Derbyshire County Council leader, Barry Lewis, recently posted a YouTube clip in which he announced his intention to schedule a conference later in the year in order to discuss the future of Derbyshire’s grass verges. Derbyshire Green Party welcomes the beginning of this conversation as it has for a long time been campaigning for the wild flowering of verges and the rewilding of green spaces. Following the announcement, DGP have released the following statement.
Early in 2020 the South Derbyshire branch of Derbyshire Green Party entered into a partnership with the Canal and Rivers Trust – helping to look after the stretch of Canal between Swarkestone and Weston Locks.
Local Greens have been out litter-picking on many occasions in 2020, most recently on 6th December.
You can see what South Derbyshire Greens have been up to and follow them on Facebook –
If you’re wondering what a difference getting Green Party councillors elected can make, take a look at this week’s Derbyshire Dales District Council meeting agenda (1st October 2020).
* Banning the badger cull on council land
* Biodiversity policy on verges and council owned land
* Climate change / zero carbon emissions plan….
You can view the full agenda on the District Council website
Derbyshire Green Party Press Release: 28th August 2020.
Derbyshire Badger Cull
Recent reports suggesting that Derbyshire will be included in a new badger cull
programme are alarming.
The Derbyshire Green Party fully supports the ongoing campaign by Derbyshire
Wildlife Trust to stop a new badger cull from happening. A lot of work has been put
in over recent years to vaccinate many badgers across Derbyshire as part of
the biggest vaccination programme in the UK.
The Wildlife Trust’s studies suggest that any cull would not be justified, as there is no
evidence of widespread TB amongst the badger population within the county. It
would potentially result in vaccinated badgers being shot, causing disruption to the
largest and most established Government funded vaccination programme in the
Derbyshire Green Party Co-ordinator Darren Yates said – “While the culling of
badgers anywhere in the country is to be opposed, it would be particularly galling in
Derbyshire, given all the good work in recent years to establish a vaccination
programme. I would urge all our MPs and Councillors to do all they can to stop this
cull from being introduced in Derbyshire and for the people of Derbyshire to support
the campaign currently being run by Derbyshire Wildlife Trust”.
It can also be downloaded in PDF form here.
Promoted by Darren Yates on behalf of the Green Party, The Biscuit Factory, A Block (201), 100 Clements Road, london SE16 4DG
Not a Green Party event, although several members are involved so an unashamed plug for DERBY PEACE WEEK!
It is less than one week to the start of Derby Peace Week. There are over one dozen events planned and at least eighteen groups involved.
Peace Week starts with the Palestine ride/buffet/talk on Sat 21 Sept followed by the Peace Concert at St Peter’s Centre.
Peace Week is delighted to welcome Dr Schneider from the Remarque Peace Centre in Osnabruck. He will doing a Q&A after the showing of All Quiet on the Western Front on Mon 23 Sept at 6.30pm at QUAD. (Tickets from QUAD)
He will also be speaking at the workshop on Promoting Peace the Osnabruck experience at QUAD on Tues 24 Sept at 1pm. Free entry but please register (see link below)
A super day out at the Wild Justice Hen Harrier Day at Carsington. A great buzz around the stall, lots of interest, the raffle was a great success and we sold some stuff too! Huge thanks to all our volunteers 🙂
Derbyshire Green Party will be present at the Wild Justice Hen Harrier Day at Carsington Water on Sunday 11th August with our stall, eye catching flags and banners and absurdly expensive T-shirts and other regalia for sale! The day is FREE but you should REGISTER first and Wild Justice will ask for an entirely voluntary donation at that point. Car sharing offers are also on that site as there are no buses to Carsington Water on a Sunday (grrrr!) The event runs 12:00-17:00 with a star studded cast of speakers including Chris Packham. So come along, say Hi, blow your life savings on a t-shirt, convince people to join the Green Party and generally feel good about helping nature! See you there 🙂
Photo courtesy & copyright of Geoff Harries stuartpics.co.uk
There was a good turnout overall for the Climate Emergency Lobby at County Hall Matlock this afternoon and plenty of Derbyshire Greens among them. Councillors were lobbied on entry and on the steps, councillors announced their recent Derbyshire Climate and Carbon Reduction manifesto (all of 4 hours old) which whilst welcome, I think you’ll agree it’s simply NOT ENOUGH ! https://www.derbyshire.gov.uk/environment/climate-change/carbon-reduction-manifesto/derbyshire-climate-and-carbon-reduction-manifesto.aspx
On her first day as Prime Minister and just days after the Committee on Climate change issued a risk assessment warning that the UK is ill prepared to meet the problems brought by climate change, Theresa May has decided to abolish the Department of Energy and Climate Change and to transfer its responsibilities to the a new Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy.
