Forum Posts

richardgthomas01
Jun 01, 2022
In General Discussions
The following letter was published in the New Blackmore Vale magazine on 13 May 2022. For the convenience of anyone interested who missed it, it is reproduced here: SCIENTISTS tell us the human race cannot continue to allow the natural environment to be covered in bricks and mortar without terminal results for all biological life on Earth - including of course ourselves. Hence two items in your 29 April edition stood out for special mention: First, on p5, the lead item 'Homes green light could see village population increase by 20 percent' gave a revealing and disturbing insight into how Dorset Council's planning system is now operating. The revelation was that, in effect, Dorset's planning officers are unable to recommend any refusals for even moderate scale housing development because they are under pressure to meet central government housing targets. What was, and is, disturbing is that even those councillors, such as council chairman Val Pothecary, who are 'not happy' with this situation feel unable to reject plans if officers tell them they can't! The moral of that particular story is not just that officers and not elected members now decide on development in Dorset but also that nothing will change until someone decides, as set out very plainly by planning officer Hannah Smith in the report, that Dorset has reached a development 'tipping point'. In her words: 'There's no cap on development numbers...The last inspector said there may well be a tipping point but this is not it' - that is, we're not there yet. So now we know a 'tipping point' is on the cards, I'd suggest the residents of Dorset now need to get their local politicians to define exactly what that tipping point - that line in the sand if you prefer - is and when it might be reached. This is precisely what we elect politicians to do after all. Then, on p40, North Dorset MP Simon Hoare, in his opinion piece bewailing the low moral state of his colleagues in Parliament, lists the cost of living crisis, global economic slowdown, and war in Ukraine as issues that make this 'a deeply unsettling and frightening time'. Indeed they do - but he makes no mention of the one issue that far and away surpasses all others for being 'deeply unsettling and frightening' and that is climate change. Scientists tell us we have only a matter of a few years - until about 2030 - before we reach a climate 'tipping point' from which there is no likely return, for the human race at least. So the only real question then is which 'tipping point' we reach first: the tipping point of destroying so much of the natural world by development for purely financial gain - aka greed - that it becomes uninhabitable or the climate tipping point that will end all human life on Earth anyway. They may, of course, be the same point but for our children and grandchildren's sake someone at Dorset Council needs to have the courage and foresight to start telling us - and fast. Richard Thomas Shaftesbury
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richardgthomas01
May 27, 2022
In General Discussions
I asked Mark Chivas, director and co-founder of Zero-Carbon Dorset, co-author of the highly regarded 'Dorset 2030' report and one of the keynote speakers at the 'Shaftesbury 2030: Choosing Our Future' symposium at Shaftesbury School last week, for his response to Dorset Council's latest progress report on its actions to counter the climate change emergency. The council's report - Climate and Ecological Emergency Strategy (CEES) and action plan - was published on 19 May, the day after the school meeting, and Mark has attacked it as, in essence, offering too little too late by sticking to its zero carbon dates of 2040 and 2050. Dorset Council claims its latest report 'has revealed how well Dorset Council is performing in its efforts to tackle the climate and ecological emergency.' But Mark says Dorset Council is failing to lead and failing to engage with those people and organisations in the county who are already enacting positive changes. Here's what he said (references are at the end): 'While it is interesting to note the initiatives highlighted in Dorset Council’s CEES progress review, there is little in here which changes the opinion we have already set out in Dorset 20301. 'The main developments in the intervening months have been further significant warnings from the IPCC2 and the Met Office3 about the need to take urgent, rapid action to address the climate crisis. 'While we acknowledge the limitations of the Council’s finances and sphere of influence they are uniquely placed to take the lead on galvanising action across Dorset society to address this issue. 'There is nothing in this progress report which recognises this and virtually all of the initiatives are woefully short of what’s required. 'This is perhaps best illustrated by the reference to the “130 homes” supported with energy efficiency and improvement measures when the data we analysed indicated more than quarter of a million houses across Dorset and BCP will require some degree of retrofitting. 