Monthly Archives: November 2011


“How Green is your Stadium?“: There was an interesting article under this heading in the Metro pointing out that Ajax’s stadium has ‘ carbon neutral ‘Sweet Seats’ made in Brazil from sugar cane ethanol and that Wembley uses all its waste to generate power.  But  its ‘Lowly, non league Dartford FC [who] have perhaps become English football’s eco pioneers, with a £6.5 million stadium described as Britain’s greenest. Solar panels power most of the ground’s hot water and under-floor heating while its roof is turf covered” with organisers saying  that they ‘”hope that we will take ‘sustainability’ into consideration if we ever do construct a new stadium- it makes economic sense if nothing else.” One blogger adds “We all know how windy it can get at Holker Street, a few turbines would be very productive and with the support of Dong Energy could be installed at low cost. Our location, near to the coast and Ormsgill reservoir, also makes Holker Street one of the best grounds for bird watching with low flying wildfowl and cormorants often distracting me from the football. If a new stand roof were to be covered in insect supporting wild flowers it could bring in more bird life too (there is one such roof that even supports skylarks)”.

Denmark is aiming to become fully sustainable on self generated energy by 2050 moving completely away from oil and coal to wind power and electricity generated form biomass. Danish government proposals have called for generating just over half of its electricity from wind turbines by 2020 and all of its energy from renewable sources in 2050. The government’s proposal called for coal-fired power plants and oil-fired heating to be phased out by 2030. Coal energy would be replaced by biomass.

The UK’s oldest green NGO, Environmental Protection UK, is closing after cuts to local authority budgets severely reduced its income. Formed as the Coal Smoke Abatement Society the EPUK analyses air quality and more recently on contaminated land. Ten people at the Brighton based agency will lose their jobs

Canada’s shameful oil tar sands mining is being supported by the United Kingdom the Guardian has revealed. It seems that Canada oil tar sands, the World’s second largest reserve of fossil fuels after Saudi Arabia’s oil, are of great interest to the UK who have set up a consulate in Alberta to ‘support British commercial interests’ and have agreed to lobby at Brussels.  Mining oil tar is hugely costly in terms of greenhouse gases emitted in the extraction process and with widespread environmental damage.

The UN Environment Programme has said that wood is not the sustainable fuel we all think it is, and is a major contributor to climate change. Wood fires, along with diesel vehicles, are the two biggest contributors to climate change in developing countries as both produce black carbon soot – also a major contributor to poor health. Modern wood burning stoves which burn pellets usually have particle catching technology and modern diesel cars are much less polluting – but more expensive. In fact in the UK an interesting letter in the Times newspaper explains that the UK Government’s subsidy of biomass for energy projects is distorting the market in wood.Alistair Kerr, Director General of the Wood Panel Industries Federation said that subsidising wood burning was bad for the taxpayer – and for the environment – and for British companies that manufacture products from wood and is “destroying the UK’s forest industries”.

Latest figures from the Met Office confirm climate change scientist’s predictions that temperatures across the World are continuing to rise. As the UN meets in Durban in South Africa to discuss the worlds response climate change, the average global temperatures for the first 10 moths of 2011 were 14.36C, 0.36C above the long term average. This is actually cooler than 2010, explained by the weather phenomenon La Nina which brings cooler water to the surface of the Pacific Ocean. Phil Jones, director of Research at UEA, said that the the figures provided ‘overwhelming’ evidence of climate change. In parts of Russia temperatures were more than 4C above average, Many southern European countries including Spain have had their hottest year for 140 years as have many in South America. In Durban only the EU and a number of small countries severely affected by climate change are pushing for a new ‘Kyoto’ style deal. Kyoto expires in 2012.

A biomass project originally due to be completed this year has doubled in cost to £120m it was revealed today. In 2008 E.ON was given the green light to build a £60M plant on the site of a former coal-fired power station outside Sheffield called Blackburn Meadows. The plant was originally targeted as 25MW and was meant to go into operation this year.