Climate change is too large and wide-ranging an issue to become subsidiary to business, energy and industry and this decision displays an belief based on ideology rather than evidence of the capacity of business and free trade to resolve all problems.
Business and industry can certainly have a part to play in innovating to meet our changing climate but that must be within a policy directive that identifies action on climate change as the challenge of our times that determines which industries are developed, how we manage our land and our agriculture, what kinds of transport infrastructure we can and can’t develop. And all that calls for a co-ordinated plan – not an inconsistent mass of half-hearted afterthoughts from a range of departments that have other priorities.
Can we really believe that a business, energy and industrial strategy can really contain the actions needed to face the dangers of widespread and recurring flooding, water, food, and energy insecurity, loss of biodiversity, and risks to health from new pests and diseases that are predicted to arise as temperatures increase?
This challenge could be an opportunity to build a clean and fairer economy – a chance to bring forward new industries providing rewarding jobs, and improve health and wellbeing. But this new government looks like throwing that chance away.
The High Peak Local Plan, adopted in April this year, commits the borough council to pursue sustainable housing policies that provide for new building of affordable housing, while respecting the landscape and the natural habitats of this beautiful region. But, faced with a shrinking budgets and weak planning legislation, does our borough council have the means to stop unsustainable plans from going forward?
There`s really no argument against the perception that more housing is required within the UK, but there are plenty of arguments against the method of planning that the current government has imposed on councils and the people they should represent. The National Policy Planning Framework (NPPF) is not overtly a bad process. It allows for adoption of a local plan and for people to organise to submit neighbourhood plans. But despite the fact that plans have been approved and accepted by government inspectors, the council are often left without any real power to uphold the plans when planning applications that have been refused go to appeal.
Large building and speculative interests have fortunes at their disposal and so can wreck the democratic process by employing expensive legal representatives against which most councils cannot respond. Why? Because the current Tory government has more or less bankrupt most authorities and how can you justify expensive legal costs when you have schools and adult care to consider? No contest really and so our sympathy must be with councils who do try to protect their environment against unsustainable and inappropriate developments.
Aside from the appeals issue, the NPPF, just doesn’t work very well to deliver the housing we do need. The problem is, there’s no obligation on developers to actually build the houses once the permission is obtained. Foot-dragging keeps the supply of houses well below demand, raising the price developers can obtain per unit built.
It’s a recognised problem that delivery of built houses is well short of what is planned for and we can now look forward to the latest government response to this – the Housing Delivery Test – yet another example of attempting to solve the wrong problem. The Housing Delivery Test will force councils who do not meet house building targets to release more land for development – which of course is more likely to be on greenfield sites than the original land allocated for building. So, instead of being penalised, foot-dragging developers are rewarded by being given access to land not previously available for building! Does anyone really believe that this is not deliberate?
Take a look at this blog post on the issue by the Campaign to Protect Rural England.
So what can we do? Easy answer in my view:
- Join the Green Party, the Campaign to Protect Rural England and the Friends of the Peak.
- Get the facts about so-called sustainable development
- Start writing to your MP and the Communities Secretary, Greg Clark. Write in your own words and spread the word – it is the only weapon we have against what is essentially the destruction of the democratic process.
