Tuesday 8th November 2016
@ Islington Mill, James Street, Salford
Speaker: James Walsh
“Thanks to the Salford TUC & John Catterall for hosting this event, Happy 150th Birthday to the Salford TUC, I have worked out that my Great Grandparents arrived in Salford 140 years ago, so my family have been knocking around Salford almost as long as the TUC
A big thank you also to all the speakers at the event today, we have heard some superb thought provoking speeches on a range of subjects such as climate change, floods, renewable energy projects, capitalism, the One Million Climate Jobs campaign, Greenpeace & the anti-fracking movement
I’m here to speak about EcoTourism, so the first thing I would say is to have a fully functioning global EcoTourism industry you need to have stability & peace, therefore, I feel that the people should be demanding that in the Paris Agreement there should be a legally binding fracking ban, global agreement that no more wars be started on the planet & agreement to begin to de-escalate wars that are happening now, as not enough is spoken about how war can negatively affect climate change
We also need to be demanding that the UK government gets a legally binding timetable for the journey to Zero Carbon Britain – in Wales, at the Centre for Alternative Technology people every day walk around a trail that follows all the steps we need to take to Zero Carbon Britain, so surely it is time to be doing this for real ?
I, along with everyone in the room, have been watching the progress of the so-called “Northern Powerhouse” with astonishment & I feel that it is time that the alternative view is heard on a global scale
That is why I have done my research & written the new book “The Northern Greenhouse – A New Vision Of The North” that highlights an alternative vision to George Osbornes’ dirty industry heavy “Northern Powerhouse”
In the book I see a North transferring to the green economy & bringing in the new industries of the future to the North today – Renewable Energy, Sustainable Agriculture & EcoTourism
Sixteen years ago, I gained EcoTourism qualifications at a College in Australia, it was a very progressive course that taught me how to be an EcoTour guide & how to construct a tour based around the environment
I ask myself why do we not have College/University courses like these all around the North of England ? We have a unique environment in the North with amazing scenery & wildlife, yet other areas of the country & world still see us as the desolate North!
We need to show the world that we are not the desolate North & that we want to move on from the era of the Industrial Revolution to the era of the Paris Agreement
A perfect example of this is the Saltholme RSPB Reserve near Middlesborough where conservationists have managed areas of extremely polluted industrial land & turned the land into many hectares of nature reserve, that provides employment to a local workforce, education for schools & a 5-star EcoTourism experience for Tourists
Nature reserves these days can be big business – in Lancashire the Martin Mere Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust Reserve is worth more than £5million/year to the economy & in Morecambe Bay the RSPB & local businesses such as hotels & other accommodation providers are working together as the Morecambe Bay EcoTourism Network to market this area as an EcoTourism hotspot, especially in the winter when general tourism trade is low & Morecambe Bay is home to thousands upon thousands of wading birds – a true wildlife spectacle
But you don’t even need to go as far as Morecambe Bay for a wildlife spectacle, we have plenty wildlife on our own doorstep here in Salford & Manchester
We have to win the argument with big business that the Salford Mosses are worth far more clean & green & utilised for EcoTourism both in terms of Eco-system Services & long-term financial projections
We have to campaign for Manchester to be a National Park City, for Pomona to be an Eden Project North & convince people with chequebooks that this is the way forward
We have to campaign for the fracking colleges to be turned into Green Colleges & link with our colleagues at Frack Free Lancashire to create a new vision for The Fylde, another area of the North that could become an EcoTourism paradise
We also need to get involved in an issue that is becoming huge in the UK with Chris Packham at the forefront – the Red Grouse moors
The Red Grouse is the Norths’ one truly unique bird, yet how does our culture treat this bird ? The UK doesn’t yet have a day to celebrate the Red Grouse, instead it has a day to celebrate blasting Red Grouse out of the sky!!
I feel it is time that the UK starts respecting & celebrating the Red Grouse, & that this species can be at the forefront of an EcoTourism revolution in the North
However, EcoTourism is not just about wildlife, the Eden Project & Green Britain Centre are 2 examples of huge EcoTourism attractions in the South of England, but why do we not have anything like this here in the North ?
Perhaps the nearest we have to this is the Ashton Hayes Zero Carbon Village in Cheshire that has spent 10 years reducing its’ carbon footprint & is now being featured on global news – what if every town & village in the North was like Ashton Hayes ?
We also have football clubs attempting to become carbon neutral such as Forest Green Rovers – we need to pressure all our great Northern football clubs to become carbon neutral as fast as possible
“The Northern Greenhouse” is a new vision of the North & it should not be too difficult to market a green North to the world as we already have some phenomenal sites such as the River Eden, the Lake District, Northumberland, the North York Moors, Lancashire & the Salford Mosses
However, I have identified a number of projects that are potentially detrimental to the environment & the image of the North, & these should be fought to a stand-still with similar determination as that shown at The Battle Of Barton Moss
I could probably do a survey of the North if I had the time to find out if we really want fracking, a new nuclear facility in Cumbria, trident being made in Barrow, Druridge Bay open-cast mine, the Yorkshire Pot Ash Mine, Coal Bed Methane, BREP & Port Salford, but I already know the answer! And that is NO – we do not want the “Northern Powerhouse”
The Unions have an integral part to play in creating & celebrating the Northern Greenhouse! We need to be campaigning for & demanding A Million Green Jobs now more than ever & EcoTourism can provide a decent percentage of those green jobs along with skills, training & apprenticeships
How many decent fair days work for a fair days pay jobs could a Green Atlantic Gateway or a Manchester National Park City create ?
As Naomi Klein says “Climate change & the Paris Agreement are a huge opportunity for us to demand real change”
“The Northern Greenhouse – A New Vision Of The North” book is due to be published soon
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