Calderdale Energy Future Panel excludes public from meetings

Calderdale Energy Future Panel met on 3rd September for its first meeting. Please contact your Calderdale Councillor if you disagree with the decision that the Panel will meet in private, with no admittance for press or members of the public.

The membership follows, below.  Minutes and agenda are posted on the Calderdale Forward website.

Private CEF Panel meetings ignore the public right to environmental information and participation in decision making about environmental matters

No press were present at the meeting and Calderdale MBC Environmental Officer Emma Appleton says future meetings won’t be open to press and public either. I’ve asked why this is and will post the answer when it arrives. Update June 28th 2013: 9 months on, no reply to my question has arrived. As the Panel is a Council group, and therefore democratically accountable, I find it surprising that meetings are not open to press and public.

I wonder if this runs counter to the Aarhus Convention, which the UK government is signed up to? The Aarhus Convention places a legal duty on its member countries to protect the public right to:

  • environmental information
  • participation in decision making about environmental issues
  • easy and effective access to justice, if those rights to information and decision making are denied

The Kent Environment and Community Network (KECN) has complained to the Aarhus Convention Compliance Committee that the UK is not upholding several articles of the Aarhus Convention. In an August 2012 letter to the Compliance Committee, KECN points out that,

“Article 7 of Aarhus Convention requires early practical public participation in the preparations of plans and programmes when all the options are open.

At page 115 of the Aarhus Implementation Guide (AIG) under the title Understanding “plans and programmes”, the Convention establishes a set of obligations for Parties to meet in public participation during the preparation of plans and programmes relating to the environment. The AIG gives guidance on how to determine whether a particular plan or programme relates to the environment by referring to the implied definition of “environment” found in the definition of “environmental information” at Article 2.3 of the Convention. The AIG expressly says in the guidance that plans and programmes relating to the environment may include land-use and regional development strategies, and sectoral planning in transport, tourism, energy, heavy and light industry, water resources, health and sanitation, etc…”

The remit of Calderdale Energy Future Panel clearly relates to the environment.

Calderdale Energy Future Panel Membership

  • Joanne Pollard -C02 Sense (Chair)
  • Russell Smith – University of Bradford
  • Robert Taylor – Nestle
  • Ramon Arratia (represented by Adam Luqmani) – Interface Flor
  • Anthony Rae – Friends of the Earth
  • David Tarlo – Individual
  • Stephen Hoyle –Hebden Royd
  • To be confirmed – Sia Fibral
  • Finn Jenson –BEAT
  • Paul Butcher – NHS/PCT
  • Steven Leigh – Mid Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce

Calderdale Council representatives:

  • Cllr Barry Collins – Portfolio Holder Economy and Environment
  • Cllr Janet Battye – Calderdale Council representative on Leeds City Region Green Economy Panel
  • Ian Gray – Director of Economy and Environment
  • Phil Ratcliffe – Development Strategy Manager
  • Mary Farrar – Regional Strategy and Policy

Calderdale Energy Future Panel Agenda

3rd September 2012, 2pm

Hosted by the Chamber of Commerce at the Elsie Whitley Centre, Cambridge Suite.

1. Introduction and welcome from Councillor.

2. Energy Future Summary and Covenant

A short summary bringing out the key target areas framed within the Calderdale Energy Future and the proposed partner commitment.

3. Panel Terms of Ref

Overview of the draft terms of reference for the Panel

4. The scale of the challenge

Leeds University will set the challenge that the Panel faces in steering Calderdale towards its energy future using the results from the Mini Stern review and subsequent research with local authorities on implementation of the findings. Update about Leeds City Region priorities and the opportunities for Calderdale.

Melanie Taylor will summarise the main regional priorities from the Green Economy Panel.

5. Member of the Panel introductions

leading to:

6. Round table discussion based around the following questions:

What are the main priority areas to deliver to progress towards Calderdale Energy Future in the next three years, in order to be assured of reaching our 2020 target?

What support / resources / partnership development are required to enable action to be taken?

7. Summary, next steps and closing remarks

8. Date of next meeting

Updated 25th September to include the information that Calderdale Energy Future Panel meetings will not be open to press and public. And to change headline.

Updated 12th October to add the facts that Joanne Pollard is the CEF Chair and Cllr Janet Battye is a CEF member.

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