Our Places Our Stories - 50 Years of Green History

Celebrating 50 years of Local Green Action.

Our Places, Our Stories is a project looking to record and celebrate 50 years of green action. We’ve set this timeline up as a first step. There are 50+ events here – including local and national campaigns, international agreements and a few disasters. There have been some big high-profile victories, and many more quiet ones when destructive plans have been shelved. There have also been noisy defeats but we have learned from these as well. ;xNLx;We want to develop and enrich this history and we’d like to hear from you. If you've got a local or national campaign story, send us c.100 words telling what happened, who did it and why they acted. If you can add a picture and a weblink we can include those as well. Find out more about the project follow us and message us via Facebook: www.facebook.com/OurPlacesOurStories/;xNLx;OR Email us: info@communityemvironment.org.

1967-08-22 19:16:58

Torrey Canyon Oil Spill

The Torrey Canyon oil spill was one of the world's most serious oil spills. The supertanker SS Torrey Canyon ran aground on a reef off the south-west coast of the United Kingdom in 1967, spilling an estimated 25–36 million gallons (94–164 million litres) of crude oil.Attempts to mitigate the damage included the bombing of the wreck by aircraft from the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force, causing a potential international incident, as the ship was not British, and was in international waters. Hundreds of miles of coastline in Britain, France, Guernsey, and Spain were affected by the oil and other substances used in an effort to mitigate damage. At the time, it was the world's worst oil spill, and led to significant changes in maritime law and oil spill responses. It remains the worst spill in UK history

1970-04-22 05:17:30

Earth Day 1970

In April 1970 an independent group of activists led by Gaylord Nelson, a senator from Wisconsin, promoted a major initiative that took off beyond their dreams - Earth Day. They called on anyone concerned to show that concern on one day and right across America it took off. From schools organising displays to a giant 'eco-fair' that closed off blocks of Sixth Avenue in New York, millions took part. The USA discovered it had a national environmental movement. Earth Day has continued every year since and gone world-wide.

1971-01-04 12:27:24

Greenpeace Founded

Greenpeace was founded in 1971 by Irving Stowe and Dorothy Stowe, Canadian and US environmental activists. Greenpeace states its goal is to "ensure the ability of the Earth to nurture life in all its diversity" and focuses its campaigning on worldwide issues such as climate change, deforestation, overfishing, commercial whaling, genetic engineering, and anti-nuclear issues.

1971-10-01 00:00:00

Friends of the Earth England, Wales and Northern Ireland (FoE EWNI)

Friends of the Earth was launched in England on October 1st 1970, eighteen months after the group was first founded in San Francisco in 1969. One of the first campaigns was to dump over 1000 glass bottles in front of the HQ of soft drinks giant Schweppes in Connaught House, London in protest at the company's policy of having non-returnable bottles. Other initial campaigns included work on endangered species, which led to the massive ‘Save the Whale’ campaign, successfully opposing a giant open cast copper mine in the Snowdonia National Park, and work against nuclear power. Local interest meant that by 1976 there were 140 local groups, and by 1980 it had 250. In 1979 the Scottish groups and members split off to form Friends of the Earth Scotland, an independent body. The two UK FoE groups are now amongst the 75 members of Friends of the Earth International, the largest global environmental network

1972-01-04 12:27:24

UN Conference Stockholm

The United Nations Conference on the Human Environment was held in Stockholm, Sweden from June 5–16 in 1972. The meeting agreed upon a Declaration containing 26 principles concerning the environment and development; an Action Plan with 109 recommendations, and a Resolution. The United Nations Environment Programme, or UNEP, was created as a result of this conference

1976-03-28 19:05:39

Windmill Hill City Farm

Following WW2 the site of what was to become Windmill Hill City Farm was a rat infested bomb site. Bristol City Council wanted the site to be developed as a high security lorry park but local residents were concerned about the deterioration of the local environment and wanted something different. After months of lobbying, they persuaded the Council to let them organise a two day event on the derelict land. They wanted to gauge public interest in a working farm as an alternative. Volunteers and local residents worked hard to prove that the long tradition of community spirit in the area had not been lost. Over 1500 people took part in the Farm’s ‘taster’ event in September 1976 and impressed the Council – Windmill Hill City Farm was on its way!