Currently in my part of the world, Burbage, Buxton there are two contentious planning applications (HPK/2015/0573 & HPK/2016/0234) and another in the pipeline. None of these fit the criteria for ‘sustainable development’ and all three are on greenfield sites which in all cases form part of the boundary that should exist between development and the National Park.
Meanwhile large areas at Harpur Hill and opposite Staden Lane plus ‘brownfield’ sites in Buxton remain empty and up for sale despite planning permission having been granted. It is not too late to let the ‘powers that be’ know what you feel about this situation and if you would like to object to applications as noted above the application references are as above. You can submit comments and objects to planning applications on the High Peak Borough Council website.
On Saturday 28th May I travelled down to London to attend Another Europe is Possible’. I only knew about the event as I had begun to follow Owen Jones on Twitter. Recently, I had been reading quite a few of his articles in the Guardian and liked his politics. I have always supported Britain being in Europe long before a referendum was announced. This maybe has something to do with being a History teacher, teaching Citizenship and an interest in politics from an early age. Like many others over the years I had become very disenchanted with politics and apathetic towards MPs, but the EU debate is an area I have always had strong views about, and because of this I decided to make the long trip to London for the day. It was worth it.
Recently, I attended a debate on the EU at the Devonshire Dome. The view I expressed at the Devonshire is just one of many views I have been sharing with friends for some time now, which is we need to remain in the EU because of the peace and security that Europe has now enjoyed for over seventy years. This a belief that the movement Another Europe is Possible promotes.
Indeed many of the positions of Another Europe is Possible are shared by the Green Party which is why Caroline Lucas was the first speaker on the platform to advocate this movement. My impression of her was someone who has a resolute determination to speak on behalf of the Green Party, but an openness to working with others on the progressive left to make change happen. Caroline’s speech was impressive and made an immediate impact with the audience. Caroline posed the pertinent question of ‘What kind of country do we want?’ This is of course at the very heart of this referendum for the British public to decide. She acknowledged that the EU has plenty of faults, as do I, but she questions how challenges will be solved by a Brexit, especially those issues which are transnational like climate change. I agree.
Caroline acknowledged as so did many others during the day that the EU does need to be more democratic and transparent, but so does Westminster. She believes, there will be similar trade deals to TTIP even if we do leave. The best way to defeat TTIP is to fight it from within the EU. Again, views broadly shared by all the speakers. Her opinions also resonated with my own when she spoke about the ‘toxic rhetoric’ of the Leave campaign in which there is a ‘harking back to an imaginary golden age’. I personally do not know when this golden age existed, nostalgia does play its part in history, but this is the small minded view that Another Europe is possible is fighting against.
Another Europe is Possible is currently touring the country with a wide variety of speakers from different political parties and organisations to get the message across that it is best to reform the EU within. It is good to see that these events are well attended and it demonstrates that people do actually care about the future direction of Britain. It advances the viewpoint that not all of the British public are as apathetic about British politics as we might think. The idea of working together for change is the primary purpose of this movement which began last September with a handful of people, which within a short space of time has been galvanised into a broader based action group. This lobby group is very much in its infancy and does need support to make the changes possible that I am sure the British public want if we are to remain in the EU.
Louise Birch, Green Party member, Buxton
Meeting on moorland management
Wednesday 27th January 2016
7:30pm Royal Hotel, Market Street, Hayfield
Robert O’Connor, a local Green Party member and ecologist/conservationist, will lead a discussion on the subject of moorland management in the UK.
The blanket bogs and upland heaths of the UK account for something like 1.35 million hectares (lowland peat covered about 65,000 hectares in mainland Britain in 1990, now likely to be much less due to commercial extraction). Changes in land use over human history include; strategic use of uplands for defence and transportation, animal stock grazing and low level agriculture, industrial use including quarrying, hunting and other forms of recreation, and more recently the use of uplands as freshwater catchment areas.
Other issues under consideration for discussion include:
- Land ownership
Who owns what?
Killing of ‘non-preferred’ species on estates managed for game hunting, and how much money is involved in game hunting.
