Chichester is Average - Letter from Sarah Sharp
3 October 2019
Dear Local Media in Chichester
Chichester is Average
The Chichester 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. Chichester particularly needs to do much better on increasing renewable energy and increasing waste recycling.*
I am in receipt of embargoed information from Friends of the Earth. FoE who have analysed the work that each Local Authority is undertaking to tackle climate change.
My comment as a newly elected Green Party Councillor
Since being elected in May I am working as hard and as much as I can to bring more of an environmental input into the workings of the local authorities. I am working with my colleagues in the Lib Dems and Selsey Alliance and Labour parties to change the conversation in the room. There is a new openness to Green issues and we have seen the setting up of a new Environment Panel at the District Council. However this panel is only meeting for its second time since May this Friday. There is a huge amount to do and I am frustrated by lack of progress. I have put motions to the council last week on various environmental measures.
We were also one of the councils that received a letter from Client Earth pushing us to look at bringing carbon reduction targets and zero carbon homes into our new Local Plan. This letter is now being debated (although there has been a reluctance to invite Client Earth to the table to help support us). We are working, I hope, instead with the toolkit soon to be released by the Local Government Association about what to do in a climate emergency.
There is a willingness now to consider these issues but often a lack of funding and officer resources is holding us back.
Regarding our high emissions from Transport: Our reliance on the private car is a key problem we need to work on with the County Council. Better and more buses, a vastly improved cycle network and less emphasis on more road building (which only brings more cars) are key. How does building roads under or over the railway or bypasses through woodland fit with anyone's awareness that there is a climate emergency and a huge loss in biodiversity.
CDC has appointed consultants who are working on putting together a network of cycle routes. But the "Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan" when finished will only be a "sketchy" plan of where we need more routes. This needs to be backed by funding into planning these routes in detail and then building them. We are a long way off being able to deliver this network to enable modal shift.
This FoE report is released just before the next big Extinction Rebellion Event in London that I am sure many Chichester residents will be attending. In order to respond to this enthusiasm and harness this energy I am suggesting the need for a Climate Change Commission to bring together the councils, BID, our University and College and NHS as well as representatives of XR and volunteers from Eco Chi, Transition Chichester and residents.
We need to work together on this. Councils alone cannot solve climate change. A Commission would start a more open dialogue between us and take public interest into this area to a constructive level.
On Friday morning I will be at the second meeting of the Environment Panel and we will be discussing considering moving to a Green Energy supplier, reviewing food waste recycling, tree planting, carbon offset fund, and sustainable transport among other matters.
At City level we have already changed to a renewable energy supplier, we are upgrading a window in our listed building with thermally efficient glazing,we are looking into the feasibility of wildflower planting at Brewery Field.
Regarding solar panels - we have some on both the City Council and East Pallant House but we clearly need to put in more and investigate other sources of renewable energy locally - tide, wind, waste to energy.... as well as doing more retro fitting of our older housing stock as a matter of urgency. This will mean change in the district, produce more green jobs and lead us to having warmer homes that will be cheaper to heat.
There is progress but it just needs to be a lot faster to reach zero carbon by any of the dates set by Government (2050) or the councils let alone Extinction Rebellion (2025).
Sarah, City and District Councillor for Chichester South
P.S. I will be in a Local Plan meeting from 9.30 am this morning but should you wish to ask questions, I will be free from about 4 pm.