The Isle of Wight aims to become a net green energy exporter to the rest of the UK and Europe by capitalising on its renewable power capabilities At a launch event today (November 15) at the House of Commons in central London business leaders from the island and around the world laid out a vision for an ‘Eco-Island’.  According to Eco Island Partnership founder and chief executive, David Green, the Isle of Wight can not only become energy self-sufficient but also be an energy exporter. reports that One of the UK’s largest solar businesses has revealed it is behind a second legal challenge on cuts to Feed-In Tariffs (FITs). Earlier FRIENDS OF THE EARTH  had said that it was taking legal action over proposed cuts to FITs level, which are due to come in on December 12 before the consultation finishes two weeks later on December 23.  At that time the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) confirmed it had received ‘two letters indicating an intention to start legal proceedings’.

Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman has called the waste sector a “bright star of economic growth”, saying it was one of the few industries predicted to grow against the backdrop of a challenging economic climate. Speaking at WRAP’s annual conference in London, Spelman told delegates the sector was forecast to grow between 3-5% per annum over the coming years.  She said: “I constantly see people coming to me with new opportunities for materials that have previously been discarded or buried in the ground. Good resource management will help rebalance the economy and put it on a more sustainable footing.”

Coca-Cola has announced it is planning to recycle all clear plastic waste collected at the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games into 80 million new coke bottles.


Rheinkultur cancelled – permanently

The organisers of Rheinkultur, Germany’s biggest admission-free festival, and a big supporter of green events, have said that they have cancelled the 2012 30th anniversary edition and will now stop the festival permanently. Giving reasons, organisers Sabine Funk and Holger Schmidt  said that the admission free concept required a lot of idealism and volunteer work from the organisers that doesn’t now fit with the responsibility and risk involved. They also said that the financial base of the Festival was always fragile and the organisers felt that there was a lack of support from the city of Bonn and that the Festival’s influence, image and benefit for the city always has been underestimated by politicians and city government. The differences in support and subsidisation of entertainment and established culture were one of the main frustrations for the organising  team who pointed to the fact that Rhinkultur, attended in 2011 by 160,000 visitors, was just 80,000€ , whereas the 2011 Beethoven Festival with a capacity of approx 60,000 visitors was awarded  1,6 Million€. But organisers also said that reasons also included the fact that they recently had deal with a small but significant anti social element who were often aggressive and drunk. RhEINKULTUR closes with a “balanced financial state” having reduced debts from 2010 meaning that organisers can stop the festival “without doing any harm to anybody”


The UN’s weather agency has reported that CO2 levels in the atmosphere reached record levels in 2010. Concentrations of CO2 increased by 2.3 parts per million between 2009 and 2010, more than the average annual rise in the entire last decade. Methane levels are also rising along with Nitrous Oxide levels, as are HFCs brought in to replace CFCs, banned because of their damaging effect on the ozone layer. Carbon levels have risen by 39% since the beginning of the industrial era to a new high of 389 ppm according to the World Meteorological Organisation.

The International Energy Agency has said that a global investment drive in clean energy is required within 5 years otherwise new power plants, cars, buildings and factories risk tipping the planet into catastrophic climate change. But the Agency’s chief economist Fatih Birol said that there seemed little appetite for governments to tackle the issue as global economic problems took priority. The Agency says that without firm action by 2017, locked in CO2 emissions will cause global temperature rises of at least 2C.

Here’s a good idea: The Liter of Light project installs £1 bulbs powered by water and sunlight for homes in poorer countries. The sun’s rays are harnessed by the bottle bulb – designed by students at the Massachusetts Institute of  Technology and first used in the Philippines – and create a 50W glow in the room below. They are useful, cheap, safe, and over 10,000 have been installed so far.