- Effects on biodiversity
Estates managed for hunting tend to have low species diversity – for example moorlands managed for red grouse are mostly dominated by heather, which is the preferred food plant of red grouse.
- Effects on CO² storage
Blanket bogs store significant amounts of CO² in the peat layer, accumulated over thousands of years.
- Effects on flood attenuation
Requires a holistic and landscape approach in implementation of ‘future-proofed’ flood alleviation schemes.
- What is being done now to address habitat degradation?
A quick look at some exemplar conservation projects undertaken by various NGOs, such as the RSPB.
- Appropriate use of public funds in subsidies
Looking at various payment schemes to landowners past and present.
For more information:
Its 2016, a new year has begun. Derbyshire Green Party is seeking to invite all the Young Greens within Derbyshire to a meeting
Venue: The Brunswick Inn, 1 Railway Terrace, Derby, DE1 2RU
Date: Saturday 23rd January
Time: 1pm – 5pm
The meeting has been organized jointly by me, Matt Genn, Acting Derby Young Greens Co-ordinator and Marten Kats, Derby City Greens Co-ordinator.
We look forward to meeting you in order to decided how we should be organised and what we would like to campaign on in 2016.
Like out Facebook page – Derbyshire Young Greens Facebook group: Derbyshire Young Greens
Looking up at grey skies in August, I’d say many of us have flippantly said “Global warming? Bring it on!” More seriously, opponents of action on climate change have made claims of beneficial effects of warming for agriculture and the economy as a whole. Maybe the storms and flooding of the last few days, repeating and exceeding the floods of last year and the year before have provided a more sombre idea of the effects of global warming on our weather systems. In this post, Phil Ælse explains why global warming won’t be a pleasant experience!
What does the term global warming means to you? Do you envisage yourself enjoying balmy days on Blackpool beach, strolling along the promenade at Llandudno in shorts and sun-glasses, and picking coconuts from the palm trees along Skegness front?
Unfortunately, whilst the general temperatures will increase in the short term, the specific effect on Britain could be less pleasant.
Think Costa Rica not Costa Brava: increased humidity; sweaty, smelly bodies; respiratory illnesses and skin disease on the increase; viruses and bacteria that flourish in dank conditions running riot; food spoiling rapidly and drinking water that needs boiling before use.
Britain’s Geography make it a damp place – even Julius Caesar commented on that: “The nights are short and the weather miserable, with frequent rain and mists.” Global warming won’t change that. The Pennines cause water vapour to rise and that soon comes back down as rain.
In general terms the east of Britain suffers more from this effect than the west, as the colder air streams across the North Sea are more ready to dump rain than the typically warmer Atlantic and its beneficial Gulf Stream to the west.
The Gulf Stream is a continuous current of warm water that runs from the Gulf of Mexico across the Atlantic and up the west cost of the UK. This is what gives places like North Wales and Lancashire relatively warm coastline, compared to places at the same latitude, such as Newfoundland on the Canadian east coast. But whilst the sea and air temperature of the west coast is higher than the US east coast it is the welsh mountains of Snowdonia and the Pennines that then cause the cloud vapour to rise and dump rain on us.
Now, imagine if we warmed the ice cap at the North Pole. This will result in a stream of cold water pushing down the Atlantic and could cause a diversion of the Gulf Stream, pushing it south and away from the UK. This would remove the beneficial warming effect from our coast line and seas, and would means that we wouldn’t get the same comfortable temperatures, but we would still get the same clouds hitting the Pennines and rising to fall as rain. Except this is now more often going to be as snow and ice during the winter.
So, yes, an initial rise in global average temperatures may give you a slightly warmer climate – with all the problems of warm humid climates. But by 2050 we could start to see the diversion of the Gulf Stream, meaning that the climate our children will ensure will be more like that of Canada, with three metre deep snow drifts, transport chaos and frozen water pipes. The worst case result of the diverted gulf stream is that there will no longer be any warmer water streams being sent up to the Arctic Circle’s seas. The glaciers and ice caps will ultimately spread, not shrink, and northern Europe and the UK will eventually (and whilst not in our grand-children’s life time, fairly rapidly in geological terms) be brought in to the next ice age.
