Category: Environment

Shropshire Council still hasn’t put the emergency into climate emergency – I despair at its slow pace

Shropshire Council must have been taking lessons from Sir Humphrey Appleby. You will remember him as the permanent secretary who advised and cajoled the hapless James Hacker. When the politics of the moment were tough and when decisions were stalled by inaction and indecision, Sir Humphrey would recommend a review, a committee, anything that would not disrupt the inertia that drives all bureaucracies towards their natural state of inaction. That is all too often Shropshire Council’s approach to the environmental issues of our day. The council declared a climate emergency in May 2019. But we learnt from Shropshire Council’s scrutiny meeting a week ago that the council’s action plan on climate change will not be considered by the council until September, 18 months after the climate emergency was declared. Any council that took climate change seriously, would have presented its plan at last December’s meeting, or at its meeting in February.

Viv Parry to challenge Shropshire Council on mowing of verges and destruction of wildflowers

At next Wednesday’s meeting of the Performance Management Scrutiny Committee, Viv Parry will challenge Shropshire Council on its verge mowing policy. Until ten days ago, we had a great array of wildflowers on verges in and around Ludlow. The verges had not been mown for weeks due to the Covid-19 emergency. Wildflowers decorated verges, bringing colour to road edges and supporting biodiversity. But in the last ten days, verges around Ludlow have been mowed flat and in the warmth of late May and late June have become parched. Uninteresting to the eye. Impoverished for biodiversity. Road safety must always take precedence but there are many verges that do not need to be cut. Reducing mowing will save money, boost biodiversity and bring some colour to our verges.

Storm Dennis: Criticism of councillors and town council as it discussed the flood on Monday

Most members of Ludlow Town Council attended the extraordinary meeting of Ludlow Town Council on Monday evening. Viv Parry was very critical of other councillors for not turning out to help on Sunday 16 February. Glen Ginger took a different view and said only trained people should help in an emergency. But councillors overall though the town council could do more, including completing its emergency plan, work on which seems to have stalled. There was agreement that there could be improvements to flood defences on Temeside. I told the meeting we need to do work on the Lower Corve also.

The head of the Environment Agency today made a barnstorming speech on flooding. He is making the right noises about tackling the climate emergency. That’s welcome. But he still thinks housing can be built in high risk flood areas. Sir James Bevan didn’t speak about his own agency applying the lax national planning rules in a lax manner. According to a joint investigation by the Guardian and Greenpeace’s Unearthed news unit, 764 homes in our county are due to built in Flood Zone 3 – which has the highest risk of flooding – between 2015 and 2018. That’s one in twenty homes built in Shropshire.

Storm Dennis – government funding for flood affected homes and businesses in Shropshire

At ten o’clock last night, the government announced a package of funding for flood affected homes, businesses and councils. We have yet to see the local details but there will be financial support. That includes business rate and council tax relief. Grants for small businesses to recover. Money for households to improve their flood resilience. That will be welcomed by businesses and households. I will publish details on how to apply as soon as I get them. Given the late notice of the funding, no one knows the details yet. If there is specific help you need right now, let us know.

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