Sheffield Hallam's new MP Olivia Blake criticised by campaigners over her mention of climate change in her maiden speech

Campaigners say they are ‘staggered’ by new MP Olivia Blake’s maiden speech about climate change, claiming she has backed plans for a housing development on a wildlife haven.

By Lucy Ashton, Local Democracy Reporter
Wednesday, 22nd January 2020, 11:45 am
Updated Wednesday, 22nd January 2020, 1:16 pm
Olivia Blake was elected as Sheffield Hallam MP in last month's general election
Olivia Blake was elected as Sheffield Hallam MP in last month's general election

The newly-elected Sheffield Hallam MP has been criticised by Owlthorpe Fields Action Group, who are fighting plans to build hundreds of homes on almost eight hectares of greenfield land.

Ms Blake says she fully supports any community group to make their views heard through the planning process.

Christine Rippon, on behalf of the group, said: “We are staggered by the sentiment. Why, despite declaring a climate emergency last February, has Ms Blake and the council continued to do nothing about the crisis they pay lip-service to.

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“As Deputy Council Leader, Ms Blake made it very clear to our group that the development must go ahead on the spurious basis that the site was earmarked in the 1960s, taking no account of the extensive housing and retail developments that have been built since then, nor the increasing road congestion and air pollution.”

Ms Rippon said the site had many species of trees, grasses, ferns, wildflowers, rare orchids, birds, mammals and bats.

She added: “Ms Blake talked of the importance of enhancing biodiversity, of the need to mitigate flood risk, and the need to improve air quality - all of these will be irrevocably damaged if the proposed house building goes ahead.”

Ms Blake said she had been inundated with messages from constituents who were pleased she spoke about climate change in her maiden speech.

"I spoke about the need to defend areas of significant natural interest in my constituency and I will fight to protect these areas.

“Since the 1980s councils have been systematically stripped of funding and power, so much that central government can force Sheffield Council to make land available for 40,000 new houses by 2035, and forces councils to make tough decisions.

“I stood for Parliament to fight for radical action on the climate crisis on a local and national level. This urgently requires a redistribution of power so that decisions that shape our communities can be made by local people."