2016 – The Great Leap Forward


Could this be the year that humanity makes breakthroughs on many of the social and environmental problems that we face ? Could this be the year we make huge scientific breakthroughs on renewable energy ? Could we see a transfer to a greener economy ? Could this be a big year for the global peace movement ?

Civil society is on the march in 2016, there has just been the biggest anti-nuclear protest, against trident, in the UK since 1983, it was also one of the biggest peace marches to happen in the UK since the 2 million people Peace March in London in 2003

People all over the world, with the original Redlines protest in December 2015 as the inspiration, are drawing Redlines on environmental crime and the business world is getting to grips with the agreement made in Paris, December 2015 at COP21 

The Naomi Klein inspired Leap Manifesto suggests that we need to make a big leap away from fossil fuels and the big switch to renewable energy

The U.K. Local Elections on Thursday 5th May 2016 is a pretty decent opportunity for the citizens of the U.K. to give a verdict on the Conservative Party government, and could the UK EU Referendum in June be an opportunity for the EU to change for the benefit of all European citizens ?

Manchester is the European City Of Science in 2016, and in July hosts the Science In The City Festival and the European Open Science Forum (ESOF)

In August it is the Rio, Brazil, Olympics and this gives civil society the opportunity to call for the Olympic Truce, a global ceasefire 


Northern Greenhouse Conference Upgrades Venue Due To High Demand

New venue announced for the Friends of the Earth North-west Gathering aka The Northern Greenhouse Conference on Saturday 5th March 2016 from 10:30am-4:30pm

The original venue for this event was The Green Fish but due to high demand the venue is now Manchester Central Methodist Church – Central Buildings, Oldham St, Manchester

As the “Northern Powerhouse” suits meet in Manchester, (looking a bit like the orchestra on the Titanic!) and the Conservative Party seek to overturn the Lancashire fracking decision, and as the “Keep Moving” Manchester and Liverpool events reveal the truth of what happened at Barton Moss, and as the North continues to recover from the festive season floods, the interest in building an alternative vision to the “Northern Powerhouse” is growing every day

Free tickets are still available for this event @



Support Woolston Community Protection Camp

Woolston & Thelwall Community Protection Camp celebrates its’ first birthday in the Spring protecting the local community from the extreme energy industry

The site is situated in the middle of an area of high ecological importance, just yards from a world famous nature reserve, Woolston Eyes, the old River Mersey, Woolston Urban Ecology Park, Woolston Park and Rixton Moss

Woolston Eyes Nature Reserve is one of the Norths’ finest nature reserves, with breeding Black-necked Grebes making it a site of national importance

The Woolston Eyes Nature Reserve is a smoothly run nature reserve that has taken years to mature and years of hard work from conservation volunteers to get it to a gold standard

Otters, Salmon and Kingfishers can be found on the old River Mersey, and Barn Owl is also a speciality of the area

Woolston & Thelwall Community Protection Camp is a very key site for the anti-fracking community in terms of publicity as the camp is situated adjacent to Junction 21 of the M6, and the camps’ protectors are doing a superb job of raising awareness of the extreme energy industry, including hosting the Woolston Festival and an Otter spotting event in summer 2015

Visitors are welcomed on the camp, a wishlist for items can be found on the Woolston & Thelwall Protection Camp wishlist and updates Facebook group and if you have time you can combine a visit with a stroll along the Old River Mersey

The Northern Greenhouse – A New Vision Of The North

#NorthernGreenhouse   #LoveTheNorth  #ZeroCarbonNorth

Now that most of the countries of the world reached an agreement at the COP 21 event in Paris, December 2015, and the UK is a part of the Climate Change High Ambition Coalition, it is now time for a new vision of the North of England that is fit for purpose and has sound science at the heart of the vision

The “Northern Powerhouse” is only concerned with “business as usual” and the growth of polluting industry, many would argue that the science of the “Northern Powerhouse” is deeply misjudged short-termism and that “business as usual” is no longer a viable, sustainable option

A Northern Greenhouse project could take into account many more important factors, such as the environment, renewable energy, floods, sea-defences, Eco-system Services, political co-operation and provide a holistic vision of the North and a real plan for the future

The “Northern Powerhouse” is about a political elite making all the decisions, the exclusion of the people from important decisions that affect them and “business leaders” paying £500 per ticket for an exclusive Conference, whereas a Northern Greenhouse could be a Peoples’ Collaboration of business people, activists, local people, politicians and academics

A peoples’ Northern Greenhouse could reach a formula that is positive for the environment and a #realdeal that could begin to balance the North-South divide

The recent floods should be a catalyst for a full infrastructure review of the North, an Eco-system Services Invoice for the North and debate and action regarding how fast we can make the #BigSwitch to a #ZeroCarbonNorth

