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Students demand council fights climate crisis head-on

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Students across Uttlesford will walk out of lessons on Friday (February 14) in a planned ‘strike’ aimed at putting pressure on the authorities to take tougher action on climate change.

More than 100 young adults are expected to descend on Saffron Walden’s Market Square from 12.30pm on Valentine’s Day as they join in the nationwide ‘Strike for Solutions’ event.

Sixth-formers from Saffron Walden County High, Newport’s Joyce Frankland Academy, Helena Romanes in Dunmow and Felsted School – as well as youngsters at Forest Hall School in Stansted – are expected to down pens and march through the town calling on Uttlesford District Council to rethink its climate crisis strategy.

They believe the Residents for Uttlesford-controlled authority has dampened down its original plans and are demanding that it reverts to taking a tougher stance as well as pledging to focus on renewable energy projects and committing to a ban on diesel and petrol.

In an open letter to the Indie, the students said: “We will take to the streets in solidarity to support our united appeal that Uttlesford District Council must act upon its declared emergency swiftly and effectively.

“The unobstructive and passive strike will be recognised by many, but unlike various strikes before this one, our community won’t suffer the inconvenience of road closures or exposure to the negativity surrounding strikes. We aim to demonstrate that peace will make the difference.”

They cited the "removal of the environmental road map that would feature cleanly defined actions, timelines, development and costings within defined, costed and clear milestones that would have to be met by December 2020 and maintained until 2023" as an example of the council back-tracking.

A spokesman for Uttlesford said it had declared a climate and ecological emergency in July last year. "The working group was set up in August and agreed by cabinet in September, and the group is currently developing a new climate strategy and action plan to drive this agenda forward. The Greens are very much part of that group."

Saffron Walden Action on Climate Change is supporting the students. It said: "We have been blown away by the organisation and determination of the students involved."

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