Thu, 07 Mar 2019
THE co-leader of The Green Party has urged West Berkshire residents to use the passion and spirit of the Newbury bypass protests to pressurise West Berkshire Council into declaring a climate emergency.
Sian Berry told demonstrators who gathered outside the district council’s offices ahead of its budget meeting on Tuesday night how the “fierce protests” against the bypass inspired her as a young transport campaigner and environmentalist.
The construction of the bypass, which involved the felling of nearly 10,000 mature trees to make way for the construction of the A34, sparked some of largest anti-road protests in European history.
The demonstrations, dubbed the Third Battle of Newbury, saw more than 7,000 people protest on the site of the bypass between 1995 and 1996.
A peaceful #ClimateEmergency protest has started outside @WestBerkshire Council, organised by @newburygreens ahead of a full council budget meeting which starts later tonight. pic.twitter.com/sFmYq7BZ6R— Fiona Tomas (@fionatomas_nwn) March 5, 2019
Tuesday’s 60-strong gathering was held to increase pressure on West Berkshire Council to declare a climate emergency and bring forward its commitment to becoming a zero net-carbon district by 2030.
More than 27 local authorities throughout the UK have already passed motions declaring a climate emergency.
West Berkshire councillors will debate a petition launched by West Berkshire Green Party urging them to do the same in July.
The Green Party’s prospective parliamentary candidate for Newbury, Steve Masters, urged the crowd – which comprised both young and older generations – to keep pressing the council on green policies to ensure future generations have a “viable planet for a viable future”.
Pupils from St Bartholomew’s School, who took part in a national climate change strike outside Newbury Town Hall last month, were also in attendance.
Among them was head girl Emily Carr, who stressed the need for changes in environmental policies in the agricultural industry and called on the council to “make a clear and irreversible commitment” to helping the UK achieve a carbon-free economy.
Ms Berry’s visit to Newbury was the second time in less than a year that a co-leader from the Green Party has visited the town, following Jonathan Bartley’s visit in September last year.
Ahead of the local elections on Thursday, May 2, Ms Berry said: “Newbury, please get some Green councillors elected soon – it would really suit you.
“You’re a town of protesting.
“Let’s get some Greens on the council in time for that debate in July.”
Ms Berry also urged locals to play their part in tackling West Berkshire’s transport emissions, which, having been on the rise every year since 2011, are thought to be the biggest carbon contributor in the district.
She said: “Our transport problems are solved in local areas by local people, who demand that the traffic is reduced from their neighbourhood.
“Local people are the experts – and making the plans so we don’t have knock-on effects in other areas.”
She added: “Decades of focus on the car has led to other forms of transport withering away.
“People have cars, they don’t get on the bus as much as they could.
“We’ve got a crisis in many rural areas.”