Bromley Friends of the Earth is celebrating 40 years of helping protect the environment. DAVID MILLS looks at the work it does.

THE word green has firmly established itself in our lexicon as meaning more than just a colour.

Being "green" and concerned about our environment is now an essential part of our daily lives.

Amongst the many policy areas governments and councils legislate for, the environment is always high up the agenda.

Being green now wins votes.

But that is thanks to the hard work of grassroots pressure groups such as the Friends of the Earth (FoE) network, which has an increasingly influential voice in defining policy.

News Shopper: Ann Garrett and Tamara Galloway wore animal masks to promote the FoE fix the food chain campaign in June 2009

The Bromley branch was set up in 1972, when the word green was very much just a colour.

Now it campaigns on all kinds of issues such as planning and development, sustainable energy, protecting the green belt, recycling, bio-diversity, improving public transport, climate change and opposing the expansion of Biggin Hill Airport.

It is one of 100 FoE groups covering most of Britain, as well as overseas.

The Bromley branch's secretary, Ray Watson, said: "Bromley FoE has been telling the environmental story before the word environment became part of our daily lives.

"It's now celebrating 40 years of campaigning on both national and local issues with the aim of opening minds to the stresses that man is causing to the planet."

News Shopper: FoE members Paul Rainey, John Bocok and Dan Sloan on the campaign trail in October 2008

Mr Watson stresses the group is non-political but is not afraid to challenge the government and other bodies to promote its argument.

He said: "A very good example of the influence we can have is lots of local groups like Bromley FoE assisted in a campaign to get a bill through parliament on climate change, that makes Britain the first country to have legally binding legislation to reduce carbon emissions by 20 per cent by 2020.

That was done entirely by local groups."

News Shopper: Bromley FoE members showed their support for the climate change bill in April 2008

Bromley FoE make a difference by organising petitions for the public to sign and are regularly in Bromley High Street to deliver their message.

Mr Watson added: "We're more than just a protest group, we offer positive ways of solving environmental problems."

Earlier this month the group opposed plans to build restaurants next to the Glades in Bromley, which would have encroached on the open park space of Queens Gardens.

It also recently campaigned against plans by Biggin Hill Airport to extend operating hours for the Olympics.

News Shopper: FoE showed their support for the council's waste collection programme

The group meets at 7.30pm on the first Tuesday of every month at the Friends Meeting House, Ravensbourne Road, Bromley, and is always eager to recruit new members.

At next week's meeting, the group's landmark 40th year will be marked with a visit by Jean Lambert, a Member of the European Parliament for London, who will give a lecture entitled How Green Is Europe?

Mr Watson said: "We are proud to help bring the green story to the fore over the last 40 years. We're looking ahead and it's in the next five to 10 years that we must make an impact.

"We have to fight for our corner while times are tough."

For more information about Bromley FoE call 01959 571566 or visit