'Across the county individuals, organisations and businesses are leading by example, something that could be harnessed by the Council to help enhance and deliver their plan if they choose to treat this as the emergency they have actually declared.' _____________ • Dorset Council declared a climate and ecological emergency in May 2019 and their subsequent Climate and Ecological Emergency Strategy (CEES) and action plan was adopted by Full Council last July (2021), after what it claimed was 'extensive development and consultation', with an agreement to report progress twice a year. The CEES is a long-term strategy which sets out 41 objectives under nine topic headings . It sets carbon targets and identifies key areas where the council can both reduce its own carbon footprint and support the whole of Dorset to become carbon neutral. https://www.dorset2030.com/uploads/1/2/6/6/126635894/dorset_2030.pdf https://www.ipcc.ch/2022/04/04/ipcc-ar6-wgiii-pressrelease/ https://www.metoffice.gov.uk/about-us/press-office/news/weather-and-climate/2022/the-bleakest-assessment-yet-of-climate-change-risk Richard Thomas, author and journalist Shaftesbury
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richardgthomas01
Jan 13, 2021
In General Discussions
There doesn't seem a lot of activity on this site of late so I don't know if anyone will see this but just in case some are interested Dorset Council is to start the installation of a single dual-socket 22Kw 'fast charge' EV charging point* in Bell Street car park in Shaftesbury later this month (Jan). The charging point - that is due to go live by the end of Feb - is one of 44 such points the council is installing at its car parks throughout Dorset as part of its climate emergency response. Each point is able to serve two EV vehicles in bays set side by side. Each bay is to be clearly marked for the exclusive use of EV vehicles for charging purposes only and any non-EV vehicle parking there or not charging their vehicle is liable to be issued with a fixed penalty notice by one of the periodically patrolling traffic wardens. *Fast chargers (that can can provide between 60-200 miles of range in 20-30 mins) require three-phase power which is expensive kit so I guess DC must be given some credit for doing this relatively rapidly. But is it enough? The below is the position of the EV charging point in Bell Street car park in Shaftesbury. Three bays are marked because Dorset is taking three normal parking bays for every two chargepoint bays to ensure they're the same width as a disabled space and are accessible.
EV charging points in Shaftesbury content media
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richardgthomas01
Dec 17, 2019
In General Discussions
In thanking Planet Shaftesbury for the reminder to respond to Dorset Council's latest four-year plan, can I suggest activists also copy in Shaftesbury's two Dorset councillors with any comments they send in. That's Tim Cook, the current mayor of Shaftesbury, and Derek Beer. Its their job to make sure local people's views are heard at county hall and to push for them. Tim Cook can be emailed at: tim@enjoyyourfuture.net and Derek Beer at: derekbeer@icloud.com.
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richardgthomas01
Nov 27, 2019
In General Discussions
It was a shock to discover this week that Shaftesbury's emerging neighbourhood plan - its development plan for the town to 2031 - will not include radical measures to beat climate change as many residents had hoped and asked for because of a claim that government rules won't allow it. It means that obvious measures such as insisting that all new developments include solar panels and charging points for electric cars apparently cannot now be included in the plan due to go to Dorset Council on 16 December. The claim came from Dorset planning consultant Jo Witherden who told a special meeting of Shaftesbury town council on 26 November that for the plans to be accepted they have to be approved by government examiners who will only accept plans that meet the government's existing planning policy guidelines. Ms Witherden, who has been involved in neighbourhood plans across the county, told councillors that Bridport had recently had its draft neighbourhood plan turned down by the examiners because it did not meet those guidelines. Bridport - that is in many respects leading the climate emergency movement in Dorset - has now been forced to re-submit an amended version of its plan as a result. But there's a glimmer of hope for Shaftesbury and it was provided last night by town mayor Tim Cook, one of Shaftesbury's two LibDem members on Dorset Council, who won unanimous support from other town councillors for his suggestion that a letter of protest is sent with Shaftesbury's draft plan complaining at the limitation on what the town can insist on to meet climate change demands. He said the letter would make the point that with the scientific evidence now mounting rapidly and government policy already changing it was unreasonable and unproductive to limit the town's ambitions when they would in all probability prove to be essential in only a matter of months. The letter is unlikely to result in any immediate changes to the current draft plan but it will be some weeks before the examiners' report is known, and whether any more changes can be made before the final plan goes to a public referendum, probably some time in 2020, is unknown. But nothing will be lost by keeping up the pressure on Whitehall through whoever is our MP after 12 December to bring our antiquated planning policy guidelines more up-to-date faster. And indeed it may yet prove critical to do so. Meanwhile, for anyone who wants to read more on the Bridport situation here are some links: • Bridport Area Neighbourhood Plan (referendum version) -https://www.bridport-tc.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/BANP-Referendum-version_web-FINAL-251119.pdf • Examiner’s Report - https://www.bridport-tc.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Examiners-Report-FINAL.pdf • Bridport Town Council Climate Emergency Action Plan -https://www.bridport-tc.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/Climate-Emergency-Action-Plan-FINAL-v5-following-Full-Council-approval.pdf
