Queen's University Belfast - Solastalgia

Queen's University Belfast - Solastalgia

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Solastalgia - Stories of accidental environmental activism in Northern Ireland. Solastalgia names the powerful emotions people feel when encountering and experiencing environmental damage, pollution and destruction. Join Sue-Ann Harding and Colin Shaw, accidental environmental activists living in Belfast, as they hold conversations with ordinary people, who, stirred by emotions, become activists, fighting for environmental respect, regard, protection and conservation. For anyone who has ever felt upset at the loss of even a small patch of nature, confounded by obscure government planning decisions or frustrated and furious at the corporate disregard for our fragile natural world, these stories of struggle offer solidarity. Produced by Stephen Mullen. Music by Sue-Ann Harding
Season 2 Episode 6: Beautiful Trouble
The third of three episodes talking with seasoned environmental campaigner Dean Blackwood.
May 14
51 min
Season 2 Episode 5: The Reluctant Interventionist
The second of three episodes with veteran environmental campaigner Dean Blackwood. We talk about Dean’s lifelong connections with the supposedly protected River Faughan, his decades-long career as a town planner and how, since leaving, he has used his experience and insider knowledge to challenge the irregularities and flawed practices in the NI civil and public service that were causing so much environmental damage to the river. Together with the Faughan Anglers, these concerns were brought before the European Commission and the UN under the Aarhus Convention, and out of this has come The Gathering, a loose collective of place protectors, who are all facing and challenging the systemic institutional failures and professional corruption across Northern Ireland in pursuit of environmental justice. Links Public Accounts Committee Report “Planning in Northern Ireland” 24 March 2022 http://www.niassembly.gov.uk/assembly-business/committees/2017-2022/public-accounts-committee/reports/planning-in-northern-ireland/ Northern Ireland Audit Office, “Planning in Northern Ireland”, 1 February 2022 https://www.niauditoffice.gov.uk/publications/planning-northern-ireland Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-Making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters, Aarhus, Denmark, 25 June 1998 https://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=IND&mtdsg_no=XXVII-13&chapter=27
May 14
43 min
Season 2 Episode 4: Walking the River Faughan
On a rainy afternoon close to Christmas 2023, we walked along the banks of the River Faughan with veteran environmental campaigner Dean Blackwood and his dog Lola. In the first of three episodes recorded with Dean, here we talk about fish and fishing, the Rights of Nature and Dean’s knowledge and experience of this river and its tributaries, designated as both an Area of Special Scientific Interest and a Special Areas of Conservation and home to Atlantic Salmon, Otter and Old Sessile Oak Woods. We also talk about the pollution from the notorious illegal Mobuoy dump and the emotions stirred by Northern Ireland’s planning and reinforcement officials’ failure to protect this beautiful river. Links Buried (award-winning podcast by Smoke Trail Productions for BBC Radio 4 and BBC Sounds) https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m001hf1w ‘You should gaze at your bins in horror’: the massive crime scandal behind the UK’s rubbish’, by Daniel Dylan Wray, The Guardian 23 January 2023 https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2023/jan/23/buried-bbc-podcast-exposing-waste-rubbish-crime-scandal River Faughan and Tributaries Areas of Special Scientific Interest (ASSI ) https://www.daera-ni.gov.uk/protected-areas/river-faughan-and-tributaries-assi River Faughan and Tributaries Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) https://www.daera-ni.gov.uk/protected-areas/river-faughan-and-tributaries-sac
May 14
31 min
Season 2 Episode 3: The Happy Activist
Our guest for this episode is Rosalind Skillen, journalist, climate justice activist, Marine Policy officer for BirdWatch Ireland, public speaker and an MSc graduate in Environmental Policy. We caught up with Rosalind in November 2023 when she came up to Belfast for the fifth annual ‘Bridging the Atlantic’ conference. We talk about the local effects of climate change in the damaging floods experienced in the country at the time, what drew Rosalind into climate justice activism, what it was like to be a COP26 & COP27 Delegate, how to bring others into the environmental movement and why the climate emergency doesn’t keep her awake at night.
