Thursday, June 18, 2009

Questions to Council's Cabinet on: hedgerow loss; green belt; environmental decision making

1 comment:
Questions to be put to the Bristol City Council Cabinet meeting of 25 June, for the attention of Cllr Gary Hopkins:

*Hedgerow loss due to Cycle Houses
Plans for the development of ‘cycle houses’ on the former Elizabeth Shaw Chocolate Factory site have been granted planning permission. The development would, unless modified, mean the destruction of approximately 150 metres of mature hawthorn hedgerow. Hedgerows are of high landscape and conservation value. They add diversity to and are a traditional feature of the landscape. They provide foraging, roosting and nesting sites for birds. They are rich in animal and plant species (around 500 vascular plant species are found in UK hedgerows). They are home to many types of insect, mollusc, spider and small animal. They act as wildlife corridors allowing flora and fauna, including birds, foxes, badgers, mice and other small mammals, beetles and molluscs, routes for dispersal from remnant islands of habitat through an increasingly hostile landscape.

1.Can you confirm that Bristol City Council has sold to the developers a plot of land on/adjacent to the Bristol to Bath Railway Path that includes the 150 metre (approx) hedgerow referred to and that the Liberal Democrat administration authorised this sale?

2. Did the Bristol Liberal Democratic Party at any time in the last year appeal to the developers to modify their cycle house plans so that hedgerow loss was avoided?

*Development on green belt land
1.Should large scale development be permitted on green belt land around Bristol, whether the development impinges on green belt in whole or part?

2.If development is permitted on green belt land should the developers plans and designs be required to compensate as much as is practically possible for all the environmental impacts they cause eg through maximising the use of green design, green technology and green schemes?

*Environmental decision making and corn starch bags
In a debate on Cllr Bolton’s blog I said ‘…the decision on the [corn starch] bags has been taken without full information being sought! This is irrational. Environmental decision making should be put on a firm evidence-based process. This has not been done by any party running the council…’ to which you Cllr Hopkins replied ‘I do not base my judgements on guesses but on evidence’. My subsequent request for data on the total environmental impacts of the corn starch bags in this debate was not replied to and so I doubt that full information has in fact been sought.

1. What figures does the council have for the carbon footprint of these corn starch bags, in order to assess whether they more than make up for their carbon cost?

2. What figures does the council have for any other environmental costs the corn starch bags may have eg water footprint, land take, biodiversity impacts...?

3.Can you outline if/how you intend to quantitatively and fully assess the net effects of corn starch bag introduction: on the environment; on the economics of waste management for Bristol?

Met Office climate change projections: serious consequences for us all

The latest climate science projections from the highly respected Met Office can be found here. Below I've reproduced the key Met Office findings for the South West of England by 2080. The graph shows the regional temperature increase by 2050.

Medium emissions scenario

*Under medium emissions, the central estimate of increase in winter mean temperature is 2.8ºC; it is very unlikely to be less than 1.6ºC and is very unlikely to be more than 4.3ºC.

*Under medium emissions, the central estimate of increase in summer mean temperature is 3.9ºC; it is very unlikely to be less than 2.1ºC and is very unlikely to be more than 6.4ºC.

*Under medium emissions, the central estimate of change in winter mean precipitation is 23%; it is very unlikely to be less than 6% and is very unlikely to be more than 54%.

*Under medium emissions, the central estimate of change in summer mean precipitation is –23%; it is very unlikely to be less than –49% and is very unlikely to be more than 6%.

The consequences for us all and for our society and economy are very serious due to more floods, droughts, heat waves, storms, impacts on health and public services like rail travel, impacts on food production....The costs of inaction on tackling climate change far exceed the costs of taking effective action now.