John Cridland, Director general of the CBI said this about Government plans to cut subsidies for home generated solar energy (Feed In Tarifffs): “Moving the goalposts doesn’t just destroy projects and jobs. It creates a mood of uncertainty that puts off investors.

The case for man made golbal warming is more compelling than ever after scientists at the Climate Research Unit and the University of East Anglia undertook a major re-analysis of global climate records including data from hundreds of new  Russian weather stations – most over the last 40 years but some going back to the 19th century.

Delegates from 193 countries will meet at the 17th UN Climate Change Conference at the end of November and early December  looking for a ‘pathway’ to lower carbon emissions, a fund to help poorer countries deal with climate change and protection against deforestation. Most smaller nations effected by climate change believe that the bigger i western nations have given up on green as they fight to protect their economies.

The UK will soon see the launch of the World’s first wine bottle – made out of paper. With the UK set to run out of landfill space in seven (7) years the bottle’s makers claim it is compostable and decomposes in weeks – and much lighter than glass bottles – costing less carbon to produce and transport.  The paper bottle will have an inner sleeve similar to wine boxes to protect the wine. Manufacturer Greenbottle already produce a paper milk bottles.

Is it Spring? Is it Autumn? Is it Summer. With people sunbathing on Brighton beach in mid-November in the UK, who knows – certainly not nature.  And now scientists are worried that plants and animals are getting seriously confused by our odd weather with strawberries fruiting, frogs mating, tomatoes ripening and butterflies flitting around. “Autumn has been a bit weird” said a spokesperson for the Woodland Trust!

Our Award winners pick up their green ‘flags’ !

Luke,  Helen and Claire from A Greener Festival, Matt, Max and Steve from Robertson Taylor, and festival organisers from Cambridge Folk Festival, Greenbelt, Hadra Trance Festival, Festibelly, T-in-the-Park, Wood, The Isle of Wight Festival and Shambala, pick up their ‘flag’ awards at the UK Festival Conference 2011 at the Forum, London. Good times!

Shambala won the overall UK ‘Greener Festival Award’ at the UK Festival Awards that evening at the Camden Roundhouse – and Chris from Shambala is kneeling down holding that Award. Well done to them!

The Greener Festival Awards are generously supported by

Our eco-friendly and recycled tent award  ‘Flags’ were designed by Helen and printed by

UK Festival Awards 2011 – the winners

The results of the UK Festival Awards 2011 have just been announced – with Glastonbury, Bestival and Secret Garden Party all picking up the big prizes. Glastonbury took the award for Best Major Festival at a packed London Roundhouse while Secret Garden Party and End of the Road were crowned best medium and small festival respectively. Bestival was the Fans’ Favourite and Croatia’s Outlook won the award for Best Overseas Festival. Ed Sheeran picked up the award for Best Breakthrough Act and Paolo Nutini’s set at Latitude was named Headline Performance of the Year.

And those winners in full are:

Best New Festival in association with Access All Areas: Wilderness

Best Metropolitan Festival: Tramlines

Best Dance Event in association with Peppermint: Creamfields

Best Overseas Festival: Outlook (Croatia)

Best Family Festival in association with Showsec: Beautiful Days

Best Breakthrough Artist: Ed Sheeran

Line-Up of the Year in association with XL Video: Sonisphere

Headline Performance of the Year in association with Jagermeister: Paolo Nutini – Latitude

Anthem of the Summer: Chase and Status – Blind Faith

Agent of the Year in association with IQ: Steve Strange

Promoter of the Year in association with Virtual Festivals: Secret Productions

Best Small Festival in association with Doodson: End of the Road

Best Medium-Sized Festival: Secret Garden Party

Best Major Festival in association with The Ticket Factory: Glastonbury

Fans’ Favourite Festival: Bestival

The Lifetime Achievement Award: Steve Heap, Mrs Casey Music / Towersey Village Festival

The following awards were presented at the Festival Conference:

