Meeting Notes - November 2020

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Notes from Sheffield FoE Local Group meeting - 16 November 2020 by Zoom

Attendees: Shaun R, Beatrice G, June B, Clare B, Richard S, Lindy S (chair), Liddy G (notes), Chris W, Sean A.

Apologies: Helen F and Saleema I

Local group campaigning (FoE)

1. Update from Clare on Owlthorpe Fields legal campaign – Recent support from Woodland Trust/ Ian Rotherham (Sheffield Hallam University professor and expert on ecology); aSCC had a survey of woodland just off Owlthorpe Fields and apparently meet Ancient Woodland criteria ad may be more than 500 years old. Also getting support from legal department & helping Loxley group with similar issues.

2. Response from Cllr Mark Jones re air quality in front of station has been received by Lindy: The council feels the blame for this lies with national government not funding electrification and the station management for not enforcing no idling rules for the taxi owners. He didn’t reply to the query about the waste land adjacent to the car park. Lindy has followed up and is awaiting a reply.

3. We have tried to re-arrange meeting with Gill Furniss MP for Brightside & Hillsborough but her office have not replied. Lindy has re-submitted the request and Beatrice can follow up.

4. We have also been following up Better Buses campaign with letter to Dan Jarvis.

5. We have submitted a response to the proposed new Planning Bill – concerns about it being anti-democratic and poor environmental credentials; critics also include many Conservative MPs.

6. In terms of reach, Friends of the Earth remains a strong ‘brand’ and Sheffield FoE have increasing numbers following us on Twitter (459) Facebook (546) and signed up to Action Network emails (171)

Local Campaigning (as part of wider grouping)

1. National Lottery Climate Funded project, initiated by 35 partners of Sheffield Climate Alliance, is moving forward. There was a visioning event on 12th November attended by Lindy & Richard where what we would like to see by 2027 in our homes, communities, city and the region was shared. This will be followed up by a SCA group. Recruitment process for new posts to support the project is well underway with applications having closed today. A partnership agreement has been signed by ourselves and all the partners but the details of the plan have been impacted by the Covid crisis so new plans are being developed. More details on the SCA website.

2. SCA is also considering how best to organise going forward. The many environmental groups are looking to co-operate more efficiently. It is hoped the new posts might help this move. Next monthly meeting, which Lindy attends as FoE co-ordinator, is tomorrow (Tuesday 17th)

3. Green New Deal UK (South Yorkshire) – Sean Ashton provided an update. Relationship between it & SCA still to be fully explored. GNDUKSY recently held a ‘Feeding South Yorkshire’ event and this work is now going to be taken forward by ShefFood. They also recently prepared a letter to Dan Jarvis and the four local council leaders re the need for the Sheffield City Region’s planning to more forcefully include green jobs and green skills development. Sheffield FoE were one of many signatories to this. All concerned were disappointed that recent consultations seem to have had little impact on the SCR plans and progress has been very slow. A good dialogue with SCR officers has yet to be translated into impact on plans. Chris raised issue of retrofitting and what would be needed to develop a specific campaign on this, potentially involving local colleges, given again a lack of progress despite recent dialogue.

4. Richard updated on online letter writing campaigns and asked people to share letters they were asked to sign or to submit. A recent letter has been drafted on railway electrification from Zero Carbon South Yorkshire to Dan Jarvis which we have been invited to also send on to our individual MPs by SCA. Also FoE awaiting a response about funding for tree planting, and where trees would be planted by Yorkshire Water.

5. School Climate Conference – All South Yorkshire councils have agreed in principle to support this event for 13-14 year olds but still negotiating over funding in 2021/22 financial year. Richard participated in a national virtual conference from “Transform the World” – a youth climate summit with workshops, with involvement of a number of environmental organisations. Richard has got a quote for developing a website for the conference from Stephanie Mullins. We agreed to fund £500 development costs from the £1000 grant Sheffield FoE is expecting from SCA Lottery grant.

National campaigning developments

1. Labour Party have recently published their ‘Green Economic Recovery’ report which has lots of good intentions.

2. The Climate Coalition is planning a festival of events next June/July to prepare for COP 26. The aim is to boost people’s engagement with the issues with a view to increasing the pressure on the government to commit to more serious action. Lindy will forward a letter that individuals have been asked to send to MPs.

3. Social media - Lindy is posting to Twitter, whilst Shaun is posting on Facebook for us. They are selecting items of interest to link to on Facebook and retweeting and commenting on Twitter.

4. Climate Assembly UK - Lindy shared a survey asking for feedback on the report from the Climate Assembly UK (the recent Citizen’s Assembly). We discussed survey responses on specific suggestions to influence people’s behaviour on environmental issues – reducing meat consumption, increasing repair/reuse/sharing versus replacement, increasing local engagement. Lindy to complete and submit the joint response.

5. National FoE website – Lots of resources available from the site, including recent section on system change for example. Challenging to keep track of all the new information available – Richard has used their customer support to ensure he is accessing the most useful and up to date briefing papers and related information on a specific topic.

How to engage people in 'climate conversations'

Lindy shared insight from Off the Shelf talk by Jonathon Porritt about the type of conversations that could be most productive – ignoring the climate deniers and keeping conversations going with all others was a key take-away message. She also has a useful podcast from FoE on “how to talk about climate”. Will add to agenda for future meeting.

Next Local Group Meeting
Next Local Group Meeting – 7:30 on 21 December 2020 – meeting on Zoom just pre Christmas so we will need to bring out own drinks, crackers and party hats.