Brent Campaigners Push 'Open Door' to Local MP at Climate Lobby

Brent FoE members with Dawn Butler

Six members of Brent Friends of the Earth quizzed Brent Central MP Dawn Butler at the House of Commons on Wednesday 17th June as part of a climate change lobby of Parliament.

The campaigners joined thousands of concerned people from all around the country to take part in 'For the Love of' – a mass lobby to urge MPs to take urgent action on climate change. The Brent group focussed their views on fracking, solar schools, fuel poverty, and airport expansion, and found much common ground with their newly-elected MP.

On fracking, Dawn is backing MP Geraint Davies' Fracking Regulation Private Members' Bill to prevent groundwater being contaminated by toxic chemicals used in the extraction of shale gas. Forcing companies to clean up the vast quantities of water used in fracking would make extraction too expensive. She supports Labour leadership candidate Andy Burnham MP in calling for a moratorium on this controversial technology in order to concentrate efforts on supporting renewables. Both Wales and Scotland already have moratoriums in place.

Viv Stein, Spokesperson for Brent FoE says, “With a decision due next week on whether to approve the UK's first fracking site in Lancashire, it is vital that we put a stop to fracking now. Giving the go ahead to this dirty fossil fuel there could pave the way for more fracking up and down the country, including a proposed site at Park Royal in Brent. It would also reduce the chance of preventing irreversible climate change. We need to leave shale gas in the ground and invest in renewable energy instead.”

“Fracking companies and the Government need to know they will find huge opposition wherever they plan to drill. We were pleased that Dawn Butler agrees that we should put a stop to fracking now, and that renewable energy is the way forward to secure our energy needs.”

On renewable energy, Brent FoE have been instrumental in setting up a local community energy co-operative, 'Brent Pure Energy', to put solar panels on schools and public buildings. Dawn favours extending the scheme to local churches and a mosque in Willesden Green, and she is also setting up a 'Green Cabinet' to focus attention on sustainability in Brent.

Ensuring warmer homes and ending fuel poverty is also a particular concern for both Brent FoE and Dawn. As a Magistrate she sees many people in court penalised for defaulting on energy bills. She wants to end the high tariffs charged by pre-payment meters, and to encourage landlords to insulate homes. NHS budgets will also benefit as cold homes mean poor health.

Dawn Butler, Labour MP for Brent Central says, “Ending fuel poverty and protecting tenants against excessive fuel bills are high on my agenda. I'm on board - Friends of the Earth are pushing on an open door with me on this, but it's not so open it's letting all the energy out!”

On airport expansion Dawn opposes the proposed expansion at Heathrow, but is not against expansion overall, since she herself still flies and is persuaded by 'the business case'. She supports London Mayoral candidate Sadiq Khan, who has come out against Heathrow. FoE believe airports should not be allowed to expand, and that most of the extra capacity is for transfers so would not make much impact on UK business. The group did not agree with Dawn's belief that there are 'greener' planes. We believe the only 'green' plane is the 'solar impulse' a solar powered plane, which recently paused its round the world flight. Flying still remains the most carbon-intensive form of travel.

The lobby of Parliament was organised by the Climate Coalition – the UK's largest group of people dedicated to action on climate change. For more details see

Brent FoE is on Twitter at @Brentfoe and Face book
Friends of the Earth is a member of The Climate Coalition, a broad alliance of civil society groups with memberships totalling 11 million people and including Greenpeace, Oxfam, the WI, Christian Aid and many others, which organised the mass lobby of Parliament.
Lancashire County Council is due to decide on two fracking applications next Tues 23rd-Thurs 25th June. Friends of the Earth is helping organise a rally in Preston against fracking on the 23rd June.
The Davies Commission on airports is due to report imminently, before the end of June. Friends of the Earth, alongside many other residents' groups and environmental organisations, oppose new runway expansion on grounds of climate change impacts, noise and air pollution.
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re: quizzing local MP

my thoughts are that it is a real heartbreak that as a society we have come so far
and yet it is obvious that caring for "home" has been overlooked or taken for granted.
enough time has shown that that is why we are now reaping the consequences for such neglect.
therefore I can only say that what foe are doing is positive.
its just a pity that they don't get enough public airtime to "educate us about the neglect of our planet"
something is better than nothing at all.
keep up the good work foe.
best wishes
from Trev.