“I invested because I am sick and tired of [the environment secretary’s] complete refusal to make any decisions which deviate from ‘business as usual’ when we are facing a devastating climate crisis that will lead to the death of millions if we don’t take immediate action.”
[George Eustice survived the reshuffle – Owl]
Helena Horton www.theguardian.com
The constituency office of the environment secretary, George Eustice, has been bought by supporters of Insulate Britain, who have donated his rent to a legal fund for activists.
Supporters of the group, which made headlines last year by obstructing major roads and calling on the government to retrofit all British homes to make them energy efficient, formed a coalition of investors.
They acquired the property at 13 Commercial Street, Camborne, Cornwall, last October for £51,000. Since then their company, Cawton Ltd, has received £2,820 in rent from the House of Commons, which has been donated to help pay the legal costs of Insulate Britain defendants in court cases.
Cawton Ltd is an anagram of Act Now – one of the Extinction Rebellion protest group’s three key demands.
Sally Wright, from St Day, in the MP’s Camborne, Redruth and Hayle constituency, said: “I invested because I am sick and tired of [the environment secretary’s] complete refusal to make any decisions which deviate from ‘business as usual’ when we are facing a devastating climate crisis that will lead to the death of millions if we don’t take immediate action.
“I’m glad we are using his rent to pay the fines of the people who are risking their livelihoods, reputations and personal safety to give the rest of us hope that change is possible.”
Insulate Britain said Eustice had taken many actions recently that they disagreed with, including authorising the use of a bee-killing pesticide, and encouraging MPs to vote against an amendment to the environment bill that would have forced water companies to end the practice of dumping untreated sewage into rivers and seas. The government was later forced to U-turn on this after public outrage.
Eustice has previously spoken out against the activists, calling them “highly irresponsible”, and welcomed the powers sought by the Home Office to allow police to act pre-emptively to stop the protests happening.
Since November last year, Insulate Britain says, 28 supporters have been charged with contempt of court for defying injunctions banning their protest blockades during a campaign of civil disobedience last autumn, according to the campaign group. Of these, 25 have been found guilty and 13 have been jailed, with 12 receiving suspended prison sentences. So far, they say, the courts have awarded costs of £84,000 against Insulate Britain defendants, with a further claim of £159,216 from lawyers acting for the government due to be decided next week.
Another investor, Brenda Shrewsbury, 65, from Budock Water, Cornwall, said: “The rent from George’s gaff is tiny compared with the costs faced by the individuals that have been persecuted by the government for demanding action on home insulation, but I hope that this move will inspire others to do what they can. We need to come together and act now on the climate emergency.”
The group has decided to donate future rent money to local food banks and community initiatives to help people hit by the cost of living crisis and facing the choice of whether to heat their homes or eat.
A spokesperson for Eustice said: “We live in a free country and investors are free to invest in property irrespective of their political views. There is no law that requires a landlord and tenant to share the same political opinions.”
An exclusive weekly piece from our top climate crisis correspondents, as well as a digest of the biggest environment stories – plus the good news, the not-so-good news, and everything else you need to know.
We thought you should know this newsletter may also contain information about Guardian products, services and chosen charities or online advertisements.