Thursday, 3 October 2013

Draft Environment Strategy.

Seals resting by the River Stour. Nick Smith

2013 has been a busy year so far for consultations by Canterbury City Council, in addition to the Draft Local Plan we have submitted a response to the Draft Environment Strategy.

The consultation document can be found here consultation.pdf 
  
Our response to it follows here:


Canterbury and District Green Party comments on Draft Environmental Strategy 2013-16


Theme 1: Valuing our built and natural heritage

Priority 1.1: Valuing our built heritage:
Action 3: Protect and preserve Westgate Towers

Measures: Strategy of traffic management to protect Towers.

We would add:

The strategy will involve first seeking to implement a range of sustainable transport initiatives to provide a variety of alternative ways for people to travel in and around the city other than in their cars; and thereafter to seek the closure of the Towers to vehicular traffic.”

Coppicing Insert:
We are very pleased to see the insert about coppicing. There is a huge lack of understanding with regards this traditional practice of woodland management that also improves biodiversity. It is excellent to the Council promoting it.

Priority 1.2: Valuing the Natural Environment:

What we are aiming to achieve:
We would add ‘Improving biodiversity’ and also ‘Encouraging more environmentally sustainable ways of living.’
We would replace ‘Increased use and appreciation of nature’ with ‘Increased understanding of and respect for nature.’

Action 7:
We would add to 3rd column: ‘Increase biodiversity, through re-introducing and attracting more native flora and fauna into the park’.

Action 8:
As above.

Action 9:
Excellent. Could we clarify whether that means all council sites, i.e. office sites as well as parks and gardens?

Action 11:
Excellent

Action 12:
Excellent.
We would add that the council will encourage the same of Canterbury Community in Bloom. I am happy to assist with this as I am now on the committee. (Jo Kidd)
We would also like to see further increase in the amount of wild flower strips in areas that are presently regularly mown and encourage community wildflower sowing.

Action 14:
Excellent. We would add something in here about working in partnership with local schools, universities and civil society groups (e.g. Abbot’s Mill Project is working on a programme of outdoor learning and sustainable living in partnership with Christ Church University and Simon Langton Girls School).


Theme 2 – Living ‘well’ within our environmental limits:

Priority 2.1: Waste and Recycling

We strongly agree with the new waste collection scheme, the intention to achieve the highest recycling rate in Kent, to increase the recycling rate to 55% by March 2015, the participation rate to 90% by 2014 and the reduction of the amount of waste going to landfill by 5% by 2015/16.

Priority 2.2: Reducing our environmental footprint:

We support all of these aims.

We would add that:
·        We need an education/awareness programme on reducing consumption and packaging – i.e. reduce and reuse before recycle.
·        We should be working towards Canterbury District as a plastic-bag free zone by 2016 and lobby supermarkets and other retailers to reduce the amount of packaging they use and accept from suppliers.
·        There should be more incentives and support for green/environmentally sustainable/low carbon businesses, including those proposing the use of renewable energy.
·        The City Council should be encouraging (possibly through financial incentives) developers who own business parks and large industrial/retail buildings to install solar PV arrays on the roofs of their units. This could reduce the need for prime agricultural land being taken up with renewable energy schemes. Canterbury City Partnership and Canterbury 4 Business could provide more information to developers and current site owners about the economic return on investment into renewables.
·        The City Council should be encouraging (via an awareness-raising and support programme) schools and owners of any large building to install solar PV arrays. These could be as community energy schemes.

Priority 2.3: Tackling Pollution/ Priority 2.4: Changing Behaviour:

We strongly agree that: “…one of the main pollution problems in the Canterbury District is air pollution related to traffic congestion.”

We feel that actions proposed in 2.3 and 2.4 lack specificity. If the reason for this is because such actions will be specified in the forthcoming Transport Strategy then this needs to be stated. In the absence of this we feel that, in addition to the actions proposed in 2.3 (28 and 29) and 2.4 (36, 37, 38) the following sustainable transport measures to increase the modal use of sustainable means transport and reduce that of cars should be implemented as a matter of urgency and a timetable for their implementation included in the Environment Strategy:

Walking

a)     Pedestrian priority measures that ensure that pedestrians be given priority for crossing all roads with the minimum of delay.
b)     Vehicle speeds in residential streets, throughout the city and near all schools and children’s play limited to 20mph.

