Extend fracking ban to Surrey oil sites – Surrey Greens’ demand to regulators

The Government announcement that fracking is being suspended misses out the huge expansion of oil and gas production using unconventional techniques in the South East.

Green Surrey County Councillor Jonathan Essex said: “The ban needs to be extended to the unconventional oil and gas extraction methods used in the Weald, which carry the same earthquake risks and other risks from methods involving acid stimulation.

“In Surrey the County cuncil has just approved a huge expansion of oil production at Horse Hill, which has been linked to earthquakes, even though the regulator doesn’t recognise a link.

“I gave evidence to the All Party Parliamentary Group on the impact of shale gas earlier this year about how activities at Horse Hill had been ignored in assessing the cause of the Surrey swarm of earthquakes. The quakes are affecting a wide area, have damaged property, and are making many people very anxious. There was another one just yesterday.

“And as well as earthquake risks, the government needs to act on climate risk – which means leaving all fossil fuels in the ground. They need to listen to the climate science as well as geologists. It’s time for a move away from fossil fuels and a switch to renewable energy, not a kick-start for a new oil industry in the Weald”.

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Let’s make Reigate a Fairtrade Town

This month Fairtrade, the UK’s most visible ethical label, celebrates it’s 25th birthday. In Reigate an Action group is being formed to take Reigate towards ‘Fairtrade town’ status as a way to celebrate the achievements of the past 25 years of Fairtrade but also to continue to promote Fairtrade products and inform local people about the importance of the choices they make when purchasing their favourite products.

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Surrey County Council fails to recognise the climate impact of airport expansion

All but four Conservative members of Surrey County Council today blocked a joint Green/Labour motion linking airport expansion with an increased risk of climate chaos.

Jonathan Essex, Green Party Councillor for Redhill East, seconded a Labour-tabled motion at today’s Surrey County Council meeting. The Motion called on the County Council to be clear on its position regarding the proposed expansion of Heathrow Airport.

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Surrey commits to improve road verges for wildlife, thanks to Green motion

Surrey County Council has committed to reviewing its use of glyphosate, a controversial weedkiller that has been blamed for causing cancer, following a motion tabled by Green councillor Jonathan Essex. The motion also introduces moves towards a wildlife-friendly verge cutting regime, to protect wildflowers and invertebrates. The motion was passed with 63 votes in favour and 3 abstentions.

“I’m delighted that Surrey County Council has pledged to protect our wildlife and the health of its residents by taking a positive approach to verge and public space maintenance,” said Cllr Essex. “It’s very welcome that Surrey is seriously considering stopping use of this toxic weedkiller.”

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Surrey agrees Climate Emergency Motion – but needs to reach net-zero sooner

Today Surrey County Council voted in favour of a Climate Emergency  Motion, with the aim of going carbon neutral by 2050.

Green Cllr Jonathan Essex said: “After trying to get Surrey to move forward on its climate commitments earlier this year, we’ve finally got some progress with a Climate Emergency Motion being passed.

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Surrey Climate Commission launched today

Redhill Green Councillor Jonathan Essex spoke at the launch of the Surrey Climate Commission today, alongside some of the county’s leading climate experts.

Watch highlights from the launch on this short (three-minute) video

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How can Councils best improve issues around Social Housing?

This week, the Surrey Mirror asked local politicians to comment on the question: How can Councils best improve issues around Social Housing? Jonathan Essex, Green Councillor for Earlswood & Whitebushes, responded:

Housing policy and funding are in a right mess. House prices in Surrey are unaffordable for most people, and there is a desperate shortage of socially rented homes.

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Are healthier lifestyles less achievable for families on a lower income?

This week, the Surrey Mirror asked local politicians to comment on the question: Are healthier lifestyles less achievable for families on a lower income?  Sue Fenton, newly-elected Councillor for Earlswood & Whitebushes, responded:

Former Work & Pensions Secretary Ian Duncan Smith famously claimed he could live on £53 benefits a week, despite shortly after trying to charge taxpayers £39 for just one breakfast. Many guides exist to living frugally, but can the poorest children not just survive, but reach their potential in modern Britain?

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Council tax rises – and Conservative cuts

This week, the Surrey Mirror asked local politicians to comment on the question: Has the rise in council taxes affected residents in our area?  This is my response:

Simply put – yes. Council taxes for Surrey County Council, local councils and police funding have all increased, hitting the poorest hardest. Taxes for the largest Surrey mansion are just three times higher than for the smallest flat. Instead, Greens would replace council tax with land value tax – a much fairer representation of wealth.

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Support for young people during exam season

This week, the Surrey Mirror asked local politicians: What additional support can be offered to young people during exam season? Here’s my response.

Recent curriculum changes mean students are now sitting more exams than ever, beginning at age six. Children, teachers and counselling services like Childline report that exam stress is mounting rapidly, and nearly 80% of school leaders warn that anxiety and panic attacks have increased as a consequence.

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