“Dear Danny” – Chief Secretary responds to your note

Trust supporters emailed and posted thousands of our special ‘bank notes’ which caught the Treasury’s attention during the 2013 Spending Review.

In June this year we ran a campaign around the Spending Review, creating special ‘bank notes’ to act as a reminder to the Treasury of the value for money that trees, woods and forests offer… especially in these difficult economic times.

Over 5,000 notes were sent to Danny Alexander MP, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, in just 14 days! Thank You! We know your notes made an impression on the Treasury, and on the back of our campaign we were able to arrange a site visit with Danny to one of the Trust’s woods in his constituency and show him what we do and why woods matter on the ground, if you’ll pardon the pun.

During this visit Danny recorded this personal message to you:

I’m sure that you, like us, are pleased to hear such clear recognition of the value of woods and trees! It’s extremely encouraging too to hear a senior Cabinet Minister directly acknowledging the importance of trees and woods when it comes to health and wellbeing. This is further than we feel the Treasury has gone in the past, and is very welcome. What would you like to see us do in order to build on this recognition and growing awareness?

It’s not all positive though. Resources need to catch up with this recognition. We expressed this to Danny as well as our disappointment at the 10% cut DEFRA’s settlement received in the spending round. We don’t know how it will allocate its overall budget for 2015-2016 as yet, and it is vital to see fair and sustainable funding for forests.

The strength of your actions led us to host Danny at Drumandrochit. What do you think to Danny’s message?

About Kaye Brennan

Senior Campaigner (Policy & Advocacy) for the Woodland Trust and Administrator, 'Woodland Matters' blog
This entry was posted in Campaigning, Climate Change, Government Affairs and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

36 Responses to “Dear Danny” – Chief Secretary responds to your note

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  3. Julie Wren says:

    Same cheap words. If you want credability (and my vote) what about some real action?
    Finn suggested a unified vox populi: brilliant! Get together all the environmental charities, such as woodland trust, rspb, county wildlife trusts etc etc (maybe get the green party involved – they seem to go to sleep between elections) and have a REAL Countryside alliance. Remember all these charities exist through membership and donations – real people. Use 38 degrees experience to lay on the pressure.
    Honestly, they’re like kids playing on a ledge, not really believing they will fall off any second now.. and take us all with them.

    • Allan Rogers says:

      We already have a Countryside Alliance, one I support whole-heartedly. Wildlife trusts, RSPCA, RSPB & others have a different agendas, mostly not sustainable long term, for the benefit of the environment. Green Party………………who are they? Do they live in trendy Brighton or somewhere out of touch with reality…………ah Cuckoo Land, thats it. I applaud the efforts of the Woodland Trust to try & raise the plight of our woodland estates in the UK, one not shared by any government since the first world war, then only because this country needed the timber & for no other reason.

  4. Finn says:

    Great move to engage with politicians but I can’t help but agree with what Richard Oakes said. I’d like to see real action from the likes of Cameron/Osborne/Pickles/Patterson to show that they care, or are even aware of, the devastation their policies are wreaking.

    It seems the only thing that makes politicians act is the hard cash of corporate lobbyists or the increasing volume of the unified vox populi. The former is a well oiled machine which has been constructing policy for many years, the latter needs to get into gear to strike a balance with the corporate behemoth. I hope your notes campaign struck a chord in the Cabinet but we need much more of the same to keep the pressure on.

  5. Richard Oakes says:

    It was a bland response reeking of political expediency and very short on sincerity. We need to stay vigilant and monitor his every move.

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  7. Running with the theme of the rest of the posts above I have to say that I will believe Mr Alexander when we see some proper policies putting our woodland ecosystems in proper perspective. I realise that it comes with the territory largely but I wish that politicians would stop saying what it is that they think we want them to say and actually say it how it really is – this is why we are all such cynics!

    • Derek West says:

      You cant but help being a cynic when the Minister for the Environment is a climate change
      sceptic,what hope is there ?.

  8. Maggie says:

    Good to know there’s someone who supports the cause for keeping the British countryside green – can’t help but be sceptical though when HS2 is being ‘railroaded’ through!

  9. Ash says:

    Our parliament is made up of MP’s from around the United Kingdom: England, Wales, Scotland & Northern Ireland. ALL those elected to positions within a democracy need to change their way of working.

  10. Derek West says:

    This goverments environmental record is apalling,as is my MP,I am pessamistic about the
    future of Englands country side and the seas which surround us.

  11. Ash says:

    With so much distrust of our politicians I think we should insist on an addition to their job descriptions as MP’s. On applying to become an MP they must show that they have served their communities on a voluntary basis. If I apply for a job I usually have to include my hobbies & interests & what if any voluntary work I have done! This approach should also apply to MP’s & even when elected, they should continue with their voluntary work, not just giving speeches & receiving applause but actually out there serving meals to the homeless or helping to maintain a woodland. Mixing with ordinary folk, rolling up their sleeves & getting their hands dirty would help them to stay in touch with the rest of humanity. It might also help us to see them as human beings!

    • Derek Ive says:

      Great idea Ash, I would also like to know what they do with there time. I get a newsletter from my MP but it just talks about the things she opens and the events etc. she attends. It would be good to know what she really achieves?

  12. Geoffrey Hannam. says:

    I think that when crazy schemes like the HS rail link get lots of protests against it then the government should scrap it, and listen to democracy. They should act to protect woodland with deeds not words. In America, I’d read that soon as a new road scheme came up against a protected area, then the road stopped dead at the boundary. That is the sort of protection that ancient woodland need here.

  13. Dan Johnston says:

    Easy, soothing words, easily forgotten or downgraded behind other priorities.

  14. Hannah Lane says:

    A load of useless spell. As you state DEFRA was the major loser in the recent cuts. So what hope for the English environment in general and Ancient Woodland in particular.

  15. Elaine Rowland says:

    Actions speak louder than words and money talks even louder. I have no reason to be any more confidant after this lukewarm response that our woodlands, environment or greenbelt can be safeguarded if decisions about them are left in the hands of politicians. alone

  16. Paul Roadnight says:

    Mr Alexander is “hopeful” that action might be taken. However, most of the obviously enlightened replies above seem resigned to INaction given the past record of politicians. Unfortunately money and power always carry more weight than the hopes of a minority of the millions of people in this country. The steamroller approaches; but I hope I am wrong !!

  17. Richard Owen Vinton BSc says:

    I feel that the government of this country has been handed over to the multinationals and we seem to be fighting for things which we should have by right. My local roadside verges are once again being destroyed by council workers or their paid out of our taxes sub contractors. when will we stop this jobsworth attitude towards nature as if it just there for us to abuse?

  18. June McCarthy says:

    Today I read about the owner of Edinburgh Woollen Mill firm,a multi millionaire, who, according to the newspaper report, by his negligence, allowed his work men to trash a significant area of ancient woodland, part of Gelt woods in Cumbria,reducing its green beauty to bare earth.

    He was taken to court and fined, but I don’t think this sufficient for his callous treatment and damage of the environment and all its bird and wildlife population. Such a long established wood and natural environment can not be replaced for a hundred years or more and it is more precious than money and wealth.

    Rich land owners who deliberately trash, or cause to be trashed, such precious landscape should not be allowed by law to purchase any green land, any other land than built town and city sites, for 10 years after such an “environmental crime”.

    The reason for destroying part of an ancient woodland? Apparently, according to newspaper reports, the land owner in question, wanted to create an easy land rover route for the purposes of rearing and shooting pheasants!
    Those who show contempt for ancient woodland should not be allowed to own it. It is aprecious resource and only those who apprecaite this should be allowed to own it in safe keeping.

    • Allan Rogers says:

      Here, Here, the protection is not enough in this country, I needs to be revisited, to strengthen it

    • Vince Haigh says:

      All Woodland Trust supporters can very easily take action against this rich vandal – simply boycott his stores (often found as ‘concessions’ within garden centres and the like).

      Concerted people power really can have an effect and bring any retail outlet to its knees.

  19. Allan Rogers says:

    Fine words, which I will not take away from, but its the actions that will speak louder.
    Pity politicians in other countries across the world cannot protect or unwilling to protect their forests, from the chainsaws

  20. John Butler says:

    The government still believes roads mean prosperity. This is so old hat and proven nonsense. HS2 is an irrelevance as well. When will politicians be really serious about green issues? When it’s too late? Those who are going to inherit the results of the destructiveness and complacency of our current politicians should be militant now. The future looks like a nightmare. Fracking, nuclear waste disposal, road building. This is a government out of control. When will the opposition wake up? Good for the Woodland Trust and other similar organisations; their constituency is far bigger than any political affiliation and politicians need to wake up and stop giving in to corporations and big business lobbies who don’t give a **** about anything except short term profit and shareholders (and not even shareholders if they’re pension funds). When will ethics enter government? We have to do things ourselves, we can’t wait for government.

    • Kaye Brennan says:

      Had to edit this slightly John – keep it clean🙂

      • david more says:

        Yes politicians are only in office for tens years at max.They have no interest in long term solutions.
        There is already enough extra carbon in the atmosphere to melt both polar caps.Everyone has forgotten about the irrepairable damage being done to rainforest and the polar seas.

  21. edithkl says:

    In 1992 the UN, having thought about the matter for about 20 years, came up with the rather good “Framework Convention on Climate Change”. This lofty but entertaining 33-page document was intended mainly for the Developing World, to try and persuade them not to follow the emissions-rich path to Development the First World had followed.

    Accordingly, we see at Article 3, headed “Principles”, para 1:-
    ” …the developed country Parties should take the lead in combatting climate change and the adverse effects thereof.”

    The USA signed but refused to ratify the Convention, but some other developed countries did “take the lead” for a bit. However the Developing World paid no attention at all, and now it seems the Developed World has given up not only on steering the LDCs away from mistakes but also on remedying its own mistakes, setting an example, etc.

    How will releasing tonnes of gas via fracking assist our Carbon Emission Reduction targets? Not to mention all the carbon-rich development this new energy will fuel. I really would like to know. The whole thing is beyond farcical.

    Article 4 is headed “Commitments” and is a long list of things the Parties must do, with the word “shall” (which means “must” in legal documents) cropping up regularly. E.g. at para 2(a), we see that each Party “….. shall adopt national policies and TAKE CORRESPONDING MEASURES on the mitigation of climate change, by limiting the anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases and protecting and enhancing greenhouse gas sinks and reservoirs.” (My caps, and indeed the next few pages of the Convention are all about how the UN wants to see results, not just paper policies.)

    Note that what is to be “mitigated” is climate change itself. There is to be NO MITIGATION at the lower level of LIMITING emissions and PROTECTING AND ENHANCING sinks and reservoirs. Limit does not mean mitigate. It means limit. Protect does not involve mitigate. It means protect. We do not see social workers saying they will mitigate child abuse. They are into Child Protection. Enhance does not involve mitigation. It means enhance. Mitigation of somewhat inevitable Climate Change might be achieved by limiting emissions, and protecting and enhancing sinks and reservoirs. It cannot be achieved by “mitigation” lower down the timetable which is in effect a dilution and diversion of the words limit, protect and enhance. A classic “weasel” word, used in a sly and utterly reprehensible manner and then adopted by naïve and trusting people who do not have time to investigate what is going on.

    Sorry to repeat myself, but if I can repeat something else – it is worth reading the law itself, it is all in very plain English, much plainer than politician or corporate English I can assure you.

    And I have only quoted the law at 1992 – believe me it has got a lot tougher since then. You need to read the Kyoto Protocol next, then demand that Parliament obey it. Print the most obvious passages out and wave them physically in front of your MP etc. The UK courts will back you up now, since Client Earth had that tussle in the Supreme Court a couple of months ago on the London emissions. And if the UK courts won’t, then the EU Commissioner for the Environment might, as he has criminal penalties at his disposal since the EU got fed up with no Members obeying the UN Conventions, and decided to criminalise some of the more flagrant disobedience.

    [The opening paragraphs of the EU Directive on the Protection of the Environment through Criminal Law are actually quite funny, because they are a woeful but polite litany of the many reasons why the law has had to be criminalised.]

  22. Caspar says:

    Who gives a stuff what this two-faced twerp says in some video he’s probably already forgotten? Will the progress of HS2 be delayed by as much as one second as a result? He can stick his mealy-mouthed banalities where the sun don’t shine.

  23. Leonard Griffin says:

    Fine words, (as usual with politicians), but will they be put into action?

  24. Derek Ive says:

    I would echo Alans comments, politicians are very good at talking about things but we need to see them do something to back up their words.

  25. david more says:

    The Arctic is melting the Antarctic is breaking up the societies in the Pacific will be under water and coral reefs are dying.And the Coalition spouts about being the greenest Gov ever.A joke of course as we are now going to loose most of our ash trees!!!!

  26. CAROLINeHarris says:

    You can never be sure if these Gov people mean what they say and/or are going to do anything. This one for instance hardly looks old enough to have left Uni – if he went there. Current so called Ministers have no life experience or in proper job and generally far too young. Also most Cabinet are Millionaires and so couldnt care much what happens to the rest of us

  27. alan doherty says:

    Sounds promising what Danny said on his broadcast, but action speak louder then words, we shall see what this coalition goverment will do to protect woodlands habitats in the future spending reviews, but a word of caution, Mr Pickles gave the go ahead to develop oaken woods in Kent so that doesn’t give me hope for the woods in future planning applications.

    • Vince Haigh says:

      I agree entirely and I am afraid my cynicism is further compounded by the fact that a General Election is not far off and Coalition politicians will be increasingly out in force, making all sorts of ‘promises’ as part of their electioneering. David Cameron’s pledge to be ‘the greenest Government ever’, was a prime example last time around but given the huge tax breaks recently announced for the ‘fracking’ industry, Cameron’s Government has the potential, in fact, to be the most environmentally damaging ever.

      In this instance, however, I would hope that Danny Alexander’s sincerity is genuine and of course, I applaud The Woodland Trust for embarking on this important campiagn.

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