The Local Plan – talk by Brian Milnes on 8 February 2021

Brian Milnes, District Councillor for Sawston, gave a most interesting talk about the Local Plan, explaining why it is important to everyone in the district.

Brian explained that the Local Plan sits within the National Planning Policy Framework in England, which covers housing, business, economic development, transport and the natural environment.  The council is required through the local plan to identify its housing needs for the next five years, and identify sufficient sites to meet those needs (five year supply).  If the council does not have an approved Local Plan with sufficient five year supply in place, it can lose control over where planning permission is granted, as the Secretary of State can intervene.  This can mean building being approved in locations that the council would not have otherwise supported.  National policy states there should be a presumption in favour of sustainable development.  A new white paper called “Planning for the future” outlines ambitions of the Government for the construction of 300,000 new homes per year.

To complement The Local Plan, communities can also develop a Neighbourhood Plan and a Village Design Guide.

Cambridge City Council and South Cambridgeshire District Council are producing a joint Local Plan for the two areas – referred to as Greater Cambridge.  The Local Plan takes a view of the next twenty years, but is updated every five years.  It covers issues such as the Green Belt, utilities (such as water), infrastructure and transport.  Work on the Greater Cambridge Local Plan started in Spring 2019 and is expected to be completed by Spring 2024.

Three growth projections for the area have been calculated, which generate the potential need for between 9,000 – 26,000 new homes to be built in the next five year period.  The potential to meet these projected housing requirements are being assessed in eight strategic location options.

The Local Plan must ensure sustainable development so options are being evaluated against eight priority themes including Climate Change and Wellbeing and Social inclusion.  Specialist independent reports have been commissioned to help evaluate the eight locations, such as the Integrated Water Management Study and Implications for Carbon Emissions study.  Some of these studies have already been published and are available online.

There are multiple opportunities to be involved in the consultation processes whilst the plan is being developed.  The next stage of consultation on the preferred options is due Summer/Autumn 2021.

For more information see these webinar presentation slides prepared last autumn.


(With thanks to Jane Chisholm)



Upcoming dates 2021

For your diaries, our proposed dates for 2021 are these, with a mixture of planning meetings and events or activities. It’s likely that all will be virtual for a while, of course. Check our Facebook page for information nearer the time.

Monday 8th February

Thursday 11th March

Thursday 8th April

Monday 10th May

Monday 7th June

Thursday 8th July

Thursday 12th August

Monday 6th September

Monday 11th October

Thursday 4th November

Thursday 2nd December (Annual Open Meeting)

Events we hope to arrange this year include finding out about local water supply, the Local Plan, holding a litter pick and running a fruit and veg swap on weekend dates, and arranging something around the COP26 in November (the international environmental conference that the UK is hosting in Glasgow). Various other ideas were discussed in our planning, so watch this space. We may also add in repair cafes or outdoor events when it is safe to do so.

The supply of water will be a limiting factor in the development of this area. It is discussed in the draft Greater Cambridge Local Plan. Our aquifers suffer from over-extraction for agriculture and to supply all the houses in the area, and it is important that we protect the quality of our chalk streams. There is a newly-formed group, Friends of the River Cam, and they have a very good video on YouTube called Saving the River Cam, by Feargal Sharkey.

We hope to arrange a date for the collection of old computer equipment for re-use or recycling, through a local contact. So don’t throw out your old laptops and cables, they can be useful to others  – not least the children who are having to stay at home during the pandemic but haven’t the means to study online.

A few things to do while you’re locked in again:

Try and shop locally rather than swelling the supermarket coffers if you can. You’ll save petrol, packaging, and keep local shops going.

At some date in February our MP’s next Environmental Forum is to be held, so if you are interested in attending do keep an eye on his website ( or his Facebook page so you can register.  If you have a question you can ask it at the Forum or submit it in advance.  It is helpful to us if you can also send a copy to us at the usual address (moc.l1620737770iamg@1620737770ssssp1620737770uorgn1620737770eerg1620737770 )

You may have seen that Chris Packham has launched a petition to stop HS2 (HS2 petition will find it on Google). The case for it is weakened as more people will continue to work from home longer-term, at least some days a week (same as for the Busway closer to home…). If you want more information about the damage to nature before you sign, see the Woodland Trust’s website.

If you are interested in green matters and the environment, send an email to moc.l1620737770iamg@1620737770ssssp1620737770uorgn1620737770eerg1620737770 to sign up for our newsletter, ask a question,  or to join in any of our meetings. Also see our Facebook page.

