On the 2nd May 2019, residents of the district elected five members of the Shepway Green Party.
This is a party which alleges to be committed to improving our environment locally. Yet after nearly two years in power, they have done little to nothing to improve our local environment.
Let’s not forget for over a year the Folkestone & Hythe District Council Cabinet Member for the Environment has been, Cllr Lesley Whybrow, a Shepway Green Party member and fervent camapigner to Save Princes Parade.
Under Regulation 4(4)(a) of the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 states that public authorities, such as our Council, our Hospital Trust, Folkestone Harbour Company, for example, MUST organise and publish, via their website, as a minimum, any information they hold that is listed in Article 7(2) of EU Directive
For those of you who think EU Directives don’t apply, think again. [EU legislation which applied directly or indirectly to the UK before 11.00 p.m. on 31 December 2020 has been retained in UK law as a form of domestic legislation known as ‘retained EU legislation’. This is set out in sections 2 and 3 of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 (c. 16). Section 4 of the 2018 Act ensures that any remaining EU rights and obligations, including directly effective rights within EU treaties, continue to be recognised and available in domestic law after exit.]
So, it’s very clear, environmental information which must be proactively disseminated by our council under Article 7(2) European Directive 2003/4/EC shall include at least:
A – texts of international treaties, conventions or agreements, and of Community, national, regional or local legislation, on the environment or relating to it;
B – policies, plans and programmes relating to the environment;
C – progress reports on the implementation of the items referred to in (a) and (b) when prepared or held in electronic form by public authorities;
D – the reports on the state of the environment referred to in paragraph 3;
E – data or summaries of data derived from the monitoring of activities affecting, or likely to affect, the environment;
F – authorisations with a significant impact on the environment and environmental agreements or a reference to the place where such information can be requested or found in the framework of Article 3;
G – environmental impact studies and risk assessments concerning the environmental elements referred to in Article 2(1)(a) or a reference to the place where the information can be requested or found in the framework of Article 3.
The final bullet point – G – is very important as Article 2(1)(a) relates to:
The state of the elements of the environment, such as air and atmosphere, water, soil, land, landscape and natural sites including wetlands, coastal and marine areas, biological diversity and its components, including genetically modified organisms, and the interaction among these elements;
If the Cabinet Member for the Environment ensured the Council, she is part of, published, via their website, the environmental information it MUST, residents would have the risk assessment and the environmental impact assessment for the work being undertaken on the North Bank of Princes Parade. Alas though we don’t.
It is not enough for the Cabinet Member for the Environment, Cllr Lesley Whybrow, or her other elected Shepway Green Party Cllrs to say they were ignorant of these facts. Ignorance is NO defence.
The law is on her side. She and her Green colleagues have had two years and they’ve done NOTHING about making our Council proactively disseminate environmental information to the residents of the district. Nothing! Oh wait, she has managed as chair of the Climate & Ecological Working Group to have published a Carbon Action Plan. This though was put together behind closed doors, which the legislation makes clear should NOT happen.
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) sets out very clearly Council’s like ours must proactively disseminate environmental information and they are even kind enough to publish the said information.
The Shepway Green Party and other campaign groups talk lots about Saving Princes Parade, stopping Otterpool Park, and generally improving our local environment, but seem so ignorant of real legislation which will help and support their cause. This must change if they are to more effective.
The legislation is there to support our Cllrs, especially the Cabinet Member for the Environment, to bring a motion at full council to implement the proactive dissemination of environmental information, which impacts on all our lives and our environment locally.
The law supports them, now let them show they support and care for our wonderful environment across the whole of our district.
Let our Cllrs show their actions will speak louder than their words. Let our Cllrs show there is a brightside for our environment. Let our Cllrs bring a motion and set the environmental information free.
The Shepway Vox Team
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