Jan 31
55 min
Season 2 Episode 2: How to Save a Hedgerow
Season 2 Episode 2: How to Save a Hedgerow Quarterlands is a grassroots collective made up of friends and neighbours who live in and around the Quarterlands Road, Drumbeg. They have come together as a campaign group to question, resist and hold to account proposed plans from a private “developer”, who wants to build 17 luxury houses on a Site of Local Nature Conservation Importance (SLNCI) within the Lagan Valley Regional Park and Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Discovering flaws and discrepancies in a planning application process that appears to show little regard for the site’s precious biodiversity, the Quarterlands Group is gathering evidence, enlisting expert support and keeping a forensic eye on the planning portal’s document trail. In this episode, we talk to Roisin, local resident and a member of the Quarterlands group. We discuss the natural beauty and environmental significance of the site, its magnificent old hedge, the way the group formed and mobilised, their encounters with local councillors and administrators and what drives the group to continue working tirelessly and voluntarily to protect this place - one of several along the Lagan Valley - against commercial exploitation. Thanks also to James Orr from Friends of the Earth for his contributions in the outdoor recording. Thanks to all Quarterlands members who so kindly welcomed us into their neighbourhood. Resources: Quarterlands’ excellent website https://quarterlands.com/ provides information, reasons for the group’s objections, an easily navigable document trail, and visual evidence of the beautiful flora and fauna found here that the group are working so hard to protect. Visit the website to see how to email your concerns to the planning authorities, write to Councillors and MLAs and object to planning proposal LA05/2022/0033/F. You can sign the petition here https://www.change.org/p/don-t-bulldoze-our-biodiversity-save-lagan-valley-regional-park Recent evidence of the biodiversity decline that gives context to Quarterlands’ objections is in the State of Nature Report 2023 that concludes: “In Northern Ireland, 12% of assessed species were at risk of extinction”. https://stateofnature.org.uk/ https://www.rspb.org.uk/whats-happening/news/state-of-nature-report
Dec 6, 2023
50 min
Episode 11: Cloghan Point II - Stopping the (Big) Boats?
Episode 11: Cloghan Point II - Stopping the (Big) Boats? This episode is currently not available due to legal action initiated by the developers of the proposed oil terminal at Cloghan Point. In this episode (part two of two) we continue our conversation with Andy and Geraint, unlikely friends and accidental activists, who are among those opposing plans to expand an oil facility at Cloghan Point, Whitehead on the Antrim coast. The proposed development would turn this quiet and inactive site into a major import and distribution centre for petrol, diesel, and kerosene, undermining NI’s climate action and increasing traffic congestion, noise and risks to marine biodiversity in Belfast Lough. The proposal seeks to construct new tanks and infrastructure to facilitate supertankers from the Middle East and South America to import oil and use the site as a lorry distribution hub for the island of Ireland. This very major development has outraged the community of Whitehead, those concerned about the environment in Northern Ireland and climate activists. We visit the area, talk about its history, beauty, and potential for regeneration. Andy and Geraint explore the challenges of activism in a tight-knit, rural area and the problems that emerge when you campaign against such major developments. For more information: https://www.facebook.com/groups/389602178486609?locale=en_GB https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-50681007 https://www.belfastlive.co.uk/news/belfast-news/cloghan-point-oil-terminal-plans-16338438 https://twitter.com/CloghanNo https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/say-no-to-cloghan-point-oil-terminal?source=actionworks You can view the planning application and register any objections here: https://planningregister.planningsystemni.gov.uk/application/280173
Dec 4, 2023
30 sec
Episode 10: Cloghan Point I - Stopping the (Big) Boats?
