General Election 2017 – queries for candidates

We expect our local MP to think nationally and act locally.  Hence we pose to candidates almost the same questions as to Hampshire County candidates on 4th May:

1. Pollution
The Royal College of Physicians (RCP) and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) set out the dangerous impact of air pollution on health in the UK, suggesting that around 40,000 deaths a year are linked to air pollution.
1(a) Is pollution an important issue for you?
1(b) What steps would you take to reduce pollution locally?

2. Energy
Basingstoke and Deane Borough meets only 1.8% of its energy needs from local renewables; Hampshire as a whole meets only 1.5%.  The national target is 15% by 2020: this is also the target in the borough Local Plan.

2(a) How do you think the borough, the county and the UK should reach the target?
2(b) How will you engage with the public and local and national business to reduce pollution and increase renewable energy production?

Hampshire County Council elections 4th May

This is not the General Election and Hampshire County councillors can’t do anything about Brexit, but they CAN do things about air pollution and meeting the 15% renewable energy target.  We asked candidates how:

1. Pollution
The Royal College of Physicians (RCP) and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) set out the dangerous impact of air pollution on health in the UK, suggesting that around 40,000 deaths a year are linked to air pollution.
1(a) Is pollution an important issue for you?
1(b) What steps would you take locally as a councillor to reduce pollution?

2. Energy
Basingstoke and Deane Borough meets only 1.8% of its energy needs from local renewables; Hampshire as a whole meets only 1.5%.  The national target is 15% by 2020: this is also the target in the borough Local Plan.

2(a) How do you think the borough and the county should reach the target?
2(b) How will you engage with the public and local business  to reduce pollution and increase renewable energy production?

So far we have had replies from:

Gavin James, LibDem, Basingstoke South East

Warwick Lovegrove, LibDem, Tadley and Baughurst

Basingstoke Green Party

We have not had specific replies from candidates in Whitchurch and The Candovers, but candidates there sent information, unfortunately not specific to sustainability issues, to the Basingstoke Gazette, which published it at http://www.basingstokegazette.co.uk/news/15254301.County_council_elections_for_Whitchurch_and_Overton__who_is_pledging_what_/?ref=ebln

 

BEIS green paper on “Industrial Strategy”

The government department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has issued a “green paper” (consultation document) “Building our Industrial Strategy” and is inviting comments

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/building-our-industrial-strategy

Deadline for comments is: 11:45 pm on 17th April (there is a web link for these).

I hope that BTN members will comment. Having a strategy is welcome, particularly for its commitment to improve equality across the nation, but you can tell that the department has its eye on its usual customers. A few of my thoughts are below:

The paper says that the strategy must:
• build on our strengths and extend excellence into the future;
• close the gap between the UK’s most productive companies, industries, places and people and the rest; and
• make the UK one of the most competitive places in the world to start or grow a business.

It is keen on big infrastructure projects, particularly the Hinckley Point nuclear power station, the Heathrow runway and HS2. There is a whole section “Delivering affordable energy and clean growth” This includes the ambition to win a “substantial share of the global market” in manufacturing and services around clean energy, but the first statement on this is to form a UK supply chain for Hinckley Point. The only genuinely renewable energy generation mentioned is offshore wind turbine manufacture. “solar” is not mentioned. Electric cars are glamorously illustrated, and grid management strategy for charging them is highlighted, but is the Government’s enthusiasm for them based more on playing to the UK’s “strength” in automotive engineering than a genuine commitment to integrating them into a “green” transport strategy?

The Government says it will commission “a review of the opportunities to reduce the cost of achieving our decarbonisation goals in the power and industrial sectors”. Could we add a thing or two to guide this? Microgeneration? Community solar? and INSULATION!! Also, do we want only to reduce up-front costs, or invest in the workforce to do labour-intensive jobs (like insulate EVERY home and factory) that will make the energy generation go further?

The Government plans to advance via “sector deals” with promising industrial sectors, to support innovation and employment. How do we make sure that these “deals” are with sectors that advance the clean, low-carbon economy and not with the “usual suspects” just because they happen to have big operations at present?… I don’t know, but we certainly won’t unless we submit our views and do not give up hope of influencing the BEIS just because we are individuals or small companies not “big business”. If you belong to a trade or professional association or a trade union, check out its policy secretariat – is it responding?

(pic below – Earlsburn Wind Farm, out of focus and partly in shadow – will the industrial strategy have any effect on national and local government attitudes to onshore wind? Photo taken by me on 2/1/2017.)

2017 Green Week – make plans now

2017 Green Week is 16th to 25th September and plans are already well forward  between BTN and Basingstoke and Deane Council to create the best annual opportunity for local organisations to show off their “Green” ideas, opportunities and wares.

We will as usual have STALLS in Castle Square, The Malls, on Saturday 16th, and on Saturday 23rd we will hold BROOKVALE SUSTAINABILITY DAY in Brookvale Village Hall.  If you want to be involved in either of these please contact secretary@basingstoketransition.org

We are looking for ACTIVITIES during the day or evening on any day in the week – cycle rides, clothes swaps, visits to places of interest, film showings, talks or demonstrations – anything “green” – contact us secretary@basingstoketransition.org.  For inspiration, see older posts on this page for last year’s Green Week activities.

