News

Ask Three Rivers to move to No Mow (for 24th November council meeting)

On 24th November at 7.30pm at the Three Rivers District Council (TRDC) chambers, the Independent Councillor, Alex Michaels, is putting forward his motion to reduce mowing of TRDC grassland. The IPCC, who’s scientific report the most recent COP 26 conference was based off, list loss of biodiversity as one of the key anthropogenic issues humanity needs to solve. If successful this motion will allow our small Council area, like many other Council’s have already done, to start bringing back some of that lost biodiversity.

The grasslands motion is set out below – if you are a TRDC residents please take the time to email your councillors with your views on this motion and, if free, attend the meeting itself.

A speaker from the local wildlife trust is supporting this motion and says: “Grassland is one of the most unique habitats for wildlife and pollinators in the UK. 97% of species rich grassland in Hertfordshire has been lost since the 1930’s and 48% of species associated with it have noticeably declined since 1970.”


The motion:

(1) Hertfordshire has predominately chalk bedrock

(2) Which often leads to conditions which support chalk meadows which have been called ‘the UK’s equivalent of rainforest’

(3) Of the total publicly owned land in the District TRDC owns circa 30%. TRDC resolves to look for opportunities to cease mowing up to 50% of the grassland it owns and manages and replace this with hay meadow management (cutting and clearing twice a year). This will exclude unsuitable areas such as football pitches, areas used for playgrounds (etc.) and include verges, areas in parks and all other areas which are mown and do not need to be mown for a specific recreational reason (e.g. football pitch, playground). This motion will aim to decrease grass cutting by up to 50% of TRDC owned land and achieve concurrent gains in biodiversity. Costs for the cut and lift will likely fall into two areas. Firstly, new equipment which may be paid for by cost savings, reduced mowing where possible, existing budgets or a request to P&R. Secondly disposal costs which should be mitigated by creating sacrifice areas wherever possible, or by sale to a biodigester (e.g. the plant at Royston). TRDC will aim to have a plan presented to LEC prior to April 2022, which will take into consideration biodiversity data gathered in the 2021 audit. TRDC will review relevant officers job descriptions within the Leisure department and ensure sustainability is incorporated to re-enforce this shifting outlook.


When emailing TRDC councillors please include your address (to show you are a resident) – and listed below are the contact details for TRDC councillors (please cc Sarah.Haythorpe@ThreeRivers.gov.uk in to your emails):

alex.michaels@threerivers.gov.uk

Phil.Williams@threerivers.gov.uk

Chris.Lloyd@threerivers.gov.uk

Roger.Seabourne@threerivers.gov.uk

Stephen.King@threerivers.gov.uk

Paula.Hiscocks@threerivers.gov.uk

Lisa.Hudson@threerivers.gov.uk

David.Major@threerivers.gov.uk

Debbie.Morris@threerivers.gov.uk

Alison.Scarth@threerivers.gov.uk

Jon.Tankard@threerivers.gov.uk

If you wish to attend the meeting you need to register in advance with committeeteam@threerivers.gov.uk

THANK YOU!

If you are interested – here are some great links on No Mow:

Road Verge wilding

Mowing in No Mow meadows

COP Day of Action

Watford and Three Rivers Friends of the Earth, as part of the COP Day of Action, organised a march through Watford – marching alongside over 100,000 people in Glasgow, with over 300 demonstrations taking place across the world on the same day.

Marchers called on the UK government to ACT NOW on climate action and end its support for fossil fuels during the UN climate talks.

The marchers carried messages to both global, national and local governments to do more NOW to limit global temperature rises to 1.5 degrees and deliver real and fair solutions to the climate crisis.

With the messages including “Earth’s on fire” the march highlighted the current hypocrisy from the UK Government in claiming to be a world leader on climate whilst building new roads and runways, and continuing to support fossil fuels here and abroad.

Visit the following site to see marches across the UK :
https://cop26coalition.org/global-day-of-action-cop26-coalition-update/

SPOKES Rides For All Project

RIDES FOR ALL | SPOKES SW HERTFORDSHIRE CYCLING GROUP

822 Miles of Local Cycling Routes – ranging from 4 to 46 miles in length

SPOKES South West Herts Cycling Group will, on 27 August as part of its 25th Anniversary celebrations, launch a new resource for cyclists of all abilities in SW Hertfordshire, SPOKES Rides For Allhttp://www.spokesgroup.org.uk/ridesforall/.

The objective is to make available rides that are family friendly, suitable for new cyclists as they build up confidence on longer rides and for experienced cyclists new to the area to show off the lovely countryside available to them.  It builds upon two earlier books of rides that SPOKES has published.  SPOKES Rides For All makes these earlier rides available in digital form as well as adding new routes.

