Posts tagged ‘Environment’

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.

 

 

Tags:
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

P1020857

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.”

************************************************************************************

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

Tags:
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.

****

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.

April 12, 2017

Medway Green Party slams Lower Thames Crossing decision

Medway Green Party has expressed its disappointment at the decision made today to proceed with ‘Option C’  for a new Lower Thames Crossing.

Steve Dyke, Medway Green Party Co-ordinator says:

“We feel sad for those in Shorne and Chalk and the other villages in Kent and Essex near the proposed tunnel or on the route of its associated road network who will be directly affected by this project.

“Once again an environmentally damaging infrastructure project has been justified on the grounds of making motorists lives better and the possible economic benefits it may bring.  Yet again it has been decided that the solution to traffic problems is to build more roads.

“However any short term benefits in tackling congestion are likely to be eroded by an increase in road travel and the existing Dartford crossings will soon be back up to full capacity.  The new tunnel will do little or nothing on its own to alleviate the existing high levels of pollution in Dartford and Thurrock.

“With the decision made, we now need to know urgently what mitigation measures will be put in place to safeguard the natural environment, address air pollution, protect the affected communities, minimise any increase in traffic on already stretched local roads and prevent infill development following construction of the tunnel.  We urge Medway Council to be mindful of the impact this project may have on its residents in Strood and other areas west of the River Medway.”

March 3, 2017

Development must not be at the expense of local environment #SaveLodgeHill

Lodge Hill in Autumn - Kent Wildlife Trust

Lodge Hill in Autumn – Kent Wildlife Trust

The Green Party notes that in the consultation document for the latest phase of their new Local Plan, Medway Council states that their aim is to ensure Medway grows sustainably while protecting and enhancing our local natural environment.

We hope that they are genuine in their environmental aims and would welcome the creation of a truly green Medway Towns. However it concerns us that the Council seem to wish to press ahead with major development at the SSSI designated site at Lodge Hill, near Hoo, whichever development option on offer in the consultation is eventually chosen. This is despite a policy approach in the Natural Environment section of the consultation that promises “a high level of protection from damaging impacts of development will be given to Sites of Special Scientific Interest” [1].  It is also pre-empting the outcome of the public Inquiry about the site, due to take place next year.

We would also like to know why the updated Strategic Land Availability Assessment (SLAA) 2017, commissioned by the Council to inform the Local Plan, did not include Lodge Hill in a list of sites screened out early in the process, on the basis of having an environmental designation (SSSI), [2] despite this being a clear part of the methodology of determining that sites chosen meet sustainable development criteria.   Is the Council being honest about its sustainability aims?

Lodge Hill is the best and most important site in the UK for nightingales. It also has rare grassland, ancient woodland and is home to many other rare and protected wildlife species and plants. It is also located in a wider environment of national and international importance. What we are talking about is not just the Hoo peninsula, but an area interconnected with the Thames coastline of Essex, the North Kent marshes and more, including many other SSSIs. Taking away Lodge Hill will disrupt or damage an entire local eco-system. Does Medway Council really want to be known as the local authority that did this?

Of course we recognise that the people of Medway Towns need more homes but it is questionable whether development at Lodge Hill would address real housing needs. If the Council continues with its current agenda in relation to approving developers, most, if not all, properties will prove too expensive and inaccessible for those who already live here, especially young people struggling to find an affordable home.

If the projected figures for population growth in the Medway Towns are correct, we will need many more homes. However it is important that these are not built at the expense of ruining our local environment. Future generations will not thank current politicians if the Medway Towns becomes just one large urban sprawl, devoid of plants, trees, green spaces and wildlife.

Details for taking part Medway Council’s Local Plan consultation are here.

[1] http://www.medway.gov.uk/pdf/7.%20Natural%20Environment%20and%20Green%20Belt.pdf p65

[2] http://www.medway.gov.uk/pdf/SLAA%20Report%20&%20Maps%20February%202017.pdf p45

 

March 2, 2017

Party People article on housing, Lodge Hill and the Local Plan

The article below, written by Medway Green Party Coordinator, Steve Dyke, was recently published in the Medway Messenger Party People column.

Medway residents are encouraged to respond to the The Local Plan consultation.  The deadline for sending comments has been extended to Monday 10th April at 5 pm. Details here.

************************************************

In drafting last week’s housing White Paper, the Government had a chance to radically tackle the housing crisis in this country.  Unfortunately, while some positive moves were outlined, there was no real change in direction.  They could have allowed Local Authorities to build their own Council homes by removing the cap on borrowing. They could have introduced measures to shift development from the South East. Instead they are simply tinkering on the margins of the problem.

This comes at a time when Medway Council is consulting on the latest phase of its Local Plan, including its vision for the Medway Towns and four options for the direction which planned development may take.

Whichever option is chosen, the Council seems determined to press ahead with housing at Lodge Hill.  Large scale building there would certainly destroy natural habitats of national importance as well as setting a damaging precedent for other Sites of Special Scientific Interest. It is difficult to reconcile any such development with the Council’s aim stated in its consultation document of protecting and enhancing our natural environment.

It is also uncertain what mix of homes we will end up with.  The Council’s research identified a need for 17,112 ‘affordable’ homes in Medway.  This represents nearly 60% of the 29,463 being planned for.  Yet the Council seem to envisage no more than 25% of the eventual mix being affordable, failing to meet the needs of many residents.

A direction encouraging the wrong type of development would lead to needless expansion of the Medway Towns and could result in over 9,000 homes being built which don’t meet the needs of our local population.

