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Submitted by ian on Sat, 06/02/2021 - 11:25

 

Here is the text of the letter that Brent FoE has sent to the Council in response to the Consultation on the Climate Emergency strategy. A pdf can be downloaded or viewed here.
 

13 January 2021

info@brentfoe.com

Councillor Krupa Sheth
Brent Civic Centre

Engineers Way

Wembley

HA9 0FJ
 

Dear Cllr Sheth,

We are writing as Brent Friends of the Earth with a response to the draft Brent Climate Emergency Strategy document. Firstly, we would like to record our appreciation of the work and commitment that you all put in to producing this document. We know that Brent is ahead of many of the Local Authorities in making a plan; most of the points that you have made are very welcome. As you know, local response to climate change is an area of work that National Friends of the Earth have been working on for some time and have used their collective expertise to produce guidelines for Local Authorities. In accordance with the advice from National Friends of Earth, Brent Friends of the Earth would like to make the following recommendations:

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  1. The lead officer and the lead councillor for combating climate change should provide well-publicised updates on progress at least every six months, possibly at public meetings. A baseline should be included as well as clarity on what is being measured.

  2. Very clear strategies are needed about how to engage, and stay engaged, with as many residents as possible using multiple media and methods.

  3. The Council should find a cost-efficient way to provide expert advice to organisations and businesses on reducing their waste and carbon footprint.

  4. The Climate Emergency section on Brent Council’s website (https://www.brent.gov.uk/climateemergency) should be clearly signposted from the home page. The site should include all the positives that the necessary changes will bring.

  5. There should be a great deal of publicity about getting down the emissions that the Council and Brent businesses and residents directly control, AND, equally clear information about how people’s buying choices affect climate change. The Council should celebrate any actions taken to reduce emissions. It should point out how buying less frees up money for other things – or maybe leads to working fewer hours. The Council should try to nudge people into doing the right thing and provide continuous education around the climate emergency.

  6. The Council should include mitigation and protection measures in the strategy, especially for the most vulnerable because i) people will need protection and ii) It will highlight the risks we all face.

  7. The Council should ensure sustainability for all new build projects by using the BREEAM standard (see www.breeam.com). There are at least four significant projects (two Brent owned) that have been recently passed by planning/building control without the application of this standard. The projects need to be revisited to ensure they are BREEAM compliant.

  8. Safer cycling - there is nothing in the draft strategy about cycling and road infrastructure other than proposals on bike hangars and stands; on this point, Brent regulations should not treat private vehicle parking more favourably than the siting of cycle hangars, as is presently the case. On safety, we would like the Council to work closely with Brent Cycling Campaign on expanding the number of cycle lanes, and on other cycle safety improvements.

  9. Trees – the current plan says that in the first year, “we will seek to expand our tree planting programme”. National Friends of the Earth are asking the UK Government to double tree cover i.e. the existing tree-canopy; Brent should adopt this as a minimum target. Review the quality of tree pits and develop a maintenance scheme for tree watering, for example ‘adopt a tree close to you’ in addition to the Brent Council tree maintenance. Use arboretum volunteers to inspect new tree plantings and create an alert system so the Council can hold the tree contactor to account. The Council should encourage locally-based community gardening schemes in any places where there is bare soil.

  10. The Ogren scale should be used to ensure that only non-allergenic trees are planted. Appropriate species should be planted according to location.

  11. There seems to be nothing in the first-year plan about food consumption though it is mentioned earlier in the Strategy. Vegan meals should be the norm in schools and in any food outlet that the Council controls - though we would not expect non-vegan options to disappear entirely.

  12. We urge the Council to make use of the considerable resources available from National Friends of the Earth with ideas about reducing climate change, which also provide links to other sources of advice.

  13. We were disappointed not to see anything in the Strategy about divesting the Brent Pension Fund from fossil fuel investments. The Fund has made some positive moves, making modest investments in renewable energy and a low carbon fund – but in order to minimise the effects of the Climate Emergency all energy investment finance should be going to renewables and the Council’s index-tracking investments should be switched to funds tracking indices which exclude fossil fuels.

  14. The Council should actively help outside organisations (like Brent Pure Energy) on renewable energy projects through better co-operation from their legal and planning departments. Please refer to Haringey Council and its Lordship Rec Community Hub heat pump project.

  15. The Council should encourage, and work towards, the timely phasing out of single use plastic. It should reduce waste in general by encouraging reduce/reuse/repair and restore instead of recycling. 60 to 70% of recycled material goes to incinerators which emit toxic fine particles on top of creating toxic ash. Emissions from burning plastics are even worse than burning fossil fuels. Incinerators are a way to keep the status quo. The only way forward is to promote and help create circularity at every level.

  16. The Council should develop and support sustainability platforms, online and in person, encouraging initiatives, bringing people together (people could sign up and the platforms should be actively promoted throughout the borough). Sustainability issues could be shared, discussed, help and solutions looked for, workshops organised. Ideally, it creates a space for multilateral conversations and a diversity of topics around sustainability, brings people and businesses together, working towards real solutions together (e.g. if on the same street, various shops can accept the same containers or local people could share expensive tools). Help could be found to improve sustainability and solutions can be shared.

  17. In the draft First Year Delivery Plan, Theme 3 (homes & buildings) just talks about the Council’s own stock but we know that the vast majority of homes are either owner-occupied or privately rented. It is important to provide encouragement and support to make privately owned and rented housing more energy-efficient, as soon as possible.

  18. We suggest that the Council commits to pressing the government and other relevant. agencies to invest in green jobs and in the other necessary national measures to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030.

  19. The leadership of Brent Council should join UK100 (www.uk100.org), the network of local authorities working towards sustainability and carbon Net Zero. In this way Brent can share knowledge, collaborate and be part of petitioning the UK Government collectively on the measures that are needed to create a sustainable environment.

Yours sincerely


 

Lucy Duncan
Co-ordinator
Brent Friends of the Earth

 

 

Brent FoE Hustings

Submitted by ian on Sat, 10/04/2021 - 21:14

 

 

On April 8th We hosted an online Hustings, with members of the Green, Labour and Liberal Democrat Parties answering questions of the public, Chaired very capably by local author and barrister Hashi Mohammed. Watch the full video above.

 

Campaigning in the crisis

Submitted by ian on Sat, 30/05/2020 - 10:50

  

Covid-19 - How to campaign


These are unsettling times for us all, particularly the most vulnerable in our society. The most important thing you can do right now is to keep yourself, and the wider community, safe. If we are to be effective climate activists in the future, we need to look after our physical and mental wellbeing now.

Friends of the Earth wins campaign to protect the climate from Heathrow Third Runway

Submitted by ian on Wed, 22/04/2020 - 12:28

 

no 3rd runway

Friends of the Earth Press Release:

Will Rundle, head of legal at Friends of the Earth, said “This ruling is an absolutely ground-breaking result for climate justice. We were fighting a project that would have had dire implications for present and future generations.”