How encouraging that Herefordshire Councillors voted unanimously to recognise that there is a Climate Emergency and for the Council to address this. Now the question is what are they going to do differently?  

Councillor Jenny Bartlett made the vital point that the three key factors of Environment, Economy and Social Care must be given equal value in making policy decisions. Look where an economy-driven ideology has got us - to a society in which global warming, pollution, species extinction, food banks, a mental health epidemic, deteriorating public services, a creaking public transport system, under-resourced schools and every kind of social impoverishment are undermining the quality of life and ultimately the survival of people. It is time to act on what we all instinctively know - that wealth alone doesn’t make us happy. We need healthy environments and safe, vibrant communities that care equally for the successful and the vulnerable.

In the Climate Emergency debate we heard a lot about what the Council has already done to reduce carbon emissions, replacing all street lighting with LED bulbs and encouraging Council staff to cycle and walk to work. This is great, but now that we know what we know about the seriousness of global warming, plastic pollution of the seas, loss of soil fertility etc, we need a much more radical approach. Climate specialists say that we only have twelve more years to prevent a climate change catastrophe.  Twelve years, that’s all!  The Council should now go back to the drawing board over its Core Strategy that prioritises economic growth, road building and housing development. That’s last-century thinking. The funds earmarked for a bypass project which will generate more carbon-producing traffic should be diverted towards a bold sustainable transport, house-building and agricultural policy. Think what could be done with those millions of pounds : state of the art electric buses running to a people-friendly timetable, a first-class integrated cycleway network, a carbon neutral school transport policy, all new homes  built to the highest standards of energy efficiency,

the promotion of sustainable farming practices …  And wouldn’t Herefordshire be a more beautiful and healthy place to live into the bargain?

Especially inspiring was the number of young people turning out to demonstrate their concern to the Councillors. It’s their future, and that of all our children and grandchildren we must look after.

Wendy Harvey