Lobbying

We can only do so much in our own lives and local communities to reduce carbon emissions and avoid catastrophic effects on the climate. We also need to speak up for urgent changes that can only be made by government at all levels.

Here’s how you can help. Below you will find current issues for lobbying. You can use the text provided, or express it in your own words. Send individual emails to the addresses provided.

March 2023 lobbying focus — Cancel the North West Relief Road

We are very pleased that Shropshire Council has written to the county’s MPs expressing its support for the Climate and Ecology Bill (minus the call to establish a Citizens’ Assembly to make recommendations to the Secretary of State). If passed into law this bill will ensure a comprehensive and joined-up approach to the climate emergency facing us.

But where is the comprehensive and joined-up approach within Shropshire Council itself? Its plans for a North West Relief Road for Shrewsbury continue apace. A new round of public consultation on the council’s latest revised plans closes on 11 March.

For our lobbying effort this month, we urge you to take two actions:

1)    Before 11 March, object to the revised plans for the NWWR. You can use the online form provided here by Road to Ruin Shropshire. Or you can email planning.northern@shropshire.gov.uk putting ‘Planning application reference 21/00924/EIA’ as the subject and being sure to include your name and address.

2)    Copy the message in bold below (or send your own version) to lezley.picton@shropshire.gov.uk (SC Leader), ian.nellins@shropshire.gov.uk (SC Deputy Leader, Cabinet Member for Climate Change, Environment and Transport) plus roy.aldcroft@shropshire.gov.uk and david.minnery@shropshire.gov.uk (the other two Shropshire councillors for Market Drayton).

Dear Councillors

Given the large number of objections to Shropshire Council’s revised plans for a North West Relief Road for Shrewsbury, I hope that these plans are rejected by the Planning Committee. If that is not the case, going ahead with the NWWR will remain a political decision which can be reversed. Given that the new road will involve the large-scale destruction of wildlife habitat and the production of an estimated minimum 50,000 tonnes of carbon, how does this square with the council’s support for the Climate and Ecology Bill?  

I ask you please to reconsider this untimely, unpopular, expensive, and hugely damaging project.

Thank you.

And don’t forget to add your name and address.

February 2023 lobbying focus — Divest Shropshire pensions from fossil fuels

Ahead of a national ‘Divestment Day’ with lots of high profile actions on 24 March — please write to the chair of the Shropshire Pensions Committee, Councillor Tom Biggins (thomas.biggins@shropshire.gov.uk) and copy to the committee officer Sarah Townsend (sarah.townsend@shropshire.gov.uk) using the words below or your version of them.

Dear Councillor Tom Biggins

In July 2020 Shropshire Council (and Telford & Wrekin Council) voted in favour of a motion that called for my county’s flagship Pension Fund to divest from fossil fuels by 2023. The committee overseeing the Shropshire County Pension Fund, which you chair, subsequently decided not to respect this vote.

Instead you said you would heed the advice of the fund’s investment managers and consultants to work instead towards getting the fund’s portfolio to net zero carbon by 2050. You said that it was important not to “over-commit” to divestment. “We are going to rely on companies like Shell and BP to successfully transition over the next decade or so to actually achieve real decarbonisation in the world,” you said.

I note that a High Court claim has now been made alleging Shell’s 11 directors have failed to manage the “material and foreseeable” risks posed to the company by climate change — and that they are breaking company law. A number of large pension funds, including the National Employment Savings Trust (NEST) — set up by the government — have written letters supporting this claim.

Please tell me that given recent revelations about the inadequacy of the climate change policies of major oil companies, you no longer want to rely on companies like Shell to transition away from fossil fuels, and that 2050 is no longer a sensible timetable for them to ‘work towards’. 

Given the ever-more-urgent need to act now to avoid the worst consequences of climate change, will the Shropshire County Pension Fund Committee set their own, ambitious, targets for divestment by 2025, respecting the intention of Shropshire’s elected councillors?

Yours sincerely

(your name and full postal address)

January 2023 lobbying focus — No new coal mine

This month we are lobbying against the decision to open a new coal mine in Whitehaven.  Please email the text in bold below — or your own version, in your own words — to Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities of the UK (correspondence@levellingup.gov.uk), Mark Jenkinson, MP for Workington (mark.jenkinson.mp@parliament.uk) and Trudy Harrison, MP for Copeland (trudy.harrison.mp@parliament.uk).

