Our environmental pledge
By David Banks
The Liberal Democrats are committed to improving the environmental situation here in Bucks and every policy is underpinned by our love for nature and our ambition to vastly improve our environment. This is fundamental and it is ambitious. It must remain. We must constantly look to innovate, and we must lead the charge to protect the county with the science and action available to us.
It isn't lip service. We are already change champions.
Carol is fighting to have an environmental sub committee on the Community Boards so that it ups the game in the minds of even the reluctant councillors.
I am one of the keen naturalists on the Burnham Beeches Consultative Group.
Anna is working hard on her Parish Council to bring wildflowers to the verges to assist the bee species who are in sharp decline.
Most of our candidates have switched to electric cars, bicycles and shoe leather to move about our wards. Reducing the carbon footprint starts at home.
The Bucks Climate Action Pledge
Each of the candidates in South Bucks have taken the Bucks Climate Action Pledge. We are absolutely delighted to do so, as our allegiance will help us to be better informed on the growing ways that we can make an impact to biodiversity and carbon neutrality. As Councillors, it is right that we be held to account, and this is a fast moving area of policy that looks set to change considerably over the next few years. We want to be at the forefront of policy and action.
The Environmental Department of Bucks Council is impressive, and far ahead of many councils. It's all the more impressive when you consider the lack of investment by the Conservatives. We would seek to increase that budget to allow the environmental projects to be delivered and the impact maximised. I find it difficult to see a team with such drive and knowledge leading in so many policy areas, with the Conservative's elected officials dragging behind like a sea anchor, holding back a dynamic vision to achieve so much for our environment.
I pose some questions that need some answers:
- Why are we not achieving our carbon neutrality far sooner?
Other local authorities have been really ambitious with their date to reach carbon neutrality, and we do not understand, with the lack of heavy industry, why we cannot do so sooner. We know that County policy could influence as much as 40 per cent of emissions. It's time when setting the budget and making the financial appraisals on delivery, for a complete environmental audit to be conducted too. The two matters are inextricably linked.
- Why have we seen an erosion of the Green Belt?
The Conservatives have claimed to protect the green belt, but when reviewing South Bucks' Local Plan the Inspectors were dubious as to the offering up of Green Belt for commercial use in Dorney, pointing to it undermining the principles of protecting it.
We will protect the green belt and go further to develop wild belt.
If there is one thing that the pandemic has done, it's shown the value of green space, particularly around our urban centres. Many of those green spaces have been under a serious threat this year from the sheer numbers of visitors. We need more spaces and would look to build a new Country Park to serve the North of the County. These green spaces have a key role in our wellbeing, and in encouraging biodiversity across the county.
- Why are we not tackling air quality more actively?
Policy has not been devised to impact on air quality. By way of example, the lack of school buses and buses have forced parents into their cars. We could be so much better at thinking out the impact of policy and driving out active transport strategies which leave the cars behind. It has felt like Parish Councils have led the way on this but it should have been Councillors.
- Why aren't more trees being planted?
We will plant more trees than the Tories by planting 150,000 a year and protecting more of those that are mature already. It is not just a numbers game, the trees need to be the species in the right place and they need to be the trees that fit the habitat, sequestrate enough carbon, and enhance biodiversity. We have to bear in mind to that up to 90 per cent of our ash trees may die in a very short timescale so we are up against it as they were a very good source of carbon storage. Oak trees are also currently under threat and most horse chestnut trees will be dead within twenty years. We will utilise the council's field by field survey of habitats to inform the deployment of the new plantations and rewilded areas to maximise our impact.
- Why isn't there a better electric car infrastracture?
We will put charging points in all the council car parks by 2025.
- Why has the recycling services been degraded in recent times?
Recycling is a fundamental service and we will resume a 7 day a week service and ensure that we are in the top ten councils for recycling in the country. There will also be a no fee community recycling scheme. We will also stop charging for garden waste in 2024.
- Why does Bucks invest in fossil fuels?
Where the Council has investment in fossil fuel companies, we will instruct the investors to disinvest in those corporations.
- Can we encourage bees in the county?
The plight of bees is a pressing concern and verges can play a very important role in increasing their numbers and in providing an excellent habitat for other species. We need to ensure that the species of flowers are appropriate to the area so as not to impact on any locally species that might be frail and squeezed out.
There are so many pressing environmental challenges…
We are very keen to hear about your environmental projects and anything you might be doing to help biodiversity and anything which helps Bucks be a better place for us all to live in. Having a green and richly biodiverse county helps our health and well being and sets up a legacy for our children and their children. Contact us on…