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Better Environments, Better Lives Blog

May 7, 2009

This site is a place to continue debate about the issues raised by the ‘Better Environments, Better Lives’ conference.  Although you do not need to have attended the conference to join in, it’s all based around the theme of environmental justice, and to talk about how we can:

  • breathe new life into the poorest environments, from neglected rivers to brownfield land sites
  • maximise funding opportunities, harness the power of partnerships
  • ensure environmental improvements are community driven and owned
  • maximise the wider benefits for businesses and communities.

Please comment on anything that captures your interest, contibutions are very welcome – please get in touch and join us on the blog.


Environment, Well Being and Healthy Lifestyle Conference 2009

August 6, 2009

Jon Fairburn, who spoke at the Better Environment, Better Live conference is organising an event on October 21st 2009 at the Moat House Hotel, Stoke on Trent:

The feedback for our Environment, Well Being and Healthy Lifestyle Conference 2008 was so positive we felt compelled to put on another one in 2009 (the presentations from our 2008 conference can be found here) The 2009 conference will bring together a wide range of groups with concerns for relationships between the environment, well-being and lifestyles, including academics; local government officers with responsibilities in sectors such as housing, planning, recreation and transport (RENEW); representatives of the voluntary sector (e.g. Groundwork); the health sector (e.g. PCTs, health authorities); and public agencies (e.g. CABE, Natural England).

Keynote speaker: Hugh Barton from the WHO Collaborating Centre for Healthy Cities and Urban Policy, University West of England.

For more details and the full conference programme, see the website.

links for 2009-07-03

July 3, 2009

Peter Mandelson and Tony Blair on the Politics of Climate Change

June 9, 2009

Slightly off topic, (climate change does not always equate directly with a focus on environmental inequality) there is a whole series of interviews with key figures about the politics of climate change here.

Tower Hamlets study suggests particulates worse for children than thought.

June 9, 2009

Two studies, on from St Barts Hospital and one from Lancaster University suggest that particulates from traffic pollution are worse for children than predicted.   A BBC report shown on the news at ten tonight can be seen if you click on this link.  It includes a really graphic illustration of particles, how they spread and how they effect young lungs.

Professor Jonathan Grigg of the Centre for Paediatrics at Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry told the BBC:

“Our findings in the East End of London are that children living here have slightly lower lung function than what we’d expect from the national average.

“Now, if that’s due to air pollution, as we suspect, they’re going to be at increased risk from a range of respiratory disorders such as asthma and infection, and may be at risk in adulthood.”

links for 2009-06-08

June 8, 2009
  • "WATER company Severn Trent has been told it cannot run a half-mile road through a city woodland beauty spot following major protests from residents.

    Birmingham’s planning committee agreed with residents, 73 of whom signed a petition against the scheme, that the destruction of a woodland spot could not be allowed for the sake of the occasional maintenance van."

    Single issue action works in this instance, could the networks formed by this (or similar) campaigns be harnessed for longer-term work?

Warley Woods – Sucessful and long term community environmental action

June 5, 2009

Warley Woods Community Trust

Warley Woods in Smethwick the West Midlands has been a public park in since 1906, but the history of this green space goes back over 500 years. Here’s a brief history as told by the Community Trust:

“Warley Woods is listed on the English Heritage Register of Historic Parks and Gardens, but over the years it has suffered from lack of investment: Warley Abbey and its gate lodges were demolished in the late 1950s despite local opposition. Two houses were built on the park and subsequently sold into private ownership by the council. The woodlands were neglected over a number of years and inappropriate site management practices have led to damage to archaeological remains in this significant historic landscape.”

In 1997, Warley Woods Community Trust was formed by local residents an users of the  park to protect, restore and manage the infrastructure of the park. They did so well that they Trust eventually took over management of the park from Sandwell and Birmingham councils. Warley Woods Community Trust took over the management of the park in April 2004, the Trust now holds a 99 year lease for Warley Woods.

From the park website there are these photos that show just how much the work has achieved:


entrances 008

entrances 008




Great stuff!

Litter Action – online organising for community action

June 3, 2009 is run jointly by CPRE and CleanupUK.  It’s designed to be a place that promotes and supports local community action on litter:

“At a local level, supporters of the campaign can get involved by organising their own litter pick or joining a local litter volunteer group through Supporters can pledge to Stop the Drop, joining CPRE in lobbying local authorities, government and other bodies legally responsible for keeping land litter-free. Through these various campaigning actions CPRE aim to demonstrate to Government and other authorities the strength of support behind Stop the Drop.”

You can search for a group near to your area, or set one up.

This kind of online resource to link local action with the wider issue and campaigning can be very sucessfull if done well — are there any examples you can point to?