Hampshire County Council is debating a “Climate Emergency” motion today (Friday 17th May 2019), and one is being considered for Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council. We suggested at the 23rd April hustings that concrete targets for such a motion should include:
- The Council switches all its energy use to renewables by 1st January 2020, ie the council only buys the gas and electricity it uses from renewable suppliers;
- The Council stops buying any more petrol or diesel fuelled vehicles from 14th May 2019 and, as leases run out and vehicles are replaced, they are replaced by electric or other low carbon (e.g. hydrogen) vehicles;
- The Council from 1st January 2020 assesses the impact on air quality across the borough of every planning decision it takes;
- From 1st January 2020 no building in the borough is given planning permission unless the building meets the highest standards of sustainability e.g. code for suitable homes level 6 for domestic properties and BREEAM Excellent for commercial buildings;
- The Council re-invests some (e.g. £10 million) of the £151 million it has in “bank accounts” earning less than 2% interest into renewable energy projects earning a return in excess of 5%.
Our 2019 AGM will take place at Market Chambers, Church Street (behind Willis Museum, opposite Camouflage Corner) (RG21 7QE) starting at 7 pm. Agenda and minutes of the 2018 meeting (to be approved by this meeting) are here and here. We will have a short talk on a subject of local interest after the AGM – details to be announced.
All BTN members, adherents and interested parties are invited to attend and to apply for office in one of BTN’s few formal roles (secretary, chair, treasurer).
Sheila Peacock, Secretary, Basingstoke Transition Network.
The questions we posed before the meeting are here
The main thing is to get the Council to act as if there’s a climate emergency, regardless of whether it declares one. Councillors agree that we need a Local Plan with TEETH – “must” and “shall”-type words; and an environmental impact assessment with every plan. They agreed to look at preventing “resistance heating” i.e. inefficient electric convectors or “electric fires” being built into new homes. See the other suggestions in our report.
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:
- What steps would you take locally as a councillor to reduce pollution? (AIR POLLUTION)
- How will you engage with the public and local business to reduce pollution and increase renewable energy production? (RENEWABLE ENERGY)
- 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)
- What will you do to ensure that Basingstoke’s existing green spaces are maintained to protect local biodiversity. (BIODIVERSITY & GREEN INFRASTRUCTURE)
- What will you do to make sure that all future planning developments limit insofar as possible the damage to the biosphere. (SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT)
- 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)
- 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)
- 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 has set out a climate change manifesto and poses questions for local election candidates here
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.
Kirklees Council at its meeting on 16th January passed a motion declaring a “Climate Emergency”. Shouldn’t every Council be doing the same?
See more http://basingstoketransition.org/a-climate-emergency-in-kirklees/
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/.
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.
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?