This is a discussion document prepared in June 2022 for Councillor Elizabeth LLoyd, Cabinet lead for the Local Plan, Environment & Water Quality. It’s still work in action and frther suggestions are welcome
“Our planet’s natural systems are facing irreversible ‘tipping points’ beyond which they cannot repair. Scientific evidence shows this is being caused by human activity”.
Conservative Environment Network Manifesto
“I want you to act as you would in a crisis.
I want you to act as if our house is on fire. Because it is.”
Greta Thunberg, Davos 2019
“These young people are terrified of what is happening.
They are looking to us for leadership.”
GR, secondary school teacher and member of Havant Climate Alliance, September 2020
“The magnitude and rate of climate change and associated risks depend strongly on near-term mitigation and adaptation actions, and projected adverse impacts and related losses and damages escalate with every increment of global warming.”
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report March 2022
This paper addresses the fundamental change needed within the council and the borough that will enable the council to meaningfully address the climate emergency.
Local authorities have a crucial role to play in achieving the UK’s 2050 Net Zero greenhouse gas emissions target. Whilst local authorities are directly responsible for only 2-5 per cent of local emissions, through their policies and partnerships they have strong influence over more than a third of emissions in their area
Our paper has not included discussion on mitigating the impact of the climate emergency – although this will have to be addressed. As a low-lying local authority, close to the sea, large sections of the borough will be lost and a genuine and honest conversation with local people needs to happen as we will start to lose housing to the sea – and this includes developments which are still in the pipeline.
HAVANT CLIMATE ALLIANCE was launched in March 2019 to lobby Havant Borough Council to declare a climate emergency and put in place an action plan to achieve a meaningful reduction in local greenhouse gas emissions.
HCA is linked to Friends of the Earth and unites a growing band of individuals and organisations who share the concern that not enough is being done to tackle the climate emergency within the local area.
We bring a range of knowledge, specialisms and skills to the table and many of us are involved in a number of other environmental and social initiatives within the borough.
We are linked to Friends of the Earth nationally and to Ashden, both of which have produced excellent checklists of actions which need to be taken by local councils.
This is the link to the Friends of the Earth one: https://takeclimateaction.uk/download/climate-action-plan-councils
And this to the Ashden/FOE case studies of council action and toolkit.
The Conservative Environmental Network also has a toolkit of ideas for local authorities:
This is an unfinished document – it is the start of a way forward and, we hope, a collaboration for the future of our borough
ACTION 1: All council decisions and policies must place tackling the climate emergency at their heart. The environmental impact of every council decision and policy should be taken into account and evaluated and rejected if it contributes to an unjustifiable increase in carbon emissions. To ensure that this is being done in a measurable and reasonable way the council needs to understand the scope of its emissions both within its own operations and within the areas of its influence, for example planning, building standards, waste and recycling. From there it can start to make genuine changes which will focus around not just technological solutions but on reducing consumption of planetary resources and putting in place measures to achieve resilience to climate induced changes.
The council should start with meaningful measurement of local emissions and a borough wide policy on tackling the climate emergency. In order to hold itself to account the council should seek suitable training for its councillors – following the example of best practice within similar local authorities. Creating a portfolio post for environment and climate change is a step in the right direction – but only the start of a massive and sustained change needed within the borough.
The Council should also consider extra officer time to secure funding, design policies, share information and work towards achieving the goals
THE GOVERNMENT’S RECENTLY announced Gear Change is a huge opportunity for Havant to enable more walking and cycling. With revamped design standards, shared cycle and walking paths will no longer receive national government funding and design for movement must adhere to a hierarchy that puts pedestrians top. However HCA members are already hearing feedback that some of the measures will be impossible to implement in Havant.
Havant did not receive any of the recent Covid-19 transport-related funding allocations to improve access for walking and cycling which were allocated to and distributed by Hampshire County Council (the transport authority). This is despite strong support from local residents for improvements which were pinpointed on the Hampshire Covid-19 Active Travel Map in 2020. Centres such as Emsworth and Waterlooville for example would benefit from additional measures prioritising active travel giving priority to pedestrians first in line with the government’s new road user hierarchy. It is a myth that a change of priority from cars to pedestrians and cyclists causes a loss of economic activity in town centres – in fact the reverse is the case in almost all situations. An example is Lewes where there is a large and bustling pedestrian area which also provided access for cycles and disabled motorists.
As the planning authority Havant has a role in ensuring that new developments support active travel and that cycle routes and lanes meet the needs of users rather than being shoehorned in and changed about causing danger to cyclists such as has been the case at Saxon Corner. An urgent review of cycle routes is required. Transport and its associated areas has risen where other sectors such as energy consumption has fallen – there needs to be a genuine reduction in car travel which will in turn enable more space to be provided for people to move and travel safely around the borough on foot and by bike. Havant Climate Alliance members have seen first hand the value that people place on cycling through their involvement in supporting the running of Repair Cafe Havant’s Dr Bike sessions in Havant Park.
ACTION 2: We need to be bold in Havant in promoting active travel. This includes making walking and cycling the best options within new developments, delivering segregated cycle paths and joining up and expanding the cycle provision within the borough. Although this is a role within the highways authority (Hampshire) Havant should be bolder in seeking better funding to improve walking and cycling. It has borough councillors who are also county councillors to help make this case. Through the Havant Climate Alliance the council should engage with Cycle Havant and the emerging Solent Cycle Project which is promoting active travel across the borough.
TREES PLAY AN incredible role in combating climate chaos by removing and storing carbon emissions. Despite their importance, just 13% of the UK’s total land area has tree cover compared to an EU average of 35% (source: Friends of the Earth). Havant has a strong, experienced and committed Tree Warden network which works to promote, for public benefit, the conservation, protection and improvement of the environment through the planting, care, nurture and cultivation of trees in the Borough of Havant. The network has also measured and mapped the current tree cover in Havant Borough which is about 19% – above the UK national average but well below the European average – although this falls to less than 7% in a large part of Haying.
The Tree Warden network has noted that there are problems finding locations for tree planting because of the nature of the local landscape, utilities etc. More importantly existing tree sites are under threat from infill and wider development after the council’s decision to approve the use of Warblington Farm as a nitrate mitigation scheme. The erosion of individual wooded areas results not only in the loss of biodiversity but the erosion of any network of wildlife corridors creating fragmented and threatened local habitats.
According to the RSPB, the UK has failed to reach 17 out of 20 UN biodiversity targets agreed at the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in 2010 and on six of the targets the UK position has worsened. Its 2019 State of Nature report found 41% of UK species are declining and one in 10 is threatened with extinction.
In Havant there are more than 20 dedicated individual nature and conservation volunteering groups from the Friends of Hermitage Stream in Leigh Park, the Brook Meadows in Emsworth and the No Mow May campaign in Hayling in other parts of the borough. These groups work on a voluntary basis to support biodiversity and habitat renewal in their local areas – covering areas the size of grass verges to larger woodlands and stream habitats. However alone they are not enough to tackle the loss of biodiversity.
In Making Space for Nature: a review of England’s Wildlife Sites and Ecological Network by Professor Sir John Lawton said, “There is compelling evidence that England’s collection of wildlife sites are generally too small and too isolated, leading to declines in many of England’s characteristic species. With climate change, the situation is likely to get worse. This is bad news for wildlife but also bad news for us, because the damage to nature also means our natural environment is less able to provide the many services upon which we depend. We need more space for nature.” This quote is included in Havant Borough Council’s 2036 Local Plan Biodiversity Strategy – which stipulates that specific policies are required to ensure wildlife corridors are put in place – but to date this has not been done, even though planning permissions continue to be granted for housing under the local plan.
Havant Climate Alliance supports the Friends of the Earth campaign to double tree cover and help deliver carbon storage. Trees also have a general role to play in climate and weather resilience. In Havant we would like to see tree cover increased – rather than just a figure for trees planted with the goal of 30% tree cover across the borough by 2030 – with milestones along the way.
Tree coverage first and foremost should be about maintaining existing trees and enabling natural regeneration rather than the type of tree planting that is seen at the edges of new developments. Many of the 3,000 trees planted in a much publicised campaign by Portsmouth Water, as part of the Havant Thicket reservoir development have died. Tree Preservation Orders are difficult to obtain in the borough and there is no presumption in planning policy to support natural regeneration of woodland. This should be encouraged through a biodiversity policy that also supports the creation of wildflower areas and campaigns such as no-mow May which have been promoted locally in parts of the borough. While wildflowers are not significant carbon stores they support a wider biodiversity which provides food and a habitat for pollinators that are essential for our crops as well as ensuring a resilient natural environment and healthy food chain in the face of climate change.
There has been a significant increase in paving of front gardens in recent years to allow additional off-road parking resulting in the loss of front garden biodiversity. Where possible a re-greening of these areas should be considered and at the very least the council should ensure that these new hard surfaces are porous to reduce storm surges and releases of untreated sewage into the sea.