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richardgthomas01
Nov 15, 2019
In General Discussions
Simon Hoare, North Dorset's Conservative MP until the dissolution of Parliament, replied to my request for his views on the climate emergency by saying: 'As I don’t know what the questions will be [at the 21 November hustings] I’m obviously not sure what my answers will be.' But he said he was prepared to give the following what he called 'a top line flavour' of his views: 'My main thrust will be: energy efficient building regulations, use of economic instruments to nudge behaviours, positioning 2050 as an end date not a target, and finally supporting initiatives to make our sophisticated lives more sustainable/less impactful.' So that's a full house: all four North Dorset Parliamentary candidates' views on the climate emergency are now on this Forum. Pin 'em down on 21 November!
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richardgthomas01
Nov 15, 2019
In General Discussions
It's all here: https://www.gillingham-news.co.uk/news/north-dorset-green-party-candidate-adds-his-voice-to-the-climate-change-debate/
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richardgthomas01
Nov 12, 2019
In General Discussions
Read it here: https://www.gillingham-news.co.uk/news/north-dorset-lib-dem-candidate-pleads-for-urgent-action-against-climate-change/
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richardgthomas01
Nov 08, 2019
In General Discussions
New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern delivers an inspirational speech in launching her country's pioneering Zero Carbon Act. Would we had her like in this country: https://twitter.com/i/events/1192521834882719744?cn=ZmxleGlibGVfcmVjc18y&refsrc=email
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richardgthomas01
Nov 07, 2019
In General Discussions
New Zealand's Zero Carbon Act has just passed its third reading in the country's Parliament with unanimous support and thus becomes law. The Act 'embeds in law a target of net zero emissions by 2050 or earlier' and 'establishes the mechanisms to take the politics out of climate change so that we can solve it together with the support of all major political parties.' It is the result of nearly four years of volunteer effort by a variety of the country's climate lobbyists to create 'a pathway to a resilient, just and thriving Aotearoa [New Zealand], free from fossil fuels.' Watch this inspirational speech by New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern in launching the Act: https://twitter.com/i/events/1192521834882719744?cn=ZmxleGlibGVfcmVjc18y&refsrc=email • Dorset town and parish councils have been invited to a 'climate emergency advice seminar' being organised by Low Carbon Dorset in Dorchester on 19 November. The workshop is to help local councils see 'how they can respond to the climate emergency.' It is not yet known if any member of Shaftesbury town council is attending.
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richardgthomas01
Nov 06, 2019
In General Discussions
In response to Rachel's plea below is the following from Pat Osborne, Labour's candidate for North Dorset in the 12 December election: https://www.gillingham-news.co.uk/news/north-dorset-labour-candidate-calls-for-quicker-action-to-combat-climate-change/ He's from Gillingham and now lives in Blandford so a local lad. Hustings also need lots of good old-fashioned posters up around town: 'Come and hear what your Parliamentary candidates think about the climate emergency etc...' Let me know if I can help...
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richardgthomas01
Sep 25, 2019
In General Discussions
Gillingham and Shaftesbury Extinction Rebellion (XR) climate change activitists are joining the Save Our Shores environmental groups this weekend (27-29 Sept) for a pilgrimage from Shaftesbury to the Jurassic cost in protest at plans for more oil drilling off the Dorset coast. See more on Gillingham News website https://www.gillingham-news.co.uk/news/gillingham-and-shaftesbury-protestors-join-pilgrimage-to-stop-oil-drilling/
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richardgthomas01
Sep 25, 2019
In General Discussions
In response to local pressure Lidl has just announced it is not only altering its plans for its new supermarket on the old cattle market site in Shaftesbury to include solar panels on the roof but will also now include two electric vehicle (EV) charging points in the car park. People power works! This should probably go into the 'Blog' section as news but I don't seem to be accepted there - or maybe its just not obvious enough how to do it! - so herewith.
