Environment Forum with Anthony Browne MP 8 October

Anthony Browne held another Environment  Forum on 8 October, which several 2G3S members attended.  See the notes on the meeting here.

If you would like to be kept up to date with details of forthcoming Environment Forums (he has offered to do them quarterly), email us at greengroupssss@gmail.com with the  heading ‘Anthony Browne’.

Have your say on new Planning Laws (by 29 October)

Readers may know that the government is proposing radical changes to planning laws which will mean that individuals, and even councils, will have less opportunity to comment on proposals.

2G3S supporter and planning expert Anthony Cooper wrote a timely letter about this to The Cambridge Independent, much of which we reproduce below:

           The government proposes to “speed up” and “streamline” the planning system by replacing it with a new regime altogether.  They believe that the present system is an obstacle to the delivery of new homes. They are mistaken.  There is plenty of land with permission for building already and most applications for planning permission receive consent.  As we rely upon the market to deliver new homes it is the market which determines when and where those new homes are built.  If the market is slow in delivering new homes it is for commercial reasons.

            Everyone should be concerned at the way the government proposes to change the planning system.  Although the public will still have a say, albeit a rather limited one in the drawing up of new district plans, the scope of the public to comment on and object to specific planning applications will be severely limited and in some circumstances denied altogether.  Even our elected local representatives could be cut out of the process.  In those cases the first thing a houseowner would know about something going on next door would be the arrival of the builders.

            The government is consulting on their ideas and your readers have until the end of this month to make their views known.  The government’s proposals are set out in a White Paper called “Planning for the Future” and can be accessed online here.

The consultation document is available here.  The consultation is open until 11.45 pm on Thursday 29 October.

Helping us to use less plastic

Introducing the Bristol-based campaigning group City to Sea , ‘an environmental organisation on a mission to stop plastic pollution.’  They aim to do serious things in a fun way.

Recent campaigns have included advice on reusables during the Covid pandemic; stopping PPE plastic pollution; plastic-free cotton buds and period products; and ‘Refill’, ‘an award-winning campaign’ to make it easier to reuse and refill water bottles, coffee cups, lunchboxes, groceries, cleaning products and toiletries.

At the foot of the main page linked to above you can sign up for their newsletter, which they describe as ‘a monthly dose of optimism’.

New Report Reveals How Plastic Polluters Have Avoided Regulation Worldwide for Decades

There is an increasing awareness that to combat climate change we should be moving away from fossil fuels.  So the oil companies are switching from fuel production to plastic production.  However, this report is not about the ever-expanding petro-chemical industry that is pumping more and more plastic into the world.  Instead it shows how the largest users of plastic such as Coca-Cola, Colgate-Palmolive and Unilever deploy tactics to ensure that they evade accountability for their pollution.

According to Changing Markets Foundation, the investigations found:

  • Big Plastic is a well-organized network of organizations that fight against proven solutions to the plastic pollution crisis through similar tactics across the world
  • Voluntary commitments and group initiatives from the ten biggest plastic polluters are used to distract consumers and governments, enabling polluters to continue with business as usual
  • Corporations work behind the scenes to delay and derail legislation and ensure they can continue flooding the world with cheap, disposable plastic packaging
  • Plastic producers have co-opted the Covid-19 pandemic and capitalized on people’s fear to call for regulatory rollbacks and delays on environmental legislation

Planning for Net Zero

2G3S supporter Anthony Cooper has written a timely and very comprehensive paper entitled ‘Planning for Net Zero’ which you can read here (note the first page is intentionally blank)

Topics covered include:

Governance

The Climate Change Act

Sustainable Development

Planning

Population

Housing

Transport

Water Supply, Flooding and Waste Disposal

Atmospheric Pollution

Commerce and Industry

Energy

Agriculture, Horticulture, Forestry and Fishing

Conservation and Heritage

People

Green Belts

Defence

Where do we go from here?

Anthony is a retired government legal adviser (Treasury Solicitor’s Dept and Department of Trade & Industry) and  has taken a keen interest in town planning and environmental issues for many years.  He served on the National Committee of CPRE in the 1990s and has been an active member of Cambridge, Past, Present and Future (formerly the Cambridge Preservation Society) for 30 years.  He currently serves on the society’s Planning Committee.

Please note that the views expressed in Anthony’s paper are  personal and do not necessarily represent those of 2G3S as a whole.