ACTION 3: Set an ambitious target for 30% tree cover across the borough by 2030, set interim tree planting targets to monitor and ensure that tree planting and natural regeneration is happening on the scale to support this. Ensure that new developments also have a 30% tree canopy cover. This can include community orchards and fruiting hedgerows. Develop a stronger and equal working relationship with the Havant Borough Tree Wardens to develop a tree strategy that cuts across council policy making rather than making trees the remit of one tree officer. Identify spare council land where tree planting can take place, support schools and colleges and larger employers to do the same. Follow the examples of neighboring local authorities such as Chichester where a wildlife corridor has been created along the east of the River Ems and develop an ambitious network of wildlife and biodiversity corridors by joining up and expanding the work and embed this clearly and immediately into the local plan.
WITHIN THE AREAS of energy production and consumption Havant Borough Council has a real opportunity to achieve carbon reductions. A new energy strategy is being developed for the council area and the lessons of the previous one should be learnt – in that the new strategy should be published with real figures as well as percentages to show that carbon savings are meaningful and measurable. The focus for carbon emission reduction should be on transport and building emissions,.
Havant Borough should strive to have better carbon emission reductions than that mandated by the national government.
Improvements in building insulation in the borough should aim at achieving the borough target emissions reductions. Agreements should be made with developers to use higher energy efficiency standards in the borough.
As mentioned, new housing developments should be located and have supporting infrastructure to encourage cycling (Dutch system), walking, low carbon public transport, energy efficiency and low carbon energy use. New developments should adhere to the hierarchy of travel: Walking first, cycling then public transport, then private car.
ACTION 4: Havant Borough Council should actively look at encouraging significant renewable energy projects in the borough. This would include appropriately sited wind farms, tidal energy projects and solar farms. New housing should include solar panels. Solar (pv. and thermal) requires more emphasis as Havant is close to the sunniest part of the UK. and solar is the cheapest and quickest renewable to install..
Havant Borough Council itself should ensure its energy supply for its offices and operations – including those operated on its behalf – is from a non-fossil fuel source. Fossil fuel extraction should be banned in the borough.
The council should monitor EV uptake in the borough and work to be sure sufficient charging infrastructure is available to support those EVs and all Havant Borough Council vehicles should be electric by the end of the strategy time period with the appropriate supporting charging infrastructure at all HBC sites.
Although outside its immediate remit it should be noted that renewable energy is an attractive green business and one that should be encouraged into the borough at a time when many people are losing their jobs.
THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC has shown us that fast change is possible within policies and behaviour when people are faced by an emergency and that people are prepared to make sacrifices for the greater good. Climate change is one such emergency, yet often people fail to take action because they feel overwhelmed or simply unaware of the challenge. The borough council must engage the local community to help tackle climate change and help its residents understand the dangers of climate change and the simple actions to cut their individual carbon footprints.
There is already huge concern from the public. A March 2022 Gallup poll shows the public to be more concerned about environmental protection than economic growth, with similar findings from an EDF/IPSOS survey. The think tank Onward poll in April 2022 showed that the Government stood to lose well over one million votes if the Net Zero target was to be scrapped.
The rising cost of fuel and current inflation rates are also likely to drive behaviour change and make residents more willing to switch to energy-saving options.
There is an opportunity to involve the local community in developing climate action – such as within Portsmouth and other local authorities. These can be in the form of citizen’s assemblies and at the very least should encourage more and formalised and meaningful consultation with the local community
ACTION 5: The council should allocate a budget and officer time to implementing a meaningful communication campaign with its local residents and also start by demonstrating clear carbon reduction strategies within the council itself – for example by discouraging unnecessary car travel, publicising a cycle mileage scheme on parity with any car mileage payments and so on.
The council campaign should focus on avoiding unnecessary consumption of planetary resources “for the greater good”. Leaflets, posters, articles in the local press and Serving You and information on the HBC website are a first step. Training for community leaders, businesses and climate champions is important. Use events like Havant Borough Big Green Week, tree planting, the Repair Cafe and beach cleaning as springboards for wider conversations around tackling climate change.
Havant Borough Council should work with businesses, citizens, schools, community groups and public bodies to identify the opportunities that will enable transition to a zero-carbon economy. HBC should encourage the Business Hub to facilitate appropriate training, showing how businesses can set targets and take action to reduce their carbon footprint.
Briefing prepared by Havant Climate Alliance members and associates 2022