A SCHOOLGIRL who spearheaded a top-level debate on climate change has been hailed as an environmental star of the future.

More than 100 people packed into the talk – called Climate Change - The Last Straw – at Maldon’s Plume Academy which was organised by Year 8 student Hattie Phillips.

Maldon MP John Whittingdale chaired the talk and spoke about current government work in the key area.

Other speakers included Gareth Redmond-King, head of climate change for the World Wildlife Fund, Darren Tansley from Essex Wildlife Trust and Professor Sam Fankhauser of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment.

Thirteen-year-old Hattie said: “The speakers were amazing and it was a great talk.

“It was quite clear though that we need to start engaging more with young people so they will enjoy it more.”

She now has plans to start her own activism group soon.

The youngster was praised by headteacher Carl Wakefield.

He said: “It was our own Hattie Phillips who lit up the evening with a speech she gave about the need for us all to change now in terms of how we connect with, respect and care for our planet.

“For a person of just 13 years of age, it was mightily impressive especially as it was from the heart and so full of passion – an expectation moving forward.

“Plume Academy was immensely proud to host such a hugely important event and even prouder of the fact that, within our student body, we have someone like Hattie – a person I sincerely believe has the capacity to make a difference on a global scale.”