Dear (Michael Gove, etc)

Life as I know it in my home town of Market Drayton is seriously threatened by climate change. The decision to open a new coal mine on the Cumbrian coast – whether for steel or anything else, and however far it is from the rolling farmland of north-east Shropshire – adds hugely to the threat.

This is because opening a new coal mine in the UK will totally undermine the UK’s authority on the most important global issue of our time.  As the House of Commons Environment Audit Committee concluded in its report last week, ‘The UK Government needs to consider the impact of this decision on its ability to exert international influence with regard to the phasing out of unabated coal.’

The voices of Market Drayton are just as valid as the voices of Whitehaven and of Whitehall.  For the sake of Shropshire, of the UK, and of the world – reverse this decision!

Yours sincerely

December Lobbying focus — Local government action for biodiversity

This month our lobbying is local but linked to the hugely important UN Biodiversity Conference (COP15) which concludes Monday 19 December. Please email the text in bold below — or your own version, in your own words — to the leader of Shropshire Council, Lezley Picton (lezley.picton@shropshire.gov.uk) and the Mayor of Market Drayton Town Council, Mark Whittle (m.whittle@marketdrayton.gov.uk).  We suggest something like ‘Action for Biodiversity’ in the subject box.

Dear Lezley Picton, SC Leader, and Mark Whittle, MD Mayor 

Market Drayton Climate Action agrees with the Wildlife Trusts that ‘We cannot restore nature without tackling climate change, and we cannot tackle climate change without restoring nature.’ 

Leading scientists say the loss of biodiversity ‘threatens the existence of the entire living world.’ We want to see meaningful commitments made at the UN Biodiversity Conference (COP15) currently underway in Montreal to halt and start to reverse by 2030 this loss of biodiversity in nature.

While accepting the urgency of our global situation, we believe we also have agency. But for us to act alone is not enough. For Market Drayton Town Council to act alone is not enough. For Shropshire Council to act alone is not enough. For the United Kingdom government to act alone is not enough. Global commitments and action are essential. 

Since global change depends on the sum of all local environments, we and our elected leaders at every level must do what we can.  We must act together to ensure that both COP15’s warnings about inaction AND the resolutions about what we need to do are taken seriously.

We value the support Market Drayton Town Council and Shropshire Council give to groups such as Shropshire Wildlife Trust — to restore nature and help it thrive at Walkmill Meadow, for example, and through other projects across our county.  We ask you now to refresh your climate action plans in the light of COP15, and to work strenuously towards meaningful goals that will help prevent species extinctions, recover species populations, and retain and restore habitats.  Our future depends on it. 

Thank you

Yours faithfully

November Lobbying focus — UK government must step up at COP 27

As world leaders gather for the UN’s COP 27 climate summit (6th Nov to 18th Nov), the stark need for urgent action is clear. Yet it is still uncertain whether our prime minister will even attend. Please send the message in bold below as soon as you can.  Go to  https://contact.no10.gov.uk/, fill in your name and address, and copy and paste the text.

Dear Rishi Sunak

The UN’s current reports show that unfulfilled promises now leave no credible pathway to the climate targets governments have already set. Even if current pledges for action by 2030 are delivered in full, there will still be a rise in global heating that condemns the world to catastrophic climate breakdown. 

Yet the solutions are known, and the technologies exist. The UK should step up to meet the most important challenge facing the nation and the world with more ambitious targets followed by action.
I urge the UK government to:

  • Cancel licenses for new oil wells and lead a rapid phase-out of all fossil fuel extraction.
  • Accelerate insulation of homes and the rollout of renewable energy.
  • Transform public transport to provide reliable alternatives to cars in rural areas.
  • Support farmers to produce food sustainably while enabling the recovery of nature.
  • Agree international funding for a fair worldwide transition away from fossil fuels.

