Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Dawn Butler gives Brent FoE her views on pressing environmental issues

Brent Friends of the Earth have issued the following account of their meeting with Dawn Butler, Labour, Brent Central, when they lobbied her over Climate Change.
Six members of Brent Friends of the Earth (Brent FoE) met with Brent Central MP Dawn Butler at the House of Commons this Wednesday 17th June as part of a climate change lobby of Parliament.

The campaigners joined thousands of concerned people from all around the country to take part in 'For the Love of' – a mass lobby to urge MPs to take urgent action on climate change. The Brent group focussed their views on fracking, solar schools, fuel poverty, and airport expansion, and found much common ground with their newly-elected MP.

On fracking, Dawn is now as signatory to Labour MP Geraint Davies' “Fracking (Measurement and Regulation of Impacts) (Air, Water and Greenhouse Gas Emissions) Bill”, which hopes to stop fracking through making the contamination of water used and the emissions created by the process illegal. Fracking uses vast quantities of water along with toxic chemicals to extract shale gas. Forcing companies to clean this up would make extraction too expensive. She supports Labour leadership candidate Andy Burnham MP in calling for a moratorium on this controversial technology in order to concentrate efforts on supporting renewables. Both Wales and Scotland already have moratoriums in place.

Viv Stein, Spokesperson for Brent FoE says, “With a decision due next week on whether to approve the UK's first fracking site in Lancashire, it is vital that we put a stop to fracking now. Giving the go ahead to this dirty fossil fuel there could pave the way for more fracking up and down the country, including a proposed site at Park Royal in Brent. It would also reduce the chance of preventing irreversible climate change. We need to leave shale gas in the ground and invest in renewable energy instead.”

“Fracking companies and the Government need to know they will find huge opposition wherever they plan to drill. We were pleased that Dawn Butler agrees that we should put a stop to fracking now, and that renewable energy is the way forward to secure our energy needs.”

On renewable energy, Brent FoE have been instrumental in setting up a local community energy co-operative, 'Brent Pure Energy', to put solar panels on schools and public buildings. Dawn favours extending the scheme to local churches and a mosque in Willesden Green, and she is also setting up a 'Green Cabinet' to focus attention on sustainability in Brent.

Dawn this week was voted Vice Chair of PRASEG, the All Party Parliamentary Renewable and Sustainable Energy Group - a group of MPs and senior industry stakeholders working together to promote issues around sustainable and renewable energy in Parliament. As Vice Chair Dawn will play a leading role in helping PRASEG hold the government to account and ensuring the UK plays a leading role worldwide on energy and climate change.

Ensuring warmer homes and ending fuel poverty is also a particular concern for both Brent FoE and Dawn. As a Magistrate she sees many people in court penalised for defaulting on energy bills. She wants to end the high tariffs charged by pre-payment meters, and to encourage landlords to insulate homes. NHS budgets will also benefit as cold homes mean poor health.

Dawn Butler, Labour MP for Brent Central says, “Ending fuel poverty and protecting tenants against excessive fuel bills are high on my agenda. I'm on board - Friends of the Earth are pushing on an open door with me on this, but it's not so open it's letting all the energy out!”

On airport expansion Dawn opposes the proposed expansion at Heathrow, but is not convinced that future expansion might be needed based on 'the business case'. She supports London Mayoral candidate Sadiq Khan, who has come out against Heathrow. FoE believe airports should not be allowed to expand, and that most of the extra capacity is for transfers so would not make much impact on UK business. The group did not agree with Dawn's belief that there are 'greener' planes. We believe the only 'green' plane is the 'solar impulse' a solar powered plane, which recently paused its round the world flight. Flying still remains the most carbon-intensive form of travel.

The lobby of Parliament is was organised by the Climate Coalition – the UK's largest group of people dedicated to action on climate change. For more details see http://fortheloveof.org.uk/. Brent FoE has a website at www.brentfoe.com. To sign FoE's urgent petition to keep Lancashire frack free go to https://www.foe.co.uk/act/psfl.

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