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richardgthomas01
Jun 13, 2019
In General Discussions
SHAFTESBURY Town Council is to vote on whether or not to declare a climate emergency for Shaftesbury at its meeting on 23 July. So that's a date for your dairy if you want to turn up to support it, as you're entitled and allowed. The motion to declare the emergency has been proposed by new town councillor Alex Chase, who's a Conservative, and seconded by the council's new mayor Tim Cook, a LibDem. The motion should have gone to the council meeting on 18 June - the first full council meeting of the new council in this municipal year - but town clerk Claire Commons deemed it had not been submitted in time. Alex Chase has said his motion is a declaration of principle at this stage - much as the motion adopted by the new Dorset Council in May - and so it's unlikely the council will decide on specific followup actions on 23 July. But a key question for anyone concerned about this issue is to ensure that climate emergency measures are included in the council's emerging neighbourhood plan that is due to go out to public consultation for the first time the week before, on 15 July. If they are not - and it remains to be seen at the time of writing that this is so - there has to be a question mark over the value of the plan in the first place. Plenty to look forward to then. Watch this space...
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richardgthomas01
May 30, 2019
In General Discussions
For a truly terrifying example of how a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing when it comes to climate change, activists need look no further than a quixotic letter from the inveterate BVM letter-writer Bill Woodhouse of Mappowder on page 39 of today's BVM (31 May) headed 'Changing climates'. Attacking Dorset Council's recent declaration of a climate emergency, he argues with inaccurate history and false logic that all that is really happening with the climate is a natural fluctuation and the children of those 'postulating about global warming' will soon 'freeze to death' because 'our politicians will have got rid of our sources of heat such as oil and coal.' It's a reminder, if reminders are necessary, that Dorset still has more than its fair share of climate change deniers and support for the climate cause cannot be taken for granted...
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richardgthomas01
May 27, 2019
In General Discussions
The Green Party beat the new Dorset Council's ruling party, the Conservatives, into a humiliating fourth place in the EU election in Dorset on 23 May. On a 41 per cent total turnout, Dorset voters put The Greens into third place with 17,843 votes against the Conservatives on only 12,076 votes. Top of the Dorset poll, almost inevitably in a county that voted 'Out' in 2016, came The Brexit Party with 50,163 votes, ahead of the Liberal Democrats far behind in second place on 26,789. If it proves anything, it proves that Dorset remains a convinced 'Leave' county with some 6,500 more votes to leave the EU than all those for 'Remain' parties. But it also demonstrates that Dorset Council can ill afford to ignore the environmental vote from now on. So will it listen? You'll know at its next full council meeting on 18 July.
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richardgthomas01
Apr 24, 2019
In General Discussions
The following email was received from Shaftesbury UKIP candidate Steve Unwin in response to the question of whether or not he would support the declaration of a climate emergency in Dorset if elected to the new Dorset Council on 2 May: 'Apologies for the delay [in replying] and your need to chase me up, but my immediate instinct was a one word reply, a little stronger (and unpublishable!) than "no".  However, as I explained to you when you knocked on my door, it is an absolute "no" from me in terms of proposing this idea, and I may well even vote against it if it ever came up. 'I am not quite sure what these councils are up to, apart from their usual gesture posturing.  So if that is what it is all about - a feeble attempt at being trendy - then I would oppose it in any case, as local councils should concentrate their efforts on services, and councillors should not be drawing allowances to become paid local politicians. 'On a national level I would, however, support the UK government paying the return air fair to send these Extinction Rebellion hippies to have a go at protesting in China - accountable for 29% of world CO2 emissions. That is where there is a genuine climate emergency - NOT Dorset.  The UK accounts for just 1% or so of world CO2 emissions … and falling.  The subsidised air fairs [sic] would be far, far cheaper to the UK economy compared to the disruption they are causing here, and they will find it easier to get arrested, which seems part of their plan.  So a triple win, win, win situation - but the take-up might not be so great, which is probably overall a good thing! 'Sorry, but with the propaganda being pumped out by the likes of the BBC (I no longer watch TV, our aerial cut off a couple of years ago, and we have not bothered fixing it) appears to be continuing, and getting worse. See this https://www.thegwpf.com/was-this-the-bbcs-worst-climate-show-ever/ 'I remain to be convinced, and am more concerned that, with the ongoing betrayal of the biggest exercise in popular democracy the UK has ever seen (confirmed by the subsequent General Election in which Labour and the Tories mendaciously pledged to implement the will of the people, on the basis of which people like me stood aside taking them at their word, and the two parties took a record 82.4% of the vote.)  The emergency in plain sight is that democracy is being killed. But, perish the thought - why would Gillingham & Shaftesbury News want to talk about that when you can talk about the weather?
