Last month, two of our members, Sally Perry and James Firkins, met our local MP Karen Bradley for a discussion on climate issues affecting the Moorlands. We were delighted to get the opportunity, even though the time available was short, as we’d been requesting a meeting for quite some time.  Here are the questions and her summarised replies. See the link at the end for a full downloadable report.

Local Public Transport

We know you’ve very active on getting the Leek to Stoke rail line revived, and we wish you well with that project. But bus services in the Moorlands are in a parlous state.  Could you tell us what you’re doing to save what we already have and bring back the kind of routes that can help residents get to work, education or even hospital appointments?

Her response - She was pleased with the possible train link and on buses, she mentioned £5m in funding for Staffordshire, but didn’t know how much would go to the Moorlands. She agreed that bus services need to be a lot better and would like MCA to work with her, both suggesting routes and promoting the use of rural services, including Moorlands Connect.   She thought that the way Moorlands Connect works doesn’t suit everyone but pointed out that if we can prove a need there would be a better chance of getting funding.

Wind / Solar Energy

The UK has been a world leader in decarbonising its electricity sector. But most experts agree that expanding onshore wind is the cheapest and most effective way of getting the industry to Net Zero – and the government has recently loosened the effective ban on wind turbines. What is your personal view on this?

Her response - She agreed that relaxing the rules on onshore wind was a good idea but could understand people’s opposition. If turbines ‘blighted’ their views they would object unless they benefited. She was critical of farmers erecting wind turbines for their own use and where only the landowner got the benefit. When asked, she said she would support community projects where the local community could benefit - not just wind but also solar energy.

Rental Housing and Insulation

Government figures show that the Moorlands has some of the most energy-inefficient housing in England. That’s not only bad for our emissions targets but high energy costs are hitting hard-pressed private renters, such as young people and single parents, in their pockets. The government recently delayed measures requiring landlords to improve the energy ratings of their properties. Don’t you feel that is a backward step?

Her response - She seemed to think backtracking on the new legislation for energy standards in rented homes was the right thing to do. If landlords spent more money on properties, rents would go up. She then went on to explain how her own well-insulated flat in London was very economical to heat and seemed to agree with us when we suggested the backtracking was a short-term economic fix and in the longer term well-insulated properties would save tenants money.

Local Councils, Law, Powers and Funding

Staffordshire Moorlands District Council has made tackling climate change a priority under both this and the last administrations. But like other councils it is not required by law to act on this and is finding it hard to obtain the funding or the powers it needs. What do you think you can do at Westminster to help?

Her response - She agreed that councils need more powers, funding, etc. but had found in the past that if something is made a statutory duty, councils will only do what is required by the law and little more. She said Westminster had to lead on it, encouraging and empowering councils, but gave no details how this would happen if not statutory.

Farming

You are rightly very engaged with the important farming sector in the Moorlands. But farmers are facing a whole range of challenges in making the change from a system of basic payments to one where they are rewarded for public goods, such as protecting the environment. How do you think the farming sector in the district will look in, say ten years’ time – will farmers be planting far more trees, for example?

Her response - She was vague on her vision for farming in 10 years’ time or the role of tree planting. She mentioned ELM (Environmental Land Management) schemes, was glad that farmers could be paid to preserve / replace habitats and was happy to encourage and promote this with Moorlands farmers, especially small, family-owned farms. When it was suggested that to meet our national CO2e targets we might need to reduce our meat and dairy consumption, she pushed back hard and didn’t think people could be asked to eat less meat or that products that produce CO2e should be taxed accordingly.

She said she would like to work with us more closely in future, and there were various projects we could help to promote. When asked, she said she would be happy to meet us again and for longer - a response that we definitely welcome.

Note - We asked if we could record the interview and she asked us not to. Since we didn't have time to take notes our recollection of the conversation is from memory but recorded immediately afterwards.

Click here for a downloadable file with the full report

Applications open

Do you care about the Climate Emergency?

Help Moorlands Climate Action to get things done!

MCA offers you the opportunity to make a positive contribution towards tackling climate change and be part of an award-winning organisation that is helping to make a real difference.

Self Employed - Project Administrator & Communications Coordinator

We are looking for someone to coordinate the Moorlands Climate Action (MCA) Communications team and social media, and to provide administrative support to our MCA Committee and Project Coordinators. This is for a fixed term 6 month contract based on an average of 10 hours per week at £15.00 per hour.

About Us

We are Moorlands Climate Action (MCA),  a not-for-profit community organisation based in the Staffordshire Moorlands. In 2019 we set up MCA to encourage our district council to declare a climate emergency… and they did! We continue to press for action on both the climate and the biodiversity emergency.