It is good to have a future vision, but also important to think past current political limitations. It doesn’t need to be like this.

October 15, 2016

Green Strood South candidate seeks clarity from Labour on Lower Thames Crossing

It is great to see that the Labour candidate for Strood South appears to oppose plans for Lower Thames Crossing Option C, seemingly in contrast to the official Medway Labour line.  However as he has shown a reluctance to discuss the issue with me I do not know the extent of his opposition.  I hope it is not just a cynical attempt to get votes.

The Greens remain the only local political party firmly opposed to Option C, as we have been from the start.  We believe that this proposal will impact negatively on Strood and many other areas in Medway, bringing increased local traffic, noise and air pollution and damaging the local environment.

I believe we must end our obsession with road building and instead invest in public transport, ensuring it is run for the convenience of those who use it, rather than shareholders.  With little scope for substantially improving the transport infrastructure here in Medway in the near future, to address our traffic issues we need to start to move away from dependence on car use.  People will use public transport if it is affordable, reliable and goes to the places they want to go and at the times they want to travel.

Steve Dyke
Green Party Candidate for Strood South

October 12, 2016

Micro-energy generation – a better way to meet our energy needs? By Bernard Hyde

One of our members, Bernard Hyde, recently had a letter posted in the Medway Messenger on the decision to go ahead with Hinkley Point C.  Here he expands on the discussion:

********************

In the past year, the photo voltaic panels on my modest 1930s end of terrace house have produced about the same amount of electricity as we used to buy from our energy provider, British Gas.

For practical reasons, we were only able to use about half of what we produced and the other half we sold to the National Grid.

With the money we were paid for the electricity we had generated and the money we saved using our own electricity, we enjoyed a tax free eight percent return on our initial investment.

So our house is a micro power station and, in its very small way, it is like the very large nuclear power station approved to be built at Hinkley Point; except it isn’t really.

There is no security fence around our micro power station, we don’t employ guards, there is no fire risk or possible radiation leaks. We don’t have to have regular health checks, we don’t have a highly paid CEO and no foreign governments are involved. Our power source is free and infinite, we don’t have to buy any toxic fuel, there is no dangerous waste product for our descendants to inherit and our equipment is recyclable.

The proposed nuclear power station at Hinkley Point hopes to generate about 7 percent of the entire UK’s energy demand, equivalent to 5.8 million homes. The cost of this Nuclear Power Station is now estimated at £30,000,000,000; that is thirty thousand million pounds. This is just over £5,000 for each of the 5.8 million homes mentioned earlier, or just enough money for a 3 kW photovoltaic system for each house.

So just as I, with my micro power station had to make an initial investment in my photovoltaic panels before any electricity could be generated, our government is borrowing money to make its investment. It has agreed to borrow the money from China and of course the money will have to be paid back with interest. The capital and interest will be paid back by us, the electricity consumers, and it won’t be cheap.

What then are the problems with micro renewable energy generation?

  • The first problem is conceptual. It is too obvious.
  • The second problem is that the technology is sophisticated and not easily understood. We are wedded by history to our Victorian understanding of technology in the way we generate our power and construct our buildings.
  • The third problem is that the power source is free. It is hard for someone to make a quick buck out of selling sunshine or wind or tide.
  • The fourth problem is that the light from the sun isn’t always there. On average throughout the year half of the time is day and half night. The technology to store electricity generated during the day with batteries has lagged behind the technology for converting the light into electricity with solar cells, and battery technology is only just beginning to catch up.
  • The fifth problem is that there is less daylight during the winter, when our energy requirements are greatest. However, winter is the time when winds are strongest and wind and solar make a good combination.
  • The sixth problem is that we are brought up to believe that small units are not efficient. Traditional power stations use a thermodynamic cycle that creates heat to convert into mechanical energy and then into electricity. This is about 35% efficient, whereas photovoltaics can be 100% efficient, especially where buildings are designed and orientated effectively.
  • The seventh problem is distribution efficiency from small units. The electricity from power stations is stepped up and down in voltages via transformers and distributed via transmission lines and cables with a consequent power loss of between 8 and 15% dissipated in heating the environment. Half of the renewable energy our micro power station produces is used directly on site.
  • The eighth problem is that administering a large number of micro power stations is expensive as one imagines meter readers visiting each house and someone writing cheques. However with smart meters, that use cell-phone technology to send readings automatically and internet banking, this doesn’t have to be a problem.
  • The ninth problem is that micro-generation relies on thousands of people to invest a modest amount of money in their own interest and that of their country. It is the complete opposite of the multi-national megalithic corporations who unfortunately have more influence with government decision making.
  • The tenth problem is that the photo-voltaic market has been flooded with cheap Chinese imports that perform less well than their more expensive European competitors. The answer of course is for the UK to make its own high quality equipment.

The problems of renewable energy are ones of perception and commitment that can be solved with education and resolve.

The problems of nuclear power are inherent in the process itself and have no foreseeable solution, in the United Kingdom we have daylight but we don’t have uranium.

These problems are compounded further by the need for foreign involvement and the loss of national security.

Hinkley Point may be an untried French design for a nuclear power plant but that doesn’t make it cutting edge; it is still yesterday’s technology. What we need is fast moving, and fast improving new technology – for tomorrow’s generations to benefit from and enjoy, not to be burdened with and threatened by, and that is renewable energy.

Bernard Hyde, Medway Green Party

Tags: