October 2019 Newsletter

Havant Climate Emergency Petition update

So far 675 names have been gathered including165 online (see Havant FOE website). Havant Council has strict rules regarding the admissibility of public petitions particularly in relation to the numbers of names. Unlike some councils it does not provide an on line facility for e-petitions. To qualify for a full council debate, a minimum of 1500 verified names are required. But to go to a lower tier in the council’s organisation the number falls to 750.

The deputy leader of the council has indicated he could not personally support a climate emergency declaration and has suggested other routes to engagement on climate change issues in the borough. Although only one among 38 councillors (mostly from one party) he is not without influence. At our October meeting it was decided to add another 150 names to the petition and to contact the chairman of the place shaping board, the one recommended, and seek an early meeting to explore options for taking the petition forward.

 

Work starts on County Action Plan

Following on from Hampshire County Council’s climate emergency declaration in July a cross-county community group has been formed that Havant FOE has been invited to join. The purpose of the group is to support the drafting of an action plan to reduce emissions as part of the journey towards a low carbon economy.

The first steps will be deciding on the objectives of the plan and choosing projects that would make the most significant difference. Hampshire councils alone represent a very small percentage of the county emissions leaving the major challenge on how to link up with transport, industry, agriculture and other major producers of carbon

 

Nitrates Neutrality

Almost 50 people attended presentations from Havant Council and Portsmouth Water on dealing with nitrates in our local waters following a new direction from Natural England. Many thanks to member Wilf Forrow for his summary of the meeting below:

Havant Borough Council (HBC): Presentation by David Hayward, Planning Policy Manager

  • Nutrient neutrality has become a huge issue for all councils bordering the Solent.
    Working together will produce a better solution, as they do with Birdaware.
  • Natural England published advice and guidance saying that all new development must be ‘nutrient neutral’. But the Environment Agency (EA) are less stringent, so there’s uncertainty.  And there’s not yet full agreement on how to measure nutrient neutrality, or what offsets are permitted.
  • HBC acknowledges the issue, and has produced a detailed position paper (see HBC’s website)
  • Budds Farm sewage works accounts for 90% of Havant nutrient discharge into our harbours. These are Southern Water’s “permitted discharges”, heavily regulated by the EA, including the (contentious) right to discharge untreated sewage after heavy rainfall, albeit filtered.
  • Increased development increases the sewage load on Budd’s Farm. Upgrading it, or removing more nitrates would require a huge investment, which Southern Water would not make without increased funding, from government or from bills.
  • Tangmere sewage treatment plant has been upgraded to allow more development there.

There are 3 main ways to reduce nitrate levels:

  1. Reducing agricultural load (see Portsmouth Water presentation below).
  2. Removing land from agriculture, e.g. for development, woodland, Havant reservoir, etc.
  3. Improving water usage and efficiency.
  • Water usage can by reduced by a number of things, such as water meters, showers instead of baths, disallowing power showers, etc.
    However big developers can be resistant, and councils have limited powers to insist.
  • Portsmouth has big council housing stock, so can enforce water usage controls more easily. But it has no agriculture to remove.
  • Brownfield land had low discharge levels before to offset, so development is harder than greenfield, which is not what most people expect or want.
  • NPPF (National Planning Policy Framework) also requires new developments to demonstrate biodiversity net gain.Councils do not have the right to insist on tree planting, but do have persuasive power.

 

Portsmouth Water (PWC): Presentation by Simon Deacon, Catchment & Environment Manager

  • PW’s main priority is drinking water quality, although any nitrate reduction would also have environmental and biodiversity benefits.
  • Most PW water comes from the aquifers deep under the downs, therefore mostly under agricultural land.
  • Southern Water has a much bigger water quality issue, as its catchment is more heavily populated and industrial areas, and more reliant on surface sources such as rivers.
  • Water can take days, weeks or years to percolate through the ground to the aquifers.
  • Heavy rain causes spikes in pollution, which are an increasing problem.
  • Drinking water quality is highly regulated, and it’s far more cost-effective to stop pollution at source, rather than try and purify it retrospectively.
  • Therefore, they are working on persuading or incentivising farmers to reduce pollution at source, with better land and fertilizer management.
  • For example, research shows that careful crop rotation, ‘cover’ crops, tree planting and drainage management can significantly reduce nitrate leaching and fertilizer use, which also saves the farmer money.
  • It has to be farmer led, by encouraging them to form cluster groups and water catchment partnerships. Many, especially the big landowners such as Goodwood Estate, are keen and already involved.
  • These schemes also improve biodiversity and ‘natural capital’.
  • Leakage from septic tanks and especially oil tanks are a big issue for Southern Water, but less so for PW.

