Cllr Jen Walker writes about green issues and housing in Rushcliffe.
As leader of the Labour Group for Rushcliffe Borough Council I will be writing a quarterly article about the issues we are seeing in our borough.
I have received many messages about the climate catastrophe.
No longer are we seeing the climate deniers at work, that seems to have passed thankfully, but we have moved into another equally frustrating stage.
We have now entered the arena of inaction, a place where people say all the “right words”, but it is not backed up by the resolute action required.
The problem is that it’s easy to sit in council meetings agreeing and passing motions that say we would all like to protect biodiversity, whilst at the same time diluting the motion to remove any actual points that would commit the council to act.
Unfortunately, we have reached the point where the action that is required to make change – a change that would increase the borough’s biodiversity – would require a shift in our policy and not simply a tinkering around the edges.
A law passed in 2006 that would have required all new-build homes built after 2016 to be carbon neutral was tragically scrapped and now, we have a huge number of new homes that have been built, and are scheduled to be built, in Rushcliffe which are not future-proofed for a zero-carbon future.
All the homes that have been built across Rushcliffe since 2016 could have been carbon zero homes, sadly none of them are. There is talk of fields of solar panels outside of Ruddington towards Gotham but why has is this not being put onto all the new houses we are building in our borough?
Compounding this issue is the scale of house building that we face in Rushcliffe, and we need to ask some simple but very crucial questions about this issue.
Where do the numbers come from?
Do we have a housing shortage or a housing supply problem?
How do we ensure the infrastructure comes when needed in a system driven by private housing developers?
Can we continue to build on greenfield or Greenbelt land in the middle of a climate crisis?
These questions should be at the heart of our housing strategy, yet they remain the shouts of the opposition.
Critically, the government’s White Paper on Planning reform goes nowhere near far enough in its attempt to deal with these issues and at Rushcliffe’s Full Council meeting in September the Labour group called for the council to request that the government halt its white paper before it becomes law and to re-assess the direction of the planning reform. The motion was not passed by the Conservative majority despite all minority parties’ agreeing.
The Rushcliffe Borough Council Labour Group welcome your involvement in the issues facing our borough and we all would love to hear what changes you would like to see. Follow us on social or email.
Cllr Walker is the leader of the Labour group on Rushcliffe Borough Council and ward councillor for Ruddington.