Villages and towns have the Ashton Hayes model, football clubs have the Forest Green model, all areas of the North can make strides to increase EcoTourism and green science can take advantage of the “Northern Powerhouse” funds and Manchester being the European City Of Science

2016, the Leap Manifesto Year, could be the year that a real peoples’ vision for the North becomes mainstream, and the year that we begin to deal with the big issues of what we want and what the future of the North could, or should, look like

The name Northern Greenhouse reflects the need to look at the North scientifically and holistically as a Greenhouse, to reach a balance between human activity and the environment, including the atmosphere

  • Friends of the Earth North-west Gathering
  • 10:30am-4:30pm Saturday 5th March 2016
  • @The Green Fish, Oldham Street, Manchester
  • Book Free tickets on eventbrite





Northern Greenhouse Conference, Saturday 5th March 2016


  • Friends of the Earth North-west Gathering
  • 10:30am-4:30pm Saturday 5th March 2016
  • @ Green Fish, Oldham Street, Northern Quarter, Manchester
  • Free tickets on eventbrite

The Northern Spring is amongst many media outlets who have dealt with some of the issues of the so-called “Northern Powerhouse”, with many highlighting the problems and some pouring scorn, scepticism and ridicule onto the project, journalist Jennifer Williams suggesting that the phrase could go on the political “buzz-phrase” scrapheap along with “The Big Society” – what did happen to that ?

With industry “big-wigs”, “fat cats” and “business leaders” meeting at the £500 per ticket “Northern Powerhouse” Conference in Manchester in February 2016, activists are also meeting in Manchester, the European City of Science, in March 2016, to discuss the situation, the alternatives and what we can do practically, with a simultaneous Friends of the Earth North-east Gathering happening in Newcastle

The “Northern Powerhouse” is a Conservative Party-led attempt to show some interest in the North, but the criticisms are that it only suits very narrow, corporate business interest and relies on terminally declining industry, such as fracking and nuclear power, and an appalling lack of democracy in the guise of “devolution”

One of the biggest problems with the “Northern Powerhouse” is that it does not consider the environment – project “leader” George Osborne has shown no interest in environmental considerations and has even said that we should exploit all fossil fuels that are available to us

Considering the global environment, increased extreme weather, including the recent Northern floods, the COP 21 agreement and that the UK is a member of the Climate Change High Ambition Coalition, then the Chancellors’ comments and plans seem to be criminally negligent

However, we do need to have jobs, energy and housing, and we do currently live in a capitalist society, so what are the alternatives to the “Northern Powerhouse” ? Is there a way that we can grow the economy, increase employment, generate energy, provide housing, and live in a more environmentally responsible manner ?

So far, the “Northern Powerhouse” has not made much of an impact on Northerners – a recent Ipsos Mori poll suggests that only 50% of Northerners have even heard of it! It has also been widely sneered at and dismissed in political circles, especially the Green Party, but politicians who have derided the project have not really shown any alternative vision and presented it to the public with any real clarity

On Saturday 5th March, join the peoples’ debate of the positives and negatives of the “Northern Powerhouse” and how the people can shape the North of England in the future

“Northern Powerhouse” Conference, February 2016



“Northern Powerhouse” Conference

Wednesday 24th – Friday 26th February 2016

@ Manchester Central (aka G-Mex), Manchester


2015 was an “Annus Horribilis” for the so-called “Northern Powerhouse”

There were sinkholes on the Mancunian Way, projects stalled, the frackers were once again told to “frack off!”, people from Newcastle to Manchester howled with laughter at the name, and a large area of the North flooded during the festive period, highlighting exactly why we need to move swiftly on from any notions of a “Northern Powerhouse”

“DevoManc” was laughed at and those in the political know formed the Greater Manchester Referendum Campaign to attempt to bridge the democracy gap, campaigners even staging a pro-democracy rally in Manchester city centre

Many people have accused George Osborne of attempting to create a “Northern Poorhouse” and this accusation was fired during Jim McMahons’ Oldham election win speech as the Labour Party politician broke ranks from the “DevoManc” crew

Jeremy Corbyn, who smoothed in for the big Labour win in Oldham, has publicly expressed many doubts about the “Northern Powerhouse” project and Team Corbyn produced a Northern Future paper from a consultation with Northerners

The news for the “Northern Powerhouse” has not got much better in 2016 with news that a “Northern Powerhouse” office is being shut down in Sheffield and the office and jobs being transferred to London! So much for balancing the North-South divide!

