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Planet Shaftesbury Meeting 15/08/19

Thank you to Christina for the summary below of last weeks meeting!

The monthly Planet Shaftesbury meeting on 15th August was joyfully busy and just when some of us thought everyone would be away somewhere on holiday! As has become a part of the One Planet Living principles initiative, Maude and Natalie had arranged tables with a diverse range of topics for people to peruse and in the process, mill around the gathering and meet one another. The topics included the latest Plastic-free Shaftesbury plans, Media and Communications, Land and Nature and with Local and Sustainable food. We were all invited to contribute ideas under these headings.

During the announcements and information exchange we learned about the local Extinction Rebellion introductory talk, Heading for Extinction, at the Shaftesbury town hall on 22nd August, and what we can all do in response to the climate emergency. At a later date there will be a training session in non-violent direct action; even if people have been on these programmes already, please still come since things have moved on since the inception of XR action and local groups need to keep up to date and work on how they want to operate. The other key event, initiated by the Shaftesbury XR group is the Pilgrimage to Studland from 27th – 29th September to oppose drilling plans on the Dorset coast. Other groups across the county have been invited to join in and the event is wider than XR itself and includes the Save our Shoresand the Seahorse Trust whose report is due out shortly. Details are still being formulated for the pilgrimage but everyone is invited to join in at whatever stage of the walk they can manage if not actually able to do the complete distance: please send everyone off from Shaftesbury and/or greet the walkers at the arrival point in Studland. For those not starting out on 27th, there is a talk at St James’s church, Shaftesbury, by world-leading explorer, Pen Hadow, on the wildlife of the North Pole.

Additional news items included the proposal to open a local repair shop and café. On the Shaftesbury news website, ThisIsAlfred, you can hear an audio interview with Niky from The Rising Sun pub in Donhead St Mary; she came up with the repair shop idea. Please let Maude know of any additional ideas here. Diana informed the meeting that Cancer Research charity shops are being requested to sell their own 5p plastic carrier bags rather than accept customers’ own; this flies in the face of needing to eliminate the use of single-use plastic and also Shaftesbury town council’s own support for a plastic-free town and their recent support for the declaration on the climate emergency. Despite the fact that charity shops do so much good work, everyone is being encouraged to write and object on behalf of Planet Shaftesbury. Either write an individual letter to Cancer Research HQ, preferably to the Chief Executive, or copy and paste a letter which Diana has said she will post on the website inviting the charity to change their policy.

Gillingham is starting its own Planet Gillingham group! Fiona has booked Gillingham town hall for a consultation with local people on 29th August to find out who is interested and what local people would like to do. Fiona also presented to us a letter to local MP, Simon Hoare, asking for a meeting to discuss the climate emergency in view of the recent declaration by Parliament. People were invited to add their signatures to the letter and there is still time to sign it at the XR meeting on 22nd August at the town hall in Shaftesbury.

Shaftesbury Neighbourhood Plan is currently running a series of pop-up shops in order to consult with the public over the draft proposals. There are several draft policies which relate directly to how we might respond to climate change, for example safe travel and transport, biodiversity, green building regulations, energy efficiency etc. Leaflets containing the dates of the pop-up shop openings and summarising the key points are being delivered to all households in the town any time now; fuller details on the policies are available on the website. Comments can be made in the pop-up shops or questionnaires can be completed on people’s views, and the consultation process will end on 26th September. The next meeting of the Tree Group to consider the proposal to plant two thousand trees is on 11th September in the Quaker Meeting House; please contact Angela King for more on local initiatives such as working with the Shaftesbury School and other bodies which might be involved. There is already a wider town tree plan being discussed by the group. In the Shaftesbury Open Spaces Group there is a proposal to complete a Landscape and Open Spaces Assessmentof Shaftesbury: Bernard Ede is to write a brief for a broader green infrastructure along the lines designed for south east Dorset by the firm Land Use Consultants. Working group volunteers from the group have also been surveying existing green spaces, for example ponds and springs, verges and roundabouts, green corridors and industrial estates, etc. with a view to improving the town’s green infrastructure.

The 52 miles of the White Hart Link should be completed on 26th August and in good time for the walkers on the Studland pilgrimage!

Karen reminded us that the Shaftesbury town council had unanimously supported the declaration on the climate emergency where they acknowledged the many groups within the town which had expertise as well as interest in how the town might respond. It was acknowledged at that meeting that the declaration alone does nothing and that action is required; in this regard, a proposal was initiated to form a sub-committee along the lines of an advisory body to determine what might be done and to recruit local people and their groups to participate. The town council has set a target date of 31st October for delivering an action plan. Planet Shaftesbury might consider how we can assist.

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. One of these was local sustainable food and how, along the lines of the food banks, surplus food might be distributed to those in need. There is a particular logistical difficulty with fresh food and yet, in the midst of the school holidays, there are many children who were receiving free school meals during term time who are now going hungry. Many ideas were discussed in this group and included how food might be collected (for example, surplus allotment food from Shaftesbury Homegrown), cookery classes, seasonal food and food swops; interested people, with a view to setting up a local community group to address this issue, might investigate how Frome Town Council recently supported the launch of the UK’s first community fridge.

Plastic-free Shaftesbury in conjunction with Surfers Against Sewage are arranging a meeting with the group War on Waste in Wimborne to get support and tips. They have created a plan for a mass unwrap at Tesco’s in Shaftesbury and a mass litter-pick. An idea to create a workshop making cloth bags from upcycled waste materials was also mooted.

The meeting concluded with more information from the XR group on the Pilgrimage to Studland plans. See more on this here and to contact the group with offers of help; they are particularly keen to create a PR role for the group & to find places to stay on the way.

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