This has precedent. Ice core samples have been taken from the Poles and from ancient glaciers that show there is a direct correlation between rising CO2 levels and an eventual decline in to an ice age. The last big ice age, some 11,000 years ago caused the Gulf Stream to shut down. The regional climate of the Northeast Atlantic became considerably cooler and as a result north-western Europe dropped back to ice age conditions within tens of years of this diversion.
So how is this our fault?
Humans have only been around for a few thousand years, and ice ages have happened for millions of years and multiple times. Cows and pigs haven’t just started pooping and parping. What’s changed?
The difference in this case is the speed in which carbon dioxide (the most prominent greenhouse gas) is rising during the global industrial age compared to previous pre-ice-age periods. Each ice-age has been preceded by a gradual increase in carbon dioxide over thousands of years. In the last three hundred years, the rate of carbon dioxide has increased vastly, meaning that the rate of increase of the ice core graph is not a curve as in previous occurrences, but a near vertical line as can be seen on the extreme right of the graph.
This meteoric rise is a result of our massive increase in carbon emissions from our altered way of life. Flying, driving and heating with fossil fuels means we are creating CO2 in spades.
Demanding fresh meat on our table every day means we have millions more cattle animals than we ever had before. To satisfy this demand, animals are now raised in factory conditions. Raising animals on pastures can be a means of absorbing CO2, but these intensive methods add to the emissions that are changing the climate on which we depend.
An economy based on producing and marketing ever increasing numbers of disposable consumer products means more and more energy is used in creating, transporting and disposing on giga-tonnes of products, many of which are used once then thrown away.
What can we do?
We need a different kind of economy. One that serves the needs of our communities rather than a continual treadmill of production for production’s sake. We need to get rid of the nonsense of long supply chains for goods that can be produced locally. We can make a start in our own lives by buying local produce and supporting local shops, by sharing tools and equipment that aren’t needed every day – but in the end the system must change.
We need to move a distributed modern energy system based on renewable energy with people in control of their own energy supply. The UK already has some community energy projects – other European countries, such as Germany have a lot more. If there is no community project, what about installing solar panels or switching to an energy provider that provides equitably generated electricity, and tell the fuel guzzlers WHY you switched.
And even when it seems like talking to the wall, we need to make sure our MPs know how we feel when they vote for things like fracking.
Ultimately, it may not be enough. But what you do will affect your community and your grandchildren. Doing nothing at all, you only allow the disaster to strike and when your grand-child looks at you and asks “Why is it so cold?” will you be able to say “Its just a cold snap, dear”, or will it be “Because my generation destroyed it all for you!”
Even in Paris, where demonstrations have been cancelled because of the state of emergency, thousands of pairs of shoes were arranged to represent those demanding action
Together, we are demanding that governments finally acknowledge that so far they have failed us. So many conferences have come and gone and emissions and temperatures have continued to rise. Despite pledges to end subsidies on fossil fuels, governments in many industrialised countries, including our own, have dramatically increased such subsidies and have supported technologies that carry a high risk of pollution, such as deep sea drilling, fracking, and extraction of oil from bitumen (tar sands). World wide, fossil fuel subsidies are at least 4 times higher than subsidies on renewable energy sources. The number is even higher when failure to internalise costs of environmental pollution are taken into account, as they were in the IMF report released in May 2015. That report estimates subsidies as around 10 million dollars per minute.
On Monday, another conference will start in Paris. Can we expect any better? Certainly not if we aren’t prepared to fight, to insist, to not let them off the hook. Pledges made by individual countries, so far would see temperatures rise by more than 3 degrees – a catastrophic result. The conference is promoted as “business friendly” and corporate lobbyists are present in force, where ordinary citizens are excluded. We are promised business solutions, but, big business’ “solutions” for the climate remain basically the same: prevent any meaningful global action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, avoid any form of public scrutiny and regulation by pushing failed market-based mechanisms such as a ‘global carbon price’, and promoting various for-profit schemes and hazardous techno-fixes.