However, it is more than a library of GPX files.  As well as a downloadable GPX file for each ride, it is also possible to download instructions to guide those without a GPS device around the route.  Each ride is accompanied by information about refreshments stops, toilets and points of interest.  The rides range from 4 to 46 miles in length.  Some are traffic free rides, other are all on road or may have up to 75% of the route off-road.

At the time of the launch there will be 53 routes offering 822 miles of cycling with more routes added more as part of this ongoing project.

SPOKES SW HERTFORDSHIRE CYCLING GROUP

If you want to ride and are looking for new routes, take a look at the SPOKES’ web site and enjoy your cycling.  You don’t have to be a Member of SPOKES to access the web site, but you will be welcomed if you choose to join.”

Climate change and flooding in Watford

This month of May 2021 has been unusually wet, while April has been exceptionally dry. Last year (2020) saw the wettest ever October, and one of the driest ever for May. A predicted feature of climate change is more extremes of both dry and wet weather, and that is just what we are experiencing now. Flooding, severe storms and droughts are becoming more common.

If you are a gardener like me, you have probably noticed some months which need lots of watering cans, while other months the soil is waterlogged! It is something that we will need to get used to, as the impacts of climate change continue to increase. Over the past 12 months, we have seen flooding in Watford several times: in November at Lower High Street, and in January in Water Lane. Flooding events are only going to become more frequent. Better flood defences can help, but we also need to take action against climate change. That means avoiding fossil fuels, and generally living a sustainable lifestyle.

I took these photos of the flooding in February 2021.

Flooding in Water Lane – 1 February 2021

River Colne in flood – 1 February 2021

The Watford Observer reported the recent flooding events at these links.

Parts of Water Lane remain flooded and closed. 2nd February 2021

Watford flooding: Water Lane floods after heavy rain. 31st January 2021

Flooding across Watford as Environment Agency issues warning. 30th January 2021

Climate change ‘real reason’ for flooding in Watford. 25th November 2020

Where do your local candidates stand on saving the planet?

Watford and Three Rivers Friends of the Earth (also covering Hertsmere) asked candidates across the three areas for their views. We asked them how their role as a future councillor will play a part in tackling climate change locally.

Questions covered:

  • Climate Action Plans
  • Reducing pollution
  • Home energy efficiency
  • Local biodiversity and
  • How they will work for a climate ready and resilient local area 

Click here to find out what they had to say.

We look forward to working with the our local authority going forwards as a third of emissions are dependent on sectors directly shaped or influenced by local authority practice, policy or partnerships. Local councillors will therefore be key in delivering the regional and local place-based solutions to make the changes needed.

The Hertfordshire Environment Hustings

Organised by Friends of the Earth Groups from around Hertfordshire, The Herts Environment Hustings took place on 19th April. Chairman Nick Hazell put questions on issues of sustainability and the environment from the online audience to a panel consisting of:

  • Conservatives – Theresa Heritage, Derrick Ashley
  • Greens – Anni Sander, Nick Cox
  • Labour – Tina Bhartwas, Simon Speller
  • Liberal Democrats – Helen Campbell, Nigel Quinton

The whole hustings are covered in two podcasts:

Part 1 – The questions covered were (in this order, to make it easier if you’d like to find a particular response) https://radioverulam.com/podcast/listen-now-to-the-herts-environment-hustings-part-1/

  1. 2 minutes on the parties environmental policies for Hertfordshire
  2. We know that spending time in nature has significant benefits for our health and wellbeing, and that a diverse natural environment is essential to a sustainable economy. What steps will your party advocate to reverse the recent alarming decline in biodiversity in Hertfordshire, and ensure that everyone in the county has access to quality green spaces where wildlife and people can flourish?
  3. What would you do about public transport and how to get car owners out of their cars
  4. Lots of county council land will be released for house building. Would you ensure that all such houses will be carbon zero
  5. What measures would you take to reduce the amount of Hertfordshire’s waste which is incinerated or landfill

End of Part 1

Part 2 – https://radioverulam.com/podcast/listen-now-to-the-herts-environment-hustings-part-2/

  1. Do you feel that wide area 20mph limits have an important role to play
  2. Do you have any plans to communicate the importance and urgency of the climate crisis to the general public
  3. What are your views on the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill
  4. Is banning the use of herbicides and pesticides a priority to benefit the environment and the health of local people
  5. Do you believe in a halt in new road building
  6. The Herts Sustainability Strategy has no target for reducing the GHG emissions from the county other than the national target of net zero by 2050. Should there be a target and what should it be?
  7. What are you doing in your personal life to be more environmentally friendly?

The doorbell sound is the timer used to ensure that each party had the same amount of time.

Please excuse noise distortions dues to internet fluctuations.

