Ellie Chowns – Hereford Times “Talking Point” September 2020

We need to talk about climate & nature

If there’s one thing that (nearly) everyone agrees on, it’s this: the big issues shouldn’t be party political footballs. Instead, we need to find common ground.  Whether we’re talking about social care, the NHS, or environmental protection, we need to listen to everyone and work out solutions that we can all support.

That’s what a ‘citizens assembly’ is designed to do.  It’s made up of a truly representative cross-section of ordinary people of all ages & backgrounds, who come together to debate the evidence and say what they think needs to happen.  Campaigners have been asking for such assemblies to help us work out how to tackle the climate crisis, and the UK one (Climate Assembly UK) has just published (on 10th September) its report on ‘the path to net zero’.

The report sets out lots of great ideas about how we can cut emissions.  And it’s really interesting to see how much public support there is now for ideas that used to be considered radical just a few years ago.  Very large majorities now support policies like banning sales of the most polluting vehicles (86%), bringing public transport back under government control (75%), and taxing flights based on how frequently and how far people fly (80%).  It’s clear that there is a broad public consensus in favour of strong action to get us to net zero quickly and (crucially) fairly.

This is good news for us all – and most especially for our children.

Last year Herefordshire Council unanimously agreed the goal of being a zero carbon county by 2030. We’ve also recognised the ecological emergency that faces us – a crisis that can be seen close to home in the pollution that’s currently damaging our precious Wye and Lugg rivers.  So: how can we tackle these crises together? That’s the big question that we all need to hold in mind whenever we make decisions.

While Covid-19 has dominated our lives for the past 6 months, the climate crisis hasn’t gone away – and we’ve kept on working to tackle it. I’m proud that the council has been working with a diverse range of stakeholders – from campaigners to farmers, teachers to businesspeople – to kickstart an ‘Action Plan 2030’ to help us achieve our twin goals of zero carbon and abundant nature.  This autumn we’re going to be consulting widely on this, all across the county – aiming to involve as many people as possible in this vital conversation about our future.  We’ll be sharing info on Herefordshire’s current climate and nature footprint; highlighting inspiring ideas that have worked elsewhere; and inviting everyone in the county to help jointly make a plan for Herefordshire as a whole to tackle the climate and nature crises, together. Keep an eye out for more info in the coming weeks, and please do get involved & make your voice heard!

The very concerning state of Herefordshire’s rivers

Herefordshire Green Party, including our seven councillors, are hugely concerned to protect our precious river ecosystems from phosphate pollution from the increasing numbers of intensive stock rearing units being approved in the countryside. This has had a particularly grievous impact for Herefordshire, the majority of which is in the catchment of the iconic River Wye, a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) under European legislation.

On 6th June, Greens on the Planning Committee voted against such an application at Bage Court Farm at Dorstone. However the application was passed by a majority of members. This has led local campaigners, believing there were flaws in the advice given by officers, to challenge the decision through the High Court. In particular, campaigners wish to test whether a full Habitat Regulations Assessment should have been conducted.

For many years, Green councillor Felicity Norman has campaigned for a stronger regulatory system amid evidence of ecosystem collapse along the rivers Lugg and Wye. That both rivers should deteriorate so sharply, despite a Nutrient Management Plan tasked with protecting the River Wye SAC, is extremely worrying.

Green councillors are pushing for stronger local policy on intensive farming consistent with our declaration of a Climate and Ecological Emergency. We have formally requested urgent development of a supplementary planning document (SPD) on this issue to give much greater weight to environmental protection. We are also strongly urging other regulatory bodies such as the Environment Agency to use their existing powers to control watercourse pollution.

As Greens, we are frustrated by the limitations of national planning policy and the exercise of local control over development. Better alignment of our local planning policies to the needs of society and the environment is one of our key priorities. We are doing everything we can – alongside our coalition partners as well as committed colleagues from other political groups – to achieve that. We are working our socks off to translate this intention into concrete changes to policy and practice. We know that protecting our environment makes good economic sense and will enable communities in our county to thrive. We really value the support and activism of local residents as we strive for a better, fairer, greener Herefordshire.

Congratulations Julia & Nat – success in Green Party England & Wales internal elections August 2020

We’re delighted that two local members have won in the recent internal elections.

Julia Lagoutte was elected Publications Co-Ordinator beating two other candidates. The Co-Ordinator role is defined as:

To support the development of publications during local and nation elections, ensuring Green Party publications accord with the house style, electoral law and other legal requirements.

To work closely with the External Communications, Internal Communications and Campaigns Coordinators to ensure integration between media and publications approaches.

The Publications Coordinator is the GPEx representative to the Green World Editorial Board and is the lead for supporting the use of Green World as a communication tool for the party.

Committee Responsibilities: The Publications Coordinator is a member of Campaigns and Communications Committee, Digital Committee, Members’ Website Development Committee, and the Party Branding & Logo Committee.

Natalia Waring is joining four other elected members on the Policy Development Committee, which:

Ensures that motions brought to conference are the best they can be.

Does not make policy – Green Party policy is made through motions to Conference, and this Committee aims to help members to bring forward the best motions they can, especially by liaising with Policy Working Groups and through the new Accreditation process.

Molly Scott Cato talk – European Green Deal

Herefordshire for Europe Webinar Thursday 1st October at 1800

Herefordshire for Europe‘s webinar on 1 October will cover the proposed European Green Deal – how the European Union is addressing the pressing issues of climate change and environmental degradation.

Molly Scott Cato and Emilien Gasc will each speak for 15 minutes with time for questions and general discussion.

Molly Scott Cato is a British Green politician, academic, environmental and community activist, and green economist. She served as a Member of the European Parliament for the South West England from 2014 to 2020. She is Professor of Green Economics in the Business School. at the University of Roehampton.

Emilien Gasc was a Policy officer in the European Commission’s Secretariat General working on issues of resource efficiency in areas such as air quality, plastics strategy and environmental action programmes. He is now responsible for environmental matters in the EU Delegation in London.

Please consider signing up to receive Herefordshire for Europe’s emails – here

Access the Zoom webinar at 1800 on 1 October using this link