1976-07-26 03:06:04

Save the Whale Campaign

The campaign against whaling was the first global campaign with inter-NGO cooperation with bodies such as Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, Sea Shepherd, WWF and many others cooperating. In 1970 several species were at risk of extinction. Tactics varied from direct action (including Sea Shepherd vessels ramming whaler) through mass demonstrations and active lobbying at meetings of the International Whaling Commission. Ten years of action paid off when in 1982 the IWC agreed a moratorium on whaling, which almost all nations respect. Whale populations worldwide have come back from the brink.

1977-11-16 16:23:56

Sustrans Founded

Sustrans was formed in Bristol in July 1977 as Cyclebag by a group of cyclists and environmentalists, motivated by emerging doubts about the desirability of over-dependence on the private car, following the 1973 oil crisis, and the almost total lack of specific provision for cyclists in most British cities, in contrast to some other European countries

1979-03-01 07:14:06

Three Mile Island Nuclear Accident

The Three Mile Island nuclear incident was a partial meltdown of reactor number 2 of Three Mile Island Nuclear Generating Station in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, near Harrisburg, and subsequent radiation leak that occurred on March 28, 1979. It was the most significant accident in U.S. commercial nuclear power plant history.

1979-08-24 06:02:15

Torness Anti Nuclear Campaign 1979

The campaign against the nuclear power station at Torness in Scotland was led by SCRAM, the Scottish Campaign to Resist the Atomic Menace and the UK Torness Alliance. On May 4 1979 around 9000 people came from all over the UK to take part in a two day occupation of the construction site, climbing over the fence on a staircase of hay bales, one of the largest environmental direct actions ever.

1980-01-29 23:53:33

Campaign for Lead Free Air – CLEAR 1980 - 1984

In 1980 lead compounds were routinely added to petrol to improve combustion, despite growing evidence of high levels of lead – a neurotoxin - building up in children’s blood. CLEAR was a small and very focused campaign that linked high profile media with grass roots actions organised in cooperation with groups such as Friends of the Earth. In April 1983, the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution (RCEP) published a report that confirmed the dangers of lead to children's health. Within half an hour of the RCEP report being published, the government announced the introduction of unleaded petrol, which soon became standard.

1980-05-29 20:16:19

Earth First Founded

Earth First! is a radical environmental advocacy group that emerged in the Southwestern United States in 1979. It was founded on April 4, 1980, by Dave Foreman, Mike Roselle, Howie Wolke, Bart Koehler, and Ron Kezar while traveling in Foreman's VW bus from the El Pinacate y Gran Desierto de Altar Biosphere Reserve in northern Mexico to Albuquerque, New Mexico. The group pledged, "No compromise in defence of Mother Earth!". Today there are Earth First! groups around the world

1980-07-09 23:22:38

Anti Nuclear Power: Sizewell B Campaigns

Many groups cooperated to run a major campaign against the proposed Sizewell B nuclear power station in Suffolk. This included many protests as well taking part in the longest public inquiry in history. Sizewell was meant to be the first of 10 new nuclear stations. It got the go ahead and was built (way over budget and very delayed) but none of the other ten happened. The privatisation of the electricity industry mean that the uneconomic nature of nuclear power (as already highglighted by green groups) became very clear to potential investors.

1980-08-23 04:36:18

London Wildlife Trust Founded

Pioneering urban farming movement established, merged with Community Gardens in 1997, now called Social Farms & Gardens

1981-04-09 12:48:36

Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981 (WCA)

Implements the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (Bern Convention) and Council Directive 79/409/EEC on the Conservation of Wild Birds (Birds Directive) in the UK

1981-08-08 20:20:18

Greenham Common Women's Peace Camp

In September 1981, 36 women chained themselves to the RAF Greenham Common base fence in protest against the Americans holding cruise missiles on common land. his marked the beginning of a 19 year protest at Greenham Common. The Common became home to thousands of women acting in political resistance to the nuclear arms race.

1981-11-30 04:49:58

M40 Otmoor campaign 1981-84

Proposals to extend the M40 motorway from Oxford to Birmingham were opposed by Oxford Friends of the Earth campaigners looking to save the Otmoor wetlands and Bernwood Forest. They brought a field, split it into 3500 individual plots and sold them off to supporters around the world, aiming to delay the construction of the motorway significantly by allowing protesters formally to appeal the compulsory purchase of each plot. The field was named Alice's Meadow - the chessboard in Lewis Carroll’s book ‘Alice Through the Looking Glass’ was based on Otmoor and its’ water channels. The motorway's route was changed producing the biggest bend on any motorway in this country.

