Monthly Archives: March 2012

Sonisphere UK cancelled

The British leg of Sonisphere is off, and the news was broken yesterday by headliners Queen, who told their fans “it is with very heavy hearts and much regret that we announce the cancellation of Sonisphere Knebworth 2012”. The cancellation was confirmed by promoters Kilimanjaro who said “Putting the festival together in what is proving to be a very challenging year was more difficult than we anticipated and we have spent the last few months fighting hard to keep Sonisphere in the calendar. Unfortunately circumstances have dictated that we would be unable to run the festival to a standard that both the artists and Sonisphere’s audience would rightly expect”. Ticket holders will automatically receive a full refund direct from their ticket agents”. Rumours of the cancellation began to circulate in the agent community earlier this week and some are said to be very disappointed with the cancellation after agreeing exclusive UK terms with Kilimanjaro. The Darkness, Faith No More and Kiss were also confirmed as headliners, but rumours persisted of poor ticket sales.



It’s a funny old year already and it looks like being the warmest March for decades – and whilst Scotland, the North And North West have kept their rainfall, The East, South and South East are already in drought conditions. As March has been unseasonably warm, I have been up on the allotment earlier this year. Soil improvement has been a theme on all the  plots, with tons of manure being dug in over the last two years (when the garden lots were first made available by our local council, transforming an old ‘set aside’ field) but March and April are busy times for vegetable growers:

  • Plant late early and maincrop potatoes once they have been ‘chitted’ (sprouted) into rich well dug soil. I am trying slug and blight resistant varieties this year – Sarpo Mira and Kestrel along with Maris Piper.
  • Peas can be planned out from March onwards in rows – I would recommend planting at two week intervals.
  • I have raspberries , gooseberries and blackberries already planted. Check for disease and damage on stems and remove as necessary. Strawberries can be ridies up and old leaves and spent runners removed.
  • If you can sow seeds indoors or in a greenhouse, courgettes and runner beans can soon be started in pots.
  • Weeds can be suppressed (and worms fed) by a mulch of manure or rotted leaves
  • Freecycle is a great way to find free stuff. I am on the look-out for some scaffolding planks for a new raised bed for my strawberries.
  • Not much to harvest yet, some winter greens still – but the rhubarb is well on its way to being edible – it looks great!
  • And don’t forget frosts can cause damage right through till May – fleece can protect tender shoots outside.


We were just so pleased to welcome over 80 delegates and speakers to London’s SouthBank Centre on March 16th 2012 for our third  Green Events & Innovations conference and it turned out to be a fantastic day which we co-hosted with Bucks New University. With visitors from accross the UK and from the Netherlands and France coming for the one day conference, (held during Climate Week) we had a series of most excellent panels which covered food at festivals, new green innovations, the Greener Festival Awards, new developments in sustainability in film and TV production, water resources at festivals and a panel on the ‘economics of green’ in relation to festivals.

One of the key sessions from the morning session was the Food Panel curated by Sustain,  the alliance for better food and farming, advocates food and agriculture policies and practices that enhance the health and welfare of people and animals, improve the working and living environment, enrich society and culture and promote equity. Suatain represents around 100 national public interest organisations working at international, national, regional and local level. (

We also had a really great short keynote speech given by Sandy Strallen from WaterAid who kicked off the afternoon session and made the damning observation that “At this very moment 2.4 billion people on the planet or one third of our global village population – suffer from official water stress” with Sandy adding ” In other words, one third of the world’s population is actively disabled from contributing to the global commonwealth at anything above subsistence level owing to the simple inability to ensure clean safe water and hygienic sanitation for themselves. The paradox is that this is directly as a result of the inequities of global water distribution and the water stresses this creates. One third of the world’s population has too little water and the finger really does point – at its own end.”

One of other the key features of the event was the Green Innovations panel which featured Claire O’Neill (AIF), Ali Own Thomas (Firefly Solar) and Helen Heathfield from Julies Bicycle. All three organisations (along with AGF) are founding members of the Green Festival Alliance which “brings together promoters and suppliers committed to acting on climate change to identify and speed up the adoption of sustainable practices at festivals through innovation and collective action”. Other founding members include Bestival, Festival Republic, Glastonbury Festivals Ltd , Shambala Festival / Kambe Events Ltd.  The Alliance presented their ongoing research into renewable power the Innovation event, and extended their invitation to promoters to feed into the priorities for research this summer.   For more info on the Alliance check the webpage: Contact

One of the other developments from the Conference was that AGF will now be hosting a series of web pages to highlight new initiatives from festivals – so we can all share and see what works and what perhaps doesn’t work – its clear that there are some great festivals out there who are more than happy to share their great ideas. Festivals attending this year included Bestival, Green Man, Festival Republic (Reading, Leeds, Latitude), V Festival, Croissant Neuf Summer Party, Hadra Trance, Shambala, Camp Bestival, Glastonbury, Thames Festival, The Showman’s Show, London Green Fair, Sunrise Summer Celebration and Leamington Peace Festival.  Suppliers attending included WaterMills, Belu Water, Firefly Solar, Robertson Taylor Insurance Brokers, Squid & Pear Event catering, NEP Visions, Festival Loos, Natural Event and the Eat Street Collective.

