Pollarded willow, Thirsk
MY ENVIRONMENTAL PRIORITIES
Local - The Green Corridor, Water Quality, Transport, Environmental Groups
Wider - Renewable energy, innovative farming, restoring and encouraging nature
National - Support for Farmers, More power for Regulators, Nature rich Habitats, Housing
I have always been mindful of environmental issues, recycling and my carbon footprint. When I taught in schools I promoted this by singing songs about the environment, litter picking and conservation, helping the Primary School I worked in to create an outdoor music garden made of recycled materials to enhance their environment and by taking in my ‘fire brick’ maker to encourage thoughts of creating energy from recycled materials.
I have been actively involved in local environmental groups for some time, attending the Friends of Cod Beck and the Flatts public meetings at the town hall but also following this up by attending Town Council meetings to hear about the continuing progress of our proposition to maintain a green corridor. I have been a member of the Facebook group since I found out about it and have worked, under supervision of experts😊, pulling up the Himalayan Balsam by the Beck, and taking pictures (and removing to a bin) the fast food wrappers I have found on my regular walks. When I need to engage with Nature that is where I can be found, having a walk, trying to identify the wildflowers , listening to the Beck and the birds. Apart from exercise and a place to walk a dog, it is an extremely important place for everyone’s mental well being.
I have been learning , through this website and from listening to people, more about water quality and the problems of the regular sewage dumping and, in Topcliffe, sewage backup. This is something that must be tackled and we must aim to make Yorkshire Water accountable for their actions. I was pleased to see that the protests about the pollution from the lorry park had been listened to and that a formal letter of warning had been sent to the polluters from the Environmental Agency; each small win, like the removal of the hardstand and re-seeding by York road, is heartening.
I am a member of The Repair Cafe as I hate to throw anything away and am proud to be an apprentice ‘repairer’ because I love ‘tinkering’ to find out how things work and make them usable again. Problem solving is a passion! Earlier this year a group of us organised a World Earth Day in Thirsk and Sowerby Town Hall. It was very well attended by many environmental and community groups, and by members of the public. I had a key part in the organisation of this event, particularly going to schools to encourage young people to be involved in the Earth Day art competition. This event was sponsored by the Labour Party for all the community, raising awareness, helping local businesses and generally bringing people together to think and talk about the environment.
On wider issues I am interested in supporting more accessible and extensive cycle ways and enabling more people to use public transport. Many Sowerby and Topcliffe residents are not near enough to walk to town, or to the railway station and I feel a better cycle and bus service would greatly enhance our area. Not only would it be healthier and greener in itself but it would mean fewer cars on our congested roads. People have been using their voice to tell me about their anger at the rising number of HGVs racing through the villages and surely this is, again, something to investigate. I’m not promising I can do anything about it but I would certainly make my voice heard in support of cyclists and walkers and a need for less built in car-dependent policies.
It is important that we are helping to tackle our global warming crisis whilst improving health and living standards at a local level. I would rather walk, cycle or use public transport, as my city-dwelling children can do, but sadly, as a resident in rural North Yorkshire, it is virtually impossible to access local services without having a car. Using a car, however, is not an option for the vulnerable or those who cannot drive and is a real rural problem. We get more people driving for longer, more traffic jams as we try to get into town and inevitably more road damage and accidents.
I have attended talks on environmental innovation in York at The Big Ideas Tent Event this summer, discussing renewable energy and vertical farming. I also attended the Labour Party Conference, listening to Ed Milliband and Steve Reed talk about their ideas on environmental agendas and rural issues, and the fringe event ‘Networking for Nature’ where I spoke to representatives from the groups Green Alliance, National Trust, The Wildlife Trusts, Greenpeace and the RSPB.
I haven’t just listened but have used my voice to ask questions in forums about how these issues relate to our area; rural voices must be heard! In May I emailed our MP Keving Hollingrake asking where he stood on the Rosebank issue after Chris Skidmore spoke out against it. Local Government needs greater power to tackle such issues as our green corridor and water cleanliness. I want to be a part of the Local Labour Group in order to push our environmental agenda.
Local farmers can be helped by negotiating a veterinary agreement with the EU, ensuring that half of all food bought by the public sector is locally or sustainably produced, and making Britain a clean energy superpower to cut farmers’ energy bills. All of this has an impact on our environment. The regulators should be given the powers they need by putting the water industry under “special measures” to force them to clean up:
○ Expand Ofwat powers to ban the payment of bonuses to water bosses until they’ve cleaned up their filth.
○ Making law-breaking bosses personally criminally liable for their crimes.
○ Making monitoring of every water outlet compulsory.
○ Introducing automatic, instant, severe fines for every illegal sewage dump.
At this time one third of our birds are threatened with extinction! Our environmental legacy is one of creating National Parks, introducing the Rights of Way Act and delivering the world’s first climate legislation to curb gas emissions. This legacy must be taken forward to restore our great British countryside by reinstating nature at scale across the country and growing nature-rich habitats to protect species from extinction. Houses are needed but should be built to an environmental specification; sustainability and energy efficiency accessible for old and new properties alike.
This is where I stand on Environmental Issues and why my main environmental priority is to become a Councillor on the North Yorkshire Team to make a difference, work hard and make my voice heard.
To bring it back to the personal, I have been asked if I possess a lawn mower and whether I want a quote for ‘sorting out my garden’ on more than one occasion. I confess I would like to get out in my garden more because I love having my hands in the earth, but my response is that the most important thing is that it is a Wildlife Garden! I want the grass to grow long for the creatures living there and I have been able to spot species of moths, butterflies and wildflowers that I have never seen before. So, personally, locally and Nationally I want an environment that helps with our Global Warming Crisis and I try to ‘do my bit’ wherever I can but real change will come from a Local and National Government that cares.
Promoted by Mark White on behalf of Helen Tomlinson at 6, Chestnut Meadows, Tollerton YO61 1PT
This page sets out Helen Tomlinson's environmental and climate views. Click here to read her wider election manifesto.