What do you see as the most pressing climate and biodiversity issue facing Basingstoke & Deane at present?
Basingstoke like many small to medium towns faces some major problems, like being built for cars with scarce walking or cycling paths. Towns are built around a dying high street model that increases the use of online sales and therefore more carbon emissions as well, and towns having to ever grow without proper thought behind what it means to the green areas, contamination, recycling, etc.
The climate plan presented to the Climate Emergency UK we took second place behind Fareham, but the council have closed all the easily accessible recycling places around, so it’s even harder to recycle and people will more likely take the convenient option of putting them in landfill or fly-tip rubbish.
They say they want to install more communal charging points for electric cars, but continue building houses without a driveway or at least some type of solution to be able to switch from fueled cars to electric cars quicker than 2040.
Not to try and dodge the question, but I think asking questions like this, is part of the problem. If we are to tackle the climate emergency, we have to tackle the myriad of problems that we face we have to focus on how the decisions we make count towards the emergency. The quest is too narrow. Everything we do should be focused on the climate emergency and local biodiversity. Local government has to innovate, we all have to make changes, the business has to, we are in this together one and all. If we plug a tiny hole here, more ‘danger, damage, emergency’’ will come out over there. Solving problems like this comes from joined-up thinking. Not just focusing on ‘the issues’ The Issue is the crisis.
If you had the authority of the council leader what would you do to urgently address any such problems you perceive?
If I had the honour I’d order a review, a review to make sure we were being as mindful as possible about the decisions being made and that are going to be made. Are new housing estates 110% green, with sustainable solutions being found for building them, are they being built in the right place, are they the right type of houses/housing? Are the buses being bought electric? Are there solar panels on council buildings? No? Why not? It is a mindset. We must do better and think in sustainable ways. These are the questions that need to be asked by whoever has the responsibility to serve the community and our environment because the change must come from the institutions and our leaders, to accompany all our individual efforts to save the planet.
In the absence of being council leader, in which way would you seek to apply pressure on the local decision-makers?
I believe in educating people about doing the right thing, and pointing out when something should be better. Asking questions about what is the best way, even if someone has made up their mind, can be changed. I also really do believe that working together is the only way we will get through this crisis. It’s so hard to think about these existential problems. It goes a long way outside our ‘normal’ thought pattern. But for our children and their children, we have to make ourselves better, and I think that message has to be at the for-front of what we do.