FoE response to the HCC SHS

Local Friends of the Earth and Climate Action Groups in Hertfordshire response to the Sustainable Hertfordshire Strategy

Friends of the Earth and Climate Action Groups across Hertfordshire have submitted the following response to the current consultation on Hertfordshire County Council Sustainable Hertfordshire Strategy.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/14djjCqFKCsK7vExrdNxZ0WdLzcNBJeK6/view?usp=sharing

Our response welcomes the SHS, and we are pleased to see the commitment to making the council’s own operations net zero by 2030, and the recognition of the importance of tackling the decline in biodiversity as well as reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

However, as currently drafted, we feel that there are areas of the SHS (and the associated action plan) that need to be significantly strengthened to meet the level of ambition that the current climate and ecological emergency demands, some key points being:

  • The SHS should include not only long term goals for 2030 and 2050, but also short to medium term goals against which progress can be monitored.
  • The current target in the SHS to achieve net zero carbon emissions for the county ‘before 2050’ is too weak and vague and should be replaced by a commitment to a 90% reduction by 2030 and net zero by 2040.
  • Targets for improving wildlife and biodiversity should be aligned with recommendations from the Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust to manage 30% of land area for the benefit of wildlife. This applies to both HCC’s own land and the county as a whole.
  • Targets for waste and recycling should aim to make the county a zero-waste area, where all “waste” material is minimised, reused or recycled (following a circular economy approach). Targets relating to landfill alone are not adequate.
  • The SHS recognises the importance of monitoring and scrutiny (page 4) but needs to set out more clearly how this will be done in a way that is robust and transparent.
  • A communication strategy needs to be developed as part of the SHS – not only to involve others in the development and delivery of action plans but to engage Hertfordshire residents and businesses with the climate and ecological emergency.

The SHS should commit HCC to lobbying the UK government for the resources and enabling actions it needs to deliver its objectives.

Have your say on the Batchworth Community Council Neighbourhood plan

Batchworth Community Council are preparing a Neighbourhood plan. They are of consulting with the community via 3 focus groups for Rickmansworth and 3 for Moor Park and Eastbury (Design and Heritage, Civic and Employment, Infrastructure).  The overall plan will be taken forward to  a referendum and, if accepted, Three Rivers District Council will be required to take note of it and it would gain additional funds from Developers to aid implementation. 

More information and a map of the Batchworth Neighbourhood plan area can be found at Neighbourhood Plan | Batchworth Community Council (batchworth-ecc.gov.uk) – comments can be added to the Neighbourhood Plan at Batchworth Neighbourhood Plan (commonplace.is) – by end of January 2021.

Help shape the future of Hertfordshire

Help HCC shape how they spend your council tax money – supporting a Green and Fair recovery from COVID and linking environmental justice to social justice.  

Support Hertfordshire in being a Sustainable County – through commenting on the Sustainable Hertfordshire Strategy (sustainable-hertfordshire-strategy-2020-2.7mb.pdf)

HCC is asking residents to respond to a survey about climate change and the council’s Sustainable Hertfordshire Strategy.

Working with other FoE and climate action groups in Herts, we’ve produced model answers to most of the consultation questions, which you can use as a basis for your responses (obviously you can also add your own views and suggestions when completing the survey!). Using our template it shouldn’t take long to complete, and you don’t have to answer every question if you don’t want to.

Our document with model answers and links to the strategy and the survey is available here:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1zXetuxxA1-QFQOhDis4uctFIFnh2aYS3/view


Unless the strategy enables people to choose affordable, low-carbon transport and recycling of all waste, and provides cheaper heating bills and space for nature, Hertfordshire will not be playing its part in combating the climate emergency. We don’t believe that this strategy yet demonstrates sufficient ambition or urgency, and its important (particularly in this election year) that as many of us as possible let the council know that we want it to go further.

Ensure Hertfordshire Waste Local Plan ensures no waste is sent to landfill or incineration across the county by 2030

HCC is preparing a new Waste Local Plan (the Plan), this new Plan sets the vision, objectives and spatial strategy for waste planning in Hertfordshire up to 2036. HCC is also preparing a new Waste Facilities Design Guide SPD, which will provide guidance on the design of waste management facilities and assist in meeting the requirements set out in the Plan.

Watford Tree Planting

Trees help to support life on Earth by absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen. They are vital to combat climate change, while also improve the living space for both people and wildlife.

According to the Urban Tree Cover website, Watford has a tree cover of 18%. In March this year, Watford Council agreed a plan to increase this to 20%.

Friends of the Earth say that the UK as a whole has a tree cover of 13%, which is less than half the European average of 35%. Friends of the Earth are campaigning to double the UK tree cover. The increase of 2% in Watford is welcome, but much more than that is still needed.

If you want to see Watford’s tree cover in great detail, down to each tree in your street, take a look at the National Tree Map. Here is an example map centred on North Watford.