• 10 Point Green Action Plan referred to Environment Board… but Tories vote down proposal to write to new Environment Secretary

    26th July 2019 | News | Claire
  • My 10 point Green Action Plan for Devon was, as expected, referred to the council’s environment performance board, at yesterday’s full council meeting.

    I was happy to support this recommendation from cabinet on my motion, which is here – https://claire-wright.org/2019_site/wp-admin/post.php?post=2586&action=edit – but during my speech pointed out that I was disappointed at many of the rather negative officer responses to my proposals.

    I said the council needed to be much more radical in its approach, given that time is running desperately short to save the planet’s wildlife, soils and water from becoming dangerously scarce.

    But my amendment to write to the new environment secretary, Theresa Villiers congratulating her on her new role and underlining the importance of tackling climate change and the depletion of nature, and Devon County Council’s response to it, was bafflingly voted down by the entire conservative group. It was otherwise backed by other groups.

    After my speech, Tory councillor, Percy Prowse, suggested that bees were actually well and thriving as he had seen so many in his garden recently.

    Eyebrows were raised and eyes rolled.

    Labour councillor, Emma Brennan retorted that she would rather take hard evidence over Cllr Prowse’s anecdotes. There was some chuckling at this.

    The next environment board takes place on Thursday 8 August. I will address the board with my proposals.

    Here’s my speech in full and the link to the webcast – notices of motion are agenda item 8.https://devoncc.public-i.tv/core/portal/webcast_interactive/414863

    10 point Green Action Plan motion speech – July full council 2019

    Firstly, I’m really pleased that we have invested £250,000 following the February full council and Jacqui Hodgson’s motion, which was of course, prompted by Extinction Rebellion.

    Insect populations are crashing. Around 40 per cent of insect species are in decline and could die out in the coming decades.

    The Environment Agency chief executive has warned that water could run short within 25 years and that use needs to be cut by a third.

    The country is facing the ‘‘jaws of death”, Sir James Bevan said, at the point where water demand from the country’s rising population surpasses the falling supply resulting from climate change.

    The former environment secretary, Michael Gove warned that the UK is just 30-40 years away from the fundamental ‘eradication of soil fertility.’

    A UN spokesman has warned that at current rates of degradation, the world’s topsoil could be gone within 60 years. Meanwhile a new German study has revealed that numbers of flying insects have fallen by up to three quarters.

    Intensive farming techniques that encourage the heavy use of fertilisers, herbicides and pesticides are believed to be major factors in these problems.

    On the subject of pesticides, even ones that this council uses in a targeted way, glyphosate is an appalling toxic chemical that harms bees by damaging their immune systems.

    The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) declared glyphosate to be a ‘probable human carcinogen’ in 2015, however, the herbicide was reauthorized on the European market for a period of five years in 2017.

    We must NOT be intimidated by the giant pesticide companies.

    As we keep hearing, time is running out fast. And to make change, we have to be radical.  Think differently. We might need to be a bit controversial…

    I’m not suggesting that Cllr Croad glues himself to tarmac but we do need to be bold!

    We have no choice if we want to protect the planet for future generations.

    The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) Report tells us that it is not too late to make a difference, but only if we start now – at every level from LOCAL to global.

    The response in the cabinet to my proposals is generally disappointing.  In particular it’s disappointing on glyphosate, soils and the protection of pollinators

    We can make wasps an exception if you’re worried about this!

    I look forward to addressing the board in a couple of weeks.

    Finally, I hope we can agree to include a third point on writing to the new environment secretary, impressing on her the importance of tackling the breakdown of nature and informing her of the work we are doing here to counteract it.


    Pic: Addressing council yesterday…