Category Archives: Environment

Heathrow: International Travel Hub or Local Tourist Attraction?

Heathrow Airport handles millions of passengers each year, but of the 78 million passengers using Heathrow as part of their journey, how many stopped to consider that Heathrow itself was a tourist attraction.

Upon arrival at Heathrow, leaflets and brochures for West End shows and London Tour Buses can be seen in almost every corridor. But for some, the very buildings that these passengers walk through are the sight to to see.

Its not clear when plane spotting became a hobby comparable to collecting stamps or a quick game of squash. In the UK at least, the aviation industry has always been marvelled and celebrated, with names such as Spitfire, Concorde and Farnborough being the very pinnacle of British aviation.

The UK loves its planes, and there are whole airfields and museums, packed with hangars of the world’s first hang gliders, bi-planes, and jet aircraft. So what sets out Heathrow, a fully functioning airport, to be a tourist attraction.

All credits to this footage belongs to Casey Planespotting.

Location, Location, Location:

Heathrow’s proximity to major towns and cities makes it ideally suited for travellers to choose Heathrow as their airport of choice. Connected by a coach station, London Underground, Heathrow Express and two motorways, its certainly accessible.

Thomas Mercer, former British Airways Cabin Crew, still occasionally visits the airport and the surrounding area. “I’m actually meeting a friend at Terminal 5” – following our interview.

He’s not alone. Buses that connect Heathrow to local boroughs and suburbs such as Feltham, Hillingdon, Hounslow, Staines and Uxbridge provide access to local residents. One bus driver on Heathrow route said “Not a day goes by when there isn’t a local wanting to see the planes. Day or night, rain or fog, they’re always onboard”.

The Facilities:

With shops, cafes, restaurants, transport links and access to medical facilities, Heathrow Airport may as well be London’s 34th Borough. But most of all Heathrow has several observation decks. These observation decks allow for panoramic views of aircraft taxiing the airfield, and views of the surrounding area.

Terminal 2 was once the focal point of tourists, with notable events such as the eclipse of 1999 and last flight of Concorde drawing in crowds onto the 1960s promenade.

Since the demolition of the old Terminal 2 building, a replacement observation deck has not yielded the same number of visitors, but nevertheless visitors still turn up.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Passers by:

Going to official observation deck made of glass and still among photographers with telescopic lenses can be daunting, and on top of that there’s the roar of engines once every minutes as a plane takes-off or lands once a minutes. So some visitors join local residents and passers by to take in the majestic view of these aircraft from the airport perimeter.

Sites such as Myrtle Road – (close to Great South West Road and Hatton Cross Station) and Harlington Corner – (on Bath Road, near Northern Perimeter Road) have become a beehive of activity for aircraft enthusiasts and passers by.

If travelling on a bus near Heathrow, its impossible to ignore the tourist or flurry of school children who board the bus either to complete the latest stage in their journey or purely for leisure.

Former BA Cabin Crew Thomas Mercer “I do see the appeal of it. when I am near the Heathrow vicinity, I do check my flight radar app, to find out where the plane where the planes are going and what time and watch them take off.”

So it seems even local residents and former aviation employees look towards the sky occasionally to bask at metal birds which have made a home for themselves on their doorstep.

With the expansion of Heathrow imminent and a third runway granted for construction, will the residents of West London be further captivated by the expansion of its neighbour?

History of Londons’ Markets

Welcome to the markets. 

With a rise in demand for organic produce, a boom in lifestyles such as Veganism and the want for pesticide and chemical free produce, there have been a huge increase in people attending markets across the nation for their produce. The Veganism society claims that it was the biggest food trend in 2018, and many people are lookingthwards a healthier lifestyle with an array of fresh fruit and vegetables. With more and more farmers markets popping up every day, let’s look at some of London’s most famous market place and discover why they’re having such a powerful comeback. 

The oldest surviving market in London and arguably the whole of Britain was first mentioned in historical texts in 1276, but is thought to have been around from as early as 1014. We are talking about the famous borough market which sits in Southwark under the London Bridge stretching down the side of the Thames. In the 19th century it became one of Londons most important food markets. 

The market first established itself on the London Bridge and acted as a hub to sell to travellers who crossed the bridge from the city of London to Southwark town. A larger market was then set up which sold a wider range of produce near the foot of the bridge which was known as Guildable Manor. In the 1270’s, the City of London forbade its citizens to go to the markets as they began to undercut the cities traders by buying produce and reselling it for their own value.

As the time passed into the 16th and 17th century, Southwark was absorbed into the city of London and the authorities did it’s best to maintain order around the markets. They were supervised to maintain price control and inspected goods and were also required to set up fixed stalls as unlicensed trading was a big problem of the era. 

In 1666, the Great fire of London burned down the main market house and a large portion of the bridge and it’s markets, and in 1756, nearly 100 year later, the government ceased trading on the market as it was taking away from the high street shops which were part of Londons growing economy. Outraged, the residents began petitioning to be allowed to begin a new market, independent to the city, away from the high street in order to not interfere with their business.

They quickly raised £6,000 (£1mil) and bought an area called the triangle and within two years the place was enlarged and a market house was built. The modern borough market was born. 

Over the years, with the rise of national supermarkets which killed off the small grocery and market business, the market developed a niche for speciality meat and cheese. It has become  great tourist attraction, with around 16 million people visiting Londons oldest fruit and veg market every year. 

The rise in demand for vegetable produce is doing wonders for markets across Britain. 

Another famous market which is sometimes forgotten, is the beauty and uniqueness of Columbia Road Flower Market. Named in honour of the heiress and philanthropist Angela Burnett Couts who built the Original Columbia Market in the 19th century. It was her aim to bring cheap and good quality produce to the poorest of East London, so in 1868, she built a huge market building with over 400 stalls and apartments for the traders built above. 

Unfortunately, due to limited transport connections and with big markets such as borough and convent garden which were closer to the centre of the city, the market couldn’t thrive. So, in 1871, the market hall was gifted to the city of London and was used for workshops and workhouses for 80 years till it was demolished in the 1950’s to make way for new housing opportunities. You can still see the gates and lion statues which sit outside a local primary school. The market continued on Columbia Road but with a swift change in produce from food to mostly bright, beautiful flowers helped the market survive.

The market suffered in WW2 due to rules regarding food rationing and part of the market received significant damage during the blitz, but in the 1960’s new rules meant traders had to attend regularly and with a resurgence in gardening, the market gained popularity. The changing of opening days to a Sunday instead of a Saturday also meant local jewish traders could bulk up numbers. Traders from other markets began flocking to the market selling left overs from the week, such as convent garden, but over time the market specialised in flowers.

  Columbia Road Flower Market sound clip

One of the youngest but possibly one of the most globally famous markets is Camden Market. Although time wise, Camden market is only 50 years old, it remains one of the busiest, well known and popular destinations for tourists and residents of London. 

Camden Market officially begun on the 30th March 1974, with a brand new Saturday market which housed a total of 16 stalls which sold antiques, jewellery and arts and crafts. However, previous to this the history of the famous Camden Locks has been slowly forgotten. 

Famous scenes from the early 20th Century are recreated in TV productions such as ‘Peaky Blinders’ which shows the locks being a big import and export place for beverages such as whiskey and gin. Distilleries and warehouses would sit along the locks, all dedicated to the booze. 

As the towns market developed, this art slowly depleted, lost and forgotten until 2014, when the tradition was reborn when Mark Holdsworth created ‘Half Hitch Gin’ which is distilled in Camden Town. The alcoholic drink can now be found in prestigious London hotels like the Hilton, St James and in establishments like The Shard and Selfridges. 

It’s fame can be reflected in the numbers – over 28 million people visit the markets every year. In 1973 a wine merchant called John Armit and his business partner Tony Mackintosh were responsible for turning the ‘run-down packaging warehouse’ beside the canal into Dingwalls Dance Hall and the venue was soon a notorious place for punk-rockers. There have also been many famous faces walking the streets such as David Bowie, Lady Gaga, and is also where Amy Winehouse worked pre-fame as a teenager. 

Nowadays, even though some of it’s traditional areas have been lost (the old lock keepers cottage is now a Starbucks) and the authorities have had a major push to eradicate the drug culture that had remained since the 80’s, the general vibe of the market makes it unique. It feels stuck in a period of punk rock with a tad of ibiza markets with the rage of counterfeit products making their name on the market alongside niche food products such as halloumi fries, vegan burgers and the infamous Cereal Killer cafe, which offers the widest range of breakfast cereals from across the globe, with an amazing collection of memorabilia.

Markets once were the entire economy in the UK, but with a rise in convenience stores and the demand for fresh, high quality produce, people are now looking for more substantial, economic sources. This has meant the market world which was once in a crippling decline, is being resurrected to supply those who are wishing to live a healthier lifestyle. In the future we could g straight back to markets and our local supermarket could be a desolate wasteland. 

FM Final

The best way to curb climate change: have one less child

In a world with 7.7 billion people, water is scarce, food is no longer abundant (despite over production), and affordable shelter is becoming rapidly more difficult to find, is our population truly sustainable?

Every year the world’s population grows by another 83 million people. With an upward trend in population size leveling out at an annual 1.4% increase, it is no question that the size of our population is slowly, but surely becoming a clear issue.

In 2017, the Guardian brought the topic of overpopulation to light.

Now more than ever, environmentalists are posing if more feet equals more heat and if having one less child is actually the best way to help correct climate change.

The silent killer of our oceans: everything you need to know about ocean acidification

For thousands and thousands of years, oceans have been a critical part of people’s lives. The oceans have been our grocery stores, highways, pharmacies, and source of entertainment.

Due to our ocean’s vastness, we see them as infinitely bountiful, infinitely abundant, infinitely ample. Now, more than ever we are seeing beaches that are so polluted people can’t swim. We are seeing an increase in bleached coral reefs. We are seeing shellfish unable to reproduce. We are seeing massively overfished areas.

Ocean acidification, osteoporosis of the sea, the silent killer of our oceans. Whatever your preference it all means the same thing. Over the last 250 years, the average concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has made an unbelievable increase from 280 parts per million to 390 parts per million. That’s a 30 percent increase. Half of which was made between 1980 and today. To most people, this just seems like numbers, but when you realize that in the past, humans have only lived in concentrations of 190-330 it is easier to comprehend the problem at hand.

Plant-A-Tree's

Illustrations by: Lucie Brunellière are available here

In long-term ocean acidification is likely to have the most significant impact on the coral reef ecosystems. Marine organisms that provide up to 50 percent of the oxygen that we breathe, such as Plankton and other small organisms, are abundant in coral reefs and will decrease dramatically. These small organisms not only affect us but other marine organisms as well. With pH levels dropping at this rate, current estimates reveal that we will lose 50 percent of our coral reefs over the next 40 years. That means that the quarter of marine species that rely on coral reefs to provide them home will face extinction unless able to adapt. At a pH level of 8.2, our seas are already acidic enough to dissolve shells. This is evident due to the 85 percent of oyster reefs gone because of the acidification of our oceans.

Not only does it threaten 25 percent of marine organisms, but ocean acidification also affects the estimated 500 million people who depend on coral reefs for their daily food and income. Finding jobs, I’m sure you all know, is hard enough in this economy, nonetheless it will become harder. Travel agencies workers, fishers, ecologists, chefs, food manufacturers and marine biologists will all be affected by ocean acidification. Areas such as Cairns, Australia, will no longer be generating over 6.5 billion dollars in tourism revenue due to the death of the Great Barrier Reef. As a result, 63,000 people would lose jobs in the area.

Although research is underway to improve the conditions of our oceans, not much is being done at the local or global level. Seeing that this is a reasonably recently discovered problem, scientists are still researching ocean acidification and its effects on the environment. Even so, scientific research has already saved species such as the Pacific Oyster from extinction.

Scientists do know one thing: irreversible damage will occur around 2060. Even if all carbon emissions stopped today, the pH of the ocean would still drop 0.1-0.2 pH units and it would take thousands of years for the world’s oceans to recover. Nonetheless, that is still better than the 0.5 units the pH was expected to fall by 2100, a 320 percent increase in acidity.

Our highways, our entertainment, our medicines. Our food, our stress reliever, our memories. Our expansion, our destruction, our mess. Ocean acidification will be a problem for centuries to come. Environmental problems have become apart of our society. Although some are discussed until the point of no longer caring, others are worth listening to.

It’s time to go plastic-free: these are London’s plastic free stores

Plastic pollution is arguably one of the most prominent issues of the 21st century. The words themselves have slowly become buzzwords in mainstream society – so it should be no surprise that people around the world are taking a stand against the issue.

What is plastic pollution?

According to PlasticOceans.org, almost 300 tons of plastic is produced annually around the world and half of this is for single use. Single use plastics include plastic bags, plastic cutlery, plastic bottles and plastic straws.

Every year, over eight million tons of plastic ends up in the world’s oceans and this causes a number of environmental issues. Not only do single use plastics make up 49% of beach litter, but they can also cause serious harm to wildlife. It’s easy for marine species to become entangled in pieces of plastic – plastic bags, for example – and it’s fairly common for animals to mistake plastic for food. Research from Greenpeace shows that up to 9 in 10 seabirds, 1 in 3 sea turtles and over half of whale and dolphin species have ingested plastic.

But it’s not just marine species that suffer from the amount of plastic we’re putting into our oceans: the entire food chain does – meaning that, if marine species such as fish are consuming high levels of plastic, humans are too, when they eat fish, for example. Not only are we eating plastic we’ve thrown away, but there’s also potential for this plastic to enter the tissues of our bodies – just as it does in sea animals.

How can we make a change?

Luckily, over the last few years, people have begun to wake up to the issues surrounding plastic pollution. The United Nations ‘declared war’ on plastic in February 2017, and media coverage has helped to raise awareness of these issues – perhaps the most famous example would be the BBC series Blue Planet II.

Things are looking up; the UK’s plastic bag pollution has decreased by 86% since the introduction of the 5p carrier bag charge in 2015. However, there’s still a long way to go – but there are some changes we can make. The key is switching to reusable products rather than disposable – using glass or metal water bottles instead of plastic bottles, buying reusable cups for hot drinks, saying no to plastic straws and so on.

Conveniently, there are a number of plastic-free shops popping up around the country. These stores aim to be as close to zero-waste as possible and minimise the amount of plastic used in everyday life. Shoppers can buy loose products in any quantity they wish – from cereal to washing powder and fruit and vegetables to salt – all without the unnecessary plastic.

Where are London’s plastic-free stores?  

Currently there are nine plastic free stores in London.

Re:Store (Hackney’s most recent plastic-free opening):

Hackney Downs Studios, 17 Amhurst Terrace, London, E8 2BT

Unpackaged (found in Planet Organic stores):

Islington branch: 64 Essex Road, Islington, London, N1 8LR

Muswell Hill branch: 111/117 Muswell Hill Road, Muswell Hill, London, N10 3HS

Torrington Place branch: 22 Torrington Place, London, WC1E 7HJ

Westbourne Grove branch: 42 Westbourne Grove, London, W2 5SH

IMG_3159

Planet Organic Westbourne Grove

IMG_3168

Unpackaged in Planet Organic Westbourne Grove

Hetu (Clapham Junction):

201 St. Johns Hill, London SW11 1TH

The Source

Battersea branch: 99 St John’s Rd, London, SW11 1QY

Chiswick branch: 24 Turnham Green Terrace, Chiswick, London, W4 1QP

IMG_3183

The Source Chiswick

IMG_3178

The Source Chiswick

Bulk Market (Hackney):

6 Bohemia Place, Hackney, London, E8 1DU

Harmless Store (Wood Green):

Blue House Yard, 5 River Park Rd, Wood Green, London, N22 7TB

Get Loose (Hackney):

Hackney City Farm E2 8QA, United Kingdom

The Refill Larder (Teddington):

122 High Street,Teddington TW11 8JB

BYO (Tooting):

21-23 Tooting High St, Tooting, London,SW17 0SN

 

Despite supermarkets also beginning to make changes, and the introduction of these plastic-free stores, there is still a long way to go. And although these stores aren’t accessible or practical for everyone, the increasing number of them gives us hope that things are going to change and, hopefully, we can collectively reduce the damage that plastic pollution is causing our planet.