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richardgthomas01
Apr 24, 2019
In General Discussions
The following question on climate change was put to each of the 11 Shaftesbury candidates for Dorset Council: ‘If elected on 2 May, will you immediately propose that Dorset Council passes a resolution to declare a climate emergency in Dorset in line with 70 other local authorities in England including Wiltshire, Somerset, Devon and Cornwall councils?’ Here’s how they answered (in alphabetical order of surname): Derek Beer (LibDem): Yes, I really like that idea. I may not do it on day one but will at the first sensible opportunity that I am able to with a window of success. I am also promoting the ‘Go wild for Britain’ campaign, which raises awareness and participation in supporting the food chain, from butterflies to bugs to hedge birds etc. Alex Chase (Conservative): While I cannot guarantee immediately proposing this resolution, I do agree our current situation is grave and we must work to combat the damage already done. I would be happy to support a well thought-through resolution but changes and improvements must be funded adequately and taxpayers in North Dorset have already seen a substantial increase in their council tax bill this year. But I will always fight for greener policies across Shaftesbury and the whole of Dorset. Tim Cook (LibDem): Climate change is an issue that affects us all, no matter where on this planet we live.  If elected to the new Dorset Council I will do what I can to ensure Dorset joins other councils in the South West to become carbon neutral by 2030. Melanie Costas (Labour): Yes, but I’m sad to see the action of Devon Council in only committing to a target date of 2050 rather than 2030 like the other councils. No wonder there were shouts of ‘shame on you’ from the public at their debate. Lester Dibben (Independent): Yes, I will [because] this is due not just to my own view but as a result of others raising concerns. Andy Hollingshead (Independent): Yes, but I would prefer Green Party members to lead on this as I’m conscious this campaign is being led by them and it would only be good manners to defer to them in this. But if they don’t lead or no Green Party members get elected I would be very happy to initiate the proposal at the County Council. William Kenealy (Labour): Yes, our manifesto doesn't directly promise it but it is totally in keeping so yes. Julian Prichard (Conservative): Yes, I would be happy to propose a resolution to declare a climate emergency in-line with Government targets and look what Dorset would need to do to reach a target of being carbon neutral by 2030. Lester Taylor (UKIP): I would be unhappy to put forward or second a motion asking fellow councillors to support declaring a climate emergency, unless it contained fully budgeted and concrete actions that could be taken by that particular council to deal with it. I would, of course, be happy to look at and debate any such motion were it put forward. Steve Unwin (UKIP): No, I would definitely not propose such a thing and it is even questionable whether I would support it if someone else did. I’m not a hippy. Peter Yeo (Independent): Yes, and I'll be particularly pushing for car charging points everywhere as soon as possible to help promote the change to electric cars and good quality cast-iron bins in high streets and other key points with dual recyclable and non-recyclable sections in one bin as in places like London.
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richardgthomas01
Mar 21, 2019
In General Discussions
https://www.bbc.com/ideas/videos/climate-change-need-not-become-the-legacy-we-leave/p073ckcz?playlist=planet-matters
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richardgthomas01
Mar 16, 2019
In General Discussions
https://www.google.com/maps/d/u/0/viewer?actionButton=1&mid=1xsUCSYLnm8d6iFJ2Mt7_kAlv9xULqRQf&ll=23.605251011018655%2C-178.27769128982072&z=2&fbclid=IwAR3rm_4uL6-e4cZdBIaJsYdRE5IVgL8qGJr7gPQFzlEsqp75afSdEs-336E
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