1981-12-01 19:12:15

The Luxulyan Occupation

In 1981 the Central Electricity Generating Board (responsible for power stations at the time) started to look for a site for a nuclear power station in Cornwall. A site at Luxulyan met serious opposition and a drilling rig was blockaded and chained up. The landowner supported the protest and did not want police on the land. Campaigners stayed on the site for months with massive local support. The CEGB took the police to court to try and get them to move protestors but lost the case. When they finally got the right to take the drilling rig away the protestors marched off the site, led by the local police band! The power station never happened.

1984-04-01 00:00:00

Bhopal Disaster

The Bhopal disaster, also referred to as the Bhopal gas tragedy, was a gas leak incident on the night of 2–3 December 1984 at the Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) pesticide plant in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, India

1985-05-17 10:10:43

International Whaling Commission Moratorium

In 1982, the IWC adopted an indefinite global moratorium on commercial whaling. This moratorium was scheduled to take effect in the 1985-86 Antarctic whaling season. In 1994, the Commission declared the entire Southern Ocean to be a sanctuary for whales.

1985-07-08 18:40:39

CFC Campaigns

Concerns about CFCs (Chlorofluorocarbon) gases in the atmosphere emerged in the 1970. In 1985, British Antarctic Survey scientists led by Joe Farman found abnormally low ozone level in the atmosphere near the South Pole. They speculated that this was connected to increased levels of CFCs. The loss of the ‘ozone layer’ had very significant health risks and major campaigns developed. Consumer action was a key part since CFCs were heavily used in aerosol sprays and the campaign made the front page of the Sun newspaper with the royal family focused headline ‘Charles bans Di’s hairsprays’. It took just 18 months to reach a binding agreement – the Montreal Protocol, which has largely resolved the issue. Since CFCs are powerful greenhouse gases, this has also had positive impacts on the climate crisis.

1985-07-10 00:00:00

Sinking the Rainbow Warrior

The sinking of the Rainbow Warrior, codenamed Opération Satanique was a bombing operation by the "action" branch of the French foreign intelligence services, the Direction générale de la sécurité extérieure (DGSE), carried out on 10 July 1985.

1986-04-01 00:00:00

Chernobyl Nuclear Diseaster

The Chernobyl disaster was a nuclear accident that occurred on Saturday 26 April 1986, at the No. 4 nuclear reactor in the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, near the city of Pripyat in the north of the Ukrainian SSR. It is considered the worst nuclear disaster in history See Michael Christophers haunting photographs on the 26th Chernoby;Aniversay Twitter thread here https://bit.ly/35boNZ1

1988-02-26 00:32:19

IPCC Formed

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was established in 1988 to provide policymakers with regular scientific assessments on the current state of knowledge about climate change.

1988-07-06 02:14:16

Chico Mendes Murdered

Chico Mendes was a Brazilian environmentalist and labor leader who fought to protect the Amazon rainforest and the indigenous people who live there..He was murdered on December 22, 1988

1989-01-27 16:56:51

The Montreal Protocol

The Montreal Protocol is an international treaty designed to protect the ozone layer by phasing out the production of numerous substances that are responsible for ozone depletion. It was agreed on 16th September 1987, and entered into force on 1st January 1989

1989-11-29 11:40:55

Roads for Prosperity

Roads for Prosperity (often incorrectly called Road to Prosperity) was a controversial White Paper published by the Conservative government in 1989; detailing the largest road building programme for the UK since the Romans[2] produced in response to rapid increases in car ownership and use over the previous decade. It embraced what Margaret Thatcher had described as 'the great car economy' although implementation led to widespread road protests and many of the schemes contained within it were abandoned by 1996

1991-12-01 00:00:00

Twyford Down Road Protest

In December 1991 Twyford Down became the site of the UK’s first road protest camp when environmentalists, including members of Dongas and Earth First! gathered to hinder work. After a year this first camp was evicted on Yellow Wednesday, named after the uniforms of the Group4 security guards who performed the eviction in December 1992. Resistance to the road intensified and Earth First! set up a new protest camp nearby in Plague Pits Valley, and continued to obstruct the work both on the water meadows and up on the Down itself. In addition to many actions there was a mass trespass when over 5000 people attended the protests and occupations.

1992-04-01 00:00:00

Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit

The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), also known as the Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit, the Rio Summit, the Rio Conference, and the Earth Summit (Portuguese: ECO92), was a major United Nations conference held in Rio de Janeiro from 3 to 14 June in 1992.