Yours sincerely

October Lobbying focus — Call for community leadership on saving energy from local councils

This month our lobbying group is asking you please to send the message in bold below — or your own version, with your own emphases, of something similar — to Lezley Picton, Leader of Shropshire Council, and Mark Whittle, Mayor of Market Drayton Town Council. Their email addresses are lezley.picton@shropshire.gov.uk and m.whittle@marketdrayton.gov.uk  Please remember to put your name and postal address at the foot. 

Dear Lezley Picton and Mark Whittle 

The councils which you lead have both declared a climate emergency – an emergency being “a serious and potentially dangerous situation requiring immediate action.” And many among your electorates are currently experiencing a cost-of-living crisis – a crisis being “a time of intense difficulty or danger.”

Local and national governments can lead their communities in pulling together to address urgent situations. An obvious step right now is to encourage everyone to use energy more wisely. By reducing our use of gas and electricity we can both save money AND help reduce the burning of fossil fuels which is leading to catastrophic climate breakdown.

Our national government does not currently intend to promote the advice that is desperately needed. Instead, they are issuing new licenses to drill for more oil, opening the door to fracking, seeking to restrict onshore wind and solar energy generation, and doing virtually nothing to insulate houses – all of which will ensure that we pass on an ever greater climate emergency and huge financial costs to our children and grandchildren.

Now is the time for our local councils to show bold leadership. As a member of Market Drayton Climate Action I urge you to step up where our national government has stepped down – beginning with a strong public information campaign on reducing energy use. 

Yours sincerely

September Lobbying focus — Open letter to housing developers: build climate-ready homes

435 new homes are designated for the outskirts of Market Drayton in the next Local Plan, likely to be adopted soon. While appreciating the need for new housing, Market Drayton Climate Action wants to ensure that these houses help, rather than hinder, our work against climate change. With this in mind, we have written the following open letter to the major house builders likely to be interested in these developments.  Some developers have been contacted directly, and the message is for all potential builders in our local area.

Dear Chief Executive

Retrofitting housing to high energy efficiency standards is an urgent action needed to tackle the immediate cost-of-energy crisis. It must also be done if we are to have any chance of meeting targets that will help us avoid the most calamitous effects of climate change.

Given the huge challenges of mass retrofitting, it is nonsensical that all new housing is not  being built to the highest energy efficiency standards, with on-site renewable energy generation and zero or low carbon heating systems.

Market Drayton Town Council, Shropshire Council, the UK government,  and the United Nations have all declared a climate emergency. Market Drayton Climate Action is asking companies involved in designing and building new houses in and around our town to take this emergency to heart.

National Planning Policy (para 154) states that “Development should be planned for in ways that… can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions such as through its location, orientation and design.” And (para 155) “To help increase the use and supply of renewable and low carbon energy and heat, plans should… identify opportunities for development to draw its energy supply from decentralised, renewable or low carbon energy supply systems and for co-locating potential heat customers and suppliers.”

I urge you to reconsider any current plans for new housing in Shropshire, to ensure that they comply with these aspects of the National Planning Policy Framework. Specifically, I am concerned that these planning aspects will be scrupulously followed when the new Shropshire Local Plan is adopted and land earmarked for building 435 new homes on the edge of my town becomes available for development.

August Lobbying focus — Give us cheaper bills for renewable electricity

Renewable energy sources deliver electricity at a lower cost than fossil fuels, but consumers are charged at the international market price for gas. Changing this could help bring investment in renewables, and give us energy security. This month the lobbying group is asking you to email the message below (or your own version of  it) to:

Ofgem — consumeraffairs@ofgem.gov.uk 

The Sec of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (open with Dear Kwasi Kwarteng) enquiries@beis.gov.uk;  

The Minister of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Dear Greg Hands) enquiries@beis.gov.uk    

The Shadow Sec of State for Climate Change and Net Zero (Dear Ed Miliband) ed.miliband.mp@parliament.uk

Please remember to add your name and address at the foot. 

Dear……

My fellow members of Market Drayton Climate Action and I are calling for a new electricity market – which will cut electricity bills and at the same time lower carbon emissions and help us avoid the worst effects of climate change.

The cost of electricity from renewable sources has fallen dramatically over recent years. Together with current increases in the price of gas, households are now paying several times more for their electricity than what it costs to generate and transmit from wind and solar energy sources. We are paying gas prices, not renewable energy prices.

Ofgem claims to “monitor the energy market to ensure fair treatment of consumers.” In support of fairness, we ask you to restructure the market so that renewable energy generators can pool their electricity separately from other generators. They could then sell to consumers at a price mainly set by the actual investment costs of generators, not by the gas-driven wholesale markets as is currently the case.

There would be strong financial incentives to find innovative solutions for cloudy, calm winter days when not enough renewable power is being generated so that the ‘green power pool’ has to buy electricity from the wholesale market.

Electricity – not oil or gas – is going to dominate our energy system in future, as we use it to power our home heat pumps and vehicles. We can make it both cleaner and cheaper right now by restructuring the market.   

July Lobbying focus — Choose a Prime Minister with Net Zero focus

A tiny proportion of the UK electorate — Conservative Party members — will be choosing our next prime minister, yet their view on the urgency of climate change will have profound effects on us all. This month the lobbying group asks you to send the paragraphs below to the North Shropshire Conservative Association and the national Conservative Party. You can most easily do this by using their online contact forms at https://www.northshropshireconservatives.org/contact   and ttps://www.conservatives.com/contact

You can simply copy and paste into their message box — or re-phrase in your own words.

Market Drayton Climate Action is a non-party-political organisation. Some of my fellow members may belong to political parties as individuals, while others do not. What we have in common is a strong sense of urgency about dealing with climate change. And we are aware that whatever changes we make in our own behaviours, we need committed political leadership if we are to be effective in limiting the damage from climate change.

Both Market Drayton Town Council and Shropshire Council have declared a climate
emergency and have committed to achieving net carbon zero on their activities by 2030. Our national government has also declared a climate emergency and its net zero strategy published last October included commitments to end the sale of new fossil fuel cars by 2030 and gas boilers by 2035. But our government has not indicated how this strategy will be delivered, and its own Climate Change Committee says it’s not enough to achieve what’s needed.

In voting for who will lead your party, and our country, I urge Conservative Party members to weigh up which candidate will best deliver on the green manifesto on which they were elected in 2019, and urgently prioritise renewable energy and decarbonising all sectors of the economy.

June Lobbying focus — Windfall tax to reduce fossil fuels, not produce more

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak will soon be introducing his windfall tax on oil and gas producers — linking it with huge tax benefits to encourage NEW drilling. Please email him the following request AS SOON AS YOU CAN — adding your own words of emphasis if you wish. 

Please send the message in bold below to public.enquiries@hmtreasury.gov.uk with URGENT MESSAGE FOR RISHI SUNAK in the subject box. 

Dear Rishi Sunak

I am doing my best in my own life to help avoid the worst effects of climate change. But my ability to influence the global disasters widely and frequently predicted is nothing compared to yours.

Your ‘Targeted energy profits levy’ could be used to fund home energy efficiency, which is the best and fastest way to bring down household energy bills. But by linking this with an enormous tax incentive for oil and gas producers to invest in developing new fields you are undermining at a stroke the only hope we have – according to the International Energy Agency and many others – of keeping the global temperature rise within 1.5 degrees.

I entreat you to remove all tax breaks for new oil and gas production and to issue no new licenses which are not compliant with the 1.5 degree target.

Yours sincerely

(Your name and full postal address)

May Lobbying focus — Public transport

Please join us in sending the following message to the Rt Hon Grant Shapps, Secretary of State for Transport. You can do this online here. Click on ‘Next Page’ then fill in your name, address, and email for his response. In ‘Subject Box’ you can write ‘Question for Grant Shapps’ (with no prefix or suffix) then in ‘Enquiry Details’ copy and paste the following (though as always you are very welcome to substitute words of your own):

In your 2021 plan Decarbonising Transport you said “We must make public transport, cycling and walking the natural first choice for all who can take it.” 

The Transport group of Market Drayton Climate Action has made four recommendations (https://mdclimateaction.files.wordpress.com/2022/05/transport-recommendations-mdca-1.pdf) to Shropshire Council to help achieve this in and around our town. But we are aware that you rejected in full Shropshire Council’s recent bid to you for £96 million to transform bus services in our county.

We are now facing further cuts to our already minimal bus services.

