Enclosed is a letter I have written to the media in North Herefordshire highlighting my concerns about links between the Green County Councillors on Herefordshire Council and the law-breaking Extinction Rebellion group.

Also enclosed is an email shared by Dr Chowns with all County Councillors.

Bill Wiggin MP letter:

I am writing with concern that Green County Councillors on Herefordshire Council have appointed the group Extinction Rebellion to consult on the environmental future for our County.

In a recent email Cllr Ellie Chowns described how a Steering Group formed by the Council had deliberately appointed to its membership individuals belonging to the local chapter of Extinction Rebellion.

Surely such connections between elected officials and Extinction Rebellion are at best unwise, especially given the latter’s recent activities, including the blockading of printworks, and the attempt to disrupt the newspaper industry.

This extraordinary and alarming political alliance between Green Councillors and the law-breaking group cannot be in the best interests of Herefordshire.

After all, David Attenborough is quoted in The Sun on Extinction Rebellion’s illegal protesting saying:

“I don’t think it is sensible politics to break the law… If you are any good at all, some of your demands will be met and then you will be demanding people abide by those new laws. You can’t have it both ways.”

If you are any good at all – you can’t have it both ways!

Will the County Council now ditch Extinction Rebellion from their Steering Group and publicly condemn this law-breaking organisation or perhaps they support law-breaking?

Email from Dr Chowns to Councillors:

Dear colleagues

I’d like to update you on Council work to tackle the climate and ecological emergency.

As you know, on 8 March 2019 the Council unanimously adopted a declaration of climate emergency.  We’ve committed to become a zero carbon council and county by 2030.

We’re making excellent progress towards our Council-specific goals. Herefordshire Council’s emissions are down nearly 50% on 2009 levels, and our Carbon Management Plan sets out how we will get to zero by 2030.

However, the council itself is only directly responsible for about 1% of county emissions. Tackling the other 99%, to become a zero carbon County, is more challenging.

At the start of this year, a steering group was formed to help the council address this challenge. Membership was drawn from key stakeholder groups with experience of previous climate-related work in Herefordshire:

•             Herefordshire Business Futures, Herefordshire Business Board

•             Farm Herefordshire, Herefordshire Nature Partnership

•             Herefordshire Council

•             Herefordshire Extinction Rebellion

•             Herefordshire Green Network

•             Herefordshire Wildlife Trust

•             National Farmers Union

The Steering Group has two objectives:

1.            Steer and oversee the development of a new collaborative countywide Climate and Ecological Emergency (CEE) Action Plan for Herefordshire, to be published in December 2020.  The CEE Action Plan will aim to achieve net zero carbon, and a significant increase in biodiversity, in Herefordshire by 2030.

2.            Establish a representative and accountable governance structure to oversee and support the delivery of the CEE Action Plan from January 2021.

The CEE 2030 action plan and future stewardship

The Action Plan won’t be a ‘blueprint’ that just sits on a shelf. Instead, we want it to be an inclusive, iterative process. We need to engage as many people as possible in Herefordshire, across all walks of life and sectors of activity, on an ongoing basis.  The council can support and encourage action for zero carbon and abundant wildlife, but ultimately it is the actions of others that will determine whether we can meet these goals collectively.  So we need to engage people to create a shared understanding of what the issues are and what needs to be done, when, and by whom. 

The Action Plan that will be created by the end of this year is the first step. Going forward we also need to establish a body to steer this work sustainably over the long term – a formally-constituted Stewardship Board that will keep on bringing people together around our shared climate and ecology goals, and will keep on encouraging & evaluating action.

I’m deeply grateful to the members of the Steering Group and subgroups who’ve volunteered their time and expertise to help shape this work so far.  In the coming months we will consult widely on both the Action Plan and Stewardship Board.

What the action plan will focus on

In recent months, subgroups – each engaging a wider range of key local stakeholders – have been developing draft ‘chapters’ on key topics:

•             Transport

•             Housing and buildings

•             Energy

•             Agriculture and land use

•             Food

•             Waste

•             Community engagement

These chapters include:

•             A summary of the issues and the scale of the challenge

•             Mapping of key stakeholders

•             Good practice that we can build on & learn from

•             Ideas for action.

The chapters are intended to be a starting point for broad public consultation – a basis for an informed conversation.

Next steps

We plan to upload this background work to a dedicated website shortly, and to launch a broad public consultation process in the autumn. Here’s what I hope the timetable will look like for the next steps:

Sept       •             Draft chapters and consultation questions uploaded to new website

Oct         •             Key stakeholder meetings and public consultation meetings

•             Online consultation

Nov        •             Finalisation of the chapters and sector-specific Action Plans

•             Finalisation of Stewardship structure

Dec        •             Stakeholder and public meeting to finalise the overall Action Plan & Stewardship structure.

Jan         •             Formal launch of the Action Plan & first meeting of the Stewardship board.

I will of course let you know as soon as the website and consultation go live. Please do get involved, and encourage others to do so too!

I do hope that, like me, you are excited about the potential this work has to engage people across the county in our joint journey to zero carbon and abundant nature.

If you have any questions or suggestions, please do let me know!

All the very best,

Ellie

—–

Dr Ellie Chowns

Herefordshire Council

–              Ward Councillor for Bishops Frome and Cradley Ward

–              Leader of the Green Group

–              Cabinet Member for Environment, Economy and Skills