1993-02-07 07:42:02

M11 Road Protests

The M11 link road protest was an anti-road campaign in London, UK in the early 1990s. Though ultimately unsuccessful, the campaign, together with others in the UK at that time, is considered by many to have played a major role in the large-scale cutbacks in the road building programme that followed in subsequent years

1993-04-01 00:00:00

The Clean Air Act

Gives local authorities smoke control powers including power to ban chimney smoke and the use of unauthorised fuels in designated areas.

1994-04-01 00:00:00

Conservation of Natural Habitats Act 1994

Implements in England and Wales the Council Directive 92/43/EEC on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora.

1995-01-02 10:57:21

Newbury Bypass Road Protest

The A34 Newbury Bypass was Britain's most controversial road-building project and saw Britain's biggest ever anti-road protest. Local campaigners battled against the road throughout the 1980s, their efforts culminating in a public inquiry in 1988 (with a minor follow-up inquiry in 1992). When the public inquiry found in favour of the road, there followed a spectacular campaign from 1994 to 1998 that took in every form of protest, from mass letter writing and European lobbying to non-violent direct action and criminal damage. The road may now be complete, but campaigners continue to highlight the extra traffic and development it has brought to Newbur

1995-03-31 12:48:36

Environment Act 1995

The aim of the Act relates to a wide range of environmental issues, from the establishment of the Environment Agency and SEPA, to provisions for contaminated land and abandoned mines, National Parks, the control of pollution, conservation of the environment, obligations relating to products and materials, and fisheries.

1995-07-05 22:51:53

Ken Saro-Wiwa Executed

Ken Saro-Wiwa (d. 1995) led a peaceful movement for the environmental and human rights of Nigeria’s Ogoni people whose oil-rich land has been exploited by multinational oil companies. The Nigerian government executed Ken Saro-Wiwa in 1995.

1995-12-16 10:54:50

The Brent Spar Oil Rig Occupation

he Brent Spar, a 450-foot-long floating rig used as a loading buoy and storage tank for oil from the North Sea for fifteen years, was decommissioned in 1991. When Greenpeace learned of plans to dump the Brent Spar by sinking the structure in the North Atlantic, just west of Ireland and Scotland, and of the UK government’s approval, it jumped into action. More than 24 activists from 6 North Sea countries made plans to occupy the rig. Video and photo staff documented the occupation.

1997-01-15 12:05:11

GMO Campaigns 1997 – 2017

Worldwide campaigns against Genetically Modified Organisms have had many successes over the last twenty years. The anti-GM food campaign developed in Britain in 1997, sparked by Monsanto plans to introduce GM soya. Trial GM crops were targeted and pulled up and public concern has meant that supermarket chains have not introduced GM foods. Campaigns across Europe succeeded by 2003 in creating a ‘de facto moratorium’ on the approval of new GM crops in the EU

1997-08-08 16:10:37

UKs First Community Owned Wind Farm

The contemporary UK community energy sector is generally held to have begun with the Baywind Cooperative in the late 1990s. Baywind raised funds direct from members of the general public – who then became equal members of the cooperative - to purchase part of a commercial windfarm in Cumbria. Since then, community energy projects have spread across the UK - from Shetland to Cornwall - and cover a range of business models and organisational structures. While the exact size of the sector is not known, the latest research suggests that there are around 300 community organisations running energy generation projects of some sort, and a range of others engaged in demandside projects. (Source: The Evolution of Community Energy in the UK - ukercwww.ukerc.ac.uk

1997-12-11 11:36:01

The Kyoto Protocol

The Kyoto Protocol was adopted on 11 December 1997. Owing to a complex ratification process, it entered into force on 16 February 2005. Currently, there are 192 Parties to the Kyoto Protocol.

1999-04-01 00:00:00

Seattle WTO Protests

Seattle WTO protests, sometimes referred to as the Battle of Seattle,, were a series of protests surrounding the WTO Ministerial Conference of 1999.

2002-06-14 06:12:51

Rio + 20 Earth Summit

At the 1992 Earth Summit, the international community adopted Agenda 21, an unprecedented global plan of action for sustainable development. Ten years later, the Johannesburg The World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) was held in Johannesburg in 2002 to review progress since the Rio conference in 1992, and to agree a new global deal on sustainable development. The Summit presented an opportunity for world leaders to adopt concrete steps and identify quantifiable targets for better implementing Agenda 21.

