On Tuesday February 23 the Rother Environmental Group (REG) will be holding its 29th Annual General Meeting at 7:15pm in the Benson Room at the George Hotel in Rye – and all are welcome to attend.
The meeting will elect a new committee and then proceed to have a serious discussion about the future of REG. The discussion is prompted by a need to recruit more volunteers and to ensure that the group remains relevant and effective.
REG was founded in Rye in 1987 in response to a growing concern for the environment and in particular one or two local issues, including pollution from the chemical works in Rye Harbour. As its name implies, it now seeks to influence affairs on a wider scale.
Until recently the group met nearly every month. The meetings took place in local pubs in and around Rye, but also in Bexhill and Robertsbridge where the group has some active members.
Over the years REG has organised many public events, including debates, exhibitions and film screenings, to address the key issues of energy, waste, recycling and transport. Many of these events were attended by “decision makers” such as Rother District Councillors and their officers.
REG has also enjoyed a good relationship with our two local MPs who by chance are very interested in environmental issues. Initially we engaged with Gregory Barker, the former MP for Battle and Bexhill who was a minister in the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and more recently with Amber Rudd, who now leads the ministerial team at DECC as Secretary of State. Indeed Amber Rudd even came to REG meetings before she was an MP.
The group has raised funds from its members to support projects of its own and others. REG also distributes grants to transport-related projects from funds passed on to them by the “Campaign against the Rye Bypass” – when this particular battle was won. They have successfully applied for a grant from the Wind Farm for bicycle studies.
They also distributed £4,000 given by Sony Pictures for environmental projects in appreciation of Rye’s hospitality during the filming of “The Monuments Men” – and some of these funds were used to support the Rye Community Garden and the installation of solar panels on Rye Studio School. In addition there have been some ad hoc environment improvements (pictured right).
The discussion at the AGM will consider options for the future of REG – whether to continue to focus on Rother or just Rye, merge with a larger group such as Friends of the Earth, or just wind up.
There should be a role for a local environmental group, but it needs people with time and resources to make it work. Non-members are welcome at the meeting – why not come along and see if you could help?
Christopher is acting administrator of REG