Archive for ‘Environment’

May 4, 2018

One year to go to Medway Council elections

While many people in the country are milling over the results of the 2018 Council elections, in Medway we were asked by local reporter, Dean Kilpatrick, to provide some thoughts on Medway Council’s elections next May.

Please see full article from Medway Green Party below:

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Medway Council is not renowned for its recognition of democracy and there appears to be little exception to this in regard to the Local Plan consultation.  The latest proposal to build a “rural town” on the Hoo Peninsula arguably favours the interests of developers over local people who want to preserve our green spaces and certainly don’t want a new town at Hoo.

This together with the continued identification of the SSSI at Lodge Hill and now Deangate Ridge Golf Course and other valuable green spaces such as Capstone Valley in housing proposals is I predict likely to be the biggest issue on the agenda as we approach the 2019 local elections.

Both the Conservatives and Labour administrations fully support massive development and fail to recognise and indeed simply don’t understand the importance of our environment locally. We are privileged to live in an area of international importance and need to preserve it. Only the Greens are questioning both the need for so many houses and the decisions the Council is making about where to put them.

The proposals are also completely inadequate in fulfilling local need for affordable housing.  Medway is regularly being advertised as a commuter town with pitches for buyers for new, undoubtedly expensive, riverside apartments in the pipeline. Is this the pipeline development mentioned in the Local Plan which the Council has already approved?  The current requirement of local people should be addressed first; this is social housing. There also needs to be more proactive effort to reduce climate change by ensuring that any building allows for maximum energy production and efficiency.

As with many legislative bodies from the EU commission down to the humblest local council, transparency is an issue. Medway is a good example of a few individuals thinking they know best and to implement their plans they involve others reluctantly.  Local people no longer accept this style of governance – its day is ending. What people are calling for is to be included in planning and decisions.  Proportional representation would be the best way to begin this change.

Meanwhile, both Tories and Labour seem to believe that the only answer to overpriced housing is to build more houses ignoring the need for more socially rentable housing locally and ignoring the role that financial markets have had in the massive escalation in prices of market housing.  Most people are completely unaware that the economic system is at the core of the majority of disastrous policy decisions. Some like Kate Raworth in her book “Doughnut Economics” [1] or the Positive Money group [2] challenge the status quo, but the problems with our economic system are largely left out of debate.  Greens will endeavour to highlight alternative economic solutions both at a local and global level.

The risk of increasing congestion and rising pollution from all the additional cars on our roads is also likely to be a factor.  We will need to be thinking of more sustainable travel solutions.  We also need more electric car charging points.  There seems to be no anticipation by the Council of the emergence of electric vehicles.

Concern regarding single use plastics is becoming more prominent following the excellent Blue Planet programme.  While the Council has agreed to stop using SUPs on Council premises more can be done. It surprises me that while the charge on plastic bags has helped reduce use, that plastic bags haven’t been eliminated altogether. Why don’t shops supply paper bags for groceries as they do in America?  The Council also needs to do better at reducing landfill. That Medway Norse has taken over the contract for running household waste recycling centres is something that needs watching.  They don’t seem to have done very well with Deangate Ridge Golf Course!

Finally the fight to protect our local public services including health, education and social care is likely to feature, all of which are suffering through Government cuts to the Council budget.

Who can predict any result in these unpredictable times but we believe that in May 2019 there will be even more need for Green voices on the Council.

Clive Gregory

Green Campaigner and PPC for Rochester and Strood

[1] https://www.kateraworth.com/

[2] http://positivemoney.org/

 

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February 16, 2018

Candidate profile – Sonia Hyner #RochesterWest

Sonia HynerSonia Hyner has lived in Medway since 2002 and has been an active peace and climate change campaigner for some time.  She worked for Citizen Advice for 21 years, supporting members of the public to alleviate poverty and secure housing, before recently retraining to teach English to adults at Further Education College. Sonia also stood as the Green Candidate for the Rochester and Strood constituency in the 2017 General Election.

Sonia says: “One of the reasons I decided to enter politics was because of a lack of female voices in public life.  I felt that if I wanted women to have a voice, I needed to stand myself to contribute to that change.  The Conservatives currently dominate the Council and people feel that the Council doesn’t take their wishes and needs seriously. People deserve better!  Voting Green in Rochester West will help to provide more balance on Medway Council as well as encouraging and protecting values that currently have little or no voice such as….

 

Medway’s Environment and Sustainability:

A Green councillor would work to put environmental sustainability, health and wellbeing at the heart of council decisions and to protect our local countryside and green spaces from needless development. Globally many plants and animals have died out because their natural habitats have been destroyed. We must fight to protect our healthy green spaces, and clean up our toxic air, as well as for all development and transport to be truly sustainable. One of my key interests is in reducing litter and landfill and improving recycling locally.

