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The Power of Having Your Say


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August 15, 2023

Making your voice heard can be exhausting; not feeling heard at public consultations, lecturing family members about recycling, or asking about where restaurants or shops source their food. But it’s possibly the most powerful thing we can do as individuals. Read more in our article from Jack Thompson and find out about three ways you can make your voice heard now.

Indeed, political participation such as public consultations and campaigning is no exception. But it’s a central pillar of functioning democracy. Observing the rise of authoritarian states around the globe, we realise that it’s a privilege. In fact, government needs – and wants – our input and opinion to find out how decisions will interact with important stakeholders, whether that’s homeowners, farmers or dog walkers. It’s only when you don’t consult widely, that unintended consequences begin to appear – often driving ecological degradation. In short, having your say is an essential ingredient to efficient policy. 

What’s more, knowing that our voices and experiences carry weight is an empowering feeling and one that can give us a collective sense of action. Taking action in a collaborative manner, such as campaigning, is not only a way of easing anxiety around the nature and climate crises – knowing that there are other people that care – it’s one of the most impactful things we can do as citizens. Here is an interesting article on the different types of collective action – from public consultations to swapping seeds with neighbours. 

Author Margaret Mead once said: “Never doubt that a small thoughtful group of thoughtful, committed individuals can change the world. In fact, it’s the only thing that ever has.” 

It's a well-trod quote, but it still rings true; the great social change in history all began with individuals who cared; the civil rights movement, the suffragettes, smoking bans. 

While public consultations and campaigning can feel like you’re talking to a brick wall, consistent messaging is crucial to getting the issues that we care about onto the political agenda. If politicians know that these issues are important to voters, sooner or later, they will have to care about them too. 

The good thing is that there are plenty of opportunities to have your say and shape policies from the national to the micro-local! Here are three current opportunities:

Public consultation on protecting hedges (closes 20th September 2023)

Defra, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs wants everyone who cares about hedges, from farmers to members of the public, to share their views about how policy should support hedgerow protection. Find out more here.  

Supporting people to walk, wheel and cycle in South Hams and West Devon (Closes 31st July 2023)

South Hams District Council and West Devon Borough Council want to understand the barriers that local people face and identify solutions that will be the most beneficial for improving quality of life and protecting the environment. To share your views, click here

Roof solar campaign

The Countryside Charity, CPRE are running a campaign to urge the government to fully realise the potential of solar on rooftops. To get involved in starting a rooftop revolution, click here