VOLUNTEERS are needed for BTN’s own activities during the week.

If you want to be involved in volunteering or discuss activities for Green Week, we are holding VOLUNTEER SESSIONS on the last Monday of the month at 6.30 pm in the Tea Bar, London Street (RG21 7NT).

Fortnightly Bin Collections?

One of our members reacts to the announcement that Basingstoke and Deane Council is considering switching to fortnightly collections of the “grey bin” (non-recycleable rubbish):

Here’s an interesting conundrum.

Basingstoke has a terrible record in waste and recycling. Last time we looked (a wrote to the Gazette about it) Basingstoke had one of the highest levels of household waste production and one of the lowest rates of recycling.

Alternative week collection (AWC) is one of the few proven ways of both increasing recycling rates and reducing household waste. However a key component is a separate food waste collection.

Basingstoke Council are proposing to move to the AWC but without separate food waste collection.  In my view we should support the Council in its proposal to move to AWC but ask for a food waste collection as well.  

The Gazette is running the story, with an online vote http://www.basingstokegazette.co.uk/news/15016381.Bin_collections_could_go_FORTNIGHTLY_in_Basingstoke_as_part_of_council_cuts/ (but I couldn’t get the voting button to work, so I added a post – Ed.).  The main response so far is seemingly along the lines “How dare the Council stop me throwing stuff away – that’s my right”

A report by the House of Commons is attached.  What do we think should be BTN’s position on this? Do we support it. If not what are we going to do about waste and recycling in Basingstoke?  Post your answers here or on our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/TransitionBasingstoke/?ref=bookmarks

Link to copy of House of Commons policy document on alternate-week bin collection:

SN05988wastecollectionHouseofCommonspolicydocument

Will we get a new railway station for Manydown?

This was sent to me by an active member of Basingstoke Transition Network.  My message from it is to keep up the pressure, both at Manydown and for a station at Chineham, because the case is clear and the obstacles can be overcome if new stations are given spending priority – SP, BTN Secretary.

As one who worked for Network Rail for over 10 years, and have a life-long interest in railways, I believe you are absolutely right to push for this new station site now, even if the build does not happen straight away.

“I’m sure you won’t need me to tell you that sufficient land would need to be reserved for it; that the size of that plot may need to consider not just local traffic but ‘railheading’ by car users. You’re probably aware that Basingstoke station car park has just been ‘double decked’, such is the growth in rail traffic.

“Nor is the site choice straightforward from the railway’s point of view either. The 2-track line to Southampton is running not far off full capacity. Siting the station on the western end of the four-track section at Worting might still have an effect on line capacity to Southampton if stopping trains need to slow down/accelerate on the 2-track section to Southampton. Siting the station on the 2-track section towards Salisbury might be preferable as the current services are much lighter. However, siting the station on the curve probably won’t meet today’s safety regulations: it might need to be sited closer to Oakley – which might not find favour with Oakley residents.

“In summary, …, given the soaring popularity of rail travel, it’s ‘greener’ credentials and the opportunity to receive from part funding from a major developer, this must be the moment to kick it off.”

Manydown consultation – time is short (13th Oct)

Final deadline for comments on Manydown development is Thursday 13th October 2016.  http://manydownbasingstoke.co.uk/get-involved/next-consultation/ is the website to visit, which has links to the materials shown at the open sessions in September (pdf file) and to the feedback form.

BTN is interested in the low-carbon sustainability of the entire estate, and notes that this is given little mention in the document, e.g.:

  • there is no commitment to make some or all of the houses be at the highest energy-efficiency standard (passivhaus);
  • it is not clear that cycling provision has been planned following best practice (the “planned” cycling provision in recent developments around the town is generally abysmal);
  • there is no true ambition in the plan to make public transport the preferred way of getting around so that fewer cars will be needed;
  • The sewage plan is to link to the existing works – where is the ambition to make a world exemplary system to extract energy from sewage?
  • and there is no evidence that Manydown will cater for the very bottom end of the housing market, e.g. planned houses-in-multiple-occupation for low-income single people.  Surely a well-planned, well-built and well-maintained HMO could actually be a DESIRABLE place to live, as well as one that minimises an individual’s carbon footprint?

Manydown represents a wonderful opportunity, but it will be missed unless there is a big change in direction.  Many small decisions could make a difference, e.g. a requirement that there be a preponderance of south-facing roofs to encourage the fitting of solar panels; but some large commitments need to be made at this stage, in particular provision for a sewage processing facility for the creation of methane gas by anaerobic digestion.

Hampshire CC new waste disposal charges

Hampshire County Council has announced new charges for disposing of asbestos, building waste and soil and rubble at its household waste recycling centres http://www3.hants.gov.uk/hantswebnewslist?id=728123

BTN says: Per household, Basingstoke generates more waste and recycles less than almost anywhere else in the country.   The County Council’s new charging regime is clearly not part of a strategy to reduce waste and increase recycling in the Borough.