Action not words needed now
The COVID-19 pandemic focusses everyone’s minds now on our critical connection with the natural environment. It is critical because any unheeded ‘natural’ event eg virus, climate change, threatens all sentient well-being – not just humans. Our scientists monitor and warn Governments about all potential pandemics. Similarly scientists warn our Governments of environmental damage and climate change. Whilst it may be encouraging that HCC committed to net zero emission by 2050 supported by an electric vehicle fleet, Havant Borough Council has yet to publicly commit to take serious action on climate change. Thus HBC’s Local Plan 2037 Hayling Transport document makes no reference to flooding issues for example. Housing and land use planning must reflect real environmental concerns but the first of Hayling’s proposed major housing developments, Barratts Sinah Application, provides only a fraction of electric charging points for its 195 housing units, each could use 1-2 vehicles: if such public points are secure, why not private? Where are the solar panels that could cheaply provide essential electricity, hot water and feed back to the national grid? Nationally the ‘zero carbon homes’ scheme has been weakened or withdrawn, our building standards are inadequate and not enforced as local authorities have insufficient resources. As for the new, untested carbon-neutral strategy, permitting intensive house-building on Hayling’s invaluable green spaces in exchange for IOW fields, this demonstrably fails to stop 200-400 combined waste-water users’ adding to Hayling’s frequently failing sewage network and SW’s discharges. Is such a development even environmentally sustainable for Hayling’s future? Where is HBC’s commitment to climate change action?
Commitment and enforcement failures by DEFRA and its sponsored regulator the Environment Agency affect our immediate environment and both our harbours. DEFRA’s responsibility is “safeguarding our natural environment”, while the EA licenses the industry, businesses and individuals involved in activities that could pollute the environment, and ‘enforces with sanctions’. Yet Sept. 2020 England’s water classification results showed just 16% of water bodies achieving Good Ecological Status. October 2020 DEFRA showed 4 of 9 English water and sewerage companies failing standards, 2020 being the worst result since 2011 and Southern Water the first company since 2015 to be rated as “poor”. Whilst the EA Chair stated “Saving the planet is indeed a communications challenge.”, why is it taking so long for such Government bodies with long-standing statutory powers to enforce basic, healthy environment standards? Any improvement requires: declaration of intent, objectives and effective audit, including serious investment. If the problem locally is failure to invest, then why is Government forcing our Councils to put further load on our failing systems by intensive building in Havant for example? Environment Secretary George Eustice said in 2020 “damage inflicted on our environment is still far too great. We must ....ensure a greener recovery from Coronavirus and that includes water companies ...doing better.” Despite the EA’s prosecutions and fines over 5 years, including SW, their track record speaks to more serious failings at governmental levels where intent and funding have failed so far. Hayling, like so many other urbanized districts, needs more than fine words from every level of government. Our recently re-elected majority Conservatives could “step up” and commit to policies and enforcement that residents can see protect all our environment and all future house-building.
Wildlife Awareness Week 8-12 June is everyone’s chance to check and share the RYA’s website for ‘The Green Blue’ movement. Essential shoreline and harbour guidelines for dog walkers and those afloat on any craft from SUPS to cruisers, will enable everyone to: keep at least 100 m from any potential nesting or wildlife sites – keep dogs on leads where vegetation could provide nest sites; don’t stay longer than 15 minutes to view eg birds, seals; watch your speed! To enjoy our wildlife we need to understand and respect it. The following link applies to non-boaters too: https://thegreenblue.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/Green-Wildlife-Guide-for-Boaters.pdf