Met Police acted unlawfully in Extinction rebellion ban

This is an historic win because for the first time we’ve challenged the police on overstepping their powers and we’ve won. It’s great.

This shows how the police have gone beyond their powers when dealing with peaceful environmental protests, There is a pattern in recent years of the police being under pressure from the government to help impose fracking on communities that don’t want it and to stop the highly successful Extinction Rebellion from raising the issue of climate change. Government Ministers were very vocal in wanting the police to clamp down on Extinction Rebellion’s October protests, after the summer protests led to Parliament passing a motion declaring a climate emergency.

Incinerators have no place in a zero-carbon world

I find it infuriating that Labour and Lib Dem councils are still approving waste from energy incinerators while their national parties declare a Climate Emergency. Labour have passed a motion at their conference aiming for zero carbon by 2030, but contracts between local authorities and incineration companies will last well beyond this timescale.

In 2016 waste incinerators officially accounted for 10.5 million tonnes of greenhouse gases and that total is going up rapidly as we burn more waste.  The real total is double that according to analysis done by the ‘No Incinerator UK’ campaign, who point out that the amount of plastic being burnt has gone up rapidly since 2011 when the government last calculated the mix of waste that was being put into incinerators.

A quick glance at oil company profits from recent years shows that plastic production has become crucial to their profitability with plastics accounting for half of global oil consumption growth to 2040. Oil, in the form of plastic, is the ideal fuel for incinerators and enables them to reach the temperatures where everything else burns nicely. We want to stop cars using petrol in the next ten years, so why are we happy for incinerators to use it?

Two years after Grenfell and what has changed?

Part 1 of the Inquiry into the fire at Grenfell Tower has been published and the obvious question is why hasn’t the government removed the cladding from the other 400 high rise buildings that could be a danger to those living inside them.

Compartmentation of the building, whereby fires were supposed to be contained within individual flats, therefore failed. The whole building was ablaze. The “stay put” guidance was based on compartmentation, and there was no plan in place for changing from “stay put” advice to “get out”. I raised these issues after the Lakanal House fire, in which six people died, as part of my report as Chair of the Planning and Housing Committee of the London Assembly. It is staggering that the same mistakes can be made after so many warnings.

The cladding on Grenfell Tower did not comply with the Building Regulations. The Inquiry did not make a recommendation to remove the cladding on other buildings because it was self evident that it must be done, and “because it is accepted that it must be done”. The Chair adds that “the programme of remedial work should be pursued as vigorously as possible.”

It is more than two years since the Grenfell disaster – it is gross negligence of the government and the owners of these buildings that they are still smothered in this flammable substance. 

The second question is why Ministers ignored warnings from within the industry that the regulations were confusing and needed revision? Part two of the Grenfell Inquiry has to quickly give us the answer. My view is that the desire of Minister’s to eliminate red tape and promote self regulation, led to a widespread culture of cutting corners on health and safety. The fire brigade lacked the regulatory powers and resources to ensure that buildings were safe, but continued to plan their response to emergencies on the assumption that the building regulations would contain the fires in one place. The Lakanal House fire should have shown the London Fire Brigade that this wasn’t the case, which is why I was the first elected politician to call for the public inquiry into that fire. Sadly, the public inquiry did not happen.

We failed to learn lessons when we had the chance, I hope the Grenfell Tower Inquiry can speed up the process of making people’s homes safe places to sleep.

Future Generations Bill introduced

Today, I am introducing the Future Generations Bill on behalf of independent peer, John Bird (founder of Big Issue). This Bill aims to look after the interests of the very young and those not yet born. In the words of John Bird, the world of tomorrow should: “… not simply be an accumulation of the half-arsed hopes and the short-term governmental thinking of days gone by.”

Continue reading “Future Generations Bill introduced”

Court date 24th October – Extinction rebellion ban

Extinction Rebellion’s application for Judicial Review has been scheduled for an urgent day-long hearing in the High Court on Thursday 24 October from 10.30am. Baroness Jenny Jones, Caroline Lucas MP, Clive Lewis MP, David Drew MP, Ellie Chowns MEP, George Monbiot, and Adam Allnut are bringing the action on behalf of Extinction Rebellion to challenge the police’s blanket ban on our protests across the whole of London for the remainder of the week. Continue reading “Court date 24th October – Extinction rebellion ban”

Legal challenge to Extinction Rebellion ban

A collection of Climate rebels, including Parliamentarians such as myself, Caroline Lucas MP and Ellie Chowns MEP, are taking the Met Police to court to challenge the Section 14 Order which bans Extinction Rebellion Protests throughout the whole of London. We believe that the ban is an abuse of the law and in violation of fundamental human rights and our lawyers are seeking an emergency hearing this afternoon. We expect that the Court will rule the ban null and void. Continue reading “Legal challenge to Extinction Rebellion ban”

Austerity and deaths on lawless roads

If you are a pedestrian who gets killed or suffers serious life changing injuries as a result of being hit by a car, there is more than a one in ten chance that the driver will fail to stop. One of the reasons our roads have become so lawless is the lack of resources put into police investigation and enforcement of road crimes.

Latest figures from RoadPeace (the charity for victims of road crime) shows that the number of traffic police outside London has been nearly cut in half since austerity started in 2010. London remains exceptional due to additional funding from Transport for London which began during my time as Ken Livingstone’s Road Safety Ambassador. London remains far from perfect, but Greens have made a small difference.

A RoadPeace report in 2016 found that cuts to traffic police resulted in declining levels of enforcement and prosecution of crimes like drink driving, driving without a licence and a failure to stop. Whilst there had been more camera-based enforcement of speeding, any prosecution involving an actual officer on the road had gone down.

The latest figures from 2017 show that hit and runs involving a death or injury are just over 40 a day. I believe that there should be an automatic life time driving ban for anyone failing to stop when someone has been injured as the result of a road collision and will be lobbying the Government on this.

Total casaulties hit and runs 14,571 in 2017, which is around 40 a day

Total Pedestrian KSIs 6628 in 2017, of which 829 were hit and runs. 12.5%

Burning more than we recycle

Over two years ago, I predicted that we would now be reaching the point where we burnt more household waste than we recycled and the 2018/19 figures from DEFRA, due to be published this December, will confirm that I was right. I have been warning that this would happen since my time as a London Assembly member, when it became clear that several London boroughs were tied into incineration contracts that inevitably led to them recycling far less than neighbouring boroughs. Continue reading “Burning more than we recycle”

Green New Deal, Agriculture and Fisheries

It is no longer hyperbole to state that our planet is facing multiple existential threats. It was the conclusion, and consensus, of international scientists laid out in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report late last year. And it is bolstered by the UN’s terrifying new report by the Intergovernmental Science Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. The conclusions can be summarised in a simple truth: humanity has caused mass extinctions and we are destroying the natural systems on which we all depend. It isn’t too late to change course – but we cannot delay a moment longer. Continue reading “Green New Deal, Agriculture and Fisheries”