Category Archives: Diana Schumacher

Legal action by the Environmental Law Foundation, co-founded by Diana Schumacher

The latest news from The Environmental Law Foundation [ELF], of which Diana Schumacher is co-founder, vice-president and trustee, relates to a campaign to improve the performance of Thames Water.

Thames Water is subject to the Environmental Information Regulations (2004). This law says that bodies like Thames Water shall make the environmental information it holds progressively available to the public by electronic means which are easily accessible. The information will show where greater investment is needed to protect the river.

ELF has worked with London Waterkeeper (LW) since it was first approached for assistance in 2016. LW recently launched a campaign – A Thames Fit To Swim –  to persuade Thames Water to notify the public when sewage works overflow and discharge to the Thames during wet weather, from the Cotswolds to the Capital, by putting the information on its website, in real-time. Readers living in those areas may sign up to the campaign here.

                               Copenhagen Harbour Bath

Copenhagen made its waters ‘swimmable’ by adopting this policy. Read an inspiring account here. Urban beaches and harbour swimming pools have been created which are now its most popular open spaces.

Read more here.






Diana Schumacher– a Brexit cameo

Diana was responding to the riposte to Professor Minford made by Molly Scott Cato whose work she has long admired:

“She has made a much neglected point about all those small overlooked timing and communication factors which should be taken into account in any rational economic decision.

“However, in my view, the referendum decision of 2016 should have been debated much more fully and three-dimensionally beforehand.

“Brexit is essentially not just about economics, statistics and accountancy (which was, I believe, the main reference point), but about affirmation of much more lasting and enduring issues such as political and cultural unity, integrity, solidarity, harmony and mutual humanitarian support in the face of creeping materialism overruling basic human values”.





A tribute to the Environmental Law Foundation

In addition to an amazing array of other commitments, Diana Schumacher is co-founder and vice president of the Environmental Law Foundation (ELF)

It was therefore particularly pleasing to receive this letter forwarded (but not written) by  Peter Walker, the Chairman of the lively award-winning Stirchley Neighbourhood Forum in Birmingham:

You may have read the news on Twitter already but, for those of you who haven’t, here is an update on Birmingham City Council’s planning decision to approve demolition of Fitness First/PSL Bowling in favour of a Lidl supermarket on the site.

Thanks to ongoing free legal support from the Environmental Law Foundation (ELF), a national UK charity that helps people use the law to protect and improve their local environment and quality of life, we have some good news to report. With ELF’s tremendous help in checking over the planning case, and a Stirchley resident and a SuperStirchley supporter willing to be named as the person challenging the public body, we sent a Pre-Action Letter for Judicial Review to Birmingham City Council.

Last night (20 March) SuperStirchley attended a public meeting at Stirchley Community Church called by Cllr Rob Sealey on the topic of Tesco’s withdrawal from its planned Stirchley site. Simon Turner (Planning Officer responsible for city south planning applications) and Ian MacLeod (Assistant Director of Regeneration and Planning) were in attendance. However, before the Tesco discussion began, Cllr Sealey made an announcement on the Lidl application:

“Following the pre-action letter setting out grounds for a judicial review that was sent to the Council by ELF on behalf of local residents, BCC has accepted that the decision had been incorrectly decided. The council will  therefore agree to quash the planning permission previously granted to Lidl. This will not prevent Lidl from making a further application but such an application will be treated as a new application”.

Lidl could still submit another planning application – which would be their third – but it’s possible that would be more difficult to approve following this consent to judgment. We don’t want to raise false hopes if there are implications yet to come out – we are merely stating what was said at the meeting by council officials.

We want to thank Environmental Law Foundation for their incredible help. Please consider becoming a member to support their work – without them we wouldn’t have been able to do this.

Peter adds: “We hope this shows other locals that standing up for things that matter really can make a difference. And as we have always maintained: we are not against Lidl, we were opposing the loss of our facilities”.


Background information

Reading around the subject it emerged that Birmingham University has joined the growing national network of pro-bono ELF student law clinics. The University of Birmingham Law Clinic Contact Birmingham FLAG has No 5 Chambers in Birmingham as their supervising partner. Two very interesting cases were initially sent for their students to work on – the first was a matter concerning a Parish Council’s statutory duties to local people to provide allotments (where private allotment space had been promised and not delivered. 




One insight into Schumacher’s many-facetted legacy

diana schumacherIn an article for the Gandhi Foundation, Diana Schumacher has written about the work of her father-in-law, Ernst Friedrich (Fritz) Schumacher. This post looks at only one aspect – his foundation of the Intermediate Technology Development Group (ITDG), a London-based charity concerned with technology transfer.

The aim was to give practical ‘tool aid’, skills and education to poor rural communities in developing countries rather than expensive highly mechanised equipment which was not appropriate to the understanding and needs of the illiterate majority and which put them out of work. What was needed was ‘production by the masses and not mass production’ using ‘technologies with a human face’. In 2005 ITDG changed its name to Practical Action, in order to communicate its work to a wider audience.

Amidst rather doleful discussion of Trident renewal and post-Brexit issues, Elizabeth Way handed me a leaflet which told this heart-warming story, now found online:

Ancient routes reopened

For centuries nomadic herdsman drove cattle and camels through Darfur and lived peacefully alongside farmers who lived off the land. However, during the unrest long-standing bonds between farmers and the pastoralist tribes were undermined. Read more here.

darfur cattlePastoralists stopped using the migratory routes due to conflict and farmers started planting crops on them. Then when the conflict eased and the pastoralists returned to the routes crops were ruined and fighting broke out between the two groups.

The work of Practical Action is simple and reflected self-governing systems of justice traditionally used in Darfur. Project officers set up peace and stability committees which bring leading members of opposed groups together and get them to agree on where animals should be allowed to walk and feed.

practical action logo2011, the charity has installed nearly 200km of migratory routes and set up 20 shared water points. So far more than 20,000 people have benefitted from the project, with more set to do so after the UNDP committed further spending in the latest phase of the project.

Abandoned markets resurrected

As part of the newest phase of the project, which started five years ago, Practical Action have been reopening markets closed down during the conflict. The markets provide the region with an economic boost and encourage a return to traditional forms of trading, which have supported the economy of the region for generations.

Sudan. West Darfur. Habilah. On sunday is market day. A group of nomads, belonging to the arab milicia called Janjaweed, come with their camels in the village to shop for food and trade or buy animals. Two women, wearing colorful veils on the heads, ride donkeys loaded with goods and a cock. © 2004 Didier Ruef

Nomads come with their camels to the village market to shop for food and trade or buy animals.

Importantly, markets also bring community leaders from all sides of the conflict together in one place and offer a valuable opportunity to expand the peace and stability committees, discuss matters which are still causing inter-tribal conflict and, where possible, reach new agreements. Project leader Awadalla Hamid Mohammed said: “More productive farming and the return of traditional trading routes and markets signifies a return to normality and provides a huge opportunity to rebuild trust between communities”.

The project leader added: “Markets have always provided a place to trade, but they also enable people to build friendships and alliances, swap information and generally network. When they stopped, communities became more isolated, which led to less understanding and a break-down of relationships. Now we believe they can be vital agents of change.”