Lewes District Council’s Climate Change and Sustainability Framework document is highly relevant to Dorset as they have similar topography and demographics - rural, coastal, areas of poverty, retirement wealth, etc. The approach is very positive and interesting, among other reasons, for the very different ‘topic areas’ they have designated. The document is here.
In a response to Cllr. Beryl Ezzard’s proposed amendment about how DC will fund its CEE strategy, Cllr. Ray Bryan issued a detailed statement, including:
“Dorset Council will need to invest many millions of pounds over the next 20 years to become a Carbon Neutral Council. However, we are off to a fantastic start: -
The National Association of Local Councils’ (NALC) projects officer, Claire Goldfinch has written about the role communities can play in protecting the environment.
The effects of climate change were evident within every community in 2020 – most notably in the extreme weather conditions. It is down to every community to understand the tasks that they can implement to tackle climate change. And, as localised community action is part of the solution to climate change, local (parish and town) councils, being the most local of local government and nearest to their communities, are crucial to changing the hearts, minds and actions of individuals.
The National Association of Local Councils (NALC), the membership body for 10,000 local councils in England, is taking action to help local councils in their endeavour to rebuild communities after the coronavirus pandemic and create sustainable communities.
NALC is supporting its members by providing solutions to climate change through its website guidance, and by providing good practice examples. For instance, we have highlighted the excellent work local councils are doing round climate change by publishing over 100 occurrences in our Climate Change case studies document.
One featured council is Frome Parish Council, Somerset, which declared a climate emergency in 2018 and has committed to becoming carbon neutral by 2030. It introduced a solar funding project which helps residents install solar panels at a discounted rate. So far, 15 homes have used the Solar Streets programme, and more are in progress. It is also introducing sustainability measures such as pledging to stop using single-use plastics in the town hall.
The council has made a clear impact within the community and has made it easy for others to do the same.
Other featured councils are Penrith and Fownhope.
Read the NALC article and see the case studies
NB Dorset CAN members Belinda Bawden and Josey Parish are part of NALC's Climate Action Task & Finish group. They are currently analysing the results of a climate change survey of town and parish councils to identify barriers to action and support needed to encourage councils to plan effectively for Net Zero futures.
In light of the 2030 ban on sale of petrol and diesel vehicles, City Science has recently published a white paper to help local authorities understand actions they can take to support the transition to electric vehicles. In addition to personal vehicles, the white paper also covers critical considerations around decarbonisation of buses and freight. The white paper makes 10 key recommendations, including setting goals within a wider strategy and adopting "whole system" thinking.
Read more: The City Science White Paper
The Department for Transport's report Decarbonising Transport: Setting the Challenge
Should we ask our councils to undertake these actions? Let us know if you have knowledge to share.
Doughnut Economics is an idea of Kate Raworth’s that is getting increasing attention nationally and internationally. It sets out 9 ecological ‘planetary boundaries’ (ocean acidification, air pollution, etc) and 12 social dimensions (education, health, housing, gender equality, etc.) against which all new plans and developments can be measured to see if they are safe and socially just.
Doughnut Economics in action locally:
How is BCP Council addressing the Climate and Ecological Emergency?
The Council declared a Climate and Ecological Emergency in July 2019 as one of the first actions of the new Unity Alliance.
This was followed in December 2020 by an Annual Report on progress and a public engagement consultation period which ends on 1 March 2021. The consultation takes the form of a multi-choice Survey (with free-text box). PLEASE USE THIS OPPORTUNITY TO MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD. YOU DON’T HAVE TO ANSWER ALL THE QUESTIONS. Just express an interest in the Council’s climate actions (and perhaps suggest they inject a sense of urgency)!
There is also an Ideas Board.
The public engagement consultation ends on 4 March 2021 and an all-member workshop will consider the results on 30 March. The Climate Action Leadership Board will be launched shortly after. There is no word on Citizens’ Assemblies and the Council leaders are determined to stick with the two proposed date targets of 2030 for carbon neutral Council activities and 2050 for area-wide activities.
East Dorset Friends of the Earth have written a robust response which can be viewed here.
XRBCP has also written a useful guide on their responses to the BCP Climate Action Plan.
Climate Action: the Situation in BCP by Harriet Stewart-Jones
In April 2019, the towns of Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole were shoehorned together under one authority as 'BCP'. It is one of the largest Councils in the UK, with 76 councillors, 33 wards and a population of 395,000.
At first, the Council was led by the Unity Alliance, a coalition of Lib-Dem, Labour, Poole People Party, Green Party, ALL and independents, who came together to form an administration with a narrow majority over the Conservatives. Faced with the mammoth task of amalgamating council services for the three towns and then being hit by the Covid epidemic, the Unity Alliance had an uphill struggle to move aspirations into action.
The Council declared a Climate and Ecological Emergency in the summer of 2019, and approved a draft action plan in December 2019. But In September 2020, following the deaths of two councillors and with no possibility of elections, the Conservative group carried a vote of no confidence in the Unity Alliance and set up a new administration, which is determined to “build back better”. It has marginalised the Climate Action Plan, though this is now out for public consultation; and it has published a “Big Plan”, largely focused on a digital future with 15,000 new homes, 13,000 new jobs and an “iconic cityscape” (See the Big Plan online).
Community groups in BCP
A diverse range of community groups is campaigning, lobbying and taking action on the Climate and Ecological Emergency in the BCP area. They include the long-established groups such as East Dorset Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, Green Party and Transition Towns, and the more recent Zero Carbon Dorset, Extinction Rebellion, Active Travel and Plastic-Free groups.
A collaborative group has been meeting recently to prepare a response to the Council’s Climate Action Plan. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to join in.
BCP also has a wide range of food-based organisations, nature and wildlife groups and volunteer groups. We’re working on the creation of a directory, bringing links and contacts together in one place (compiled by Steve Harper) which you can access via Transition Town Poole website.
BCP Council background
Sociodemographically, BCP is extraordinarily diverse, having some of the most expensive properties in the world cheek by jowl with areas of deprivation. We have major problems with transport (one of the most congested towns in the UK), air pollution, water pollution, flooding, land prices leading to loss of green spaces, an ageing population, food poverty and unemployment (in patches).
On the plus side we have the second largest natural harbour in the world, a (sometimes nationally successful) football team, 7 miles of sandy beaches, a priory, remnants of heathland, and arts and cultural centres.
Dorset’s Local Plan distinguishes between ‘large built-up areas’ and ‘towns and other main settlements’ spread across our essentially rural landscape. Shaftesbury, perched on a hilltop to the north, falls into this latter category. Environmental activists here share many of the same challenges as arise in other settlements in this group as we encourage our local population (c.8000) to respond to the climate & ecological emergencies.
Planet Shaftesbury comprises around 130 local people sharing a concern about climate breakdown. Responding to diverse triggers for involvement, each of us feels driven to act in our own way. We connect through physical meetings (monthly when permitted/safe), informal weekly zoom meetings, a monthly email newsletter, a website, and some use of social media, as well as collaboration on those projects we choose to engage with. Our combined aim is to seek changes that contribute to nature's recovery and enable us to live more sustainably. Coming together has led to more robust support for pre-existing groups and the emergence of new initiatives. It has also given us the capacity to mount public events that draw additional people in. (Visit the .Planet Shaftesbury website)
How do we communicate with our wider community?
When seeking publicity for a public event we’ve used:
Any special happenings in February?
Karen Wimhurst's chamber opera about Plastics has been adapted for online presentation. Karen is an environmental activist and professional musician and composer, a co-leader of Shaftesbury’s Community Choir, and one of the founder members of Planet Shaftesbury. You can hear an interview with her on the Alfred Daily podcast for 5 February, book tickets for the premier, and find out about other ways to hear the opera here.
Britain Talks Climate is a toolkit designed to support any organisation that wants to engage with the British public on climate change. Its research says this is difficult but that there is currently no ‘culture war’ on climate change in Britain.
Britain Talks Climate groups the population into seven different segments based on people’s core beliefs and identifies ways to engage with each one.
Here are the seven segments. How many do you recognise?
Read more about the toolkit at Britain Talks Climate website
Climate Just is a free webtool for public service providers designed to:
Read more at the ClimateJust website