Everyone can do something. Just making our representatives aware that we are watching their response to the demand for real action on climate change. On Saturday, Green Party members in the High Peak constituency were out talking to people in Glossop, encouraging them to sign a letter to our MP, Andrew Bingham. Please download the letter and send it to Andrew Bingham, or adapt it to include your own concerns – or send a similar letter to your own MP.
Paris 2015: A Place for Hope
On 5th November, Donald and I were among more than 100 people, who gathered at Derby Cathedral for a public meeting on climate change, designed to give people the opportunity to hear about and discuss the issues to be debated at the Paris 2015 Climate Change Summit.
John Selwyn Gummer – now Lord Deben – addressed the meeting. He chairs the Independent Committee on Climate Change and will represent the UK at the Paris 2015 conference. He began by outlining the three arguments he uses to counter climate change deniers:
- Risk – the choice between acting on climate change and not acting. If the promoters of climate change are wrong and we act, nothing will have been lost – the atmosphere will be healthier. If the climate deniers are wrong and we do nothing, we shall face catastrophe.
- Care – he said that as a result of centuries of astronomical exploration planet earth is the only planet to support life as we know it. That does not rule out the possibility of discovering life on another planet; it does mean that for the time being, planet earth is rare and therefore needs to be cared for and treated with respect.
- Act Responsibly – in other areas of life we do not choose to act stupidly and therefore it is wrong to go on acting stupidly by increasing CO2 emissions. The link between climate change and CO2 emissions was as true as the link between smoking and cancer. We must therefore keep our CO2 emissions down to avoid crossing the critical 2 degree rise in temperature threshold to prevent disaster happening.
Lord Deben went on to describe how we get to that target. He emphasised that the Climate Change Act 2008 was achieved by an All-party consensus in the UK and that was key to its success. He was very optimistic and positive when he talked about his hopes for Paris 2015. He pointed out that in Australia and Canada political changes had meant that both countries were now committed to taking climate change seriously. He remarked on the co-operation that now existed between China and the USA. He pointed out that there is now a scientific basis for the reality of climate change and that all the nations responsible for 85% of carbon emissions now all have climate change legislation.
Lord Deben concluded his talk by stating two key things that he saw as essential to progress being made in Paris.
- The need to recognise that Paris will not achieve an answer that is perfect – it may get the best answer that can be had for the time being but it will need to be improved on and modified over time.
- The importance of achieving a binding agreement in Paris – something to hold people and nations to, rather as the British Climate Change Act obliged the Government to take carbon emissions into account in any budgetary proposals that were put to parliament.
Apart from this, he said little about his views on the compatibility of economic growth and corporate deregulation with the need to cut net global carbon emissions to zero by mid century or whether corporate lobbying is delaying action to slow down climate change.
He spoke of the stand made by the Pope making a significant difference to worldwide awareness of climate change, not least in the USA, because it made it impossible to ignore the reality of climate change. He stressed that the encyclical also made it clear that you cannot deal with climate change in isolation from other issues such as world poverty and justice for the poor.
Q & A session:
Investment in Renewable Energy
- Q If Britain, as he stated, is a leader in combating climate change, why have we not put more investment into renewals?
- A It seems that renewables have been too successful. For example, off-shore wind farms were giving a return of 40% not the 29% forecast and this created a problem for the chancellor who presumably then decided they didn’t need investment!
- Q Fracking is raping the earth so why are the government legitimising it?
- A He appeared to imply that Fracking is a separate issue. He believes science and the evidence of science is that it is safe.
By the mutterings from the audience, I think many people thought he must be looking at different evidence! He talked about the need to ensure that we had our “own” supplies of gas because of the dangers of being dependent upon Putin. He didn’t respond to the heckler who said that fracked gas is a fossil fuel, the implication being that we have to keep all fossil fuels in the ground.
The time for questions was limited as Lord Deben had to catch a train. There wasn’t time to go into the issue of other green-house gases, including methane, with agriculture, notably animal husbandry being currently a major emitter, coupled with the conversion of natural grassland and forest to cultivation of animal fodder or ask whether he still enjoys beef burgers!