As a member of Market Drayton Climate Action, I ask you please to tell me how you intend to improve public transport in north-east Shropshire.

April Lobbying Focus — Climate Education and Schools

Market Drayton Climate Action has sent the following letter to the Headteacher and Chair of Governors at the schools in Market Drayton, and to the Chief Executive Officer and Chair of Board of Trustees of the two Multi Academy Trusts which operate in the town.

Dear _______

Market Drayton Climate Action supports Teach the Future – the youth-led campaign to bring both urgency and conviction to Nadhim Zahawi’s pledge at Cop 26 “to put climate change at the heart of education.”

We endorse the three key demands of Teach the Future: that students and pupils are taught about the climate emergency and ecological crisis; that vocational courses help develop the workforce needed to achieve our carbon-zero ambitions; and that our education buildings are retrofitted to achieve zero carbon for energy.

The Department for Education’s Sustainability and Climate Change strategy, due to be published this month, is a step in the right direction. We ask that you move urgently to:

  1. Give a senior team member and lead teacher responsibility for climate education and sustainability in your school.
  2. Ensure that human-caused climate change is covered in sufficient depth through all subject areas.
  3. Provide opportunities for all pupils to be actively involved in carbon reduction projects at your school.
  4. Provide CPD on climate and nature education for your staff.
  5. Make significant reductions in carbon emissions at your school, working to zero carbon for energy use by 2030.

 We recognise that funding will be necessary to implement some of these changes, but given the urgency of the climate emergency we urge you to press ahead with all speed.

We will be very pleased to hear of progress you are making, and to assist in any way we can.

Yours sincerely
Nancy Stewart, Chair (and seventeen other members and supporters of Market Drayton Climate Action) 

March lobbying focusRenewables, not more oil

Send to:

Kwasi Kwarteng MP, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy enquiries@beis.gov.uk

Greg Hands MP, Minister of State for Business, Energy and Clean Growth enquiries@beis.gov.uk

Lord Callanan, Under Secretary of State (Minister for Business, Energy and Corporate Responsibility) contactholmember@parliament.uk

Helen Morgan, MP. Member of Parliament representing North Shropshire  helen.morgan.mp@parliament.uk

As well as causing great suffering in Ukraine, the war there highlights the grip fossil fuels continue to have over all our lives. In seeking to address the effects of dramatically rising prices now, however, we must not forget the even more devastating consequences of relying on fossil fuels in the future.  

Our government currently supports the fossil fuel industry through tax breaks for exploration and production to the tune of £10 billion per year (OECD).  But granting new licences and support for oil and gas exploration in the North Sea will do nothing to alleviate high prices, as those new fields would take decades to come into production (Committee on Climate Change) and even then the bulk will be sold overseas to the highest bidder.

The International Energy Agency has warned that no new fossil fuel projects can be started if the world is to avoid disastrous climate change. I urge you to do everything in your power to

  • stop the granting of new drilling licenses
  • stop the £10 billion of tax breaks to the industry, using that money instead to:
  • subsidise heating costs for the vulnerable in the short term
  • hugely increase the £265 million government subsidy for renewables.

____________________

One of our members subsequently received this response from the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy:

Thank you for your email dated 23 March, regarding Shale Gas/Fracking.
The Government has always been clear that the exploration of shale gas reserves could only proceed if the science shows that it is safe, sustainable and of minimal disturbance to those living and working near to sites. The recent request to the British Geological Survey does not indicate a change to this position.
However, in response to Putin’s barbaric acts in Ukraine and against the Ukrainian people, the UK needs to keep all of its energy options open. Shale gas and new approaches could be part of the UK’s future energy mix, but the Government will be led by the science.
Therefore, the Government has commissioned the British Geological Survey to advise on the latest scientific evidence around shale gas extraction. This request has been made to assess if any progress in the scientific understanding which underpins Government policy on hydraulic fracturing has been made, and to allow the Government to consider next steps.
The Government is clear that this should be a desk-based exercise by the British
Geological Survey, and so no drilling of any further test wells or seismic monitoring will take place.

At Market Drayton Climate Action we are wary of this review as it indicates that the government is moving away from the precautionary principle and softening its opposition to fracking. You can read about this here.