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Planet Shaftesbury - 19-9-19


Thanks to Christina for these notes:

A lively group of over thirty people gathered for September’s Planet Shaftesbury meeting. It was opened by Rachel who, having created a circular space in the centre of the room, indicated the four directions of North, South, East and West and invited each of us to stand in the approximate locations of our homes. It was a great way to meet our near neighbours and we were able to get to know one another and chat, but it was also a reminder for us to think about living more 'locally'.


The news and information exchange was facilitated by Maude, and several topics and projects were highlighted:

  • Vegan Taster evening at the Arts Centre on 12th October

  • News of Tree planting plans in Hindon where local landowners would need to be consulted

  • Further news about the Shaftesbury Town Tree Plan and introduction to the new longer Tree Walk round the town. The Tree Group and Open Spaces Group are hoping to provide more detailed information for the Planet Shaftesbury website on these proposals.

  • A reminder: less than one week left to complete questionnaires on the Shaftesbury Neighbourhood Plan.

  • A reminder regarding the petition against the Investor-State Dispute Settlement legislation (ISDS) which gives some of the most powerful companies license to sue countries for public policies that could harm their profits. See Arthur's forum entry for more info or go to Traidcraft (www.traidcraft.org.uk/red-carpet-courts). We are encouraged to write to the Secretary of State for International Trade to voice our concerns.

  • Gillingham’s plans for a ‘Planet Shaftesbury’ like group under way, group name as yet decided. They are planning regular gatherings on the second Wednesdays of the month. We also learned that Gillingham is to have a new petrol station with four electric car charging points.

  • An 'environmental surgery' with local MP Simon Hoare had been set up in Sturminster Newton, 6.30pm on 9th October. Gillingham Councillor Fiona had presented a letter to Mr. Hoare, asking for a meeting to discuss the climate emergency in view of the recent declaration by Parliament.

  • The international school strike for the climate on Friday 20th September was announced with near events in Salisbury, Bristol and Yeovil - which a number of members were planning to attend. The local Oxfam bookshop in Shaftesbury had decided to close at lunchtime in support.

  • World Car-free day on Sunday 21st September was also announced. Plans to mark this event included a 'Critical Mass' style slow cycle in Salisbury.

  • The meeting was informed that Channel Four News covers environmental issues across the world each evening (7.00 – 8.00 pm). The book Uninhabitable Earth by David Wallace-Wells was recommend.

  • Starting on Monday 23rd September, between 4 and 7pm there will be open afternoons at The Rising Sun pub in Donhead St Mary to discuss and work towards a proposed repair/re-use shop.

  • The plastic-free group is meeting with Wimborne’s War on Waste on a date to be announced in late September for consultation (see https://www.sustainabledorset.org/item/wimborne-war-waste/ ).


A major discussion point for the meeting was the forthcoming Pilgrimage to Oppose Oil Drilling in Dorset. (27 - 29 Sept) Richard Ecclestone summarised the plans to date. See elsewhere on Planet Shaftesbury website for details of the walk, maps, overnight accommodation and support. Those not walking are encouraged to attend an opening ceremony at 10am on the Friday and/or to gather at Joe’s café in Studland at 2.30pm for a closing ceremony and the forming of a human XR symbol at Old Harry Rocks on the Sunday afternoon. Wellbeing/back-up crew now established. Please register your interest on the Planet Shaftesbury website to give us an idea of numbers of those who can join in in whatever way they are able. Car-share where possible if you are just going to Studland. Please publicise in as many ways as possible. There is a press release on the website to download along with posters. Phyllis Wolff has designed a wonderful Sea Horse and No More Oil logo for people’s flags; please also take your tee-shirts to Twyford to get them printed.


Phyllis has also designed a Planet Shaftesbury banner and we are invited to come up with an appropriate and uplifting slogan. See Rachel’s message on the Forum page of the Planet Shaftesbury website.


Alex Chase, Shaftesbury Town Councillor, and instrumental in successful proposal that Shafts Town Council declare a Climate Emergency (see blog below on this), was invited to address the meeting. He discussed plans the Council has begun to implement in response to discussions with Maude and Lucy from the Plastics Free Shaftesbury group. Progress, he told us, has been made on reducing single-use plastic in the swimming pool and in the Council itself. Together with Maude and Lucy, he will be putting together a report on developments to the full Town Council timed for next summer. This to coincide with Town Clerk Claire Commons' completion of a Climate Change course of study and qualification.

Alex summarised some of the Shaftesbury’s achievements to date in order to reduce the town’s carbon footprint: solar panels on the roof of the Council building, the 97% renewable energy for the swimming pool and the town’s Bee-friendly status. He described the Council's difficulties in finding an environmentally sound solution to the problem of Japanese Knotweed and where necessary the use of strimmers with plastic cords. The Council is focusing on the efficiency of ground staff and sees that at present it is more cost-efficient to use existing vehicles rather than replace them immediately with electric ones. He said that wherever possible all purchases made by the Council would be sustainable. In response to questions, he acknowledged that disposal or re-use of existing plastic waste was a concern but also that it was not the town council’s responsibility to lobby local businesses. His stated aim is to raise awareness of climate issues within the town and support whatever companies and people are doing to address those issues. Citing the Council's lack of expertise, he welcomes help and information from the many interested groups in the town such as Planet Shaftesbury: achase@shaftesburytc.gov.uk


In the light of these comments, Rachel underlined that we make our views known in the questionnaire on the Shaftesbury Neighbourhood Plan.


Following the news exchange people were invited to break into groups around the topics which had interested them or they formed new groups to discuss additional ideas.


We are reminded that in October XR is planning a major national event and that our XR group will be meeting to discuss participation in the 'South West' group's actions.

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