We also agreed that  will host a ‘resources’ page for material and links from the last three Green Innovations conferences (2009, 2011 and 2012) so we can build on the conference year on year. Hopefully this will build into a useful database of innovators and instigators, suppliers and event organisers who are involved in green events and sustainable production. Its here

Lastly it just remains to thank our lovely caterers Eden Caterers ( who made the whole day even more enjoyable. Cheers!

Any festivals who want to submit details of green initiatives they have successfully implemented – we want to hear from you! Please email details to us at  – with the text in English (and if appropriate the original language of publication) along with any logo or appropriate image / photo!


England’s worst drought for 30 years looks like having a potentially catastrophic on wildlife and trees in the East, South and South East. The Wildlife Trust and teh RSPB have identified dragonflies, water voles, tadpoles, frogs, toads, newts, lapwings, redchanks, avocets and curlews, as well as freshwater fish as high risk species as streams, rivers and pods dry up, alongside trees such as birch and beech which will suffer in a drought along with an increased risk of forest fires. Some parts of the country have suffered their driest 18 months since records began and a spokeswoman for the Wildlife Trust said that reduced human consumption could avert an ‘absolute disaster’.

BRE Global, the organisation that runs the BREEAM award scheme (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method),  has assessed more than 7000 projecrts in 2011, more than double the number in 2009, with  more buildings being awarded the ‘Outstanding’ mark than ever this year. Pack leader is the Dogs Trust in Shrewsbury which provides a comfortable environment for dogs awaiting rehousing: it has a 750 square metre green roof, harvests rainwater for washing the kennels, has solar panels and ceiling tiles and fencing that reduces noise.  Another outstanding building is the Lancaster Institute for Contemporary Arts which has a pre-fabricated timber frame in a building set in woodland at Lancaster University with roof mounted solar panels and rainwater harvesting, there are low water use sanitary fittings, a 75% efficient thermal heat recovery and has live digital displays. Other winners include Houghton Primary School in Sunderland (again with solar panels, a wind turbine and a ground source heat pump) , One Silk Street London (where Linklaters LLP have cut energy use by 40% since 2001), St Johns Vicarage Wembley (high thermal performance PV panels, groundsource pump and mechanical heat recovery system) , Waitrose in Straford, London, which sends all waster food to a anerobic digestion, has low carbon lighting and hot and cold air management, and Harold Hill Fire station which uses 42% less energy than an average fire station in London and has lighting provided by ‘sun pipes’ bringing light into the station even on a cloudy day.

France and Spain (which has the EU’s biggest fishing fleet) have responded to an online campaign by UK chef and campaigner Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall by reviewing their plans to carry on with the policy of ‘discards’ – simply throwing dead fish overboard once fishing quotas are met. A policy which is no good for fish – and no good for fishermen – and no good for consumers.  More than 130,000 Tweets and Facebook messages were sent to ministers. The pressure is now on for the EU to phase out discards over the next 4 years. More at And Hugh’s Nig Fish Fight has one a Royal Televison Society Award in the UK in the Popular Factual and Features category. The  programe was made by Keo Films for Channel 4 and was described by the the judges as “An interesting, watchable and accessible series of clever and effortless campaigning. The presenter is an amazing advocate, demonstrates admirable tenacity and gains unbelievable access. The series is also distinctive in terms of online innovation and activity.”

A Black Wednesday for the Environment’ is Greenpeace staffer and Plane Stupid campaigner Joss Garman’s take on the UK’s budget – and its a damning account of the short sighted economic policies that Chancellor George Osbourne is following in the name of economic recovery. It’s all in the Independent on Sunday  (18th March 2012) here

UK Chancellor George Osborne has said that the ‘cumbersome and bureaucratic’ Carbon Reduction Commitment scheme could be replaced by “alternative environmental tax” by the autumn in his Budget statement. The Chancellor has also said that renewable energy will play a “crucial part in Britain’s energy mix” but said that they needed to be both ‘environmentally sustainable’ and ‘fiscally sustainable’. However, it is gas that will receive the biggest investment as the largest single source of energy in the coming years. The sector will be boosted by a “major package of tax changes” for North Sea oil and gas extraction and a new gas generation strategy to be set out this autumn. Unsurprisingly, the Government’s pledge to be the “greenest ever” has been dealt a humiliating blow with just 2% of the public saying they believe it has fulfilled this goal. The YouGov Poll of more than 1,700 British adults, commissioned by Greenpeace and the RSPB, found that 53% of respondents believed the Government was ‘about average’ when it came to environmental policies.