Over the last five years, MCA has worked alongside our local councils, businesses, schools, community organisations and individuals to help them towards net zero, to do what they could to address climate change and to protect our special moorland biodiversity. We continue to do this via our projects on energy, events, nature conservation, sustainable consumerism, repair café, youth action in schools, information sharing and resource provision.

In recognition of our work in the Staffordshire Moorlands, MCA has won several awards. These include the Staffordshire Moorlands 2022 Volunteering Award for Addressing Climate Change from our local MP and, in November 2023, BBC Radio Stoke ‘Make a Difference’ Green award.

MCA is  fortunate to have well over 100 members, a steering committee, plus active project coordinators for our different project areas. All involved would welcome your administrative support to help with the smooth running of MCA and its busy activities.

About You

You will be able to communicate well with a variety of people and organisations, in a professional, clear and sensitive manner and with people both in and outside of Moorlands Climate Action.  

You will be asked to coordinate our communications group plus prioritising and managing a wide range of tasks to provide admin support to the committee and coordinators. 

MCA is a busy, active and supportive group.  You will be able to use your own initiative and have experience using, or where appropriate, be willing to learn to use, a range of IT software, data management programs and social media channels. 

We hope you will share our concern for the climate and biodiversity emergency and play your part in tackling this important issue with us.

Beautiful wild landscapeThis wonderful film is a spinoff project from Save Our Wild Isles that brought together young people from across the UK to tell their story through film, and take action for nature. Over a hundred young people took part in the workshops and the completed film will premiere on YouTube on Monday 27 November. It showcases the action being taken by young changemakers, and their vision for the future of our world.

We are thrilled to be able to join with some of the filmmakers and participants in hosting a screening at the Foxlowe Arts Centre at 7:00pm on Wednesday 29 November. It will be introduced by our panel of participants (Alana Wheat, Ed Daly and Xander Wood), who will share their stories on the project, and followed by a Q&A session, possibly also including the producer, Ben Sandbrook.

So, watch the trailer, make a note of the date and look out for our publicity on Facebook and elsewhere. If you can share and like the posts, so much the better.

Rishi Sunak may have gambled on using opposition to Net Zero as a vote winner but inside Moorlands House a consensus still exists on the need to act decisively to decarbonise key sectors such as housing.

The Moorlands ranks very low on energy efficiency by national and regional standards: just 25.6% of houses have an EPC rating of C or above, compared to 41% for England and 36% for the West Midlands. The Moorlands also ranks badly on fuel poverty: 16% of households fall into this category compared to 13.2% for England and Wales.

The resources available to district councils in this area are painfully thin – instead of the long-term funding needed for such a multi-faceted project, authorities are forced to rely on irregular grants. These are small compared to the size of the task, the windows for obtaining and delivering the funding are tight, and the money is often hedged about with difficult restrictions.

SMDC has two new pots of money to deploy in this area. One is HUG 2 (the Home Upgrade Grant Phase 2 – not our green arts festival). This £1.5m fund runs until March 2025 and will be used to offer energy improvements to houses that are not connected to the gas grid. These measures include heat pumps, insulation and other measures.

The scheme is run through Staffordshire Warmer Homes – a route which has worked well on some schemes, less so on others. MCA have long argued that SMDC should be more pro-active in ensuring that energy efficiency schemes are fully taken up.

This is one of the subjects that the re-formed SMDC Climate Working Group is focussing on. In the previous round of working groups – in which MCA took part – members were largely left to themselves, and the results were patchy. Even those that produced definitive outcomes were ignored.

SOT SusSumEarlier this month, four MCA members took our stall, by bus, to the Stoke-on-Trent Sustainability Summit, organised by Stoke Central MP, Jo Gideon. It was themed around ‘three pillars of sustainability’ focussing on the ‘importance of environmental action, economic vision, and social responsibility to restore a healthy planet, economy, and society’.

It was good to hear so many excellent speakers, some of whom we already know and value, and also to see these important issues being integrated in the discussions – not that we agreed with everything that was said, although mostly we did. We were particularly interested in the discussion about the need for clarity on policy to allow workers in the new Green industries to be trained up rapidly. 

As with all these events, the conversations outside the main hall were equally important. It was good to see old friends and colleagues but also to make new contacts and look at future opportunities to collaborate.

Our mascot, Baldrik the Beaver, came with us and was very happy to renew his acquaintance with Friends of the Earth, meet others working in wildlife restoration and get to know Jo Gideon, who did such a fantastic job both organising and chairing the summit.

expo 2It was great to be able to share a stall with Staffordshire Climate Matters, North Staffs Friends of the Earth and West Midlands FoE at the Staffordshire Climate Expo and Sustainability Conference held at Keele Hall in September. 

Lots to see and learn, interesting people to meet and many old and new friends.

Huge credit to the Globe Group for organising such a tremendous event.