Sunday, 20 February 2011

Congratulations and Commiserations : 38 Degrees and Andrew Bridgen MP


As I would think most people know, 38 Degrees and others achieved an extraordinary level of public support for their Save our Forests campaign (see `More Woodland Worries`, this blog, 11 November 2010 ), eventually achieveing an astounding, and outstanding half a million signatures for their petition. As a result of their efforts, publicly-owned woodlands will not now be sold off . ( see Johnny Chatterton - `Victory ! Government to Scrap Plans to Sell Our Forests` at  , 17 Feb 2011 ) .

Kate Ashbrook, General  Secretary of the Open Spaces Society and a trustee of The Ramblers has been one of few who have sounded a word of caution. "The government`s about-turn on forestry sales...was wonderful" she commented "but we mustn`t be complacent." To find out more, see her article `We`re Not Out of the Woods Yet` ( 20 Feb 2011 at ).

COMMISERATIONS to Andrew Bridgen MP.

 Mr Bridgen had tabled an Early Day Motion bringing English law into line with that in Scotland and Wales, in that companies engaged in open cast mining would be required to leave a 500 metre buffer zone between their operations and any dwelling place(s) nearby (see `The WAG Man Returns / Lodge House Controversy Continues`, this blog, 1 October 2010).

 This entirely sensible and moderate objective had achieved cross-party support and was endorsed by many environmental bodies, notably the Campaign to Protect Rural England and Leicester Friends of the Earth,  and community groups such as  Smalley Action Group,  but I understand that UK Coal in particular had lobbied against it and it was opposed by the Government.

In the event, not one MP spoke against the proposal, but the Minister chose to `talk it out`. I`m a bit hazy on the finer points of Parliamentary procedure, but I gather this means the Bill is not actually killed stone dead, but `goes to the bottom of the pile` and will face an uphill struggle to become law.

Mr Bridgen to his credit, is not discouraged and plans to return to the matter in October. He commented ; "I was pleased with the level of cross-party support for the Bill. This is an important issue for thousands of people who live in the former coalfields and this Bill would give them peace of mind."

You might assume that Mr Bridgen, who has links with the Whitwick Action Group (see `Whitwick Action Group`, this blog, 8 September 2010) and the Minorca Open Cast Protest Group, is something of a rebel within the Tory ranks.  In fact, he seems to be a loyal Conservative, albeit one who has no great love for UK Coal. He does appear to be a diligent constituency MP and has a background in the processing and distribution of fresh vegetables.

I`m indebted to Steve O`Leary of Minorca Open-Cast Protest Group for providing a useful link on this issue ;


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