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ClientEarth and Labour MP win environmental awards

Campaign group and EAC chair Joan Walley MP among winners of CIWEM’s Green Ribbon Political Awards 2014

Campaign group ClientEarth and chair of the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) Joan Walley MP were among winners at the Green Ribbon Political Awards 2014 at an event in the House of Commons last week (November 18).

Organised by the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM), the awards are given to politicians, businesses and NGOs in the UK and abroad for their environmental achievements.

(L-R) Jonathon Porrit with director of development at ClientEarth, Rob Ryan

(L-R) Jonathon Porrit with director of development at ClientEarth, Rob Ryan

The awards ceremony took place in front of 200 specially invited guests at the Terrace Pavilion in the House of Commons, with gongs decided by a panel of judges chaired by head of policy and communications at CIWEM, Alastair Chisholm.

According to CIWEM, the awards – originally founded by Environmental Policy Consultants in the 1990s – were ‘reinvigorated’ for 2014 prior to the General Election next year, and aim to “inspire others into best practice and cajole backsliders into action”.

Described as an organisation of activist environmental lawyers, ClientEarth was recognised for its work around its legal challenge in the European Courts against the UK government’s failure to meet EU air quality limit values for nitrogen dioxide.

In a “groundbreaking” judgment last week, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) ruled that national courts can take action to force governments to comply when limits are breached, leaving Defra to state that it is “revising” its air quality plans “to reflect recent action” (see airqualitynews.com story).

Although the award was decided ahead of the outcome of the CJEU ruling last week, judges reflected that it was an “innovative and very effective campaign”, adding that ClientEarth should be “commended for its patient and diligent approach, using the law to secure a better environment for everyone”.

James Thornton, ClientEarth chief executive, said: “We are honoured to see our air pollution campaign recognised at CIWEM’s Green Ribbon Awards. ClientEarth has brought legal challenges against the government for four years, and we will continue to do so until we see effective action. It has been heartening to hear a growing number of voices in the media, in civil society and in communities calling for air pollution to be tackled urgently. Recognition like today’s award can only amplify their calls further.”

EAC

The ten-strong judging panel this year also included: environmentalist and writer Jonathon Porritt, campaigner Tony Juniper, Joan Walley MP, Richard Benyon MP, Baroness Parminter, Dan Byles MP, David Baldock (Institute for Environmental Policy – IEEP) and Adrian Wilkes (Environmental Policy Consultants EPC), and journalists Geoffrey Lean and Fiona Harvey.

And, judging panel member and Labour MP Joan Walley was also a recipient of a Green Ribbon Award for special recognition of environmental achievement, with judges praising her “unrelenting efforts for the environment” which are “seemingly largely unrecognised by her party”.

The MP for Stoke-on-Trent North since 1987 is standing down at the next election, but has been on the Environmental Audit Committee since 1997 as well as being its chair since 2010.

Under her chairmanship, the Committee launched an inquiry into air quality in the UK earlier this year, and the committee is currently considering its findings before it is expected to issue a report on this issue next year (see airqualitynews.com story).

Other recipients of Green Ribbon Awards were TV wildlife expert Chris Packham, HRH the Prince of Wales and former DECC minister Greg Barker MP, while DCLG Secretary of State Eric Pickles was given the award for ‘most environmentally destructive contribution’.

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