Newsletter 38 : CAMPAIGN UPDATES
BIOFUELS BACKLASH 2007
The large scale use of crops for fuel brings a backlash. Hundreds of groups and individuals in Africa, Europe, the Americas and Asia have called for a moratorium on agrofuels. The EU is starting to doubt its policies on agrofuel subsidies as pressure mounts. Time is ripe for taking action.
August, India: Civil society groups protested against plans to turn millions of hectares of land into jatropha plantations. In one village, after threats of imprisonment for those who refused to hand over their land, jatropha plants were uprooted
October, USA: Rainforest Action Network activists dropped a 60 x 40 ft banner off the Chicago Board of Trade, proclaiming ADM, Bunge, and Cargill: The ABCs of Rainforest Destruction
October, UK: Food Not Fuel protested at BioFuel Expo in Newark, the worlds largest agrofuels trade fair. Oliver Mace, CEO of BP Fuels, was pied during his speech, and an activist D-locked to the podium
October, UK: No Agrofuels UK blockaded agrofuel company D1 Oils refinery and offices in Middlesborough. Eighteen protestors chained the gates to the refinery shut and two protestors D-locked to the main gates, while several banners were tied over the gates; all work appeared to have been stopped
November, UK: A London-based conference for investment in agrofuels secretly moved to another venue - desperate to avoid protests
A call for an outright moratorium on large scale industrial, intensively farmed agrofuels has been issued by Econexus in Europe, the Rainforest Action Network in North America, and the African Biodiversity Network:
A Week of Action Against Agrofuels is taking place (26th January to 2nd February).
For more information and reports see BiofuelWatch call out www.biofuelwatch.org.uk.
Competition Commission Says We Need More Supermarkets
The governments competition watchdog is nearing the end of its investigation into the big four supermarkets stranglehold on the grocery market and is due to report in March 2008. The provisional findings of the Commission, published in October 2007 were welcomed by the big four supermarkets, which suggests the March report will not shake up the grocery market - in fact the supermarket stranglehold is likely to tighten.
The Commission found no evidence of unfair competition between the big supermarkets and small stores. It also saw nothing wrong with Tescos massive 32% share of the grocery market. Strangely, it found no evidence of coordinated pricing between the supermarkets, despite the Office of Fair Tradings earlier finding that the big supermarkets fix the price of milk and dairy products.
The Commission did acknowledge that supermarkets treat farmers badly, and may strengthen the voluntary code of practice between supermarkets and their suppliers, introducing a watchdog to protect suppliers interests better. It is keen to curb the supermarkets use of land banks (the buying up of potential supermarket sites) and restrictive leases to prevent other rival food stores opening in the area. It acknowledged that Tesco Towns, where one particular supermarket chain dominates the area, do exist. But it thinks the best way to deal with this and give consumers more choice is to weaken the planning rules, so that more big supermarkets can be built. The Commission has no power to change the planning rules - but the Government will take note of their recommendations when planning policy guidance is reviewed later this year.
Kirby Residents Oppose Tesco Superstore Development
Kirby residents are fighting proposals to build the UKs biggest Tesco store on the outskirts of the town. The plans include a retail park and fifty high street shops, plus a 50,000-seater stadium for Everton FC and extensive car parking. Locals are concerned that this development will take the heart out of Kirby town centre. To clear this site 72 houses will be demolished, green space will be lost and land earmarked for a new high school will also disappear. The council have recently issued an interim policy statement endorsing the Tesco proposal, but Kirby Residents Action Group are taking legal advice on opposing Tescos recent planning application.
Evertons relocation to Kirby is also controversial with their fans. The proposed stadium is four miles from the clubs present location and is outside Liverpools city limits. Although a majority of Everton season-ticket holders and shareholders voted in favour of the relocation, the Keep Everton In Our City campaign has joined with the Kirby residents to fight the scheme.
For more information see
or contact Kirkby Residents Action Group, PO Box 116, Liverpool, L32 9ZW