Donald and Jean Macdonald
Derbyshire Green Party
This public meeting was organised jointly by the Derby Diocesan Environmental Group and Derby Cathedral Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Committee (JPICC) of which Donald is Chair.
Stand up for climate justice
Saturday 28th November 2015
10:30am – 4:30pm St. Peter’s Church, St Peter’s Street, Derby
Back by popular demand for its fifth year running, Compassionate Derby is an ethical living event that is free to attend and where everyone is welcome!
There will be a range of cruelty-free food and lifestyle products, lots of free samples, charity and campaigning stalls, children’s activities, a diverse program of talks throughout the day about health and services such as adult day care center in Marietta and of course a generous raffle and much more.
So why not head to Derby on November 28th to do a bit of Christmas shopping and find out more about living a compassionate lifestyle.
The Green Party will have a dedicated stall, so if you can make it, we look forward to seeing you there.
We can’t wait for the next elections in 2020. We must act now
against the government’s disastrous policies. Everyone can do their bit to save the planet and build a better society.
Over 80 people, of all ages, squeezed into a meeting room in Chesterfield last night, for a meeting organised by the Campaign Against Climate Change (CACC), supported by the local TUC, the Green Party and the Socialist Workers Party.
Margi Senior became active because of plans to drill for gas in nearby Calow. Local people came together, sharing skills and energy, and together they got the application thrown out, initially by the county council planning committee in Matlock ( in June 2014) and then at an appeal at the end of October. ” Hopefully that is the end of the matter” she said, an example of People Power that can and must exerted elsewhere to stop fracking and similarly harmful extraction methods.
The note of hope and optimism she struck continued throughout the evening.
Martin Empson of the national committee of the CACC spoke of two recent reports:
- The World Meterological Organisation reveals that global temperatures are already 1 degree higher than pre industrial temperatures, half way towards the danger zone of 2 degrees higher. The world is “already in unchartered territory” and needed to act fast and dramatically, starting in Paris next month at the United Nations Conference on Climate Change. .
- The World Bank ” Managing the Impact of Climate Change on Poverty ” predicts that an additional 120 million people would be thrown into extreme poverty by the impact of climate change. The report calls for ” comprehensive packages of carbon emission reductions” although its proposals remain focused on technological and big business solutions.
The CACC instead emphasise the importance of the People Power and the need to create a broad based popular movement to demand serious action on climate change. The Paris talks should be regarded not as a last chance but as an opportunity for this movement to develop and grow. Martin spoke of ” a growth in confidence among activists on the ground” and an increasing willingness to discuss fundamental issues and the need for radical change to create a better and fairer society, as evidenced by the popularity of the work of Naomi Klein.
Chesterfield TUC chairman, James Eaden, introduced the final speaker, Natalie Bennett, leader of the Green Party, saying how good it was to see and hear a prominent politician speaking out, and attending marches and rallies, about a whole range of important causes- trade union rights, respect for refugees, climate change etc.
Natalie spoke of her attendance at a lobby of Lancashire County Council, when, under pressure from a well organised anti fracking campaign, councillors, including some Tories, had rejected plans for fracking. There was a need for a message of optimism and hope she said, agreeing with Martin that the need for action on climate change presented an opportunity to create a better, fairer, more sustainable world. Although people taking individual action to reduce their own carbon footprints is all well and good, what’s really needed is fundamental systemic change, and the creation of a movement capable of bringing this about.
In response to discussion and questions from the floor Natalie reminded the meeting that the Tory Government had no mandate for its programme, including its withdrawal of support for green energy measures. We can’t wait until 2020. We must act now. Everyone can do their bit to save the planet and build a better society.
Among the wisest words of the evening were those spoken by a young Green Party member who made reference to the mini election that took place in his school on General Election Day. The Green Party had got more than 100 votes and the Labour Party over 80, compared to the Tories only getting around 20 and UKIP less than 10. The desire among young people was for real change. What he and they couldn’t understand was that the left seemed to concentrate too much on what divided them rather than what they had in common. This had to change. His contribution got perhaps the loudest applause of the evening, suggesting those in the room, whatever their age, agreed with him.
