Woodbridge Town Council Report September from the Climate & Ecological Emergency committee, CEEC
Published 15 September 2023
Woodbridge Town Council Report from the Climate & Ecological Emergency committee, CEEC
Hello people of Woodbridge and beyond; people of the Deben estuary,
The people of the Deben estuary came together in Waldringfield last month; a diverse group of landowners, concerned citizens, town, parish, district and county council representatives & environmental organisations. And a diversity of opinions and approaches united in their concern to participate in ‘joined up thinking’ towards a plan for protection and regeneration of this whole bioregion through which the Deben flows like a signature!
The event was expertly facilitated by the climate action centre, CAC. The CEEC - principal grant contributors to the CAC - appreciate that this work has started. As it is beyond the scope of a town council committee, it is satisfying to see our funding being utilised in this way.
The issue of (so-called) disposable vapes has progressed. The town clerk has written to all tobacco outlets in Woodbridge requesting that these items be withdrawn from sale. Personally, I don’t expect that many will comply. But as a point of principle, it’s important for local governments to exercise their right to make a stand against the seemingly inexorable force of corporate commercial interest when it conflicts with towns folks' environment, health and well-being.
And, recalling the maxim “think global, act local”, from a global perspective, are we aware that international trade agreements are being used by multinationals against countries who attempt to put ecological protection measures in place, on account of those measures “unfairly limiting their profitability”? For example, fossil fuel companies like Westmoreland & Uniper are suing small economy countries for phasing out coal fired plants. Losing a case can cost millions of dollars so some countries are stalling on intelligent climate action for fear of dire consequences to their struggling economies. Something needs to be done about this, and though locally we may feel powerless to challenge world trade agreements, we are speaking out here against the unquestioned pursuit of commercial interest.
And local citizen science is calling big water corporations to account. Having established there is an unacceptable presence of the E. coli bacteria in the Deben, the group monitoring has now extracted an admission that the levels of nitrates measured from sewage treatment facilities is also significantly above agreed limits.
Citizen scientists working with Transition town Woodbridge (TtW) have established, with assistance from the University of Suffolk, that 10 of the 18 known UK species of bat can be found in and around our area, including Barbastelle bats, amongst the rarest known in the UK. TtW have also spearheaded, in collaboration with WTC, an application for grant funding for further ‘greening’ of the thoroughfare. More details to come once we hear the outcome.
Another project - Martlesham Wilds, (that CEEC were happy to support with a substantial grant from our last year budget) - announced that they have reached their target of £1million and are now enabled to payback the loan they took on to purchase the area. Project manager there, Charlie Zakss, also runs Wild Tots workshop sessions (again supported from CEEC funds). She notes that the Hedgehogs and Stag Beetles’ sessions are the firm favourites with the youngest members of our community!
It has been heartening to focus upon good news for this issue. With so much voluntary effort going on it is inevitable that there will be many unsung heroes. Our town recently lost a tireless community servant, Caroline Page. Her recent send-off was neither unsung nor undanced; she had a full day’s wake celebration of a life well spent. Many in their recollection of Caroline appreciated her readiness to encourage others to take up their intentions for community work. Encouragement and mutual appreciation of our best efforts can be a powerful antidote for the sniping cynicism that abounds in our unhappy, self-serving world and often holds back would be community weavers from making their contributions.
Think global, act local - compared to many places this summer we’ve had a relatively undisrupted experience … this time. Our time will come, is coming, and globally is here, there and everywhere! When disaster strikes locally, it will be within the existing strength of our community that we find resilience and the capacity to adapt and rebuild our lives. Let’s meet our neighbours as our potential allies sharing a common cause. Why wait in fearful isolation for disaster to strike, let’s make hay together whilst the sun shines.
Councillor Martin Wilks, CEEC
PS. Pass it on