The Ealing Green Party has reviewed the Ealing Council Climate Emergency Strategy and highlights five areas with specific recommendations for improvement.
Along with improving targets in energy, food systems, transport, waste and green spaces the Ealing Green Party feel that education, communication and engagement must underpin all efforts to address the challenges we face as communities across Ealing, London and worldwide.
Low traffic neighbourhoods are being introduced across Ealing, with ten schemes starting in the next month. Some residents feel angry and scared and are concerned that the implementation is undemocratic. The scheme is being labelled as ‘not fit for purpose’.
I’d like to address these concerns. We must talk as a community about our response to the climate emergency, and the interconnected issues of air pollution and health, including covid-19.
‘Fit for purpose’ The purpose of a low traffic neighbourhood is to reduce air pollution, decrease vehicle collisions and increase community activity. That’s from the council’s communications. Great, but I want to state the aims in much stronger terms.
The purpose of an LTN is to address the climate crisis, by making active transport a more convenient choice than driving. The purpose of an LTN is to cut air pollution around homes because air pollution kills. The purpose of an LTN is to address COVID 19 by leaving space for public transport to be used by those who have to. The purpose of an LTN is to address COVID 19 by reducing air pollution because evidence suggests air pollution is linked to COVID 19 death rates. The purpose of an LTN is to get us working together to address these immense challenges and to feel great about being part of a community that acts to change the world for the better, not just for ourselves, but for all.
‘Congestion will be worse’ The evidence suggests otherwise. London Living Streets have some great information on this. I’d like to introduce two concepts.
‘Induced demand’– if driving is easier, more people will do it. If you make it harder, you get ‘Traffic evaporation’ – where people who can switch to other means of transport.
‘Disabled people/older people will be worse off’ The evidence suggests otherwise. Quieter, safer residential streets are easier for those with poor mobility to get around. Reduced air pollution is better for those with health problems. And who decided disabled and older people aren’t concerned about the climate crisis?If you are not someone who has to drive, why not turn this concern into positive action? Use active transport and leave the roads as clear as possible for public transport and those who have no option but to drive. And campaign for the infrastructure and incentives to make these journeys electric.
‘Emergency Services will be affected’ Emergency Services have been consulted and have not raised concerns.
‘Consultation’ Consultation before is ideal. I can’t disagree here. Ealing Council have made it clear that in this particular situation the Government legislation enacted to support covid measures means they cannot undertake consultation. The council have chosen to do more consultation once the schemes are in place than they are required to do.
In fact, low traffic neighbourhoods have been in the Mayor’s transport plan and in Ealing Transport strategy for some time. This is not new, although it feels quick because the council are having to respond to new government legislation and crucially, available funding, while they can.
But there’s something unsaid here.
Change is hard. Change that requires short term pain (getting used to new ways of getting around) for long term gain (air pollution, climate) is hard and unpopular. We elect our council to serve our community responsibly. Opponents of LTN have charged them with not doing this by failing to consult. I suggest the opposite. If our council failed to take advantage of this opportunity to address the interrelated issues of climate change, air pollution and COVID, then yes, they would indeed by failing to serve out community responsibly. and finally:
‘LTN are inconvenient’ This is precisely the point of them. Make driving less convenient, to achieve the aims. Underneath this sentiment is something more challenging. Inconvenient to who? To those with the privilege of car ownership. Are we really saying that a longer driving time, where no other option is possible, is not a price worth paying to benefit those in our local, national and international community affected by climate change, COVID, and air pollution? I really, really hope not.
London Borough of Ealing plan to demolish the current Gurnell Leisure Centre, replace it with a new one and build 599 homes in 6 tower blocks up to 17 storeys high on Metropolitan Open Land – this is London’s Green Belt and must be protected. This development is inappropriate and will cause significant harm to the MOL and the surrounding area.
In addition to this, they are proposing to relocate the current BMX track and create a new BMX cycle track on Long Fields meadow by Stockdove Way – this is a Site of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINC). The plans will see half the meadow destoyed and once it’s lost we can never get it back.
In both cases, the environmental impact has not been adequately assessed. Please don’t let Ealing Council get away with this.
Please go to our website for information on http://savegurnell.org.uk/how-to-object.html – go to “contact us” to join the mailing list.
Please object to both of these and neighbours to do the same and ask your friends, family members to do the same. You are no restricted to one objection per household – every member can object.
We are tagergeting 1,500 objecteion for Gunrell and curretly have 550 with just a handful of supporters. The BMX track has 330 comments and is currently split 50/50 support/object due to the BMX club rallying support – if you oppose this development please submt your comments and object to this proposal.
We live in uncertain times and yet through the Covid-19 crisis, many of us feel we have been shown a different way of life, a slower pace. One where we can achieve a work/life balance that allows us to spend more time with those we love, where we can take a deep breath of clean air.
Many have commented that this coronavirus has done what environmentalists have failed to do. It has also highlighted many wrongs in our societies.
So how do we move forward in a way that keeps the positive changes, into a life we want? A world we want to live in, societies that are fairer where there is much less or no inequality, where we live in peace and harmony with each other and with the planet.
The Green Party has long talked about some of these solutions. For example, schools with smaller classes where children learn more practical skills that will help them in life. In the Covid-19 world, this could be implemented by children attending school part-time. For example, classes could be divided into two and each group attends school for two and a half days a week and the other days they learn at home with their parents, where the life skills such as cooking, growing food, repairing and making things could be taught. Moving away from the target driven education they receive now which leaves no space for fun activities. Learning should always be fun because you remember the things you enjoy and you work harder at them.
The parents, if working, could work from home doing longer days when the children are at school and shorter days when they are at home. If the parents are not able to work from home, then a four-day week, which research has shown to actually improve productivity, should be adopted to allow time for family and one’s own personal development. Many people working from home have also gained two or three hours a day which were previously spent commuting to work and can now be spent enjoying exercise and increased leisure time alone or with their families.
In the pre-coronavirus world, stress was seen as a natural, normal consequence of life when it is the complete opposite. Stress and mental health issues have risen steeply, to where more and more incredibly young children are being seen by doctors for depression. Surely, there is something very wrong with a society in which such young children are being diagnosed with depression and an ever-increasing number of people of all ages with mental health issues.
Some contend this is due to a loss of connection with others and feeling unfulfilled in a target driven society. We are all too busy to enjoy life. Looking after the health and welfare of people should be the first responsibility of a civilised society, not money. The need to bring in ever increasing profits has drained society of joy. There needs to be a balance. We need time to relax and learn to enjoy life. The old saying, ‘Work to live, not live to work’ needs to be remembered because what is the point of working so hard if you don’t then have the time to do the things you enjoy? The Universal Basic Income, which we have been champions of long before it was picked up other parties, would be a good step towards helping people to realise some of these ambitions.
The environment has also benefited. The lack of cars and aeroplanes has left the air cleaner, so we can take a good deep breath and hear the birds singing. Wildlife has also prospered due to our absence and interference. People are out enjoying parks, walking and cycling.
We have promoted this in our policies for quite some time as a way of improving our general health, the environment and lessening the demand on the NHS. It is simple, if people are walking and cycling more, they will be healthier and less likely to suffer from issues associated with a lack of exercise and an unbalanced diet, such as diabetes, obesity and various heart conditions.
Another aspect of this issue is that more should be invested in public transport, so that it is cheaper, more reliable and completely green to the point that owning a car will seem pointless. Thereby ridding us of the congestion issue, too.
During this period, many people have taken to gardening and growing their own food. At this time with Brexit looming and a trade deal with the USA which seems to mean lower standards of food production, it would be a good skill to encourage, as people could grow enough for themselves and share with neighbours, having the positive effect of creating communities, more nutritious food and less food waste.
This also raises other issues, such as a lack of gardens and tower blocks with limited or no outdoor space. We should be building homes that give people a certain quality of life and are eco-friendly. Each home a generator of energy.
In conclusion, continuing some aspects of life under Covid-19, would bring us closer to the goal of creating a more sustainable way of life, fairer and more equal societies where work is balanced with the needs of a personal life, as well as respect for the planet.
Fantastic to see progress being made. The Green Party would ensure all buildings were built to PassivHaus or equivalent standard. But this is not what we are seeing built in Ealing in 2020.
