Clare PPN submission to Minister Pippa Hackett’s ‘Forestry Bill’
On July 31st, 2020, Minister of State for Land Use and Biodiversity, Pippa Hackett, opened a short public consultation process in relation to the Draft Agriculture Appeals (Amendment) Bill 2020, also known as the ‘Forestry Bill’. The deadline for submissions was Friday, August 28th.
If passed, the Bill would significantly reduce the ability of members of the public and environmental NGOs to appeal the granting of forestry licences and other forestry-related decisions. It also proposes to introduce fees for making appeals.
Clare PPN made a submission in relation to this Bill, based on input from members of our Environmental College and of the Clare Environmental Network. A copy of our submission is available at this link:
Clare PPN submission on the Draft Agriculture Appeals (Amendment) Bill 2020
Important update from Clare PPN on yesterday’s Clare County Council meeting.
Please note that we still need to seek clarity on some issues below as these are just based on our notes from yesterday and will need to be confirmed by official council minutes.
Update on Clare PPN’s Submissions to Clare County Council from their meeting of September 9th 2019
Yesterday, among other business, three items on which Clare PPN and our member groups had made submissions on were up for consideration by Clare County Council.
Those items were
• Clare County’s Draft Climate Adaptation Strategy 2019- 2024
• The Draft Scheme for Strategic Policy Committees 2019 – 2024
• Clare County’s Traveller Accommodation Strategy 2019- 2024
Clare PPN had contacted all Councillors seeking their support in advance of this meeting because it was brought to our attention that in particular the Draft Climate Adaptation Strategy was being presented to Councillors as originally drafted despite more than 29 individual submissions being received. One of those submissions was from Clare PPN and Clare Environmental Network and had been contributed to by 27 separate environmental groups in the County. We are grateful that a cross party group of Councillors sought and secured a special meeting of Clare County Council on the Draft Climate Adaptation Strategy. This will ensure that Councillors can consider each submission received and question the directors of service as to their decisions. This meeting will take place next Monday September 16th at 2pm in the Council Chamber and the gallery will be open to the public. We would encourage any of our members who made submissions to attend however we will also attend at take notes for feedback purposes.
As part of Clare PPN’s submissions to both the Draft Climate Adaptation Strategy 2019 -2024 and to the Draft Strategic Policy Committee 2019- 2024 we had requested that a separate dedicated Climate Change and Biodiversity Strategic Policy Committee be set up in Clare and that all other SPCs would have a minimum of one environmental representative seat. The proposal for a Climate Change and Biodiversity SPC was not agreed at yesterday’s meeting which is something that Clare PPN and our member groups consider a lost opportunity and it is something we will continue to campaign for. Several changes that we do welcome were proposed and seconded however by the Councillors and we look forward to seeing the following actions implemented:
-A full time Climate Change and Biodiversity Officer will be appointed from within existing staff resources to oversee Climate Change and Biodiversity Actions across all directorates.
-Each Strategic Policy Committee will have Climate Change and Biodiversity as a standing agenda item.
-Each Directorate will issue a monthly report on Climate Change and Biodiversity as part of their contribution to the Monthly Management Report.
We also note the proposals to rename/add areas of responsibility two existing Strategic Policy Committees as follows:
The Physical Development SPC will be renamed ‘SPC for Physical Development and Climate Change’ and the SPC for Economic Development will be renamed SPC for Economic Development and Biodiversity. On behalf of our members we seek clarification from the Council on the rationale for these changes, in particular we wish to ascertain the reason that Climate Change and Biodiversity are being separated and secondly how it was decided that biodiversity should sit with Economic Development. Clare PPN considers that the changes in responsibility for the above SPCs will necessitate extra seats for community environmental interests if they are to be effective. We will seek clarity from Clare County Council as to whether this has already been incorporated in the changes.
We thank the Councillors for their support in ensuring that the views of all of those who made submissions will be given consideration at Council level next Monday and for working to ensure that Climate Change and Biodiversity are made central to the work of all directorates in the Council. We look forward to working with them to ensure that these actions are implemented as soon as possible.
Submissions relating to the Traveller Community:
Our submission on the Draft Strategic Policy Scheme requested that the Local Traveller Accommodation Consultative Committee be reconfigured as a Strategic Policy Committee which is in line with a proposal made in an independently commissioned report for the National Traveller Accommodation Consultative Committee. This was not accepted and the LTACC will instead continue as a stand-alone committee, where issues raised may come before the Social Development SPC which deals with housing. Clare PPN is disappointed that this committee was not reconfigured as suggested however we remain committed to working alongside Travellers to ensure that successful and meaningful participation is possible for the Traveller Community in Clare.
Further to that we welcome the fact that the Draft Traveller Accommodation Programme 2019 – 2024 was not adopted at yesterday’s Council meeting and was deferred until next month’s meeting. We had expressed our concerns that this plan was being passed without involvement from the Traveller Community. We will seek clarity however from Clare County Council on whether during this deferred month the Draft Traveller Accommodation Programme will reopen for submissions and if so what efforts will be made by the Local Authority to ensure that the community affected by this accommodation programme have an opportunity to have their views heard. Clare PPN is willing to assist in this regard in whatever way we can.
Overall we feel that several progressive changes were agreed at yesterday’s council meeting and whilst some of the above needs clarification we are extremely glad that the above strategies were not passed without respect and consideration given to community engagement. We hope to see further progress being made, in particular in relation to the issue of a dedicated Climate Change and Biodiversity SPC and towards a respectful and meaningful engagement between the Traveller community and the local authority. We state Clare PPN’s own commitment to working to ensure that the public and in particular Community and voluntary groups in Clare are able to influence and input to Local Government decisions. Thanks to the Councillors for their work on all of the above and in particular our thanks to all of those who engaged with and participated in our submissions.
Please note that as we said above these are not official minutes from Clare County Council’s meeting but are notes taken as the meeting happened so we can’t guarantee that we have no inaccuracies – but we’ll confirm as we get all details and official reports.