This episode is currently not available due to legal action initiated by the developers of the proposed oil terminal at Cloghan Point. In this episode (part one of two) we talk to Andy and Geraint, unlikely friends and accidental activists, who are among those opposing plans to expand an oil facility at Cloghan Point, Whitehead on the Antrim coast. The proposed development would turn this quiet and inactive site into a major import and distribution centre for petrol, diesel, and kerosene, undermining NI’s climate action and increasing traffic congestion, noise and risks to marine biodiversity in Belfast Lough. The proposal seeks to construct new tanks and infrastructure to facilitate supertankers from the Middle East and South America to import oil and use the site as a lorry distribution hub for the island of Ireland. This very major development has outraged the community of Whitehead, those concerned about the environment in Northern Ireland and climate activists. We visit the area, talk about its history, beauty, and potential for regeneration. Andy and Geraint explore the challenges of activism in a tight-knit, rural area and the problems that emerge when you campaign against such major developments. For more information: https://www.facebook.com/groups/389602178486609?locale=en_GB https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-50681007 https://www.belfastlive.co.uk/news/belfast-news/cloghan-point-oil-terminal-plans-16338438 https://twitter.com/CloghanNo https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/say-no-to-cloghan-point-oil-terminal?source=actionworks You can view the planning application and register any objections here: https://planningregister.planningsystemni.gov.uk/application/280173
Dec 4, 2023
30 sec
Season 2 Episode 1: Love our Lough
Lough Neagh is the largest freshwater lake in the UK and rich in mythology. Five of the six counties in Northern Ireland cluster around its shores. Together with Lough Beg to the north (which we talked about in Solastalgia Ep. 9), Lough Neagh is, supposedly, a protected Ramsar site, home to rare and local plants and invertebrates, home for waterfowl, migrating breeding birds, and the rare Pollan fish. The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) website states that “this site is of special value for maintaining the genetic and ecological diversity of Northern Ireland because of the quality and peculiarities of its flora and fauna. A large number of plants and animal species are confined or almost confined to this area within Northern Ireland.” The Lough also supplies Northern Ireland with 40% of our drinking water. In summer 2023, a toxic green sludge, known as blue-green algae or cyanobacteria, accumulated in the Lough. It killed dogs, fish and waterbirds, devastated local fishing. People were advised to avoid all contact with the water and buy bottled drinking water. So vast and green it could be seen from space, the surge of poisonous cyanobacteria was a visibly horrifying symptom of decades of pollution from industrialised farming, sewage and septic tanks, aggravated by the government’s Going for Growth policy, systemic mismanagement and neglect and prolonged illegal and unregulated sand dredging. In this episode, we speak with Dr Louise Taylor, intersectional feminist, neurodivergent ecotherapist, and founder of the collective, Love Our Lough, just one of the local campaign groups organising, protesting, raising awareness and demanding change. Louise was one of the voices of the “wake” held for Lough Neagh at Ballyronan Beach on 17 September, and the loud and colourful Belfast protest on 21 October. We talk with her about the failures of government and civil servants that have led to this environmental and public health crisis, as well as collective protest, standing for election, a 60-year-old hawthorn tree, love, taking responsibility and keeping alive the joy of activism as we cherish, protect and celebrate the beautiful Lough Neagh. Links and Resources Petition: Save Lough Neagh: Stop Pollution, Protect Wildlife, and Empower Local Communities! https://www.change.org/p/save-lough-neagh-stop-pollution-protect-wildlife-and-empower-local-communities @LoveOur Lough ‘Protectors’ of Lough Neagh stage demonstration in Belfast, by Rebecca Black, Irish Examiner, Sat 21 October 2023, https://www.irishexaminer.com/news/arid-41252803.html Environmentalists hold ‘wake’ for Lough Neagh over toxic algae bloom, by David Young, Belfast