Campaigners gathered in York today (Saturday, November 25) to highlight how their MPs have voted on climate policies.

The group – consisting of parents and children – from Parents for Future held placards on the Fulford side of Millennium Bridge from 1pm to 2pm.

Rosie Toothill from the group told The Press they gathered to highlight how Rachael Maskell and Julian Sturdy had voted ahead of the 2024 general election.

“We’re not telling people how to vote, but we are highlighting how they have voted before,” she said.

“People should have a look at how their MP has voted on previous climate policy and they should be prioritising that in the next general election.


York Press: Rosie Toothill from Parents for Future next to Millennium BridgeRosie Toothill from Parents for Future next to Millennium Bridge (Image: Dylan Connell)

“We have a few years left to turn things around.”

Ms Toothill said they gathered at Millennium Bridge because they wanted to “target local people”.

“Town is full of Christmas shoppers, we want to reach local people,” she explained.

Ms Toothill said the location was near the boundary between York Central and Outer, which allowed the group to speak to people in both constituencies.

York Press: The group stood next to Millennium Bridge from 1pm to 2pm today The group stood next to Millennium Bridge from 1pm to 2pm today (Image: Dylan Connell)

“A few people have cheered us on,” she said.

The campaigners’ placards detailed how Ms Maskell and Mr Sturdy have voted in the past on climate issues, including dumping raw sewage in rivers.

As The Press reported in 2021, the House of Lords backed by 213 votes to 60 a proposal to place a new legal duty on water companies to "take all reasonable steps" to prevent sewage discharges.

York Press: York Outer MP Julian SturdyYork Outer MP Julian Sturdy (Image: Supplied)

This enabled the Environment Bill to be sent back to the Commons where the Government will table its own amendment.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) pledged that in the new amendment the bill would be "further strengthened".

Defra's climbdown came after Downing Street - and York Outer Conservative MP Mr Sturdy - defended the decision to vote against the original amendment to the bill, which aimed to force water companies to reduce the amount of raw sewage pumped into waterways.

Mr Sturdy defended his decision to vote against the amendment by saying it would have transferred "unlimited costs for cutting discharges right onto local residents".

York Central Labour MP Ms Maskell voted in favour of the original amendments and said the lack of investment in creaking sewage and waste water systems was a “scandal”.

York Press: York Central MP Rachael MaskellYork Central MP Rachael Maskell (Image: Supplied)

Campaigners today also held signs showing the MPs’ views on the Rosebank oil and gas field north of Scotland.

Some signs criticised Mr Sturdy for supporting the UK's largest untapped oil and gas field, which was approved by the Government in September.

York Press: Placards showed how Julian Sturdy voted on climate policiesPlacards showed how Julian Sturdy voted on climate policies (Image: Dylan Connell)

Campaigners feared for the environmental impact of the project which they said could “jeopardise” their children’s future.

In an interview with STV News, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak stood by the decision to give the go-ahead for drilling at Rosebank and said it would create jobs.

York Press: Placards showed how Rachael Maskell voted on climate policiesPlacards showed how Rachael Maskell voted on climate policies (Image: Dylan Connell)

It is thought to contain up to 300 million barrels of oil, but critics – including Scottish First Minister Humza Yousaf – said the development will damage net zero ambitions.

Ms Maskell told The Press she was “pleased to note” the Parents for Future demonstration.

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“It is clear this Government has chosen fossil fuels, and the environmental damage that this causes, over investment in renewable energy,” she said.

“New oil and gas exploration, such as Rosebank, must be stopped and instead, the level of investment seen in oil and gas must transition towards cleaner renewable energy which would be cheaper for households and more sustainable for our planet.”

The Labour MP added that with next week’s COP28 it is “vital that the fragility of our precarious planet is prioritised” and “new legislation to license future oil excavation and extraction halted with an urgent switch to replace hydrocarbons with renewable energy”. 

The Press has approached Julian Sturdy for comment.