Our NHS and Public Services:

Nationally our NHS is being sold off to private companies at an alarming rate. Our local services are at risk – this needs to stop! The recent Carillion disaster demonstrates a total failure in both Labour and Tory economic policy and their management of public services. I would do all I can to protect and improve our local public services.  People need to come before profit!

Homes that meet the needs of Medway:

We need to provide homes that local young people can actually afford.  The Medway Local Plan consultation estimates that 75% of new homes need to be affordable over the next 25 years to meet the needs of the local population, but the Council is only planning to enforce a requirement for 25% and is failing currently to achieve even that. There are alternatives such as Community Land Trusts which support local communities to build their own homes at prices they can afford and many would agree that we need the Council to start providing enough homes again. I would do all I can to ensure that all local people have a decent home.

If elected as councillor in Rochester West, I will make it my duty to strive towards making Medway the responsive, supportive and secure place I know it should be; respecting and listening to ALL voices in the community.”

December 4, 2017

Chatham residents battle to save trees

CrestwayLocal residents have mounted a campaign to protect a parcel of land behind Crestway, Chatham which has been sold to a private developer.  The land which provides habitats for wildlife is under threat as the new owner has opted to clear the site, cutting down a number of trees.

Medway Green Party has been contacted by a Crestway resident who said:

“This land has been untouched for at least 50 years and is made up of a number of trees and bushes and is home to numerous animals. Among those supported by these habitats are bats, which have been here for a number of years, slow worms, hedgehogs, foxes, squirrels and birds to name but a few.

“The landowner is aware of this but has chosen to clear the site.  It is devastating to the whole community. It will affect the community centre which is adjacent to the land, where a well established playgroup has had nature walks alongside this land looking at the wildlife and foliage”.

Marilyn Stone, spokesperson for Medway Green Party commented:

“We would strongly urge Medway Council to introduce a Tree Preservation Order (at least in the short term) so that this matter can be fully investigated.  Bats in particular are a protected species and no one should have the right to threaten their habitats.

“It is also of concern that land which has been such an asset to the local community and has been used to introduce young children to nature for so many years is now under threat”.

“We also understand that there are possible safety issues to excavating the land as removal of trees could affect the stability of the site as well as potentially exposing asbestos and other contaminants.  It is imperative that the Council acts in the interests of the whole community”.

A petition is being organised by residents in preparation for a meeting with Medway Council Officers, including the Council’s Tree Officer, which is due to take place on Thursday 7th December.  The two Labour Councillors are also providing active support to residents.

September 23, 2017

Medway Council could be forced to increase its housing targets even further

According to KentOnLine (1), Kent Councils could be forced by the Government to accept thousands more new homes each year to make up affordable housing shortages.  This could mean Medway Council being pushed to find land for 1680 new builds a year in comparison to the Council’s current target of between 730 and 1410.

Steve Dyke, Medway Green Party coordinator, says:
“Our already stressed infrastructure in Medway will be stretched to breaking point by these proposed new targets for house building. The area already faces huge pressures from developers to build on its countryside and it now looks like our Council will have even less scope for rejecting any development, even if it is unsustainable or destructive to the local environment.

People need access to green space and clean air for their own mental and physical health and wellbeing. Our local MPs and Medway Council should stand up for all their constituents against the Government’s plans.”

Mary Smith, Medway Green Party officer says:
“If it was likely to vastly improve the proportion of truly affordable homes, it might not be too bad but we should question the whole premise that the South-East needs this many new homes.

“If the Government was really serious about providing affordable housing they would enable Councils to build social housing instead of sacrificing our green spaces to an additional expansion of overpriced private housing we don’t need. Our housing market is broken and no longer fit for purpose”.

Medway Green Party spokesperson, Clive Gregory adds:
“The Government’s targets for housing seem to have more to do with the Tory national policy of using house building as a means of kick starting the economy – a tactic that works briefly and then needs repeating – again… and again.

“We need to recognise this Government tactic and call it out for what it is.  Sadly we have a government that thinks future prosperity for the country is based on arms sales and house building and this has to be rejected by all decent people regardless of their political bias”.

ENDS

NOTES:

(1)    http://www.kentonline.co.uk/kent/news/kent-councils-could-be-forced-132203/

June 5, 2017

Where do local parties stand on Local Plan? #SaveLodgeHill

A recent edition of Medway Messenger (Thursday 25th May) helpfully included an article (“We must prevent Medway turning grey” by Michelle Guinness) on the Local Plan public consultation and encouraged readers to respond to it.  However the only political views included about the Plan were from Conservative politicians.

