3 November 2019
Councillors' Report November 2019
September, July and June were all the hottest months ever recorded. In just the last few days. Typhoon Hagibis has caused havoc in Japan, and bushfires have bought destruction to Los Angeles. Closer to home the Isle of Man suffered severe floods, and in other areas of the Midlands, Wales and southern England a week's rain fell in just an hour. Extreme weather events, such as these, are made more likely by our warming climate.
On Friday 20 th September ‘Strike for the Climate’ events, led by children, took place all over the world (including Faversham) to demand action on climate change. It seems a good time to take stock and ask what are we doing to tackle climate change and what more could we do?
Friends of the Earth brought together multiple datasets to examine how each local authority is performing on climate change. ( https://friendsoftheearth.uk/climate-friendly-communities ) Swale came out just above average, but there’s a lot more that could be done. These are some of their indicators. (Friends of the Earth’s comments are in italics.)
Transport: 24% of commuter journeys are made by public transport, cycling and walking. Swale should aim for 40% by 2030. We need fewer vehicles on the roads – they increase air pollution and are harmful to our health.
Housing: 39% of Swale homes are well insulated. Poorly insulated homes cost more to run, which is inefficient and contributes to fuel poverty. Swale needs to ensure all homes are properly insulated by 2030.
Renewable energy: Swale has 95 megawatts of renewable energy available. If the area matched the best of similar local council areas it would have 104 MW. We need 100% clean energy from the wind, sun and sea. Electricity can’t come from dirty fuels like coal, oil and gas anymore.
What is Swale Borough Council doing to improve the situation?
On October 16 th , the Policy Development and Review Committee (chaired by Alastair) reviewed steps to encourage a step change in the number of journeys made by public transport, cycling and walking. It is a very early stage, but later there will be a public consultation.
We need changes to national government policy to improve energy efficiency of housing in Swale, but the help that is available now can be found at https://www.swale.gov.uk/energy-efficient-homes . A project to provide help for residents in fuel poverty is being planned.
Tim sits on the Planning Committee. The committee have ensured that the care home and hotel to be built at Perry Court will have solar PV panels on the roof and will be heated by a heat pump (which can run on renewable electricity). The supermarket will recover heat from refrigeration to heat the building. There will be two rapid (50Kw) car chargers and eight 7Kw chargers on site.
These are just some of the early actions we are taking to make Swale more environmentally sustainable. Friends of the Earth also highlighted tree cover and waste recycling. We will look at these in a future article.
Petition launches to restrict HGVs through Boughton, Dunkirk and Staplestreet.
The Parish councils of Boughton, Dunkirk and Hernhill , with the backing of Alastair and Tim are asking Kent County Council as Highway Authority to introduce a Traffic Regulation Order to prevent vehicles over 7.5 tonnes using the through route of The Street, Boughton-under-Blean , London Road, Dunkirk, and Staplestreet, Hernhill. KCC Councillor Andrew Bowles has also indicated support
These routes are unsuitable for larger vehicles, and we all know how gridlock can very quickly be created by HGVs and buses travelling in opposing directions meeting along these narrow roads, causing severe disruption for local traffic and residents. The roads were built for a horse and cart, not 44 tonne lorries, and simply cannot take the overspill from the A2 when there are problems there.
The petition will be available to sign at the Post office , and there is also an online version at Change.org The link is http://chng.it/t9FqN9ZXSv . It is also on the Boughton-under-Blean residents & Hernhill Forum Facebook page
Please sign and ask your friends to sign too!
Alastair Gould (AlastairGould@swale.gov.uk)
Tim Valentine (TimValentine@swale.gov.uk) 01227 752802
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