Tues 23rd April – Basingstoke Clean Air Campaign hustings

BTN encourages its followers and everyone who is concerned about air pollution and the environment in Basingstoke to come to the hustings being organised by Basingstoke Clean Air Campaign, at Christ Church, Chineham (RG24 8LT) at 7 for 7.30 pm on Tuesday 23rd April 2019. http://basingstoketransition.org/flyers-for-bcac-hustings-23-april-2019

Labour and Lib-Dem Councillors have accepted the invitation to attend, and we are in conversation with representatives of the Conservative and Green parties. We have asked the representatives to give answers to the following questions:

  1. What steps would you take locally as a councillor to reduce pollution? (AIR POLLUTION)
  2. How will you engage with the public and local business to reduce pollution and increase renewable energy production? (RENEWABLE ENERGY)
  3. We have just 11 years before climate change damage becomes irreversibly catastrophic according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. How will you achieve this? (CLIMATE CHANGE)
  4. What will you do to ensure that Basingstoke’s existing green spaces are maintained to protect local biodiversity. (BIODIVERSITY & GREEN INFRASTRUCTURE)
  5. What will you do to make sure that all future planning developments limit insofar as possible the damage to the biosphere. (SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT)
  6. What steps will you take to ensure we meet the goals of the Horizon 2050 in relation to generating all of the borough’s energy needs and consuming all the waste that we create. (RECYCLING)
  7. How do we build a “future-proof” transport infrastructure system fit for purpose for Basingstoke that meets the needs of the people of Basingstoke and taking into consideration environmental concerns. (TRANSPORT)
  8. What would you do to implement changes in order to improve the water quality of the River Loddon? (WATER POLLUTION)

Do come along; and if your local Council candidate comes to your doorstep before the elections on 2nd May, please ask them these questions, and send comments to BCAC on its Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/basingstokecleanair/

BTN asks Council how it will deliver climate goals

BTN posed a question to the 28th February sitting of Basingstoke Council:

how the Council will deliver its commitments on climate change without funding for a full-time equivalent Climate Change Officer? The post was until recently held by two job-sharers, but one has left and not been replaced. Full text of our query is here.

Councillor Hayley Eachus, portfolio holder for the environment, responded saying that climate change was embedded in the roles of many council officers, and that on our specific point about recycling, the waste disposal contractor had been working with the Council to increase recycling rates. We used the right of reply to ask specifically about Manydown, to which she responded in the same vein, that it was embedded in the Council’s interactions with the contractor.

Council announces Air Pollution awareness raising campaign

BTN welcomes the announcement by Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council of a new campaign to raise public awareness of air pollution https://www.basingstoke.gov.uk/rte.aspx?id=298&task=View&itemid=8400. See our press release jointly with Basingstoke Clean Air Campaign http://basingstoketransition.org/press-release-in-response-to-councils-air-pollution-initiative-1-2-2019/.

Have your say to DEFRA on “Street Trees”

The government is consulting on the management of “street trees”, presumably in the wake of the Sheffield scandal. Urban trees are beneficial absorbers of CO2 and air pollution, as well as welcome islands of shade in increasingly hot summers. The proposals include an obligation on local authorities to consult local residents before felling street trees and to report on street tree felling and planting, and help to create tree and woodland policy. They would also give more powers to prevent and punish illegal felling. The Woodland Trust generally welcomes the proposals but invites its supporters to respond to the consultation by the deadline of 28th February pointing out a number of problems. These include the very limited definition of a “street tree”, pointing out that conflict often arises over trees on the edge of town (plenty of those are under threat by Basingstoke Local Plan developments). The proposed restriction of the consultation to residents in the immediate vicinity of trees proposed to be felled ignores the feelings of the rest of the community, e.g. an entire housing estate. It thinks that greater deterrence to illegal felling is needed.

BTN encourages supporters to fill in the questionnaire at https://consult.defra.gov.uk/forestry/protecting-trees-and-woodlands/consultation/intro/ , perhaps following the Woodland Trust guidance, since some of the issues are complicated. I suggest keep mentioning “air pollution”, “biodiversity” and “climate change” in your answers so that DEFRA knows that you think these subjects are important.

Ministerial response on improving standards for energy efficiency of new housing

I received a paper letter from James Brokenshire, Minster for Housing, Communities and Local Government, on energy efficiency in new housing – see here 

The main message is  – look out for a government consultation on this in 2019.   I ask myself – will action on its conclusions be in time for Manydown?  And will the final word, “affordable”, have unintended consequences?

IPCC update and plastic recycling

The UK government has reacted to the IPCC 8th October report: BEIS minister of state Claire Perry has asked the Committee on Climate Change to produce a report by end March 2019  (see BEIS website)  but unfortunately it covers only longer-term targets i.e. to 2050.  It specifically says:

“Carbon budgets already set in legislation (Carbon Budgets 3-5 covering 2018-2032) are out of scope of this request.”
(if you think this isn’t good enough, write to your MP).
Meanwhile BTN has made the point to Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council’s Manydown Overview Committee that the developers need to re-run their cost models to account for Manydown being carbon-neutral.  See us in the video of the meeting at BDBC’s YouTube site (when it is released – sometime next week i.e. after 20th October – but we are well over an hour into the proceedings).  Our speech is at speechtoMOConIPCC17Oct2018
The shock news that the Council is withdrawing the mixed-plastic recycling bins from Basingstoke triggered us to launch a petition, which you can sign at: Change.org .  We presented the 700-odd signatures we’d got by then to yesterday’s (Thurs 18th October) full Council meeting, from which they will go to the environment portfolio-holder in the Council cabinet.  Our petition calls for the development of a recycling strategy for the Borough, since its recycling record of 26% is abysmal.

IPCC 8th Oct 2018 – most urgent call yet – Keep Global Warming below 1.5 deg C!

Press release of IPCC 8th October assessment

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is calling for urgent action to keep global warming below 1.5 deg C.

From the press release: “…limiting global warming to 1.5°C would require “rapid and far-reaching” transitions in land, energy, industry, buildings, transport, and cities. Global net human-caused emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) would need to fall by about 45 percent from 2010 levels by 2030, reaching ‘net zero’ around 2050.”

And, a message to politicians and the rest of us, “This report gives policymakers and practitioners the information they need to make decisions that tackle climate change while considering local context and people’s needs. The next few years are probably the most important in our history.”

“Practitioners” means us – what are WE doing to reduce our carbon emissions?

“Policymakers” includes Borough and County councillors, and the candidates for next May’s local elections.  The Summary for Policymakers of the Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C (SR15) is available at https://www.ipcc.ch/report/sr15 or www.ipcc.ch.