 

Nitrates debate

The Council’s Operations and Place Shaping Board will be considering the nutrient neutrality issue on 28th October 2019 in the Plaza. The papers haven’t been published yet but will be available on the website a week before the meeting. The meeting is open to the public.

 

Emsworth Passivous House Open Days

You are invited to join us for a Building Tour on Saturday (11am and 2pm) or Sunday (11am)
For more information and to book a (free) ticket via Eventbrite please click HERE

Winner of 2017 Wood Awards and 2018 Structural Timber Awards, shortlisted in UK Passivhaus Awards 2018, CIBSE Building Performance Awards and Offsite Construction Awards 2019. Featured in ES Homes & Property, Grand Design Magazine and the i newspaper.

We are open:

Saturday 9th November – tours start at 11am and 2pm
Sunday 10th – tour starts at 11am

Passivhaus is the fastest growing energy performance standard in the world. It is a useful tool on the route to Carbon Zero and to address our Climate Emergency. The standard ensures a high level of occupant comfort while being very low energy; it can be applied not only to residential dwellings but also to commercial, industrial and public buildings.

 

Government publishes a new Environment Bill

Commenting on the new Environment Bill published, Dave Timms, Head of Political Affairs at Friends of the Earth said:

“Despite some improvements from previous proposals, it’s extremely disappointing that the Environment Bill won’t protect existing environmental safeguards from being watered down – something ministers have repeatedly promised.

“We’re facing a climate emergency – and while the new environmental watchdog will at least have power to hold government to account on climate change, its independence is still not guaranteed.(it’s has now been relegated to the political statement in the latest EU Withdrawal Bill-Ed) and its speed of progress hardly suggests the blue lights are being switched on.

“It’s encouraging to see headline commitments on issues such as plastics, air pollution and natural restoration, but it remains to be seen if the frameworks set out in this ‘flagship’ bill will have the clout to fulfil the government’s ‘world leading’ ambitions.

“The climate crisis is the biggest threat we face – the government’s commitment to tackling it will be judged on its action, not words.”

 

How climate friendly is our council?

Friends of the Earth recently published the results of an analysis looking at how friendly England’s councils were on climate change issues

Five criteria such as recycling, tree cover, cycle paths, renewable energy were selected and assessed for each council using recognised data sets and other credible sources.

Top performer at 92% was Wiltshire and in Hampshire, Basingstoke & Deane at 84%. Havant weighed in with 64% about which FOE said, “The Havant area’s performance on climate change is average compared to other local authority areas. All local authorities, even the best performing, need to do much more if climate catastrophe is to be averted.

Havant particularly needs to do much better on increasing the use of public transport, cycling, and walking, increasing tree cover, and increasing waste recycling. In Havant. 43% of emissions come from housing, 34% from transport, and 23% are industrial and commercial emissions.”

Researchers at the Tyndall Centre in Manchester University say that Havant should reduce emissions by at least 13% per year.

 

Next group meeting

The next meeting on the 19th November includes a presentation on Havant Regeneration Strategy from Andrew Biltcliffe the council officer managing the programme. He will be followed by a Q&A from members to Tim Pike, deputy leader of Havant council.

Cllr Pike has indicated he would be welcome questions from the audience, on tree cover, cycle paths, recycling, home energy efficiency and renewable energy-the very same areas covered in FOE’s survey mentioned. This is an opportunity to broaden our understanding of the council’s position on climate change and the local environment.

Anybody interested in the regeneration strategy should click here to read more

 

Membership

This year has seen a significant increase in our membership from across the borough as climate change becomes headline news. As a seaside town with dozens sensitive nature sites coming under heavy pressure from re-development and some compressed parts less than a metre above at high tide Havant should be active in pursuing climate change action.

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