Eden could be front runner in race to prevent climate chaos

Date: Tuesday 30th October 2018

Sir, The call from Alan Barr (Herald, 20th October) for moving beyond protest about the masterplan to developing a shared vision and plan for Penrith that builds a zero-carbon community is most welcome.

Of course, people can and should be taking action on a personal level to reduce their carbon impact, but it is easy to feel powerless, or even absolved of responsibility, if the authorities — local and national — are failing to respond to the enormity of the challenge posed by climate breakdown.

We should demand that Eden District Council follows the lead of other authorities around the country by basing its plans for Penrith on the need to increase environmental sustainability and reduce CO2 emissions.

North West Bicester has planned a development of 6,000 homes, even bigger than the proposals for Penrith. However, this will be zero carbon development through incorporation of renewable energy, highly energy efficient homes, sustainable transport provision and public spaces that include allotments. Even the construction of this development is planned to produce zero waste to landfill.

In Stroud, the district council has worked with private homeowners and social housing providers in a programme of home insulation, energy efficiency and renewable energy provision that reduced the district’s CO2 emissions by 3,412 tonnes in just three years. Thus, Stroud District Council can claim the status of Britain’s first carbon neutral local authority.

Aberdare is aiming to be the UK’s first low carbon town by improving the energy efficiency of some 40,000 existing homes. The scheme, located in a coal mining area once at the heart of fossil fuel production, is expected to reduce CO2 emissions by 3,000 tonnes per year by the time the first 1,500 houses are converted.

The Penrith masterplan emphasises the need for long-term employment opportunities. But it fails to recognise the prospects of green technologies which are among the fastest growing industrial sectors in the world. It does not even mention the need for electric vehicle infrastructure.

The benefits of energy efficiency and carbon reduction also extend to fuel poverty. In Aberdare, the inclusion of combined heat and power systems is projected to save a family of four almost £250 a year on utility bills. And sustainable transport planning should also improve public health, through the obvious benefits of increased walking and cycling and the air quality improvement from reduced vehicle emissions.

Stephen Macaulay’s letter (Herald, 20th October) calling for “a considered debate about the future of the town” is important. We need dialogue and I would hope that a fundamental objective of environmental sustainability would not be in dispute.

Every major political party in the UK acknowledges the urgency of action to address climate change. Eden District Council’s own Policy ENV6 states an underlying principle of “promoting a low carbon economy”.

Eden District Council has the potential to be among the front runners in the race to prevent climate chaos. We should demand nothing less. Yours etc,

ALI ROSS

(Secretary, Penrith and Eden Green Party)

By email