If you wish to comment on Anthony’s paper, you can reach him via 2G3S.   Email us at greengroupssss@gmail.com, with the heading ‘Cooper Net Zero paper’.

 

Film Review: Plastic Wars

Plastic Wars – Another View on Single Use Plastics

Review by Chris Cooper

In May we reported on the film ‘The Story of Plastic’ (see the notes on the film here).

Since then, a new film has been released, ‘Plastic Wars’.  In some respects it is a better report; shorter, slightly less pessimistic, more focused on the root cause, and readily available on YouTube

 

Plastic Wars looks specifically at the motivation and tactics of the petrochemical industry over the past forty years.  As renewable energy sources become more available, the industry is looking to switch uses of its raw materials, oil and gas, to the production of plastics.

 

In the 1980’s the first public awareness of the problem of plastics waste began, and some US states threatened to ban plastic packaging.  The industry’s response was:

  1. Advertise the virtues of plastic
  2. Promote the concept of recycling

1 was successful if unhelpful; 2 was a blind alley already secretly acknowledged by the industry.  Sorting by chemical type was successfully prototyped in the 1990’s then abandoned, as only the plastic in plastic bottles had any commercial value, the other 90% ending up in landfill.  Why this should be was not fully explained.  Partly, packaging manufacturers were producing products made of multiple types of plastic which could not be separated, but one suspects that the petrochemical industry was also undercutting the price of recycled raw materials.

 

At that time, plastic identification symbols were put on packaging, but this was simply a public relations ploy to give people some confidence in the recycling process.

 

Exporting waste to the Far East for processing has only exacerbated the problem of unregulated dumping, especially since China closed the door to imports and trade switched to countries with more lax regulations.  The overspill is now finding its way into the oceans in a big way.

 

Once again the petrochemical industry is promoting recycling while at the same time engaging in a massive plastics manufacturing investment, which makes no sense if recycling was a viable option.

 

What to do?

While both films point to the petrochemical industry as the problem, they tend to take the line that this is the only point where pressure can be applied.  They recognise that the whole industry is a supply chain of many players, raw materials producers, packaging manufacturers, packaging users, packaged products retailers, consumers, waste collection and (the missing link) waste re-processers feeding back to the packaging manufacturers.  If this was working properly, the petrochemical industry would only be topping up any raw materials lost in the process.

 

However, as with any supply chain, the law of supply and demand applies.  If restrictions are applied at any point, by regulation or public demand, all stages of the process should be similarly restricted.  We as consumers have the power to let the shops know what we think, by complaining or just not buying.

 

Also, be aware of industry hype from those whose only interest is selling oil.  As with most big corporate organisations, the need for self-preservation will outweigh any moral or communal duty.

 

The Time is Now meeting with Anthony Browne 29 June 2020

Overall around 14,000 people signed up to the lobby nationally, and up to 270 MPs held meetings throughout the week.  The mass lobby had been arranged at fairly short notice so that it could precede the Chancellor’s statement early this month; so all in all an amazing effort by all concerned.

We had our meeting with S Cambs MP Anthony Browne on Monday 29 June.  There were 40 people at the Zoom meeting, of whom about a quarter were 2G3S newsletter subscribers – well done everyone!

Mr Browne had asked for questions to be presubmitted; people could also submit questions on the day via the ‘Chat’ facility.  He read the questions out himself and managed to get through 20 questions in the hour he had allocated.  Inevitably there were several questions that were not reached, including all the follow-up questions.

Sam Hall, Director of the Conservative Environmental Network, was also present and gave some supplementary answers.

A couple of us took notes and you can read our full report, as accurate as we can make it, below.  How well or satisfactorily Mr Browne answered the questions is for you to decide.

TTIN SCambs Q&A Anthony Browne 29.6.20docx

 

Green Alliance Blueprint for a resilient economy

The reports are coming thick and fast now!  See the Green Alliance Blueprint for a resilient economy, published 29 June, here.

They say:

“We set out the five essential building blocks that would support new long term employment opportunities, thriving businesses and a healthier, fairer society, whilst protecting against the potentially devastating future impacts of climate change and nature’s decline:

1. Invest in net zero infrastructure
2. Restore nature
3. Stop wasting valuable resources
4. Ensure clean air and healthy places
5. Make the recovery fair