September 2020 Meeting Notes

 Notes from Sheffield FoE Local Group meeting -  21 September 2020 ( by Zoom)

Attendees: Shaun R, Clare B, Richard S, Lindy S(chair), Liddy G, Martin C

Apologies: June B, Helen F

Owlthorpe Fields – Clare provided an update. They were hoping to propose a wildlife corridor, however Avant Homes are appealing the planning decision so they will need to focus on fighting the appeal. There is now a crowdfunding campaign with links to Facebook and Twitter accounts. National FoE may be able to offer advice even if they can not actively prioritise fighting the appeal themselves. 

Review of the ‘Planning for the Future’ proposals – FoE has serious concerns about the national proposals to “streamline” planning decisions. Multiple concerns including: delegation of detailed consideration to planning officers, changes to “permitted development”, lack of local plans undermining local democracy and risk of overheated areas, speeding up and simplification of environmental impact assessment and strategic environmental assessment. There is a detailed response for national FoE and Lindy is putting together the Sheffield FoE response based on this. There may be a need to lobby MPs to raise awareness of these concerns; Clare will be able to speak to Clive Betts and other people are encouraged to write to their MP.

Sheffield City Region and City Council developments – Richard updated on the Action Plan consultation; findings to be published in November. A letter has been sent to Dan Jarvis asking for a meeting involving all climate groups He has also attended a meeting between Sheffield Climate Alliance and the City Council (Councillor Mark Jones and their Sustainability Officer) 

Richard also spoke about The National  Lottery grant recently announced by the Sheffield Climate Alliance, of which we are part. This is an initial £200 000 which may lead to a larger £2.5 million grant and is both an opportunity and challenge.  There will be a need for SCA to engage more across South Yorkshire since this is a regional bid. 

Chesterfield Plastics Campaign – Martin Coslett attended a recent meeting and recommended their website – “Plastics Free Chesterfield”. There may be potential to link up or learn from their resources – as well as from the Plastics Free Project campaigning group in Sheffield. Links: https://plasticfreechesterfield.weebly.com/latest-news https://campaigning.friendsoftheearth.uk/plastics/latest-news-plastics

Meetings with MPs: meeting with Olivia Blake (Hallam) went well in September and she was appreciative of the paper from FoE which we passed her. Olivia is becoming a member of the select committee looking at the Environment Bill which will be useful. Lindy trying to set up similar meeting with Gill Furniss (Brightside & Hillsborough) though no response so far to two requests.  Shaun & hopefully Beatrice, both constituents, will also urge Gill Furniss to respond.

Campaigning in time of Covid – Planned action outside the station re clean air scheduled to 23/9 postponed because of Covid restrictions. Clear Air Zones and air pollution monitoring have anyway been affected by reductions during lockdown. However now levels are nearly bad as before and we need to continue to ensure the proposed CAZ is  effectively implemented. 

There is the Friends of the Earth Green & Fair Recovery Week of Action coming up (5-11 October - https://takeclimateaction.uk/resources/green-and-fair-recovery-october-week-action and a Day of Action for Better Buses on the 6 October. These are likely to be mainly online activities and will be promoted through our social media accounts. .

More generally, our campaigning needs to reflect what is feasible and appropriate given our limited capacity; we need to take opportunities to support activities led by other environmental groups. Public activities need to be carefully focused and over the winter likely to be largely online (petitions, letter writing etc). We discussed the likely potential for doing more in spring/summer  2020. Given the large number of different groups, and the wide range of specific issues (disinvestment in fossil fuels, planning active travel, air pollution, plastics etc) we continue to need to be selective. 

Picture Source: Pixabay.com