Friends of the Earth (EWNI)

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Friends of the Earth (EWNI) (England, Wales and Northern Ireland) is one of 70 national groups around the world which make up the Friends of the Earth network of environmental organisations. It is usually referred to just as Friends of the Earth within its home countries.

Friends of the Earth Scotland operates separately, so there is no single Friends of the Earth (UK).

Since July 2008, Andy Atkins was the executive director of FOE England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Under Atkins' leadership, Friends of the Earth will continue to push for political action to tackle global environmental challenges.[citation needed]

Since Craig Bennett has been director.

In November 2006, the BBC reported that the Government was including a Climate Change Bill in their legislative programme set out in "the Queen's Speech", as demanded by the Big Ask Campaign.[1] The Climate Change Bill became law on 26 November 2008.

FoE EWNI is part of the 30 national organisations that Friends of the Earth Europe represents and unites at the European level.


sheets of stickers were part of the Schweppes campaign

Friends of the Earth was founded in England in 1971, two years after the group was first founded in San Francisco in 1969.[2] Its first leader was Graham Searle, a former vice president of the National Union of Students. One of the first campaigns was to dump 1,500 glass bottles in front of the HQ of soft drinks giant Schweppes in Connaught House, London in protest at the company's policy of having non-returnable bottles. The group had eight local branches in 1971. By 1976 there were 140, and by 1980 it had 250 and 17,000 registered supporters.[3] Between 1984 and 1993 its director was Jonathan Porritt a former teacher and chairman of the Ecology party.[4] Porritt left in 1993, by which time its membership hit 226,000.[4] The next executive director was Charles Secrett who held the position till 2003.[5] Between 2003 and 2008, FoE EWNI's executive director was Tony Juniper.

Structure and funding[edit]

FoE (EWNI) has a dual structure, comprising a trust, which is a registered charity,[6] and a limited company, which carries out political campaigning - something a charity is forbidden to do under UK rules. FoE gets 96 per cent of its funding from individuals. Total income for FoE EWNI Ltd for the year ending May 2010 was £2,978,015 while total expenditure £3,039,618, making a deficit of £61,603.[7]

Local groups[edit]

Friends of the Earth EWNI defines itself as a grassroots organisation, with over 200 local groups making it the largest environmental network in the UK. The local groups are largely autonomous, but most work on at least some national campaigns, especially climate change. Local groups have significant power in shaping the direction of the national organisation, for example by electing a majority of board members.


The major campaign issues of Friends of the Earth in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are:

  • Biodiversity
  • Climate change
  • Corporate Accountability
  • Global trade
  • Real Food
  • Transport
  • Waste

High profile campaigns have included the return of 1500 non-returnable bottles to Schweppes in 1971, and the successful "Alice's Meadow" campaign of 1983 - which helped force the diversion of the proposed M40 motorway around Otmoor.

In 2012 Andy Atkins, Friends of the Earth then Executive Director, spoke out against the way shale gas is used in the UK and the effects on wildlife and habitats and voicing his support of sustainable energy options such as wind, wave and tidal energy.[8]


Friends of the Earth has been present at a number of festivals this summer with a Queen Bee Photobooth to support their Bee Campaign and raise awareness.

2012 festivals attended include

  • Bristol Festival of Nature
  • London Green Fair
  • Latitude, Henham Park, Southwold
  • Camp Bestival, Lulworth Castle, Dorset
  • Wilderness Festival, Cornbury Park, Oxford

Friends of the Earth also ran a Charity Busking Stage at Wilderness Festival, (10–12 August 2012), with a line-up of several headline acts from the main stage including Stornoway, Cloud Control, Giant Giant Sand, 1000 Mile Highway, and To Kill A King.

The Busking Stage ran from 2012-2014 and was hugely successful.


  1. ^ Mukerjee, Sarah (15 November 2006). "Greens' delight at climate bill". BBC News. Retrieved 24 January 2013. Their 'Big Ask' campaign, to get the government to commit to a climate change bill, has got exactly what it asked for.
  2. ^ "When was Friends of the Earth founded?". Retrieved 9 July 2015.
  3. ^ p212-213 State of Emergency The Way We Were: Britain 1970-1974 by Dominic Sandbrook 2011 Penguin Books
  4. ^ a b "Profile: Jonathon Porritt". BBC News. April 2004. Retrieved 2 June 2011.
  5. ^ Charles Secrett Archived 7 February 2013 at the Wayback Machine., Oxford Climate Forum
  6. ^ Charity Commission. Friends of the Earth Trust Limited, registered charity no. 281681.
  7. ^ Friends of the Earth Ltd Annual Report 2010 Retrieved June 2, 2011
  8. ^ Buckler, Scott (10 September 2012). "'Take foot off the pedal on shale gas', charities warn Government". Govtoday. Retrieved 24 January 2013.

External links[edit]