Stand up for climate justice
Are we about to enter a new Age of the Train?
Green Party members from the High Peak local group have been looking at the fine print of Government policy, and doing a bit of informal research out and about in Derbyshire.
First of all, what do people actually want from the railways? Well, a good start might be that the travelling public should be able to buy a ticket to their destination and then get to the appropriate platform, and yet at many of Britain’s stations neither of these basics can be assumed.
You wouldn’t think that just buying, or trying to buy a ticket would cause huge problems, and yet we have found in this part of the country that it is the hassle of getting a ticket that exasperates people just as much as expensive ticket prices, poor station access and late trains. People put up with unmanned stations. Everyone has experienced being crammed onto an ancient, crowded train with just one guard. The last straw for travellers is when in addition to hurrying to get to work on time, they have to queue at their destination to buy a ticket before leaving the platform to avoid being fined. Try persuading a commuter to ‘think green’ and swap their comfy car for that option!
One High Peak resident who had recently lived and worked in Hong Kong commented: – “Returning to the UK, I didn’t expect the High Peak to be served by 12- car commuter trains which arrive every three minutes, but in 2015 and the age of smart phones, I was amazed to find that there are so few ticket dispensers installed on platforms, and such little use in the UK of stored value cards like the Oyster card.”
What has brought this about? Under-investment? Vanity projects? Profits before people? The current Conservative government has of course raised expectations with its talk of the Northern Powerhouse, and more recently with the announcement of its National Infrastructure Commission. In the foreword to ‘Transforming the North’s Railways’, the Secretary of State for Transport and Derbyshire Dales MP, Patrick McLoughlin wrote in February 2015: “This government has huge ambitions for the North of England and the railway is key to those plans.”
Great words – but at the Green Party we really wonder whether these ambitions can ever be achieved for the travelling public when it’s private companies bidding for franchises who are in the driver’s seat.
An issue we care about passionately at the Green Party is inclusion, providing a civilized society for everyone. Cloud-cuckoo land? Well, what about just getting to the platform?
One of our members spent a few hours observing conditions for travellers at Chinley, a station on the mainline between Manchester and Sheffield, where the only access to both platforms is via a footbridge with two sets of steep steps. Mums and Dads with pushchairs struggle to use the steps safely. Travellers to/from Manchester airport risk hurting themselves hauling heavy suitcases up and over the footbridge, and of course people with a mobility problem or people who use a wheelchair are nowhere to be seen. No ramp, that’s your lot, so they don’t come.
The Green Party demands an inclusive society, and we will acknowledge progress where it has been made. Representatives from the rail companies and the Department of Transport would argue that Access for All and Station Improvement programmes have delivered substantial improvements to many stations, and rail operators have a duty to help if access to a particular station is substantial. The Equality Act of 2010 does offer some protection for rail users if they feel discriminated against, but when it comes down to it, members of the public would just like to travel in safety and comfort from A to B without having to consider taking court action against the operator of the services, or tweeting yet another “dissatisfied” comment to Customer Services.
The Green party isn’t satisfied that our railways are being run for the benefit of citizens, and has committed to implementing a comprehensive plan for fully accessible transport so that public transport will be usable by all members of the public. What’s more, the Green Party feels strongly that the privatisation of the railways has created a situation where the tax payer is like a supplicant at the gate of the Lord of the Manor, begging for alms. We are not satisfied with this relationship. The needs of all of our citizens are our first priority, and only by taking proper control of our national rail network can we hope to achieve a civilized service for everyone.
We want our railways to be more accessible and attractive for everyone. Only when and if this happens will people ever be able to choose to leave the car behind and opt for more environmentally friendly means of transport which, alongside other benefits, will help provide a sustainable long–term solution to our chronic air pollution.
Interested in reading more? Have a look at the Green Party’s policies in detail at: