How to win for the environment

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The Independent Online
From Mr Andrew Warren

Sir: In the aftermath of Brent Spar, pundits have lined up to state that only spectacular publicity exercises, with multimillion-dollar budgets for helicopters and sea craft, can win battles for the environment. They allege that the parliamentary process has failed the environmental movement. Today, however, Royal Assent will be given to a Private Members' Bill that disproves this theory.

The Home Energy Conservation Act will place duties on both local authorities and the Secretary of State for the Environment to work towards saving 30 per cent of fuel used in British homes. Its potential benefit to the environment, by reducing emissions of the main global warming gas carbon dioxide, is enormous.

The bill, which had its origins as a Green Party measure, was rejected twice by the Government in previous years. It succeeded this time because an initially small group of supporters mustered the backing of a wide range of organisations as well as mainstream environmental groups like Friends of the Earth. These included national organisations campaigning for the poor and elderly, consumer and disabled groups, trade unions and industrial organisations. Just as important was the work of enthusiastic MPs and their staff, plus one co-operative government minister in the right department at the right time.

The campaign involved key parts of ''Middle England'' like parish and town councils, Women's Institutes and Townswomen's guilds. It never hit the headlines or the television news in a big way but it did produce new legislation.

The slow and sometimes tedious process of writing letters to MPs, meeting, lobbying, persuading those with power and influence to support a good cause can still work for "green" issues and many others - without the need for telegenic confrontation.

Yours faithfully,

Andrew Warren

Director

Association for the

Conservation of Energy

London, W1

28 June

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