks, interpretation, working with schools plus other types of education and awareness raising. Liaison with river user groups such as anglers, boaters, walkers and bird watchers would also take place. Education and awareness about climate change issues and sea level rise plus information about the special protected areas of the river could also be delivered.

There will be a training day on Saturday 29th September 2007 in the Newport area. Booking is essential. Initially 20 wardens will be trained. Anyone else who is interested in taking part can contact the Footprint Trust. tel 822282.

The River Warden scheme will initially be paid for through the Area Investment Framework with money provided by South East England Development Agency and administered by the Isle of Wight Economic Partnership. The project is managed by the Isle of Wight Estuaries Project.


What No April Showers

What no April Showers! – has climate change arrived?

This April has been very hot and dry. The lack of April showers have been a talking point, in fact, it has been the warmest since records began almost 350 years ago. For many parts of the UK it was also their driest April. The South East has had 2mm of rainfall so far against the normal 55mm. Consequently farmers on the IW have had to water fields much earlier than normal. Taking the past year as a whole it has also been the hottest 12-month period since 1659. The Footprint Trust backs the overwhelming scientific opinion that Climate Change is to blame.

There is a danger that the ending of the hosepipe ban could give the wrong impression. Says Ray Harrington-Vail of the Footprint Trust’s Waterworks project.

“It is still important to save water. Many aquifers are still low following years of little rainfall. Every time a tap is running pollution is caused by the pumping of that water. The lack of April showers means that reservoirs are not being replenished and rivers are low.”

Our changing weather is not just an inconvenience but it could effect the survival of our native wildlife. Climate change is already affecting the natural world. Swallows are now migrating to Britain a week earlier on average than they did in the 1970s. Hedgehogs, and House Martins are believed to be in decline. To find out what’s happening the Isle of Wight Natural History Society is asking for your help. A reporting card is available from local libraries. Or visit their website.
Hawthorn has been a symbol of May since ancient times but this year it was flowering in early April. Flowers such as snowdrops are blooming earlier in the spring, oaks are leafing earlier and butterflies such as holly blues are appearing earlier. Scientists recently found that almost two-thirds of European butterflies have expanded their ranges northward and pulled back at the southern edge of their ranges.
Oaks will find it difficult to survive in the south of England and bluebells will fail to thrive due to lack of light, as trees come into leaf earlier.
The impact of climate change on biodiversity in Britain will be negative. If the world takes strong action to curb greenhouse gas emissions, we should be able to limit climate change to less than a 2°C average temperature rise. Nevertheless, a two degree rise will still have a marked impact on the UK’s diverse ecosystems.
Research shows that the golden plover, a typical upland bird, is nesting significantly earlier than 20 years ago. Dr James Pearce-Higgins, Research Biologist at the RSPB said: ‘The earliest hatching plover chicks, which normally have the best chance of survival, could in future struggle to find food, reducing their overall breeding success.’
Wetland birds such as redshank will find their habitats threatened by climate change: saltmarshes will become inundated by the sea while moors and wet grasslands will dry up during hot summers.
In 2005, water shortages in the south of England have already taken a toll on breeding wading birds. Numbers of breeding redshanks, lapwings and snipewaders have dropped by up to 80% at five RSPB nature reserves in Sussex and Kent as there is simply not enough water available to maintain their wetland habitats.

The Footprint Trust recently praised the IW Council on one of its green initiatives. – ‘One Million Blooms’ which is creating drought-tolerant landscaping in our parks and open spaces. This investment will radically reduce water usage and the associated costs. Many of the plants being chosen also benefit birds, butterflies and bats.

‘Gardeners wanting inspiration on what to plant should visit Ventnor Botanic Gardens, the largest drought–tolerant garden in the south of England.’ Said Mr Harrington-Vail

Look out for the Footprint Trust’s Saving Water leaflet …in local libraries and help centres. You can also view it on the Footprint Trust website.

Get involved
You and your family, school, church or business can get involved in the Waterworks project. Become a Water-Watcher by looking for ways in which to save water.

· Design posters for your washroom or toilets
· Place Southern Water ‘Save-a-Flush’ bags in large cisterns
· Create a drought-tolerant garden
· Report leaking taps and pipes

The Footprint Trust can visit Isle of Wight schools, churches and community buildings and give you ideas on water saving.

For more details please email

The WaterWorks initiative is supported by The IW AONB Sustainable Development Fund, along with the IWEP EU Leader+ programme, the Ernest Cook Trust and Southern Water.

Dinosaur Isle gets Green Garden to fight Climate Change

The Isle of Wight’s Footprint Trust and a local conservation group ‘Green Gym’ rolled up their sleeves to create a drought-tolerant garden in a bed at the front of Dinosaur Isle. Experts in the Council’s Parks & Countryside section have designed the planting that should also be resistant to salt spray in this exposed coastal location.

The scheme that was an initial idea from the Footprint Trust has been created due to concerns about Climate Change, which is causing a dramatic transformation in weather patterns, leading to record breaking heat waves and droughts across Europe.

“If carbon dioxide in the atmosphere continues to be increased by human activities the environment will warm up to a climate suitable for dinosaurs.” Said Ray Harrington-Vail of the Footprint Trust.

The garden will require little or no artificial watering and will also be beneficial to birds and butterflies. Plants chosen include, spurge, ice plant, seakale, sea holly, silver spear, fountain grass and New Zealand flax. This scheme is part of the Footprint Trust’s Waterworks project supported by the AONB Sustainable Development Fund and EU Leader+. It links to the IW Council’s One Million Blooms initiative, which seeks to create drought-friendly planting in parks and open spaces.

In addition to planting the scheme will be complemented by the use of feature rocks and gravel mulch locally sourced from Bardon Vectis. Island Waste Compost derived from recycled garden waste will also be used to avoid peat-based products.

Some 30 volunteers including local residents took part in the planting day.

Peter Pusey of Dinosaur Isle said, ‘…last year Dinosaur Isle achieved a Green Island gold standard award, and with this new garden we are hoping to maintain that gold standard. This exciting and innovative drought-tolerant garden will save the museum £500 a year on buying bedding plants however it will more importantly mean that we will no longer need to use 1000’s of litres of water a year on irrigation.’