The London NHS Trust has reduced its water consumption by more than 30% – cutting more than 100m litres from its operations since 2009.

Frozen food giant Birds Eye is targeting zero waste to landfill for its manufacturing operations by 2014 under revised plans, a year ahead of its original target. And Nairn’s Oatcakes is making good progress on a zero waste to landfill ambition – achieving a recycling rate of 90% for waste generated from its Edinburgh manufacturing sites.

Extreme weather caused by climate change could increase electricity bills for UK businesses by £335m a year in by 2030 – with the retail sector hit hardest. In the past week the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has warned that the annual electricity bill for the business sector could rise by hundreds of millions of pounds by 2030 as a result of climate change. And in open letter published in the run up to the Budget, some of the UK’s largest businesses and green groups have called on the Chancellor to deliver on the Government’s commitment to be ‘the greenest ever’ by implementing a credible growth strategy that catalyses investment in renewables and energy efficiency, spurring the economic recovery.

4 out of 10 farmers surveyed by Lloyds TSB Scotland are disappointed with the performance of their wind power investments which they say are producing less income than expected. reports that Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman has unveiled plans to shake-up environmental regulations – by scrapping more than 50 ‘obsolete’ regulations following a red tape review.  Announcing the outcome of the Government’s ‘Red Tape Challenge’ for environmental regulations Ms Spelman denied it was about “rolling back environmental safeguards” or “cutting regulation to stimulate growth”.  Instead, she argued that “simpler and smarter” environment regulations will provide savings to businesses of more than £1bn over five years, as well as protecting the environment by making regulations cheaper and easier for companies to follow.

Nearly two-thirds of local authorities in England and Wales now collect food waste, or are planning to, but service provision remains patchy with strong regional variation.

An energy recovery park is predicted to deliver a £1.5bn boost to the Northwest economy once it goes live in three years’ time A report into the economic benefits of the Ince Park development located at the Manchester Ship Canal estimates that during the first 25 years of its operation, revenue generation could amount to £3,350m, with half of this secured within the local region.  The eco-park will house energy-from-waste (EfW) and biomass facilities and is a joint venture between Peel Environmental and Covanta Energy. The study by Urban Mines also predicts the site could generate up to 2,350 direct jobs with a further 914 indirect vacancies according to


Environmental campaigners have welcomed a policy statement from the Scottish Government, which they say represents another ‘nail in the coffin’ for a planned coal-fired power station.

Responding to the publication today of the Future of Scottish Electricity Generation Report, which sets out the Scottish Government’s policy on how it plans to meet the country’s future electricity needs, Friends of the Earth and WWF Scotland argue that there is now no place for ‘massively unpopular’ plans by Peel Energy to build a new coal-fired station at Hunterston, Ayrshire. Amongst other things, the statement confirms the Scottish administration’s commitment to supply 100% of the nation’s electricity needs from renewable energy and to ‘decarbonise’ the electricity generation sector by 2030.

Leeds Metropolitan University is set to launch a new sustainability institute in a bid to tackle the impact infrastructure has on the environment.

The Church of England (CoE) has taken advantage of the  High Court’s decision to extend the Feed-In Tariff (FIT) window for solar panels. As a result of the solar subsidy extension (now closed), more than 100 churches have installed photovoltaic (PV) panels in a bid make the most of the higher FIT payback, bringing the total of CoE properties using PV to nearly 500.  Since January this year, green energy supplier Ecotricity has helped the CoE boost the number of churches, vicarages, and schools across Gloucester, Exeter and Bath & Wells that use renewable energy as part of its ‘Parish Buying’ scheme.

Former round the world yachtswoman  Ellen MacArthur has spoken of how careful resource management was “a matter of life or death” when sailing around the world and led her on a new path to promote more sustainable thinking. In an exclusive interview with, Dame Ellen talked at length about the work her new foundation has been involved in on working towards a circular economy – and how designing out waste is central to achieving this. The foundation has released a detailed blueprint  setting out the economic and business rationale for a resource-efficient future. Speaking about the report, MacArthur argued there were both “immediate and long-term benefits to be achieved by moving away from linear consumption”.

