Oxfordshire Green Party

Banbury and Cherwell GP's response to Cherwell DC consultation on their Low Carbon Strategy

4 October 2012

Banbury and Cherwell GP's response to Cherwell DC consultation on their Low Carbon Strategy:

 

"Banbury and Cherwell Green Party welcomes the direction of travel set out in the strategy. We note the intention to further reduce the carbon footprints generated by the Council’s own activity and those in the community. We also welcome the recognition given to voluntary local groups that have low carbon concerns.

It is unclear whether the District has set any community targets for reduction in CO2. We are disappointed that there is not a costed implementation plan. We are surprised that there are no obvious means of monitoring progress and taking remedial action.

There is no risk analysis. There is no mention of the current economic and political circumstances that could frustrate the good intentions set out in the strategy.  For example on page 4 of the strategy, it is noted that 9.7% of the Cherwell population is in fuel poverty.  We suggest that many of these folk are likely to be recipients of Council Tax benefit. It is understood from press reports that the Government will cut the Council Tax benefit grant by 10% next April. Local councils, will be given more discretion in administering the Council Tax benefit next year. It is reported nationally that because of the pressure on public finances that some low income families will pay some or all Council Tax for the first time. This is likely to negate any effort to reduce fuel poverty. Furthermore it is unclear from the strategy exactly what financial assistance will be available for home insulation for disadvantaged groups when the current grant scheme is wound up this year.

Page 5 of the draft strategy states, “Approximately 622,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions originated from road transport sources in the district in 2009. We need to reduce these emissions, reduce local air pollution from traffic sources and reduce congestion”.

 

The strategy is silent on public transport. An annual season ticket from Banbury to Oxford now costs £1788 per anum, (approximately £1900 after January 2013).  In addition, car owners currently face an annual £960 to park at Banbury station, (as this charge is unregulated the cost could exceed £1000 next year). There is no incentive for car owners to switch to rail for the daily commute to Oxford. Already Green Party supporters living in Kidlington are reporting longer tailbacks through the village with consequential increases in congestion and pollution. Whilst recognising that traffic management is principally a County function, Cherwell could have legitimately spoken up for clean air but chose to stay silent when the rail fare increases were announced.

The strategy missed an opportunity to promote 20 MPH speed limits in residential areas. Research has shown that such speed limits reduce fuel consumption and pollution and improve road safety. Safer roads encourage cycling and walking with consequential beneficial effects on health and less use of a car. Cherwell could champion more 20 MPH zones to the County Council.

The troubled Local Development Plan is referred to on page 13. The strategy draws attention to LDP concentrating on high environmental standards of design and construction but ignores the carbon implications of meeting local housing and transport needs. The questionable Cherwell 20 year new Housing target is now reported to be an additional 16750 homes. Page 10 of the strategy gives a Cherwell total per capita CO2 emission level of 7.8 tonnes. Assuming that there will be an average of two persons per household who work and travel the increase in CO2 emissions will be 16750 X 7.8 X 2 = 261300 tonnes. This is an equivalent tonnage to increasing the 2009 traffic CO2 emissions by 42%.

Page 6 refers to the need to plant more trees as Cherwell has the lowest percentage of woodland in Oxfordshire, which itself is the least wooded county in the South East. The strategy recognises the value of trees as a renewable source of fuel and as sequestrators of carbon. Many thousands of trees would need to be planted to make any impact upon the projected growth in carbon inherent in the LDP. Many of us will recollect the campaign to “plant a tree in ‘73”-it is pity that Cherwell is not offering better leadership to encourage tree planting, where land is not required for food production, by individuals, public bodies, developers and land owners and not merely to “continue to support” existing worthy projects."



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