This evening I attended a session presented by nine members of Dorset Council staff responsible for relevant areas of council activity (e.g. Place Services, Sustainability, Transport, Waste Services, Green Spaces, Planning, Natural Environment). There were no elected members of the council among those making presentations.
The intention was for DC to advise town and parish councils on what we might do to address the climate emergency.
You can find the overheads from the evening here - and more notes to follow from me.
I've been looking at options for what we can do as a parish in response to our council's Climate and Environmental Emergency resolution - and I've spoken to quite a few people about this.
The options seem to fall into 3 groups:
1. Get to carbon neutral fast. This is Green Party policy, but harder to do in a small parish than in a town, city or county council. (We have no buildings we can manage differently, no control over transport, parking, new buildings, leased accommodation, etc.) So this means individual households committing to reducing their carbon emissions - really important, but hard to measure and monitor.
2. Adopt a single-issue policy, e.g. become an organic parish, give up chemical insecticides as a parish, work with Char Valley parishes to focus on the River Char. One of these could be popular and engage people (especially young people). It could be attention-getting and highly visible. But it only takes one household or farm to disagree and the idea won't happen.
3. Put together a broad approach based on community and co-operation to improve community resources (growing and selling fruit and veg locally, community composting, car-sharing, repairing and mending household and garden goods instead of throwing them away) as well as doing what we can to reduce our carbon footprint, reduce use of fertilisers and pesticides, encourage biodiversity, etc. This is a big and endless task that will be harder to explain and keep people committed to.
I've put more details on the website here and now I want to ask everyone to comment and see what the Char Valley Parish Council as a whole thinks. If you have any thoughts, please get in touch.
On the 10th June at the meeting of Char Valley Parish Council (our umbrella council) I proposed the motion that:
This council acknowledges that there is a worldwide climate and environmental emergency.
It was passed unanimously.
So that's a start. There are some important concerns that we don't know enough about what's happening and that it's hard to get at the facts about the emergency. So I'm trying to put together a collection of fairly sober and factual reports (from sources like the UN, the IPCC, The Guardian, The New York Times, WWF and the BBC) about the climate emergency, species extinction and environmental degradation. You see the beginnings of it here. If you have any thoughts about this or any new sites/links/publications to suggest, please let me know. I hope to expand on this, both for this site and for Char Valley Parish Council.
There are also important concerns that we ought not to alarm people. As someone who has become very alarmed about the state of the planet, I sympathise with this. Becoming aware of the scale of the crisis we face can make it hard to sleep at night.
On the other hand, it's only by becoming aware of the true enormity of the problem that we are going to get together and do something about it. So I'm also trying to put together a collection of some of the worrying views about the future of our planet. They're here. I encourage you to read them, but warn you the world may not feel the same once you have. Once again, please let me have any thoughts on this.
I was elected to be parish councillor in May 2019. To everyone who voted for me, thank you. To Chris Everidge, our outgoing parish councillor, a huge thank you for your wonderful and tireless work for the parish for many years.
I stood as the Green Party candidate. In these parts, it’s highly unusual to stand for a political party and I chose to do so for a reason. I am deeply, deeply concerned about the climate and environmental emergency that we all face. (Here’s what I wrote in my election statement.)
It’s obviously a job for national government and international bodies to put legislation and regulations in place to help to limit the impact we are having on the climate and the damage we are doing to the environment. And it’s obviously a job for Dorset Council to introduce local initiatives, incentives and schemes to help to educate everyone in the area and encourage us to live and work in more sustainable and less damaging ways.
So what can we do at a parish level? Apparently not very much. But just maybe…
Let’s start by acknowledging that there is a worldwide climate and environment emergency.
More to follow on this. Thanks for reading
I'm Andrew Carey, the elected Parish Councillor for Stanton St Gabriel. I've lived in the parish since 1987. Thank you for visiting.