In general, as buildings get higher, the energy demands go up. Lifts, of course, but also pumping water, ventilation, embedded construction costs. Heating can become difficult to control with high losses if not properly insulated. Smaller buildings, up to probably (depending on design) around 10 floors, are generally the most energy efficient way to build new homes.
But you’ll all be familiar with ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’. Let’s think about this with housing too.
Reduce energy demands of the housing we have by making sure housing is fitted to the highest environmental standards, by retrofitting with insulation for example.
Reuse- refit and refurbish what we have already. Look at ways to bring second homes and long-term empty homes back into the general market.
Recycle- Get local communities involved in identifying sites that would be suitable for small developments. And make these homes available at a price that those who need it can afford.
Towers make the existing community miserable, isn’t that a good reason to stop them?
There are certainly problems created in existing communities. Here are some focusing on the effect on the local environment:
Tall buildings can cause high winds at their base. The shadows thrown create shadows and dark streets. This means the houses around them need more artificial light for affected properties. Sunlight for solar panels can also be blocked.
Large numbers of new residents in an existing community can have negative effects if not planned for properly. Improved public transport and cycling facilities need to be provided, to prevent traffic build up. This is rarely done. We need to build housing that means you don’t rely on a car to lead a full life.
Why do Greens get involved in planning? Aren’t you about environmental issues?
As you can see there are plenty of environmental issues in planning. And so far we have just talked about buildings. There’s also protecting the green spaces- parks, areas of outstanding national beauty, local green space protection, metropolitan open land protection, trees preservation orders.
A common misconception about the Green Party is that we are only interested in ‘green’ issues. We see it like this:
The Green Party is a party of social and environmental justice, which supports a radical transformation of society for the benefit of all, and for the planet as a whole. We understand that the threats to economic, social and environmental wellbeing are part of the same problem, and recognise that solving one of these crises cannot be achieved without solving the others (from our core values, https://policy.greenparty.org.uk/core-values.html).
We need to look at the environmental impact of towers, but also at whether they solve the housing issues affecting our society. In Ealing, they don’t offer enough solutions to the need for genuinely affordable housing, social housing, housing for families, provision for the homeless. Rather, Government policy has encouraged the treatment of housing as a form of speculative investment, rather than a basic requirement for individual and social well-being.
We need more housing, so what do you suggest if you don’t like towers?
What we actually need is more social and more affordable housing. We don’t need tower blocks that only the affluent can afford and which are being built to make gigantic profits for developers, landowners and speculators.
But how can we afford these high environmental standards?
Landowners and developer make vast profits from current tower block developments. Developers can afford to build high quality flats and still make a profit. It just needs the political will to stand up to developers and insist on this.
So what’s next?
Get involved! We have the solutions if we work together.
Stops the Towers are working with local MPs to propose a Design Review Panel. This would be a great start.
Life on lock-down is no doubt easier for me than for many others, and still I find myself finding this a hard time. I miss being out in the real world, being able to do my radio shows live from the station, going to meetings (rather than online), seeing friends and family and I really miss hugs!
My main frustration is that even though we are all staying at home, being responsible and trying to do our bit to stop the spread of the virus, projects like HS2 and Hinkley Point are still going ahead. We’re not allowed to be out there to protest, try and stop them and to bear witness to – and report on – the wildlife crimes committed on a daily basis (ancient woodlands being destroyed, trees (with nests in them!) being felled during the precious nesting season). I feel powerless and angry. The works on these projects are not essential, and the money wasted on them should be spent on the NHS and caring for our communities and natural world which we rely on.
My hope is that the coronavirus crisis will bring people to think more about our relationship with the environment, how vulnerable we are, and how we need to change our ways. I hope that when we come out at the other end, people will think more about their responsibility to our planet, join the Green Party or other environmental causes.
On a personal level, I have started popping tomatoes into the ground and tiny little plants are already starting to come out! It’s incredible to see, and I hope to do this with more fruit and veg. To stop being so vulnerable, we need to build up our resilience, and I think growing our own food is going to become more and more important.
It’s particularly lovely to be able to walk out of our houses in Ealing to the sound of birdsong, conversations between neighbours, and children playing in their gardens, rather than the sound of ‘planes taking off at Heathrow airport, the constant drone of traffic on the A4, and the nuisance of accelerating cars cutting through the residential streets of Ealing.
