Havant Local Plan

houses-being-built

In July of 2016 Havant Borough Council announced a new Local Development Plan to replace the one adopted only two years ago. A hastily prepared road show followed a public consultation (well those who had heard about it) were given six weeks to make comments on the 5000 dwellings. The new plan called for an addition to the 6300 already agreed only two years before making a combined total of 11300 up to the year 2036.

Why the hurry? Council official say that unless the current plan conforms to national policies, which in December it said it did, there was a serious risk of developers making applications to build on any green field, and if refused they would be successfully appealing against the decision. This is partly because a new planning policy launched in 2012 strengthens the hand of developers against local Councillors.

Our response criticised Havant Borough Council for their haste, we questioned some of assumptions on which the new housing numbers were based, expressed concern over the choice of green field sites and impact on local ecology and habitats, and highlighted the threat to protected land such as Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINC), The Ramsar Convention, the international treaty for the conservation and sustainable use of wetlands, and Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) in the district

The consultation has now closed and over 800 people have commented on it. An officers’ report will go to the council’s cabinet in November, and if approved, will go forward to a full council meeting in December for final acceptance.

Havant Friends of the Earth has joined with nine other local groups to become the Havant Borough Residents Alliance (HBRA) to coordinate a joint response during the various stages of plan making. Between them the groups it represents over 3000 members.

The steering group has since met senior planners (Sue Holt, who represented Friends of the Earth) and we are intending to present a case at the full council meeting in December. Getting our heads around the whole thing including reading through almost 40 megabytes of maps, charts, reports and data sets.

Lancashire fracking decision could be first of many

Fracking Lancashire Small

After five years of tough campaigning the dam of opposition to fracking in the UK appears to have been breached. A majority verdict by seven of the eleven county councillors in Lancashire means that Third Energy can start fracking in a pre-existing well in Kirby Misperton, near Pickering on the edge of the North York National Park.Over 4000 people lodged objections while just 36 spoke up in favour. There is talk of a judicial review and a fighting fund has already been launched by Frack-Free Lancashire http://frackfreelancashire.org.uk/cms/

When the world is swimming in gas and oil supplies and only weeks ago 180 countries signed up to reduce emission from fossil fuels the Lancashire decision has been described by the FOE as a ‘travesty’. It also signals how the ministers will decide appeals lodged by Cuadrilla against refusals made by the county council last year. As Greenpeace put it, Kirby Misperton could become the thin end of a very thick wedge affecting the whole country.

Love your local trees

IMGaA recent UN report calculates that since 1990 forests equal to the size of South Africa have disappeared. Climate change, ranching, disease and logging, often illegal, are all partly to blame while vast new plantations for palm oil and soya have also taken their toll.

Five years ago the Forestry Commission and Defra launched the Big Tree Plant aimed at increasing by up to a million the number of trees planted in UK’s towns and cities. In February the millionth tree was planted in Bristol.
The scheme’s success is almost entirely depended on the enthusiasm of local community groups.

The Havant tree warden network, backed by Havant Council, is a perfect example. Since joining the scheme in 2012, the 40 or so members have added 4800 whips and young trees to the borough’s tree stock. This compares very favourably with London where 20,000 were planted over seven years.

Trees in built-up areas particularly reduce pollution, increases the value of homes, even make people feel healthier and so have real economic value. But the future for urban trees is far from rosy. Risk-averse property insurers, hard up local authorities who can’t afford maintenance and developers wanting to squeeze in more houses are bad news for trees whether in towns or green field sites.

As if this isn’t enough Ash Dieback disease, spread by spores from dead leaves and for which there is no remedy, is poised to sweep through the whole country destroying tens of thousands of ash trees.

IMGP6378bOlder tree removed by developers are often replaced by dwarf species which are little more than decorative. Most local authorities employ tree officers who have powers to make Tree Protection Orders (TPOs) that they can initiate or grant in response to a request.

The UK’s leading tree charity is the Tree Council. One of their roles is to coordinate the 8000-strong national network of tree wardens. These are volunteers who get actively involved in planting new trees, protecting new ones and who mobilise public opposition to unjustified felling. The only qualification is a love for trees and a passion for protecting them against needless destruction.

Details of how to join local tree wardens can be found on the Tree Council’s website www.treecouncil.org.uk or www.havantboroughtreewardens.org.uk

Will the Tories make Britain Greener?

Vote Blue Go Green was the Tory mantra pre 2010 general election. But now the Tories are back in government but without the Lib Dems what’s the future for the environment? The answer lies respectively with the Environment Minister, Liz Truss, and new girl, Amber Rudd MP, who takes over Energy and Climate Change from Ed Davy, the former Lib Dem MP who lost his seat. Under the Tories’ manifesto we learn they plan to scrap subsidies for on-shore wind farms, invest mega millions in EDF’s new Somerset nuclear plant, encourage fracking and keep the North Sea oil fields pumping.

Oh yes we’re going to pay for plastic bags but there’s little mention of action to combat illegal air pollution in our towns and cities. Developers are likely to reduce insulation standards to keep down, as they put it, house prices and then there is the Green Deal which has all but a total flop.

The EU brought in a temporary ban on neonicotinoids, an agricultural chemical that poisons bees and other pollinators. Like some other green measures it was opposed by the Tories. If the UK opts to leave the EU, the environment will have lost a major champion.

Minister, Amber Rudd, faces a very tough challenge what with representing the UK at the Paris Climate talks later this year, and dealing with her own sceptical back-benchers. She agrees with renewables provided they are cost-effective, a completely vacuous term used by management consultants and politicians.