John Knight's September 2019 Talking Politics column for Macclesfield Express

22 September 2019

Last Friday, school students around the world took part in the Climate Strike; many workers downed tools and joined them.  Calling for urgent global action to halt the wholesale emission of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that threaten to send the climate over an irreversible tipping point in eleven years’ time, young people like Swedish school student Greta Thunberg are showing far more real leadership than the United Nations, never mind your Trumps, Putins, Xi Jinpings, or (heaven help us) Johnsons.

Here in Macclesfield too, young people took the lead, as school students demonstrated and marched through town to demand climate action, with hundreds of adults also gathering in support.  What a contrast to our supposed political “leadership”!  Our MP, who never usually misses an opportunity to get his photo in the paper, was nowhere to be seen.  Cheshire East Council may be “under new management”, but it still seems to be “business as usual”.  It’s all very well for them to announce that the mayor’s Bentley will be replaced with a greener vehicle and covers are to be placed over swimming pools, but our local Labour leadership seems just as firmly wedded to the car-culture as the previous Tory regime.

Combatting climate change demands - among other things - massively reduced, not increased, car- and air-travel.  Yet only this month, the council cabinet has asked the government for £22million towards the cost of building the Poynton Relief Road.  This is to be bulldozed through miles of Poynton and Adlington green belt, for the sake of increasing traffic into Macclesfield (100 years’ experience has shown that bypasses only ease traffic on other roads in the short term and actually increase traffic overall) as well as encouraging more air travel from Manchester Airport.

Some joined-up thinking is needed here, Cheshire East Council.

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Greens challenge Energy Secretary after shock revelation from frackers Cuadrilla

Green Party of England and Wales co-leader Jonathan Bartley has today (21 June) sent a letter (below) to Greg Clarke MP, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, to highlight the Party’s far-reaching concerns for the safety of the local community in the vicinity of Cuadrilla’s exploratory fracking site at Preston New Road in Lancashire.

The letter follows a meeting between Bartley and two directors from Cuadrilla, where he put questions from the community to them. Bartley is concerned both by the lack of information about emergency plans provided to the residents and by significant questions over whether or not there is even an evacuation plan in the event of a well blow out or other accident.

Bartley said:

“We’re calling on the Secretary not to make a decision over whether to grant a licence to frack until the matter has been investigated thoroughly and safety concerns are addressed. The fact that local residents don’t even know if there’s even a proper plan in place for emergencies - let alone evacuation - is deeply concerning.

“It would be completely unacceptable and be playing fast and loose with people’s safety to ignore these issues. The Secretary of State clearly shouldn’t make a decision on whether Cuadrilla should be allowed to frack until these serious questions are answered and the concerns of local people are addressed.”

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