Apple has entered into a partnership with a Canadian university to offer a free public takeback scheme for electronic waste in the first initiative of its type for the software giant. The Memorial University of Newfoundland will act as a drop-off point for items such as used keyboards, monitors and mobile phones which Apple will collect and send on for reprocessing with its e-waste contractor Sims Recycling Solutions.

The growth of plant-based plastics in packaging is causing problems when it comes to their end-of-life recovery, a waste management expert has warned.  As retailers and manufacturers look to develop more sustainable packaging solutions by replacing virgin plastic with plant-based materials, reprocessors are struggling to extract value from the composite mix. reports that difficulties begin with collecting and identifying plant-based packaging through to separating it out and then selling on any recovered material as end-markets for bioplastics are still in their infancy.

A scheme to help businesses across West Wales and the Valleys operate in a more sustainable way has had its funding pot doubled – thanks to EU backing. The WISE Network (Welsh Institute for Sustainable Environments) project led by Aberystwyth University in partnership with Bangor and Swansea Universities has gained funding of £6.6m from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) through the Welsh Government, with the remaining funding provided by the universities involved. And the Welsh Government has unveiled plans to utilise tidal energy in a bid to help businesses benefit from energy efficiency opportunities and stimulate Wales’ job market. Its ‘Energy Wales: A Low Carbon Transition’ report sets out its vision for sustainable low-carbon economy. It pledges to do this by ensuring energy investment contributes to Wales’ economic future and long-term wealth. It will offer support and funding to Welsh businesses to enable them to compete for renewable energy contracts, as well as working to improve energy infrastructure and provide green skills training.

Water efficiency efforts must be “redoubled” by Europe in a bid to bolster the green economy, according to a new report. The European Environment Agency (EEA) warns that inefficient water use “impacts hard” on the resources needed by businesses and can seriously hamper EU productivity and security.  Towards Efficient use of water resources in Europe’ calls for integrated water management and for better implementation of existing legislation, noting that water shortages have “severe consequences for economies reliant on agriculture and industry” – just as the South and South East of England face an April hosepipe ban!  And in the UK, Sustain say that the NHS and schools in England could reduce the amount of money spent on utilities by £228m a year by implementing energy and water saving measures.  Carbon reduction specialist Sustain analysed the energy spend of state schools and the NHS in England. The research revealed that schools spend on average £641m on energy and water – 3.5% of the costs spent on teaching staff – while the NHS spends about £500m each year

An EU-backed €12M algae biofuel demonstration project which aims to produce commercial-scale energy from sewage is set to go ahead in Spain later this year. The All-Gas scheme will cultivate fast-growing algae at wastewater treatment plants by recycling nutrient by-products in the sludge that water companies currently have to clean up and dispose of. reports that Car manufacturing giant Volkswagen (VW) has made a surprise U-turn in its sustainability targets by pledging to cut CO2 emissions from its cars by 30% by 2015, against a 2006 baseline. The move by VW to reduce its emissions below 120g of CO2 per km by 2015 now places it 10g below an EU automobile emissions target – which until recently it appeared unwilling to commit to but seems to have bowed from pressure from campaign groups, including Greenpeace, which launched a campaign last summer against VW calling on it to ‘turn away from the dark side’ and pledge to reduce its CO2 and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

UK Energy secretary Ed Davey has unveiled £3.5m of green skills funding in a bid to train hundreds of people ahead of the Government’s flagship Green Deal roll out.  Plastic packaging waste was singled out as a priority area for action by WRAP at a Parliamentary Sustainable Resource Group meeting in London. Speaking at the industry forum held at Portcullis House, WRAP’s director for the closed loop economy Marcus Gover said that there was “a real opportunity to recycle more plastics”, which would support Defra’s recent consultation on packaging waste and proposed new recovery targets from 2013-2017.  While the UK’s recycling record on most materials is good, levels of plastic waste recycling are generally poor. Figures from Defra’s packaging consultation show that in 2010, total plastic packaging waste was 2,478,630 tonnes. Only around 25% of the total amount was recovered or recycled, with the rest sent for landfill or incineration.

Unilever has significantly reduced carbon emissions across its manufacturing operations in India with the installation of biomass boilers.

Scottish Water has been hit with a fine of £7,500 after a sewage spill from one of its wastewater pumping stations polluted a Fife burn.

The ‘Wonderbag’ is a new product but not a new idea – it’s a ‘non electric slow cooker’ – basically heat up food in a pot to boiling and then wrap it up in the Wonderbag – then it keeps cooking on for free!