Bus

a) Bus priority measures along the main routes into the City, including the    removal of some on-street parking where such parking prevents the construction of bus lanes. In such cases, residents should be given ample notice and alternative parking arrangements provided if unavailable.

b) Real-time bus information at every major bus stop by 2016.

c) Residents of all new developments to receive free bus travel for a year.

d) The provision of ‘fast’ bus links into the city, at least every 10 minutes, including services to/from Chartham and Thanington Without.

e)  Bus priority measures and bus lanes through Wincheap and through the industrial estate.

f)  The creation of off-street parking through multi-level parking on the industrial estate to enable the removal of on-street parking on Wincheap, to enable the above.

Cycling

a)  A segregated cycle route on New Dover Road from the roundabout at the existing Park and Ride going directly into the city.  We believe that New Dover Road is comfortably wide enough to accommodate such a measure.

b)  A cycle route from Sturry to link to the existing ‘Riverside’ route to provide a direct, off road cycle route directly into the centre of Canterbury.

c)  Cycle lanes to link any new development in Hersden to the cycle lanes proposed above for Sturry.

d) A cycle lane on the A28 (at times a shared bus/cycle lane) all the way up from the Sturry direction to the Military/Tourtel Road roundabout.

e)  A cycle lane on the Whitstable Road entrance to the city.

f) Direct, easy cycle and pedestrian access from Thanington Without to the Great Stour Way cycle route.

g) Cycle priority measures to enable cyclists from the south part of Wincheap to easily and safely cross the A28 and then be able to access the Horses and Goats underpass route into the city centre.

h)  Investigation of the use of Broad Oak Road for cycle/bus lanes after completion of the riverside route detailed above.

New Development

·         All new major new development to be situated near existing transport hubs and on major public transport corridors.

·         Housing density to be as high as possible on all new development.

·         Residents of new developments to receive free bus travel for a year.

·         Parking on new developments to be available at the edge of such developments, for an annual fee, which is then put into a fund for sustainable transport measures.

·         Car-clubs to be established on any new major development and throughout the existing central and inner city.

·          Robust support for car-sharing measures/kentjourneyshare to be promoted at any new major development.

·         The number of car parking spaces per unit to be limited to less than one per household on any major new development.

·         Each new major development to have a Travel Centre on-site.

·         All new development to provide traffic free segregated cycle routes and ‘home zones’ with residential streets that are safe for cycling through low vehicle speeds of a maximum of 20mph.

·         Walking and cycling greenways, pedestrian-friendly street-design, and ‘filtered permeability’ to be ‘built-in’ features of any new major development.

·         Vigorous promotion of car-sharing and car clubs in Thanington Without/Chartham and for commuters from Ashford.

·         Sustainable transport measures to be ‘built into’ any proposed new developments. All development to be designed to be public transport centred and be easiest to access by sustainable means of transport rather than being easiest to access by car.

·         Sustainable transport measures provide better pound for pound value than road schemes[1]. Developer’s contributions to be sought for such schemes only.

·         For measures to improve air quality and cut air pollution to be most effective sustainable transport measures to be introduced instead of, rather than alongside, new infrastructure to facilitate car travel.

We urge the council to adopt fully the recommendations of Lynn Sloman’s (Transport for Quality of Life) A Sustainable Transport Blueprint for Canterbury report with regards to a sustainable transport plan for the City.


Priority 2.4: Changing Behaviour:

Action 34:
We would add that we need to implement a scheme where householders can get free energy audits of their homes; this could help the local economy through additional jobs in supplying and fitting energy saving measures.

Action 39:
We would add a specific action regarding dropping/disposal of cigarette butts, which seems to be a huge problem across the city. These contain chemicals that are toxic to wildlife and can easily be ingested or leached into the water course. They also take hundreds of years to degrade.


Priority 3.1: Infrastructure:

Action 41:
We are concerned that a Park and Ride site in the north west of the city would have the following effects:

a)     It would lead to a modal shift from sustainable transport to car travel from Faversham, Whitstable and surrounding areas, undermining, and possibly causing the loss of, some of public transport services that many rely on.
b)     It would increase greenhouse gas emissions
c)      It would increase vehicular traffic and worsen air quality in Harbledown.

We therefore disagree with this policy.

Priority 3.2: Environmental Leadership:

We support all of these aims.
We would also like to see specific reference to aims to increase the number of council sites that generate renewable electricity.
Appendix 7:

We note that Serco contract vehicles represent the majority of greenhouse gas emissions in the district. We would be interested to know whether this is purely down to number or whether it is also down to behaviour/lack of awareness. For example, we have noted that, whilst buses now turn off their engines whilst stationary at the St. Dunstan’s level crossing, Serco vehicles drivers never do. We are sure that this very high percentage of the total greenhouse gas emissions could be reduced with a better environmental education awareness programme with staff.


General comments/additional measures that we would like to see included:

We feel that all of the measures and aims in the ‘What we are aiming to achieve’ columns need to be SMARTer, i.e. include outputs as well as outcomes (i.e. actual numbers, dates and percentages) so that it will be clearer as to whether or not they have been met.

We would also like to see specific designations of land for smaller scale cooperative farming use, for example for community allotments and cooperative small-holdings, particularly those using organic, stock-free farming and permaculture methods.

We would like to see stronger restrictions on horse ownership. Horses occupy large areas of prime agricultural land that would be better used for improving our food security. The keeping of horses generates a lot of greenhouse gases. Many horses are kept in fields that are too small and their health and well-being is compromised. This problem is exacerbated during a recession when many people struggle financially with the care of their horses.

Afford the strongest level of protection to all areas of natural vegetation surrounding Canterbury, plus areas designated as the highest quality agricultural land, and selected area having a high landscape value.

Green corridors need to be designated that can form natural linkages between presently fragmented areas of natural vegetation.

Have a targeted urban tree-planting programme (including planting along roadsides in the City) and green up areas of the towns/cities (e.g. living walls, green roofs and permeable membranes on car parks) as part of the strategy to improve air quality, reduce greenhouse emissions and reduce noise pollution.

Encourage and promote more green business and renewable energy schemes in and into the City/District, including, undertaking a feasibility study into the potential of wind generation on high points around the City.

Insist that all new builds comply with Level 5 or 6 standards of the Code for Sustainable Homes (i.e. are carbon neutral, include a rainwater harvesting  or recycling system for grey-water and energy and water-saving technologies).

Look favourably (in terms of planning, finance, business rates/council tax, for example) upon residents and businesses who seek to enhance their premises and surroundings in terms of sustainability and biodiversity.

Set targets for reducing the amount of concrete used in all new builds.

Identify several public buildings on which ‘green roofs’ could be planted.

Identify ways of increasing areas of coppice woodland and better managing existing areas of coppice woodland (including the Blean but also smaller pockets of woodland) to enable us to increase our use of wood-fuel as opposed to fossil fuels.

We feel that this strategy should include the council’s position on fracking. Canterbury District Green Party (along with thousands of residents) is extremely concerned about the threat of companies being given permission to drill for oil and gas. Evidence is mounting that shale and coal bed methane gas extraction methods are extremely damaging. They deplete and pollute ground water supplies, increase greenhouse gas levels, cause earth tremors and destroy natural habitats.
We would strongly (and publically) support the City Council in declaring Canterbury a ‘frack-free zone’ ahead of any applications to explore for oil or gas and to urge neighbouring councils to do likewise. 

List of the Harmed:

For more information on fracking and why so many people are concerned:


Further, we believe that:
·        Canterbury City Council should only contract with providers who have a clear and robust ethical and environmental policy and who are not included on boycott list for practices that harm the environment.
·        The City Council should give priority to providers who are social and environmental enterprises and can demonstrate a clear commitment to the environment.
·        Canterbury should introduce a Canterbury Environmental Business Awards scheme.
·        All major universities and the further education colleges should improve their links to the rest of the City and, particular, extend their sustainability targets beyond the institutions themselves – i.e. take more consideration of long-term sustainability of the City and of the City’s capacity to absorb more students. There should be quotas on overall student numbers set by the Canterbury Environment Group with additional stakeholders/partners, including the Canterbury Society as a representative of residents.
·        The remit and power of the Canterbury Partnership Environment Group should be extended so that it has a greater influence on strategic decisions throughout the city.












[1] Dr Lynn Sloman, A Sustainable Transport Blueprint for Canterbury, ( Executive Summary), Jan 2013