It’s particularly lovely that people of all ages and from all walks of life are now taking to their bikes for their daily exercise. Now that 90% of the road traffic has gone we are no longer faced with the stress of cycling around Ealing, and our families can now take to the roads without the fear of being harmed.
This complete transformation of the streetscapes of Ealing has to ask the question, have more lives been saved across the country thanks to the reduction in air pollution and a reduction in road traffic casualties than have been taken from COVID-19? With air pollution thought to cause 10,000 early deaths a year, and TfL having detailed reports showing road traffic casualties of 25,000 per year then it is very possible.
Putting aside the terrible cost in human lives on our Ealing roads, the transformation back to quiet neighbourly streets where people can chat to each other without shouting and let their children head out without undue worry about their safety has got to be something to all want to promote and to continue after the end of this pandemic.
I’ve always wanted to grow my own vegetables and be a better gardener than I am presently, the ‘try it and see’ variety, with not much time to look things up and gain from someone else’s knowledge.
So, this ‘stay at home’ period is perfect to spend time learning. In anticipation of the lockdown, I bought many plants from the garden centre, tomatoes, carrots, beetroot, cauliflower, peppers and potatoes, as well as blueberry and gooseberry bushes.
I have spent a great many hours in the garden over the past few weeks and now have everything planted. As luck would have it, my daughter built me a large vegetable planter out of a couple of pallets last year when I had my first attempt and whilst I managed to plant everything, due to work commitments and the weather, I wasn’t then able to look after it all. Whereas this year, I have all the time in the world and hope for a good harvest and a new skill.
What I learned this week: squirrels can untie knots!
This is how it all looked three weeks ago
Peas, mange tout, cauliflower, beetroot
Tomatoes, carrots, pepper and leeks which didn’t grow last year but are now!!
How it looks now.
These are what the squirrels have been trying to get into by untying my knots!
Down the canal the notices have been going up. Along the Hanwell Flight, that historic stretch of the Grand Union, full of listed houses, walls and locks, blue and white posters are asking us to limit ourselves. The cyclists, walkers, runners, those going to work, those going to exercise, are being asked to do it less. Those wishing to go to The Fox, to visit friends, to picnic in Warren Farm, have long been told to not do it at all.
A statute of limitations to keep us safe during the current contingency.
Questions occur. Not the medium-sized question of whether the strategy is correct. No that’s too hard. But littler questions like: How will it be observed? How will different categories of canal user behave? How will social intercourse adapt and change?
Underlying all this, of course, is the Big Question: How does humankind balance individual and social interests in times of dislocation. This could be a dry run for the future dislocations of climate change.
I thought at the outset of the lockdown here would be a whole series of home tasks that I would finally have time to get on with. But it’s not happening. I think that’s because shortage of time was not always the real reason – I simply didn’t want to do the tasks. Now I have a bit more time, I still don’t want to do them!
But unlike some, I have not found that the lockdown has given me much spare time. So even if I wanted to read War and Peace or listen to Wagner’s Ring, I wouldn’t have time.
I already spent a lot of time on the computer, dealing with emails and all the matters arising. There has been a noticeable increase in traffic, presumably because everyone else is stuck at home, giving more time for reflecting on things, not just on coronavirus but on other issues. Also calls to and from friends and family who somehow I never get round to in normal times. The old-fashioned phone seems to have been re-discovered.
Not being able to see friends and family members, especially son and grandson, is the hardest. Sobering thought that I might actually never see them again except on a small screen. But the more rational half of me says that my chance of dying from coronavirus is actually very small – smaller than the chance of somebody of my age dying from something else this year.
As for others, being cooped up at home is tiresome, to say the least. But I’m luckier than many, with a reasonably spacious house and a garden. It’s been great to be able to sit out and enjoy the garden, not have it ruined by planes roaring overhead.
I’m also fortunate in having large open spaces just minutes from the house. Being outdoors, especially in spring, is one of life’s great joys. And green open spaces have been shown to have physical and mental health benefits. Thank goodness the government has not banned us from going to literally live-saving parks and open spaces.