Extinction Rebellion protest at Shropshire Council today forced Tories to leave chamber – that was a disgraceful action

I have never seen such disgraceful scenes at Shropshire Council since the chief executive confiscated cameras to prevent filming of a debate in 2015. Meeting in full session, the council faced protests on the climate emergency by Shrewsbury Extinction Rebellion. As XR activists tried to address the council in guerrilla action on the behalf of our future, the Tory Speaker who oversees the meeting ordered all councillors out of the chamber. Like lambs being rounded up by a sheepdog, all the Conservative members filed out of the chamber with studied looks of disgust on their faces. Their action was a disgrace. The Speaker told councillors to treat the protest with the contempt it deserved as they were moved out by security. That was also a disgrace.

This is deeply ironic because tomorrow millions of people will be walking out of schools and workplaces to protest about lack of action on climate change. Tory councillors walked out of a council meeting because they did not want to hear a protest about climate change!

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Shropshire Council proposes a vanity motorway having just declared a sham climate emergency

Update 19 September 2019

Despite having declared a climate emergency, Conservation councillors voted to extend the M54 from Telford to Shrewsbury. They argued that was the only way that we would attact bigger companies to the county. I argued for investment in sustainable transport including trains. The motion was passed by the Conservative majority.

Original article

Climate emergency. Bah humbug!

What is wrong with Shropshire Council? Instead of concentrating on the special qualities of our county, its greenness and quality of life, they want it to be just like Leeds or Birmingham. The latest idea from the environmentally dysfunctional council leadership is to extend the M54 to Shrewsbury. They know this will do nothing to improve traffic flow. It’s a smooth flowing road and everything ends up in a queue at Preston Boats anyway. But the reason the petrol heads at Shropshire Council want to extend the motorway is to attract foreign investors. They want to open North Shropshire and parts of Mid Wales for massive, sprawling development.

The motion before Shropshire Council tomorrow is nothing more than a vanity project from council leaders that wish stamp their outdated legacy on the county. That legacy will be concrete and pollution. The legacy will be a failure to address the climate emergency that Shropshire Council declared only in May. I have no doubt that the Conservative majority on Shropshire Council will be whipped into supporting the proposal for a motorway at the council meeting tomorrow. And it won’t stop there. Soon, the motorway will push to Oswestry and Wrexham.

This just shows that council leaders’ acquiescence to declaring a climate emergency last May was nothing more than a sham.

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We are denuding Ludlow of trees – we need to act to limit damage to the environment and biodiversity

We have been discussing the loss of trees in Ludlow a lot of late. Only yesterday, someone came up to me and said: “You can see it walking along the Breadwalk. Looking back to the town, there is much less tree cover than ten years ago.” I have no doubt that we are losing tree cover in the conservation areas in Ludlow. We are also losing a lot elsewhere in Ludlow too.

Some new trees have been grown but a study of tree felling in Ludlow’s conservation areas over the last five years shows that applicants planned to replant only one fifth of the 218 trees they wished to fell. At the same time foliage was reduced on more than 300 trees.

There are very good reasons for felling and managing trees. What we lack in Ludlow and across Shropshire is any system for ensuring that we get a net increase in tree cover and biodiversity.

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Ludlow Town Council has tonight declared a Climate Emergency. It’s a good move. Now the hard work starts

Tonight, Ludlow Town Council joined more than one hundred other councils in declaring a climate emergency. This is great news. The council adopted a straightforward motion:

Ludlow Town Council declares a Climate Emergency, with an aim of becoming a carbon neutral organisation by 2030. It commits to identifying ways in which it can support this objective and to explore, with the community, the development of a Ludlow Town Council climate change strategy, and to consider establishing a Climate Action Partnership.

Now the hard work begins. The council will need a to review its policies and practice to meet this objective. Not all at once. But over the next few years it must buy power that is carbon neutral, use vehicles that are carbon neutral and promote polices that are carbon neutral. It must ensure that it promotes biodiversity wherever it has an influence and scrutinise planning applications for their impact on climate change.  

Ludlow made a great step forward tonight. I congratulate council members for so decisively declaring a climate emergency.  

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Shropshire Council declared a climate emergency on Thursday – but its leader would not agree to emergency action

On Thursday, Shropshire Council voted to declare a climate emergency. It was a good move and a late negotiated amendment got a deal on the table. But the Tories insisted that the “emergency” was taken out of “climate emergency” by removing all references to the target date of 2030. It was the best we could get through in the face of opposition from the Conservative leadership who refused to accept any deadlines for action. There will be opportunity for negotiating dates and a move from the council’s environmentally destructive business as usual approach over the next sixth months. I wish we could have got to that point on Thursday.

The final motion was drafted by me and revised in cross party talks minutes before the meeting began. It was approved unanimously. The Labour motion and Green amendment were defeated despite support from many Conservatives.

There was a huge public attendance, with well over one hundred people attending the public protest before the meeting. Many sat in an overflow room watching a livestream during a less than inspiring debate.

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