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Statement for the DDC Overview and Scrutiny Committee – Meeting of 18th January 2021.

Regarding Agenda item 14 - DDC Climate Change Strategy.

From : Green Party nominee on DDC Climate Change Working Group, Sarah Gleave / Mike Eddy job share.

In 2021, especially during the sickness and impoverishment of the pandemic, action to deal with the Climate and Ecological crisis is not just a desirable add-on, to trim or jettison, or use for public relations in the months before a county election. It an intrinsic and essential means of building back better and fairer post-covid to resolve East Kent’s worsening social injustices. As such, it is eminently worth serious investment, councils should not ignore their capacity to borrow especially when interest rates are so low, and the investment in infra structure and jobs will pay dividends for the local economy and the climate.

We thank DDC most sincerely for inviting Green Party Nominee to work with the CCWG in Nov 2019. We have done our very best to contribute constructively at all the 6 meetings, and used all the opportunities to feedback to officers + Cabinet with specifics. (DDC is blessed with remarkably able officers in this area, who we heartily applaud). We have put the case for strong, locally appropriate, climate action on all occasions provided, and have been delighted to hear, in CCWG meetings, the points of view of Climate Justice, The Woodland Trust, The Kent Low Emissions Strategy, Bureau Veritas (on air pollution issues), and Community Energy South, on solar electricity to feed the rail service.

The scale of the problem of poor unhealthy housing in aging towns, is described in https://theconversation.com/the-uk-has-some-of-the-least-energy-efficient-housing-in-europe-heres-how-to-fix-this-151609

We would argue both for retro-fitting to a higher standard than EPC band C, and for regulation to make builders, build social housing to zero carbon standards.

Promises on environmental enhancement (10- 13%), if not backed up by regulations insisting on independent, honest, robust, before-and-after measurements conducted on the ground will contribute to a furthering of the rapidly dissolving trust in local and central government. National bodies (e.g. Wildlife Trusts) who’ve worked with government on the emerging Environment Bill, are categorical on this subject. We have suggested that all developments of over 15 dwellings should need mandatory EIA (Environmental Impact Assessments.) We have put the case for recruitment of more planning enforcement officers of 2 sorts, to work on a) environmental, biodiversity, tree retention and planting promises, and to work on b) promises of low / zero carbon building. Cheap, google-map reports submitted by big developers (the pipers who call the tune) are rightly distrusted by the public.

Friends of the Earth, LGA, Centre for Sustainable Energy with T&CPA, and Zero Carbon Britain all put the case for participatory democratic on-going mechanisms being needed so that communities, at ward and village level, and citizens, can be empowered to amend and enhance Local Action Plans for carbon reduction. These national groups say top-down imposition of rapid change won’t resolve the existential crisis by 2030 / 2050. A new independent local climate and ecological forum of various community and campaign groups across the district is being formed and a request has been tabled for full council (27th Jan) asking DDC to accept a brief report from this forum on a quarterly basis, each report to feedback to council on effectiveness of DDC’s Climate Change strategy + Action plan.

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