The Grass Roots Festival Award in association with ID&C: Y-Not Festival

Concession of the Year: The Beat Hotel

The Greener Festival Award in association with Robertson Taylor and Shambala

Best Toilets in association with Shewee: Y-Not Festival

Best Sponsor Activation in association with Field Marketing and Brand Experience: Capitalize – Bacardi

The Extra-Festival Activity Award in association with Music Week: Bearded Kitten

Outstanding Contribution to Festival Production in association with TPi: The Event Safety Shop

Research findings show energy consumed by UK festival sector could power ten thousand homes

New research conducted this summer by creative industry greening experts Julie’s Bicycle, the University of Sussex and the Power Providers Forum (an informal network of power suppliers and festival promoters) maps out the uptake of biodiesel and renewable power across the UK festival sector, providing recommendations for increasing demand towards a low carbon future for the creative industries.

The Research took place in the context of intensified focus on the environment and climate change, following tragic events at festivals, including event cancellation due to flash floods, infrastructural damage (such as stages collapsing) and injuries to punters which arose during bad weather. These occurrences are not new to 2011, but the volume of instances this year has made extreme weather an increasingly urgent consideration for festival insurance policies, and the industry is beginning to engage with what changes might be necessary.

The research findings show that UK music festivals consume about 12 million litres of diesel per year, generating an estimated 48,000MWh of electricity and 31,600t CO2e emissions. This energy use is the equivalent of powering 10,000 homes for a year; a significant statistic which is due to the inefficiency of diesel generators, which usually run at an average of only 40% fuel efficiency and therefore use much more energy to power equipment compared to the national grid.

Waste vegetable oil (WVO) biodiesel is currently meeting 3-6% of this festival power supply demand, and on-site renewable energy – solar powered battery, temporary wind or pedal power – is meeting just ~0.026%. Current capacity of renewables is 0.1% (91kW) of demand. The uptake of renewable power is currently dominated by a small number of committed festivals, and festivals certified Industry Green (IG) use an average of 12% WVO biodiesel and renewable energy. IG is the environmental certification for creative businesses, developed by Julie’s Bicycle. Bearing this in mind, it is possible that, despite being more expensive than diesel, the increase in demand anticipated by renewable energy suppliers is happening.

The recommendations identified by the research partners are designed to help drive uptake of these alternative power sources at festivals. They include:

  • Festivals understanding and reducing their energy demand, including better planning and rationalising of generators, and using more energy efficient kit for PA and lighting;
  • Tour bus operations significantly reducing energy demand;
  • Increasing the supply of WVO biodiesel through better information;
  • Energy suppliers providing better information about the power and entertainment output provided by diesel, biodiesel and renewable installations to increase confidence and promote forward planning.

The Power Providers Forum Steering Group, which includes Julie’s Bicycle, Kambe Events Ltd./Shambala Festival, A Greener Festival, AIF, Firefly Solar and Glastonbury Festival, are now developing a programme to increase the use of WVO biodiesel and renewable energy at festivals based on these recommendations. Alison Tickell, Director of Julie’s Bicycle, said “Mapping power supply across UK festivals was identified by the Power Provider’s Forum as the first joint step towards building a sustainable festival sector. This research reveals the scale of opportunity, the strength of commitment and the missed tricks. Our second step will be to focus on a small number of joint actions to make the difference.”  Chris Johnson, Director of Shambala Festival and Kambe Events Ltd., said “We’re very encouraged by the commitment from promoters and the industry to the Green Festival Forum so far. We believe it will be a hotbed for innovation and contribute a great deal to sustainability in the festival sector. Watch this space!”

Julie’s Bicycle has also developed the Green Suppliers Database, a platform for suppliers to share information and increase awareness of their business available at:

From Tent Trash to a Winning Idea!

The morning after a festival of fun can sometimes feel like a little sad. Disappointed that a fun weekend has flown by so quickly and not looking forward to the reality of going home. But I am never more sad than when I leave a campsite with a temporary town’s worth of abandoned belongings and tents scattered and sprawling across the countryside. I am appalled and disgusted by the waste that is left at some festival campsites. It’s not a new problem, it is a UK problem and it’s been happening for years. A study by Virtual Festivals in 2009 showed that more than 1 in 5 people have left their tent at a festival. A very small percentage of tents, camping equipment, fancy dress and personal items are salvaged by other festival-goers and community groups. But the majority of discarded tents are left for the festival to dispose of and transport off site, lots with their contents still inside while their thoughtless owners have a light journey home abandoning their belongings to be someone else’s problem.

This has become everyone’s problem. Staff and volunteers spend weeks dismantling them, festivals have to remove and dispose of them, at the cost of the festival and ultimately at the cost of audiences. An estimated 25% of campsite waste to landfill comprises of abandoned tents. The facts are shocking.

It’s a waste on every level, the carbon produced to make the tent, the fuel used to transport it, the energy needed to sell it and the money spent to buy it… then to immediately dispose of materials that can’t be recycled and are not reused only to be transported and left in landfill is nonsense.

So, when t comes to your tent,  PLEASE TAKE IT HOME!

So when Amie G and I were at the lovely Malmo festival doing their green audit, and in full flow, one of the brainstorming ideas we had for this years’ GREENER FESTIVAL AWARDS Trophy for all of our winning festivals  it seemed like a good opportunity to use these materials that would otherwise go to landfill to create our award and highlight the problem. Fuelled by the enthusiasm that Amie injects into everything we work on, the team agreed, Amie went home and I took on the challenge.

Bestival organiser, Duncan agreed that we could salvage materials from the site, Aylin and the green team dismantled and transported the broken tents across the site and Claire agreed that when she left the site Dexter (her van) would transport and store them until we knew what the next stage might be. After having a chat with Kate at ‘With In Tent’ I realised that this was not going to as easy as giving an expert the materials and waiting for the postman. Someone needed to collect the tents, empty the tents, select and cut the usable material, clean the material, dry the material, print on the material, design the award and sew the materials. Oh and it needed to be freestanding and printed with 100% non-toxic water-based inks in a month.

That said, it is done and I am rather relieved and excited to present our awards on Tuesday. The AGF team and I are enormously grateful for generously giving skills, time, energy, fuel, advise, permission, resources and support. What a team. and here we are – our beautiful new awards!

So it’s a BIG Thank you to:

Beth and Peter at I Dress Myself:  After visiting a few printers locally to have a chat and research how to print on to tents I discovered that printing in non-toxic water based inks is a bit of a foreign language to most printers. I took the advise of as many ‘eco’ printers as I could find on the internet (which is not as many as I thought). Beth from I Dress Myself emailed me back and said they loved the project. Peter tested the inks would not fall to dust and ensured our design could work and be printed within a week.

Larisa Tilaks. With 50 years experience Larisa has made hats for royalty, spent nights sewing sequins and pearls into wedding dresses she’s designed, cut and sewn from rough sketches. Larisa is a special lady with fabric in her blood. The awards would not have survived this stage of sewing, talc and perseverance if I had naively learned to use a sewing machine.

Andy Tilling. Friend and fellow Womble, Andy can turn other people’s rubbish into great things, he makes buildings out of salvaged materials, grows masses of lovely fruit and veg, fixes things and lives at the bottom of my road. What better place to salvage some wood and use his skills.

Aylin Mcnamara, Claire O’Neill and Duncan Turner, without you there would have been no materials.

And finally Charley Flemming, Claire Oddy and Alex Emanuel for documenting the project on film and your creativity.  Watch out for new short film soon with our special thanks to The Isle of Wight Festival and Eco Action Partnership for their help with that film and for Bestival and Glastonbury for their support.

You are all legends! Thank you.

Posted by HELEN