2004-01-31 04:22:51

Dibden Bay

In 2004 Dibden Bay was saved from becoming a new port. It saved a number of designated sites being ruined by expansion of Southampton Port on land across the water in the New Forest. The application was turned down 12 years ago after a year-long planning inquiry. At the time, the Labour transport minister Tony McNulty said an important factor was the environmental impact on internationally-protected sites. The RSPB had argued the project would destroy marsh and mudflats which provide winter homes for 50,000 birds. Now the company looks set to return with a new application and the support of Philip Hammond MP,

2004-07-16 10:27:16

Wangari Maathai wins the Nobel Peace Prize

In 1977 Wangari Maathai started a grass-roots movement aimed at countering the deforestation that was threatening the means of subsistence of the agricultural population. The campaign encouraged women to plant trees in their local environments and to think ecologically. The so-called Green Belt Movement spread to other African countries, and contributed to the planting of over thirty million trees. In the words of the Nobel Committee: "She thinks globally and acts locally."

2007-05-22 08:40:38

Incredible Edible Formed

The Incredible Edible Todmorden community group was first established in 2007 in Todmorden, West Yorkshire, UK. Local residents, led by Pamela Warhurst and Mary Clear, came up with the idea in response to increasing global concerns over climate change, food sustainability, and community change. Two years later, the community group officially became an Ltd for the purposes of fulfilling the legal and financial obligations of the group. In 2010, the first Incredible Edible farm, a one acre plot, began to supply its fresh produce to local businesses. By 2012, the Incredible Edible Network was formed to help manage and sustain existing groups as well as inspiring new ones. Since its emergence, the Incredible Edible idea has spread to hundreds of communities around the world. Today, there are 120 official Incredible Edible groups in the UK and over 700 worldwide. In the UK, the success of these collective groups has directly influenced policies on both a local and national level. (Source: Wikipedia)

2008-04-01 00:00:00

Climate Change Act 2008

Sets out national measures to tackle climate change including targets for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2050.

2011-02-09 21:08:07

The Frack Off Campaign

Frack Off is a grassroots direct action campaign aimed at stopping the extraction of unconventional resources in the UK, specifically concentrating on unconventional gas extraction.

2012-07-09 17:13:37

Save the Bees Campaign 2012-2020

Bee species are in decline in the UK and globally. In the UK, we have already lost around 13 species and another 35 are currently at risk. The biggest single cause of bee decline is the intensification of farming and the increased use of pesticides. Groups, notably Friends of the Earth, launched a major campaign in 2012 to save the bees. The campaign has been successful in getting the European Commission to ban on bee-harming neonicotinoids on all outdoor crops. Local councils are also developing ‘pollinator action plans’ and local volunteers have been planting bee-friendly meadows to support bee populations.

2015-08-01 00:00:00

School Strikes For Climate

In November 2006 the Australian Youth Climate Coalition was formed to organise climate change actions involving youth and school children. In 2010 in England there were school walkouts over climate change, linked to a Climate Camp. In late-November 2015, an independent group of students invited other students around the world to skip school on the first day of the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris. On 30 November, the first day of the conference, a "Climate Strike" was organised in over 100 countries; over 50,000 people participated.The movement focused on three demands: 100% clean energy; keeping fossil fuels in the ground, and helping climate refugees.

2015-12-12 10:35:52

Paris COP 2015

At COP 21 in Paris, on 12 December 2015, Parties to the UNFCCC reached a landmark agreement to combat climate change and to accelerate and intensify the actions and investments needed for a sustainable low carbon future. The Paris Agreement builds upon the Convention and – for the first time – brings all nations into a common cause to undertake ambitious efforts to combat climate change and adapt to its effects, with enhanced support to assist developing countries to do so. As such, it charts a new course in the global climate effort

2018-02-01 05:49:04

Extinction Rebellion Founded

Extinction Rebellion was established in the United Kingdom in May 2018 with about one hundred academics signing a call to action in support in October 2018, and launched at the end of October by Roger Hallam, Gail Bradbrook, Simon Bramwell, and other activists from the campaign group Rising Up!. Grassroots movements such as those of Occupy, Gandhi's Satyagraha, the Suffragettes,Gene Sharp, Martin Luther King and others in the civil rights movement have been cited as sources of inspiration In seeking to rally support worldwide around a common sense of urgency to tackle climate breakdown. (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extinction_Rebellion)

Our Places Our Stories - 50 Years of Green History

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