Helen Hale

Annual Open Meeting 7 December 2020 – report

2G3S Annual Open Meeting 7 December 2020 – by Zoom

16 people present, with 4 apologies.  Claire Lord chaired.

Review of 2020

2 Conversation Evenings in person (Natural Disasters; Eco-friendly gardening); 3 by Zoom (Cook stoves in Africa; Extinction Rebellion; Sustainable Diet).  Better attendance in person, although the Zoom meetings still averaged around 15 people.

1 Repair Café, in Great Shelford at the end of February.  Held jointly with GS Free Church who ran a Swish (high-quality clothes swap) at the same time.  Very successful with nearly 70 items seen and 12 repairers present – over 50% items repaired.

Other Events: Open Eco home; guided nature walks; fruit and veg swap; ‘The Story of Plastic’ online film show and discussion.

Campaigns: SE Busway proposals; Greater Cambridge Green Infrastructure survey.  Traffic surveys in Great Shelford.  Involvement with 4 local bids to South Cambridgeshire’s Zero Carbon grant scheme, all successful.  Major representation at MP Anthony Browne’s Zoom calls as part of The Time Is Now campaign and subsequently.

Plans for 2021

Agreed to meet every month and alternate planning meetings with events; probably all on Mondays or Thursdays.

Conversation Evenings: It was thought that we should ensure conversation evenings include what actions we can take locally in our community or as individuals, and pick events that will be attractive more widely in the community.

Agreement of themes: Water, local planning issues and possibly some of the strands in the government’s 10-point plan on climate change, eg green public transport, cycling and walking; greener buildings; protecting our natural environment.

Other events considered: cycle rides; nature walks; another Wandlebury event; virtual Repair Café (like Gardeners’ Question Time?)


Convenor: Claire Lord

Co-chairs: Sophi Berridge, Peter Fane

Treasurer: Chris Cooper

Meeting notes: Jane Chisholm, Helen Hale

Publicity: Beth Atkin (social media), Helen Hale (village magazines), Linda Whitebread (newsletter and website)

Repair Cafés: Chris Cooper, Yasmin Emerson

Greener Sawston rep: Yasmin Emerson

You can contact any of us at moc.l1620737770iamg@1620737770ssssp1620737770uorgn1620737770eerg1620737770 – say who the email is for and it will be forwarded.

Sustainable Dietary Choices

In a talk on 23 November, Duncan Catchpole* ran through his ‘Top 10’ food sustainability considerations:

  • Try to eat less meat and dairy. Not just for animal welfare and carbon emissions: animals are fed more food than they produce for human consumption, so inefficient.  Growing animal feed is also a major cause of deforestation.
  • Minimise food waste: food waste alone causes 10% of greenhouse gases. Needing to feed the growing world population is seen as a justification for more intensive food production – but we should have enough anyway: a third of food currently produced is wasted (not just by consumers – there is systemic waste in food chains).
  • Look out for sustainable production methods: eg organic, biodynamic, permaculture – these help look after the long-term quality of our soil.
  • Healthy eating: ‘5 a Day’ still a good maxim, both for your health and resulting impact on resources such as NHS. And is your diet sustainable in 3 main ways: environmentally, socially and economically?
  • Consider food miles: energy, emissions, refrigeration costs.
  • Avoid highly processed food: commodification of food leading to lower production standards, long supply chains, reduction in nutritional value.
  • Avoid big corporates: their motive is profit, not keeping people fed and healthy. They push out small, local providers.
  • Seasonal food: eat what is available each season.
  • Sustainable Fish: 85% of global fish stocks now depleted. Look for Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) endorsement .
  • Packaging: try to buy food with minimum packaging, or where you can, refill containers. (Green Weigh just opened in Sawston; also Organic Health in Hauxton; Full Circle and Arjuna shops in Cambridge; and of course the various local organic veg box companies, including Duncan’s own: Cambridge Organic.  See below for details).


*Duncan Catchpole is the founder and owner of Cambridge Organic (formerly Cambridge Organic Food Company, or COFCO) and has over twenty years’ experience in the sustainable food and drink sector.  He is a founding committee member of Cambridge Sustainable Food and since its inception has been leading CSF’s headline project of creating a Sustainable Food Hub for Cambridge – a local network of food growers, producers, and consumers.

Address/contact details of local no-waste shops as at November 2020  Contact the shops to see what online / delivery / click and collect facilities are currently available.

