Cooling Marshes, Kent, 7th December 2014

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Mad March

Popping home the other week I was intrigued to find an envelope waiting for me boldly marked ‘House of Commons’. Interesting mail is a rarity these days so I was quite excited. As it turns out it was a response from my local Conservative MP regarding an email I had sent questioning the government’s commitment to the environment in the forthcoming budget. It’s a nicely worded letter: he shares my view that the natural environment is “central to economic prosperity” and goes on to highlight that the government really is committed to being the “greenest ever” (citing the Green Deal, the Green Investment Bank and energy reforms, hmm...think I’ll save that for another email) He also assures me that he has bought my issues to the attention of the Treasury team which is jolly nice of him.
Ok, so it’s a fairly standard letter (no doubt one of many) but from it, there are two points which I think are particularly worthy of note. Firstly, it highlights what an important month March will be for the environment. On March 21st George Osborne will reveal the government’s spending blueprint for the coming year. If his Autumn Statement is anything to go by, the environment is in for a pasting. Will that ‘greenest government ever’ claim be proven or will it just be exposed as cynical, vote-pandering, hyperbole? Watch this space. The letter also mentions the proposed Thames Estuary Airport and the draft sustainable framework for aviation which is due to be published later this month. The outcome of this is also likely to have a significant impact on the environment at a local and international level, as it will lay out the government’s plans for the future of aviation in the UK.
The second point about this letter and one I found to be a helpful reminder, is that y’know all those online campaigns you read, those email templates you dutifully fill in and send off...well they do get read. I passionately believe that the environment is worth fighting for, that it needs a voice, especially in the political arena. But I guess there’s a small part of me that sometimes doubts whether these online tactics are effective. On bad days I envisage an aide hunched over a laptop, hitting ‘delete’ on all the messages clogging up their boss’s inbox. Of course, I don’t expect replies and its good PR when they are acknowledged, but it’s encouraging to know that some do get read. I still, and will always, keep sending them off (although I'm not expecting a reply from George)

Your MP might be a hip young gunslinger or they might be a characterless fool, but at the end of the day he or she is your hotline to the Commons and your best chance of being heard since angry mobs barging into Parliament wielding lists of DEMANDS went out of fashion. I won’t be voting for Gareth Johnson, Conservative MP for Dartford, at the next election because we have very different views, but I appreciate his reply.
Not sure who your MP is? Check here.
Make sure the environment gets a good deal in the budget here,
Dft Website: when the framework is launched, click on ‘consultations’ to have your say. Who knows?

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