So, what is the “Northern Powerhouse Conference” in Manchester in February 2016 all about ? Expect to see a lot of identikit Neo-liberal politicians, so-called “business leaders” and a few Gareth Cheeseman look-a-likes! There are also likely to be protests such as Redlines

At this event there are likely to be throwbacks talking about  yesteryears’ declining, polluting industries, but all eyes should be on green business

COP21 in Paris, December 2015, was the event that brought climate change, eco and green into the business sphere

The race for global countries to become #ZeroCarbon is the 21st centurys’ Space Race, the UK has to play catch-up and the North could be a big player, especially Manchester, the European City Of Science

The Northern floods of December 2015 brought an inconvenient truth to all Northern businesses who now need to factor the environment and ecology into business models, with climate change and flooding the big issues

With David Attenborough moving into corporate renewable energy solutions and Chris Packham calling for ecologists and economists to have greater parity, it could be time for the peoples green movement to take over the business scene




The Northern Spring recently wrote to Graham Brady, the Chairman of the Conservative Party 1922 Committee, with 5 questions on fracking

  1. Can you guarantee that fracking is not going to affect property prices ?

2. I witnessed the flooding in Salford and Manchester in December 2015 – can you guarantee that all industrial infrastructure such as the planned BREP, CBM and fracking in Trafford is flood-proof ? Of particular concern is the planned gas terminal on the Trafford side of the Manchester Ship Canal just yards away from the canal!

3. Why are the Conservative Party not using the precautionary principle regarding fracking and industrial infrastructure ?

4. David Cameron stood in front of the world at COP21 and said that we owe it to future generations to take climate action, yet days later the Conservative government announced the “awarding” of PEDLs (Petroleum Exploration Development Licenses) that, if acted upon, are going to make climate change worse! Why is the Conservative Party’s’ energy policy so inept ?

5. How can the UK be a player in the Climate Change High Ambition Coalition AND support fracking ? It does not make sense and is, quite frankly, highly embarrassing and cringeworthy on the world stage

Mr Brady, a keen supporter of fracking, passed the questions on to Andrea Leadsom, Minister for the Department of Energy & Climate Change, who sent a reply that looks like it was written from the fracking industry handbook

Andrea Leadsom was a Financial Institutions Director at Barclays Bank who are investing in frackers Third Energy in Yorkshire, and does not seem to have any environmental or scientific qualifications

All the fracking industry cheesy lines are in the letter, including the usual reference to the nodding donkey Wytch Farm site in Dorset!

The most alarming section of the letter is the apparent admission that the Government are not ruling out allowing fracking sites in flood risk areas!

According to the letter, the Environment Agency can only object to any development they consider to be at high risk of flooding, so therefore we could see fracking at sites that have medium or low risk of flooding – that goes some way to answering the question about the precautionary principle!


National Anti-fracking Event in Lancashire


#Redlines #FrackFreeLancashire #FyldeFuture

@Blackpool Football Club Stadium, Bloomfield Road, Seasiders Way, Blackpool, Lancashire FY1 6JJ

@9am, Tuesday 9th February 2016

Back once again with the anti-fracking behaviour! In the Summer Of Love 2015 the decent folk of the North celebrated as democracy prevailed in a slightly chaotic and random way as Lancashire councillors voted NO to two fracking applications, Roseacre and Preston New Road, and subsequently the fracking industry has declined on a global scale

The people of the North should all be working towards a Zero Carbon North, making #TheBigSwitch to renewables and the green economy, but instead we are having to stop fracking and a Conservative Government that is foolishly committed to this dodgy industry!

The Tourism and Agriculture Industry is at risk from fracking and the vast majority of Lancashire businesses are against fracking

The Lancashire Chamber Of Commerce and North West Energy Task Force should be saying their goodbyes to the toxic fracking industry and moving swiftly on to creating a clean and green Lancashire

It is time to draw a #Redline around the fracking industry

*Events from 9th February, anything could happen!



The Walk Of The Roses


#UniteTheRoses #WalkOfTheRoses

Lee Miller is walking from Leeds to Liverpool from 30th January to February 8th 2016 to raise awareness of fracking

Lee, an honorary Northerner, timed the walk to coincide with the huge No Fracking Way National Events on Sunday 31st January 2016 and plans to arrive in Liverpool to coincide with the National anti fracking Event in Blackpool on Tuesday 9th February 2016

A Northern gentleman at the start of the walk that travels along the Leeds-Liverpool Canal through some of the UK’s most beautiful countryside said “Nice one lad and tell them frackers to frack off!”

Rumours that Stone Roses frontman Ian Brown is to be joining Lee at some time along the walk remain unconfirmed, although Bez might also be in the picture to support this venture

Lee, in the tradition of principled walkers such as Ghandi and Gayzer Frackman, is committed to the people

Lee is walking to raise environmental awareness having researched the rather dodgy fracking industry

The North has a mighty fine tradition of political walks such as the Jarrow March and Kinder Scout

Join the Frack Free Lancashire Facebook group for updates and check out Lee’s YouTube channel.

Follow on Twitter @MancunianSpring