Live, 17 September 2023 https://www.belfastlive.co.uk/news/environmentalists-hold-wake-lough-ne… Lough Neagh and Ecological Grief, by Louise Taylor, Psychology Today, 22 September 2023 https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/the-neurodivergent-therapist/202309/lough-neagh-and-ecological-grief Lough Neagh has become a scene of Biblical disaster, and Stormont was central to its destruction, by Sam McBride, Belfast Telegraph, 9 September 2023, https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/opinion/columnists/sam-mcbride/lough… Love Our Lough https://www.youtube.com/@LoveOurLough-ij9jn Save Our Shores! Protect Lough Neagh and our inland waterways https://www.facebook.com/groups/313859551178206/ Lough Neagh and Lough Beg RAMSAR, DAERA, https://www.daera-ni.gov.uk/protected-areas/lough-neagh-and-lough-beg-ramsar-0 How do we solve Lough Neagh's algae problem? Edited by Iain McDowell and Nalina Eggert, with reporting by Matt Fox and Finn Purdy, and Rebekah Wilson from Lough Neagh, BBC, 4 October 2023 https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/live/uk-northern-ireland-66993803 A Wake for Lough Neagh, by Nick Laird, BBC Radio 4, 23 October 2023, https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m001rq4z
Nov 15, 2023
56 min
Episode 9: I will go to Aarhus and speak for the swans
In this episode, we speak with Doris Noe, who together with her husband Chris Murphy, has fought for years against the building of a dual carriageway through wetlands between the freshwater lakes of Lough Neagh and Lough Beg. These lakes and the lands around them form precious wildlife habitats of international environmental significance. For 100s of years, Whooper swans have overwintered in pastureland after migrating from Iceland, feeding on the lush grass from October to April. Despite strong public protest and overwhelming scientific evidence for the need to protect these wetland habitats, alternative routes along were rejected in favour of 4 miles of new dual carriageway built, with no requirement for planning permission, north of an existing route and further fragmenting this special landscape. We discuss how Doris Noe, who together with her husband Chris Murphy, fought for years against the building of the road. We talk about birds, place, Seamus Heaney who grew up here, the finality of extinction and why Doris and Chris are still fighting for justice for these beautiful birds. Some resources about Doris’ cause: Controversial new A6 will brutalise Heaney country, says petition https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/northern-ireland/controversial-new-a6-will-brutalise-heaney-country-says-petition/35027236.html Friends of the Earth Northern Ireland: Fighting for nature in a corner of Co. Down http://www.natures-keepers.org/northernireland/portfolio/doris-noe-chris-murphy/ Ecocide in Heaney Country https://vimeo.com/415894558 A6 upgrade: Environmentalist loses bid over 'Heaney' road https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-39408566 Actor Stephen Rea calls route through Lough Beg wetlands 'beyond stupid' https://www.change.org/p/save-heaney-country-ecocideinheaneycountry/u/22402952
Jun 6, 2023
1 hr 15 min
Episode 8: A Possible Lagan
In this episode we talk with Dr Nuala Flood, Fulbright Scholar and senior lecturer in Architecture at Queen’s University. In 2019, the School of Architecture declared a climate emergency, integrating climate action into every teaching, research and outreach activity. Each January, Nuala runs an intensive week-long course: Public CoLab. Students work in small teams with local and international experts to design ambitious, site-specific projects. This year’s theme was 'Lagan Futures'. We talk about the imaginative projects students designed for the river as public space, a 'possible Lagan', about climate grief and people's right to beautiful, liveable places shared with plants and animals. References Public CoLab 2023: Embracing Belfast's Riverfront as Public Space, edited by Dr Nuala Flood https://issuu.com/nualafloodqub/docs/public_colab_2023_-_embracing_belfast_riverfront_l https://pure.qub.ac.uk/en/persons/nuala-flood “Planners should be looking 200 years ahead to protect Belfast from climate crisis” by Shauna Corr, Belfast Live, 24 June 2022. https://www.belfastlive.co.uk/news/belfast-news/planners-should-looking-200-years-24221030
May 5, 2023
1 hr 8 min
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