The consultation has now finished, but as the changes to come from building nearly 30,000 extra homes in Medway will impact on everyone locally, it would certainly help local voters to know where all of the parties stand on this. Particularly since Cllr Howard Doe thinks the way forward is being imposed by Central Government, who will insist on having their way anyway “usually to the behest of developers”.

In fact, although the Tory Government’s growth agenda certainly favours private developers, closer examination of the evidence suggests that the numbers are nevertheless challengeable. A different approach by both Government and Council could both shift development away from the Medway Towns and ensure that a lot more of the homes are affordable to local people which would in turn lessen the impact.

The ‘elephant in the room’ in the Medway Messenger’s report was of course the lack of any mention of the Council’s insistence on development at Lodge Hill, near Hoo, a Site of Special Scientific Interest which hosts the country’s largest number of breeding nightingales, an endangered species. This was high on the agenda in both the Rochester and Strood by election in 2014 and the last General Election and has yet to be resolved.

Whilst the Green Party has been consistent in opposing development there, I would urge all other Rochester and Strood candidates to communicate their positions during this election on both this issue and the Local Plan in general so voters can be clear what they are voting for.

Sonia Hyner
Green candidate for Rochester and Strood

Medway Green Party’s response to the latest stage of the local plan consultation can be found on our website.

 

 

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May 26, 2017

Tory cuts obsession threatens our future by Bernard Hyde, Green candidate for Chatham and Aylesford

sure start demoThe threatened closures of Sure Start Centres in Medway are part of a political strategy that has been threatening our social support systems since 2010 when the Tory-led Coalition Government came into power.   It was at that point that the Tories decided that it was “fair” to inflict the debts caused by the bailout of unscrupulous banks following the financial crisis on the rest of us, and in particular the poorest and most vulnerable in our society [1], by starting a programme of continuing cuts which have attacked our social security and public services.

The argument by the Coalition Government was that it was unfair to inflict this debt on future generations.  Putting aside that the current Government has actually grown the level of debt it inherited [2], this misses the fact that the size of public debt is only one aspect that will determine the potential of our children’s and grandchildren’s adult lives.  The condition of public infrastructure, hospitals, schools, housing, transport, social care, social support services and the natural environment our children and grandchildren will inherit will all have a huge impact on the quality of their lives. There is little advantage to having low public debt if you will not be able to be treated when you are sick, housed when you are homeless, or if the natural environment which supports your very existence has been destroyed beyond saving.

We inherit the planet from our parents, but we also borrow it from our children. It is our duty to act in an intelligent, mature and compassionate way towards those around us and those who come after us.

Bernard Hyde
Green Party candidate for Chatham and Aylesford

NOTES:
[1] http://www.social-policy.org.uk/downloads/idow.pdf (p8)

[2] https://fullfact.org/economy/labour-and-conservative-records-national-debt/

 

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May 25, 2017

Meet Bernard Hyde, Green Party candidate for Chatham and Aylesford

Chartered Architect

Email: bernard.hyde@greenparty.org.uk

Bernard HydeThe Green Party stands for ‘the common good’. Three simple words that have a real and particular meaning for creating a sustainable future in which people and the environment that support them matter most. I am honoured to stand for the Green Party in the forthcoming general election for the Chatham and Aylesford Constituency.

I have enjoyed living and working in Medway for nearly seventeen years. I am a grandfather, keen gardener and self-employed chartered architect and town planner specialising in energy efficient buildings, both locally and overseas. The maxim of my architectural practice is ‘work with nature and nature will work for you’.

Many plants and animals have died out because their natural habitat has been destroyed. Frequently these habitats have been destroyed by human activity.  We must stop this happening.  Unlike other species we are able to determine our future and choose to make intelligent use of our natural resources.

The choices we make have to be for everyone and everything, because everyone and everything matter, they are all integral and all have an essential contribution to make to the well-being and future of our planet which is also our one and only habitat.

In Government policy making, everyone should count equally and everyone should have equal opportunity to make their unique contribution to society. Policies need to look to a future spanning decades and centuries, not related to short-term gain but a future shared and enjoyed by everyone.

The physical resources of the world in which we live are finite and we have already used up substantial quantities of them. We inherit the planet from our parents, but we also borrow it from our children. It is our duty to act in an intelligent, mature and compassionate way towards those around us and those who come after us.

Although our resources are finite, our potential to create innovative solutions to a myriad of problems is infinite. Every single person has a role to play and has potential to contribute to a better future. Educational opportunities must therefore be equal for all, healthcare must be equal for all, housing must be available to all. How else can everyone contribute unless they have reached their potential in mind, body and well-being.

Our country has a rich tradition of inventiveness and creativity. In the past this has been the product of a minority of educated and privileged people. How much further and faster might we progress to a sustainable future if we harness the efforts, energies skills and gifts of everyone.

There are already new ideas and developments emerging in every field that could help shape a truly sustainable future for everyone. These need to become our common place, common sense, common knowledge that will be our building blocks to a sustainable future.

Chatham has a proud tradition of skill, knowledge and dedication to the greater good. It is now a seat of learning in every respect from toddlers to retired adults with the potential to achieve great things, not just for the Chatham & Aylesford constituency, but for Medway and surrounding areas as a whole, nationally and globally.

The Green Party has responded to the consultation for the Medway Local Plan with a vision for the future of this area. If elected, I would work to ensure that this vision becomes a reality.

May 20, 2017

Greens put the environment at the heart of their General Election campaign

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Last week saw the launch of the Greens’ “Environment Manifesto” which includes plans for a new Environmental Protection Act [1].   This would seek to protect the natural world following the EU referendum decision by creating a new UK environmental regulator and court and enshrining in UK law all the existing EU environmental legislation.

It would also establish “a right for every person in the UK to have access to a healthy and safe natural green space, promoting good mental health, physical exercise and building community”.

Medway’s own natural environment is threatened by the scale of development proposed in the Council’s local plan, which has at its centre the proposed building of nearly 30,000 homes. [2] Every development option proposed in the Council’s consultation document is likely to impact on countryside and wildlife.  In particular all options suggest development eventually taking place at Lodge Hill, near Hoo, an area which includes a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

Sonia Hyner, Green Party candidate for the Rochester and Strood constituency which includes Lodge Hill, says:

“An Environmental Protection Act is vital to protect our environment and wildlife following Brexit.  It would give statutory protection to SSSIs like Lodge Hill which supports the largest number of breeding nightingales (an endangered species) in the UK and areas of green belt land.  While we recognise the need for additional housing in Medway, we are disputing the requirement for as many new homes as are currently being proposed.  We are also concerned that they will not be the right kind of homes, sustainable in design and affordable to local people. We must not risk destroying our local natural environment needlessly. We must fight to protect it for ourselves, our children and future generations as well as for our wildlife, 60 per cent of which are in long term decline.

“The threatened development at Lodge Hill was high on the agenda in previous elections and the issue has yet to be resolved. Whilst we have been consistent in our opposition to development there, we would urge other Rochester and Strood candidates to communicate their positions during this election on both this issue and the future of environmental protections in general so voters can be clear what they are voting for.

“Many plants and animals have died out because their natural habitat has been destroyed as a result of poor choices and distorted priorities.   We must not let this happen here in Medway. The Green Party is the only political party to put the environment at the heart of all of its policies.”

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NOTES:

[1]  https://www.greenparty.org.uk/news/2017/05/11/caroline-lucas-announces-green-party’s-environment-promises/

 

[2] http://www.medway.gov.uk/planningandbuilding/planningpolicy/localplan-futuremedway.aspx

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April 24, 2017

Party People – achieving truly sustainable development in Medway’s Local Plan

Please see below a piece written by Steve Dyke for Medway Messenger’s Party People column and published on 13th April.

Since writing this, the deadline for responding to the Local Plan consultation has been extended once again to 30th May so there is still time to get your response in!

Details of the consultation can be found here.

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With the deadline for responding to Medway Council’s latest consultation on its Local Plan approaching, my hope is that the Council will review all responses received and be prepared to adapt the Plan accordingly.

To achieve truly sustainable development in Medway requires boldness in planning in order to reduce our ecological footprint to a ‘one planet’ level.  This should be seen as an opportunity rather than a hindrance.  Imagine Medway with a proper cycle network, reliable, accessible and cheap public transport and low energy homes affordable for local people.  Developing the technological expertise locally to build off-site constructed energy efficient homes and renewable energy technologies could reinvigorate our local economy.  This is what is truly meant by “meeting the twin challenges of global competition and a low carbon future”.

We must also ensure that we protect valuable existing green spaces from development.  The most sustainable development option would be to focus on brownfield sites in urban locations close to travel hubs, suggested by the Council within one of the four options in their consultation document. However, they could go much further, such as making better use of existing space through utilising empty premises or building above car parks and in the air space above existing buildings.

Of particular concern is that the Council still wish to press ahead with major development at the Lodge Hill SSSI.  This is despite a policy approach stated in their consultation promising that “a high level of protection from damaging impacts of development will be given to Sites of Special Scientific Interest”.

Medway Green Party would love to see Medway become an inspiration for other areas on how sustainable development can be achieved.  My fear is that we will end up with piecemeal, destructive, unsustainable growth.  I hope the Council will prove me wrong.

April 18, 2017

Green Party Election Broadcast 2017

Released today!

Intended for the local elections in May but could also apply to a General Election in June.