Green Weigh 60 High Street, Sawston, Cambridge CB22 3BG  tel 01223 971240  (Website pending:  Open Tue – Fri 9 – 5, Sat 9 – 2.30.

Organic Health: 87 Church Rd, Hauxton, Cambridge CB22 5HS  tel 01223 870101  No website or email.  Current opening times: Fri 1 – 5, Sat 9.30 – 12 and 1 – 5

Arjuna Wholefoods 12 Mill Road Cambridge CB1 2AD  tel 01223 364745   Open Mon – Sat 9.30 – 6.00.

Full Circle: 9 Norfolk Street Cambridge CB1 2LD  tel 01223 353158   Open Tues – Sat 10 – 5; Sunday 10 – 4.

Cambridge Organic  (Formerly Cambridge Organic Food Company) box delivery service tel: 01223 873300


Extinction Rebellion Conversation Evening 26 October 2020 – Report

from Linda Whitebread

Cambridge XR members Jenny and Derek Langley talked to us about Extinction Rebellion and answered questions.  They stressed the need to act now on the threats to life on earth; the usual democratic means (via Parliament, petitions, letters, demonstrations etc) are not working quickly enough.

Key XR principles:

  • Non violent
  • Respect for other people even if you disagree with them
  • Acceptance of responsibility for the consequences of your actions
  • Shared mission to create a world safe for everyone: respectful, compassionate, sustainable, equable, connected
  • No alcohol, no drugs
  • No shame, no blame
  • Decisions decentralised and ideally reached by consensus

(LW: this is a personal take on what was said: to see a full list of XR principles and values visit their website)

Afterwards Jenny sent us the following information and follow-up links:

Science/Info about Climate and Ecological Crisis

Science and biodiversity loss – there is loads online and I’d point you towards the XR ‘Heading for Extinction and what to do about it’ (Larch Maxey talk on YouTube).

Cambridge Climate lecture series   (Especially the second one 21st Feb 2019 Professor Schellnhuber  ‘2100: A Climate-Space Odyssey’ – a really good overview of the climate science)

WWF Living Planet Report 2020

Absolute Zero. A collaborative research programme led by Julian Allwood, Professor of Engineering and the Environment at Cambridge, aims to cut the UK’s emissions by 2050 by placing resource efficiency at the heart of future industrial strategy. Very good on practical aspects of what has to be done to achieve zero carbon by 2050.

Extinction Rebellion – useful websites

Cambridge XR   including divestment campaign

Sign-up for newsletters: (bottom of page)

Facebook page

Rebellion Academy: (online training and info for lots of roles in XR)

The only regular action that is happening in Cambridge at the moment is Silent Rebellion, a meditative action, online 9.30 and at Christ’s Pieces 11.30 every Saturday, organised by the Buddhist Affinity Group.  They are keen to spread Silent Rebellion – you could start one of your own!

Jenny Langley



Greenpeace ‘Speaker Shorts’ Events in June

(Taken from the Greenpeace website)

Join our ‘Speaker Shorts’ talks in June

Throughout June Greenpeace is running an exciting new programme called Speaker Shorts. These are free 15 minute talks followed by an interactive Q&A on areas that Greenpeace is campaigning on. From protecting our forests and oceans, to plastics and the climate crisis, Speaker Shorts will give an introduction to the topic and simple things you can do to help!

Speaker Shorts talks will be delivered by members of our Greenpeace Speakers network – passionate and knowledgeable volunteers who know a lot about our work.

The talks will run as a Zoom webinar, which is a secure and private way for you and your family to participate in these fun and interactive talks. You’ll need to download Zoom for free in order to join.

Find out more about each talk and register at the links below:

Family friendly:

Young people and students:

Adults and general audiences:

What next after coronavirus: conversations about ‘The Flip’

People might remember the 2009 film ‘The Age of Stupid’, an independent film which looked at how we were ignoring the signs of the impending climate crisis.

Franny Armstrong, who directed the film, is now making a series of videos in which leading thinkers discuss how we can ‘flip’ from corona virus to climate safety in just a few years.

In the first of these conversations, hear George Monbiot, Caroline Lucas and Faiza Shaheen discuss what is ‘the flip’, what they would like to see flip, how to make good flips stick, what the dangers are and what happens next. About 45 minutes.

Coronavirus epidemic

Please note that, as you would expect, we are not able to meet in person during the current lockdown conditions.

Planning is still going ahead online.  Contact us if you would like to participate.