Green Laughs Yorkshire

December 14, 2011

Think you’ll be feeling blue after the festive excess?  What better way to start 2012 than to have some green laughs (and eco-networking/banter) courtesy of Green Drinks!

Green Drinks Leeds, in collaboration with Bradford Green Drinks and York Green Drinks presents Green Laughs Yorkshire

Our special guest will be Tony Vino, who over his 7 year professional career has established a reputation as a socially aware comedian, touring nationally and internationally. In 2006, he was a finalist in the Funny Bones competition, and he is also the former compère of Just Fair Laughs Leeds, a comedy night promoting fair trade. Tony is best known for the way he seamlessly mixes well thought out observational humour with audience interaction & quick witted responses.  His life and interests are wide ranging, and so is his material, all performed in a warm, friendly & non-offensive style.

Our second guest is Professor Fiddlesticks. The creation of York Green Drinks co-organiser John Cossham, he is possibly Yorkshire’sgreenest entertainer, and in addition to a balloon modelling workshop, he will be dropping in some extra eco-hints & tips, including how to recycle balloons!


We will be hiring a professional comedian (see above). Green Drinks Leeds is run on a zero budget, so we will be charging for the event to cover his fee (and Professor Fiddlesticks’ expenses as well!). Any surplus will be donated to The Bloomtrigger Project, and go towards protecting rainforests.

The first 30 tickets are £5 (+ booking fee), £6.50 (+ booking fee) thereafter, and £8 on the door.

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Apologies for the delay in getting information out,  but this month is an exciting one with not one, but two Green Drinks Panel Discussions

Improving Transport Sustainability in Leeds

On Tuesday 22 November, we will be dicussing Transport Sustainability in Leeds.

As a city of 750,000 people, and a regional capital, the demand for travel to & within the city is massive. With transport responsible for 27% of CO<sub>2</sub> emissions nationally (and a similar percentage within Leeds), mostly by car, how do we reduce transport’s impact, not only on CO<sub>2</sub> levels, but also on other aspects of Leeds social, economic & environmental sustainability?

Joining us to discuss the issues will be:

Lisa Brannan, Project Manager for UTravel Active, an innovative, cross-University project to promote sustainable travel among students, staff and members of the local communities around The University of Leeds and Leeds Metropolitan University. UTravelActive runs the successful VeloCampus cycle hire scheme & produces travel guides and walking route maps.


Matt Barker, Corporate Manager at City Car Club.  Based in Leeds, they are a nationwide pay by the hour car hire company.  They are committed to sustainable travel, but recognise that at certain times it is useful to have access to a car so offer access to low-emissions cars.  Independent research by Carplus shows an average of 25 private cars are taken off the road for every car club car. This is because new members often sell their own car or defer buying one.  That means over 12,500 cars have been taken off the road by the City Car Club fleet.

The third panellist will be a transport representative from a local public sector body to be confirmed.

The session will be chaired by Green Drinks Leeds joint coordinator Anzir Boodoo who is undertaking research at the Institute for Transport Studies, The University of Leeds, and has worked with a number of Sustainable Transport campaigns at all scales from neighbourhood to global, and from grassroots action to Parliamentary Committee.

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5 Speakers, 5 Sectors, 1 Aim: Positive Action

We’ll also have a special session at the Leeds Summat, which is a gathering of local social and environmental campaign groups and others to discuss the big issues facing our city and our planet. This is on Saturday 26 November, and is not to be missed, as the Summat is a great place to meet and connect with people from across Leeds to create positive actions for the city and its environs.

Alexis is Yorkshire Ambulance Service’s Environmental & Sustainability Manager. She is responsible for reducing their carbon footprint, a difficult task when you have to get to injured patients and transport them as fast as possible in a 1,400 strong vehicle fleet. Even in an environment of cuts to the NHS, she has already managed to cut emissions by 8% from 2010. She isn’t resting on her laurels as she aims to reduce their carbon footprint by 32% by 2015.

Alexis’ team are reducing carbon emissions through culture change, eco-driver training, reducing veicle weight and also through a number of new technologies in the ambulances themselves.

Her awards

Come along!

The event is on Tuesday 25 October. Open networking from 6pm, speaker and Q&A from about 7.15pm, followed by introductions and conversation for as long as you want to hang around.

Pop down for a quick drink after work, or stay for the evening, Green Drinks Leeds is free, open and flexible

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Andy Hartley has (in various guises) been at the forefront of greening Yorkshire for the last 20 years. CO2Sense is a not-for-profit company whose sole aim is to help businesses and public sector organisations to cut their costs, make money from renewable energy, and grow.

Andy will be talking about how organisations large and small have taken the opportunity to reduce their carbon footprint and the exciting plans they have for driving the environmental agenda in our region, in the new political world of limited public sector support.

We’re back at The Lounge, and it’ll be free as usual. However, we’d appreciate it if you could sign up online at Eventbrite, so we have some sort of idea of how many people are coming.

Joining Green Drinks Leeds in July this year, I thought would give me a little insight into the world of sustainability. One that I would like to get more acquainted with, particularly with regards to food. I didn’t anticipate I’d be getting into interesting talks about sustainable paving, feed-in tariffs or power stations. When Adam suggested a visit to Drax, I turned to my neighbour with a puzzled face; I didn’t know the biggest Power station in Western Europe, nor that it was only a few miles away near Selby. What a fantastic opportunity. Nothing to do with food. But I was going.

Adam promised Drax there would be no argy bargy. We were all looking forward to visiting the largest coal & biomass co-firing Power Station in the world and understanding the processes and challenges; not to chain ourselves to the cooling towers, all in the name of Green. Actually, that would have been an interesting challenge, since each of those cooling towers can comfortably fit a cathedral the size of St Paul’s in it. But that’s not what we’re about.

All 35 of us shared cars, some provided by private taxi firm Greenbean Cars Ltd (loving those Prius hybrids), to make our way from Leeds City Centre to Selby for the 7pm tour. Tours of Drax are available to the public. Schools often visit during the week, and the Drax tour team are very used to delivering an informative, fun and awe-inspiring experience (certainly for the kids and I), not forgetting the impressive statistics I’ll never remember by heart.

Our tour guides – yes, they needed a few to manage us – took us to the learning centre first, so that we could get our bearings around the site, understand how electricity is generated at Drax and pick-up the safety equipment we would have to wear during the visit. We also needed to get to grips with the various terms we would be hearing during the visit: the pulverising mills (coal and biomass have to be a very fine powder to be burned efficiently), the boiler burners, the desulphurisation absorber tower, just to name a few. The main site visit started with a guided bus tour around the site, before we donned the yellow vest, hard hat, goggles and audio equipment for the indoor experience. Drax is ginormous and very impressive. I felt like I’d stepped behind the screen, in Metropolis, all in black and white, but with the eye of Charlie in the chocolate factory. Except, it was no chocolate and they were no Oompa loompas.

Drax produces 7% of the UK’s demand in electricity. Although it is an obviously high CO2 generating process, due to increasing regulations and environmental protection measures, Drax strive to make the process as efficient as possible and reduce pollution. Increasing amounts of less-polluting biomass is used. By-products such as pulverised fuel ash, furnace-bottom ash and gypsum are recuperated and sold to other manufacturing industries. The flue gas desulphurisation plant removes at least 90% of the sulphur dioxide before gases are released into the atmosphere. Water for cooling is recycled around the site. The remainder of the waste is taken to the nearby Barlow site where it is transformed and restored for agricultural use.

More could be done in terms of eco-efficiency and Drax are working on improvements and new techniques. But I will leave discussions around those, carbon capture & storage and combined heat & power to our specialists in the group!

The tour finished at 9pm. Final chit-chats, sharing of insights and goodbyes on the car park and we all departed pretty much as we came. I don’t know about you or the others in the group, but my eyes were still startled when I got home and my head still struggling to take in the various facts and stats we’d been given.

Thanks to Adam and Anzir for the organisation. An impressive, and certainly memorable experience for my last Green Drinks Leeds!

Virginie Lenfant

Green Drinks Leeds is off on its summer holidays, and best of all, you can come with us!

We’ll be going to the fascinating, and no doubt controversial, Drax Power Station…

The tour will begin at 6.45pm, until about 9pm (details on how to get there follow). We’ll be walking around the site, visiting the turbine hall and control room, and taking a minibus to the further reaches of the site, such as the cooling towers.

As you may know, Drax is the UK and Western Europe’s largest power station, generating 3,960MW (mainly from coal). This is 7% of the UK’s power generation, and the largest CO2 emitter in the UK.

however… Drax also has the largest biomass co-firing facility in the world, and is the most efficient coal fired power station in the UK per megawatt – they aim to reduce CO2 emissions by a further 15% in the future. we hope you’ll have lots of questions for them!


As this is a bit of a different event to the normal Green Drinks Leeds, we will be structuring it differently. Please book via Eventbrite. There is a booking fee of £1.15 (eventbrite’s, not ours!), and a refundable deposit of £20


We need to give names to Drax four days before the event for security purposes, and the numbers are strictly limited to 32.


Drax is approximately 45min from Leeds city centre by car, or an easy journey 60min by train to Selby and public bus. Unfortunately the public buses from Drax to Selby train station finish before our tour ends, therefore the 6 mile trip from Drax to Selby station for the 10.07pm train back would have to be done by local taxi.

There are 4 main methods people can travel and from the event:
Make your own way there and back
Offer a car share from Leeds city centre – please let us know if you can do this
Receive a car share – this can be requested via Green Drinks Leeds
Use a Greenbean Cars taxi from Leeds – we are partnering with Greenbean Cars, who are offering a discounted fare for us

If you offer a car share we will arrange for the people who you transport to pay petrol money.

Greenbean Cars are offering two cars to transport 8 people in total over to Drax and back to Leeds centre.

If you are being transported across (via car share or by Greenbean Cars), there will be a set cost for everybody whichever mode you use (approximately £10). This will be confirmed nearer the time, once we know how many people require car share / taxi. This cost will be taken off the deposit and paid direct to Greenbean Cars and the car sharers.


This month’s sponsors are Greenbean Cars and Environmental Sustainability Consultants PeopleProfitPlanet

Coming Soon

27 September – Andrew Hartley, Operations Director, CO2Sense

25 October – Julian Walker-Palin, Head of Corporate Sustainability, Asda Stores Ltd.

Do you ever get frustrated that some people just don’t get it?

The focus of the next Green Drinks Leeds will be a fully interactive session. We will facilitate a conversation about how you can develop your ability to influence others to take action in the area of environmental sustainability. This might be in your personal or work/professional life, or through your support of charities or other NGOs.

You will work in small groups with the other attendees to consider what your challenges and opportunities are and how you might be able to take the next steps in getting some real traction.

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This is a change from the previously advertised event. Apologies, but Andrew Hartley is unable to speak this month, and will be joining us in September.

Also, on Tuesday 23 August, we will be convening at The Lounge for a tour of Drax Power Station. More details soon…

Our first Panel Discussion on Food was a success, with three great speakers and some good conversation afterwards amongst the 35 or so attendees. We apologise for having been late with the publicity as we’d not confirmed the speakers!

In June, we’ll be joined by David Morrell, Group Head of Sustainability at Marshalls plc. Marshalls is the leading supplier of paving products in the UK, and manufactures a variety of concrete products locally… so with high carbon manufacturing and heavy goods to transport, we’re sure he has some interesting insights from the sharp end of CO2 emissions reduction!

David Morrell graduated in Civil Engineering gaining chartered status in Highways and Transportation after working for two Local Authorities.  A career at Marshalls in Management systems, Product Management and New Product Development and in 2007 the appointment as their Group Head of Sustainability.

David chairs the Ethical Trade Initiative (ETI) Stone Group and Interpave (Trade Association) Technical Committee, representing industry views on National Standards committees and is an active member of several working groups focusing on a more sustainable future.

The industry leading work undertaken at Marshalls has resulted in Business in the Community Big Tick Awards for Reducing Carbon Impact and Ethics in the supply chain.

Marshalls plc supplies its customers with innovatively designed ranges of the highest quality landscape and walling products and provides outstanding levels of customer service.  It is committed to conducting business in a manner which achieves sustainable growth whilst incorporating and demonstrating a high degree of social responsibility.

This month, we’re proud to present our first panel discussion, which is on Food, featuring three great panellists. Each will speak for about 5 minutes, followed by plenty of time for discussion.

The panellists are:

Chiara Tornaghi from Edible Public Space
Niels Corfield from Leeds Permaculture Network
Mags Shevlin from Leeds Urban Harvest

It promises to be a lively event, and of course there will be the usual networking and Good Green Banter™ that we’ve come to expect

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We’re also putting together our finishing touches for June and July, and can reveal for the moment that we have a speaker from paving manufacturers Marshalls in June. We’re still looking for a speaker for August, so if you’ve got something wonderful to talk about, let us know!

The next Green Drinks Leeds is back at our city centre home, The Lounge on Merrion Street, on Tuesday 26 April from 6pm

We’ve had an excellent start to 2011, with an average of over 70 Green Drinkers at our first three events. This month, we have another excellent speaker, in the shape of Chris Johnston from TIDAL, one of the major campaigning organisations in Leeds, who will be speaking on How to build a social movement.

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