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Strath councillor leading the green agenda in Highlands

By Donna MacAllister

They say it’s always good to stand out from the crowd.

But Highland Council’s only Scottish Green Party member Pippa Hadley has done more so than most when it comes to the biggest challenge facing mankind.

Now the 47-year-old mum-of-one who has almost single-handedly pushed the environment to the top of the local political agenda believes she’s beginning to bridge some of the divide.

The determined Badenoch and Strathspey councillor has persuaded full council to declare a climate and ecological emergency, going way beyond action originally proposed by council leader Margaret Davidson.

Councillor Pippa Hadley who is at the forefront of trying to make the Highlanders a greener place.
Councillor Pippa Hadley who is at the forefront of trying to make the Highlanders a greener place.

Councillor Hadley said it was a great boon for the future of the environment in the Highlands but also a “notable” achievement for her, personally.

“Being the only Green councillor has been quite lonely because I don’t have a team of people to advise me in chamber.

"I’m not able to reach out to a group, so this is notable. It feels like I’ve wedged the door open now for other Greens go follow.”

The councillor who has until now only observed the tabling of motions and amendments, was catapulted into the arena by the Inverness Area branch of the London-based Extinction Rebellion movement.

The protesters now occupying the city’s Town House and Falcon Square with banners most Fridays, asked if she would submit their motion.

The over-riding request on its wish list was a request for the local authority to declare a climate emergency and make the Highlands carbon-neutral by 2025.

They were “delighted” when councillors agreed to declare a climate emergency and to “work towards” zero-carbon status by 2025.

Councillor Davidson said her initial reticence to use the word “emergency” in a council motion stemmed from the fact some councillors on the council do not fully concur with scientific claims that climate change is caused by human beings.

She said the last thing anyone needs right now is to alienate the very group of people climate change activists are trying to take with them.

Councillor Hadley was overjoyed with the result.

“I couldn’t have done this without calling for a little bit of friendly help in the chamber,” she said, giving specific mention to Lochaber Independent councillor Andrew Baxter.

The climate change debate has been dominating newspaper columns in the last week.

Some commentators believe the 2025 deadline to hit carbon neutral status is too soon and could spell the end of livestock farming in Scotland.

At the same time, the world’s leading climate scientists say there is only a dozen years for global warming to be kept to a maximum of 1.5C, “beyond which even half a degree will significantly worsen the risks of drought, floods, extreme heat and poverty for hundreds of millions of people”.

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