On May 2nd 2019, one felt that a new dawn had arrived in local politics within our district when six Labour Cllrs, five Green Cllrs and two Lib Dems were elected to the district council.
One hoped they’d hit the ground running and start giving the Conservative led council a difficult time. But within a year, both a Lib Dem and Green Cllr had come to sit on Cllr Monk’s Cabinet, accepting the £16,000 for doing so, and promises and dreams of change were shattered.
It has now come to light that Cllr L Whybrow, as the Chair of the Climate & Ecological Working Group and Cabinet Member for the Environment, along with our council, Folkestone & Hythe District Council, have failed to consult with the residents over the Carbon Action Plan
As you may or may not know, all EU legislation as it applied to the UK on 31 December 2020 is now a part of UK domestic legislation. This means that the terms of the Aarhus Convention are also part of UK law.
One of the purposes of the Aarhus Convention was to lawfully establish public consultation rights on all plans, strategies and polices relating to the environment including building works, licensing and permitting, environmental impact assessments and the development of national, regional, local and neighbourhood plans, strategies and polices which may have an impact upon the environment.
The Council’s current Carbon Action Plan falls within the definition “plans, strategies and polices”. It’s clear the “plan” will have an impact upon our/the environment.
Article 7 of the Aarhus Convention says that
“Each Party (in this case FHDC) shall make appropriate practical and/or other provisions for the public to participate during the preparation of plans and programmes relating to the environment, within a transparent and fair framework, having provided the necessary information to the public”
Page 179 of the Aarhus Implementation Guide says the public authority conducting the consultation “must provide the public with access to the information relevant to the preparation of the plans and programmes themselves”.
Residents of the district were NOT provided with access to information relevant to the preparation of the Carbon Action Plan as all meetings of the Climate & Ecological Working Group were held behind closed doors.
Paragraphs 174 and 175 of Maastricht Recommendations on Promoting Effective Public Participation in Decision-making in Environmental Matters (prepared under the Aarhus Convention) make many comments on the type of information which must be provided as part of the consultation exercise including:
Information about the decision-making procedure, including all opportunities for the public to participate;
“The economic analyses, cost benefit and other analyses upon which the plan, programmed or policy is based”… Information about the potential effects of the plan, programme or policy (such as) legal consequences social impacts or economic impacts”
Information about the possible effects of the proposed plan or programme, including the analyses through which these effects have been assessed.
Environmental impacts and any proposed mitigation measures
Cllr Whybrow (Green) in her role as Cabinet Member for the Environment and chair of the Climate & Ecological Working Group (held behind closed doors), has along with our Council failed to consult with residents of the district about the Carbon Action Plan, as is and was required by law.
As such the Council’s Carbon Action Plan is ultra vires or in layman’s terms unlawful.
Cllr L Whybrow stated prior to her election in May 2019:
“The council is not at all transparent… it does not go out and listen to the people and does not listen to what the people want… we need to make the Council more open and reactive to what the people want.”
Cllr Lesley Whybrow is no different from Cllr David Monk. We do not say that lightly. She has denied you the residents your rights to be consulted over the Carbon Action Plan. As such what she and our council have done is unlawful. Given her party have planted trees on the canal and committed and offence, it appears breaking the law is getting to be a habit for elected members of Shepway Green Party.
Niether she or the Council care for our environment, or for your thoughts on our environment in our district. As such she has become one of Cllr Monk’s stooges. She takes the £16,000 for being a member of the Cabinet yet denies you the residents of our wonderful district, your right to consultation.
It is clear she runs with the foxes and hunts with the hounds.
The Shepway Vox Team
The Velvet Voices of Dissent