The Let Communities Decide campaign has had a little breather lately. And we needed one!
The months between the government’s announcement of its proposal in May and the close of its consultation in late October were crammed with fast, furious, fabulous campaigning from countless folk up and down the country. Everyone was running so hard nobody had much space to think about what would happen next.
But, now the consultation is over and the dust has cleared, what’s evident is that:
- The campaign has had an amazing impact so far;
- We can definitely win this;
- There’s still more to be done to ensure victory.
There’s no doubt that the government is shaken by the strength of opposition to its permitted development proposal.
This is testament to the many, many acts by people and groups all over the country. Each of those actions – contacting a councillor, signing a petition, organising an event, etc – is a small act of faith. You can’t really know whether others elsewhere are doing the same, or whether this is going to make any difference.
But so many people have acted anyway and it has made tremendous waves. The outcry has been impossible to ignore and ministers must be wondering what hit them. They have a mess on their hands and they know it.
What then needs to be done to press on to victory?
Well, one thing we definitely shouldn’t do is just wait until the government reports back on its consultation. For a start the government didn’t commit itself to a timeframe for response. it’s also pretty clear that the consultation was never the government’s main game on this proposal. And they aren’t obliged to act in any particular way based on its results.
From here then we see that the situation is in many ways little different to before the consultation closed. The government may seek to press ahead with permitted development if they think they can get away with it. Our job is to make sure they continue to realise that they can’t.
So, a break has been good, and now let’s get back on it!
If the government tries to press ahead, it will look to pass this proposal through what’s known as Negative Procedure Secondary Legislation. What that actually means is that a vote in Parliament wouldn’t be needed – and forcing one to take place would be difficult to do. That means our route to success lies in maintaining direct public and political pressure on the ministers.
Here are some of the main ways you can make that happen:
There has been a tremendous MP uprising over this issue. Even within Conservative ranks, upwards of 20 MPs have already rebelled over the proposal. Our task now is to increase that number. If your MP has not already come fully on board, attend a surgery or arrange a meeting with them and ask them to take action. The Guide to Engaging MPs and Councillors will help you do so, and the middle section of this campaign video call, from around 17 mins in, has great tips to for effective MP lobbying.
Over 30 councils have passed motions opposing permitted development for shale gas. That’s amazing – and there’s room for many more! Every motion cements opposition, alerts more MPs to the issue, piles pressure on government, maintains the media spotlight and raises public awareness. Check out the council motion template for details of how to go about this. A blog and campaign video call on council motions are also both coming soon.
Getting the word out to as many people as possible, and enrolling them to take action, is crucial. To help with this, we are producing a digital slide presentation you can use to outline the issue to new audiences. This would be especially useful to outreach to community groups in your area – such as your local Women’s Institute, Wildlife Trust, Rotary Club, etc etc etc. We intend this to be ready by Christmas, and will shout out as soon as it is available. But you can be making contact with groups/audiences in your area right away to offer the presentation and book a date – many groups are eager for speakers on topical issues.
As we move along with the issue, new campaign actions, events and interventions may be needed and appropriate. Shout out if you see an opportunity.
Take up one or more of the challenges above for yourself or your group. Or if you’ve got a different idea for effective action, do get on it – and share it with the rest of us so we can all learn from one another. Good luck!
And one last thing… on Saturday 2nd February 2019 we’ll have the Let Communities Decide National Gathering!
This will be an amazing opportunity to come together with other people from across England, to learn from each other and plan for the future of the campaign. More details to follow very soon, but for now save the date!