Histon and Impington Youth Council tell South Cambridgeshire District Council: We want others to learn so we can make the future better
Five primary schoolchildren raised their concerns for the environment and the planet’s future in a South Cambridgeshire District Council meeting.
The children, aged eight to 11, have formed their own climate action group, called the Histon and Impington Youth Council, and made sure ignorance is no excuse for councillors tasked with advising the authority’s handling of the issue.
Ettie Lock, aged eight, told the climate and environment advisory committee on Monday, July 8: “Those in power often deny the fact of climate change – we need to make sure everyone knows about this problem so we can make a difference.”
The loss of biodiversity and plastic waste were also high up on the kids’ agenda. Isla Glennen, also aged eight, told the committee: “You feel good when you recycle right? No, some of it goes to Malaysia and is dumped there. Children there are getting seriously ill.”
Councillor Jose Hales, who represents the Melbourn ward, said he felt “humbled and under pressure” but added that is exactly as it should be, and said it was “lovely to see you young people here taking an interest and taking part”.
The group is made up of students from Histon and Impington Junior School, but it is separate from the school and, the parents insist, all the children’s idea.
The group formed in May and meets at weekends, with the largest gathering so far encompassing 12 children, with more expected in future.
The children discuss environmental problems, come up with ways they can help, and then vote on whether to take that particular action.
Eli Yeates, 11, said the group decided to form after attending the youth climate strikes in Cambridge.
“That’s how we got started, from learning from the climate strikes,” he said. “We want to help other people learn about it so we can all make the future better.
“It’s going to be our life when the adults have gone and it’s us who are going to have to live with it.”
“We plan to do bigger things but we only just started this group.”
Mum Lara Brettell said she is “extremely proud” of her daughter Amaike and the other children involved.
“It’s quite a daunting thing to do,” she said. “It was a fantastic response from the councillors – I think they really listened.”
Committee chair Pippa Heylings praised the children, who all received a big round of applause when they finished speaking and headed off for school.
Before they went, Cllr Heylings told the children: “Sometimes I think people think that local government can’t do very much. I think we will decide your future before you have even had the chance to vote.
“We will be deciding the kind of houses you live in, how close they are to the kind of transport you want, whether or not you can just walk closely to green spaces and nature. We are deciding that every day here. We will decide whether we are using fossil fuels or renewable energy in all the new houses being built and on all the new roads – and want kind of transport is built.
“I think we need to work on that very seriously, and after this meeting we need to think of the ways in which we can tell you what we are actually going to do.”
More by this authorBen Hatton, Local Democracy Reporter