I attended a focus group meeting this evening where the point of discussion was the Climate Crisis. Attended by people across the voluntary sector as well as local government, it was hosted by the local county council. It was a lively and useful meeting.
The council representative made a comment during the discussions that went along the lines of ‘the council has determined that local authority works account for about 1% of county carbon emissions, and that they’ve done very well in reducing that’.
I was perhaps a little overly focused, but allowing for the good intentions the facilitators were driving forward it was hard to ignore that complacency. I stated that the county council was far more involved in carbon generation than simply the amount produced by its offices, its fleet of vans and streetlights.
I said that through council purchasing it has an ability to promote carbon reduction in third parties – someone else offered that the council also had a large persuader in the form of its pensions portfolio, a good point well made.
Most of all, to my biased mind anyway, the council has a vast amount of carbon control ability in the way it exercises its role as planning authority, and I said they were failing badly in this role.
As an example, building thousands of houses far away from the employment opportunities where the residents will work to pay for their mortgages, and where they will have to drive their cars from home to work and back. The council is responsible at least in part for the impact of these developments.
Even if such house building were made “sustainable” (such a bastardised word now) by mitigating transport options such as railway links, these houses could be Conditioned in the planning permission to require carbon reduction design.
Ground pump heating, triple glazing, enhanced insulation, rainwater harvesting and reuse as flushing water, the whole Passiv Haus concept. All of this could be done now, forced upon unwilling developers who seek only to build quickly and cheaply and move on.
I’m a little annoyed, perhaps you can feel that. To congratulate themselves on not printing every email, while pressing on with status quo of high carbon development is disingenuous at best.
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