Sixth Former Leanne Tough has been championing environmental causes speaking at the EU’s recent Green Week and meeting with Members of the European Parliament.
Leanne, from Year 12, was invited to attend the three-day event in Brussels as a junior representative of the RSPB, an organisation she has been active in for the past two years. A key focus of the week was the EU nature directives that protect environmental interests and many of the delegates were pressing for the directives to be upheld or strengthened as there is an ongoing review into their scope and powers.
Leanne, who attended with a friend and staff members from the RSPB said: ‘Green Week is an annual event organised by the EU and it is open to everyone. The RSPB have got a Phoenix Forum for teenagers and I joined that two years ago because I would like to go into conservation when I am older so I needed experience and by joining that opportunities like this have come up. As I have been brought up on a dairy farm I have always been into nature and my parents brought me up to have an appreciation of wildlife.
‘We did a youth forum on the Thursday and they said we were the first teenagers to be on the panel. I did a five-minute introduction about myself and then at the closing session on the Friday I presented a 10-minute speech in front of around 300 people in the Egg conference centre. I spoke about the nature directives again and emphasised to the commission that we don’t want them to be weakened, we are standing strong on that.
‘People from all over Europe attending including the German environment minister who was there for the closing ceremony. The MEPs were good because they wanted to meet constituents but some of the people had such important jobs and everyone spoke such varied languages. The best bit was meeting all the RSPB staff and the feeling of achievement once I had made my speech.’