Final panels announced for Green Events and Innovations. Book Now!

Some exciting new panellists have been added to the programme for our GREEN EVENTS AND INNOVATIONS conference which takes place this Friday (16th March 2012) at London’s SouthBank Centre. Chris Johnson (Shambala Festival) and Fiona Stewart (Green Man Festival) join the panel on festival sustainability: Sandy Strallen (WaterAid) is confirmed for the keynote speech; The Festivals Food panel now features a host of top speakers with Rob Scully (Croissant Neuf Summer Party), Petra Barren (Eat Street Collective), Andy Marsh (London Remade Solutions) and Lisa Drabble (Squid & Pear Event Caterers) all confirmed; Alan Williams (Shine) and Luke Westbury (NEP Visions/AGF) now join Richard Smith (BBC) and Ben Challis (Glastonbury Festival/AGF) on the TV and film panel; And the Water Panel will feature Adrian Mills (WaterMills), Will  Goodwin (Festival Loos) and Sinclair Eiloart (London Green Fair).   The panels confirmed are subject to change:

The confirmed agenda is now

10.15 – 11.30 FESTIVAL FOOD: On-site sense, sustainable sources. Panel discussion with Mellisa Hayles (Sustain), Kelly Parsons (Sustain), Petra Barren (Eat Street Collective), Andy Marsh (London Remade Solutions), Claire Pritchard (GCDA), Rob Scully (Croissant Neuf Summer Party), Lucy Frankel (Vegware & Food Waste Network) and Lisa Drabble (Squid & Pear Event Caterers)

11.45 – 12.15 GREEN INNOVATIONS: with Claire O’Neill (AIF/AGF) Ali OwenThomas (Firefly Solar) and updates from the Green Festival Alliance.

12.15 – 12.45 THE GREENER FESTIVAL AWARD 2012: presentation and discussion with Helen Wright (AGF)

14.15 – 14.30 KEYNOTE talk with Sandy Strallen, WaterAid

14.30 – 15.30 WATER – the stuff of life – Panel Discussion with Claire O’Neill (AIF/AGF), Sinclair Elioart (London Green Fair), Adrian Mill’s (WaterMills) and Will Goodwin (Festival Loos)

15.30 – 16.00 WHAT’S NEW IN TELEVISION AND FILM? A presentation on the BAFTA “Albert” initiative with Richard Smith (BBC), Alan Williams (Shine) and Luke Westbury (NEP Visions OBs/AGF) moderated by Ben Challis (Glastonbury Festival/AGF)

16.15 – 17.45 THE ECONOMICS OF GREEN. What’s worth it? What’s not? Panel discussion chaired by Teresa Moore, with question and answer session to close: Chris Johnson (Shambala Festival), Fiona Stewart (Green Man Festival) and Ben Challis (Glastonbury Festival/AGF).

Eden Event Catering will be doing the food. Thank you Eden!

The day runs from 10.00am to 18.00 and costs £75 per delegate. Students and AIF members have a discount rate of £50.00. Delegates who attend the full day are entitled to a certificate of attendance from Bucks New University, this is an entry level requirement for any aspiring environmental auditors for the Greener Festival Awards team. Its all at the Southbank Centre (LEVEL 5) and You can book online at

Hosted by AGreenerFestival and Bucks New University

Supported by the Association of Indepedent Festivals, Robertson Taylor, DMS, and Sustain.

Are rising carbon levels a consequence of Fukushima?

One of the less-noted consequences of the nuclear disaster at Fukushima is the effect on carbon dioxide emissions. Two of the world’s six largest emitters are switching off their nuclear power stations, leaving them needing to source energy from elsewhere.

Germany has permanently shut eight of its older nuclear reactors and promised to close the remaining nine by 2022. The decision was cemented in September, when Siemens, which built all of Germany’s nuclear plants, withdrew from the nuclear industry. It also seems increasingly unlikely that Japan will restart the more than 50 nuclear reactors that have been closed for safety checks since the accident. Last week, the cities of Osaka, Kyoto and Kobe told utility companies that they no longer wanted nuclear power.

Elsewhere, the impact has been lower than many anticipated. The US and UK still intend to resume building nuclear power after a long pause. China, India and France all aim to carry on as before. Italy and Switzerland have decided to abandon plans for future plants, but existing plants will live out their remaining lives.

So what do the German and Japanese decisions mean for carbon emissions? Germany’s energy gap is unlikely to be met by renewables. A large expansion of wind and solar power is already built into the country’s energy plans, and it is unlikely to be able to churn out more. Other options are to burn more coal, import more gas or import more electricity.

Read more at the New Scientist, here: