Online Archive  
Issue 2 - February 1972
Tyneside has long suffered under the harsh by-products of avaricious industrialisation, and the scars of pollution are as yet far from eradicated by smokeless zones and redevelopment. While some of the more obvious problems are being tackled, new and subtle dangers are continually arising from technological development.

In the belief that, unprompted, government will only do too little too late, two Newcastle Civil Engineers have recently launched a new organisation to act as a local pressure group for environmental problems.

The aims are simple to state, belying the complexity of accomplishment: 1) find out the facts; 2) tell the people; 3) pressurise authority into action.

In these objects, the group parallels the activity of television's 'Doomwatch' and it was after a lecture by that programme's creator, Dr Kit Pedlar, in last year's Newcastle festival, that Colin Marsh first made public the idea of a Tyneside group.

Despite limited publicity, round 70 people attended an open meeting, at which statistics outlining the immensity and scope of the problem were presented by Dr Bateman of Durham University. In consequence, the group decided to start by tackling local problems, while lending support to national organisations, as and when appropriate. With no name, and no direct affiliation, the group felt it necessary to pursue some immediate local aims before attracting too much publicity to itself on the basis solely of ideas rather than action.

Subsequently, a number of small groups have taken responsibility for investigating individual ideas, with a view to publishing reports and seeking action once they are well briefed. The general problem of waste disposal in Newcastle is under examination, particularly bearing in mind the recent demonstration that incineration of plastics can produce lethal gases. More and more stores are changing from paper to plastic bags, apparently without consideration for the environmental threat involved. Naturally, paper-making requires deforestation, but this can form part of a balanced cycle of growth, use, reuse, and natural degeneration.

Another group is considering separate waste paper collection specifically for reuse. Jesmond Dene is receiving attention from those concerned to get out and do something rather than collect facts and figures. Do-it-yourself pollution detection has also been discussed, along the lines of the recent river survey sponsored by the Sunday Times. Such investigations could supply independent statistics to strengthen an argument with a complacent authority or short-sighted company.

This need for facts at one's finger tips is well recognised by Colin Marsh and his co-organiser Tony Fisher. Over the last three years, they have been collecting relevant newspaper and magazine cuttings. With the formation of the group, there is now a chance of collating and referencing this information so that they can supply relevant details to members investigating specific areas.

For anyone concerned to do something positive about this crucial issue of the moment, the group hopes to offer a suitable job, in the field, in the library, collecting, visiting, canvassing for support, or doing the inevitable clerical back-up work.

Anyone interested should contact Colin Marsh, 62 Beatty Avenue, Jesmond, N/cle, (N/C 856214) or at work, at N/cle 28511 ext 2419, for information on forthcoming meetings or group activities. Anyone with ideas for a suitable name for the group will be particularly welcome.

K A Pollock