By Bernadette Fisher / Environment / 0 Comments

I was invited by the students organising the action today (Friday March 15th) to receive their demands on behalf of the City Council at the end of the march.  I was the only Councillor able to make it and frankly relished the opportunity. 

 I was standing at the start of the march with local activists Mary Kerr when a group of school students started chanting ‘What do we want?  Climate action.  When do we want it?  Now.’ I, we, could hardly hold back the tears of joy and sorrow as seasoned campaigners, hearing the cycle of radicalisation of the young and feeling very strongly how we, as a generation, had failed to turn back the tide of climate change.

 And that was just the beginning…

 There are some great photos on our FB page showing the wonderful spirit of the march.  Any student I talked to knew much much more about climate change than I do and was very clear about what they wanted from politicians at local, national and international level.  Just look for the speeches of Greta Thunberg and you’ll get the idea.  She is exceptional but there are many similarly able students closer to home, of all ages.

 Outside the Marlow, protesters gathered around a large blank sheet and wrote their demands.  ‘A comprehensive and effective recycling system.’  ‘This is our last chance.’  ‘No more car parks.’  ‘Water fountains in the City centre.’  ‘Bring the voting age down.’  ‘More public transport.’  ‘Half a billion climate refugees by 2050!  We need a plan.’   Reasonable? I think so.  Urgent?  Undoubtedly.

 In Dane John, at the band stand, there were speeches including mine thanking the students and inviting them to bring their demands to the meeting of the Policy and Resources Committee at the Guildhall on Weds April 17th at 7pm.  A motion asking for a Climate Emergency to be declared by Canterbury City Council will be debated there.  Reading Borough Council declared one just a couple of weeks ago.  I told the students that they had a right to expect that it would be approved by all councillors.  I sincerely hope they do.


By Dave Wilson / EnvironmentLatest News / / 0 Comments

The Love Hambrook Marshes team have been relatively gentle in their critique of the City Council’s decision to build the park and ride extension at Wincheap right down to the river.

In fact, the Council’s defence of their decision rests entirely on an interpretation of what “safeguarding” of land means which is at best disingenuous and possibly deliberately misleading.

The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) defines Safeguarded Land as “land between the urban area and the Green Belt. []  Safeguarded Land ensures the protection of Green Belt … by reserving land which may be required to meet longer-term development needs without the need to alter Green Belt boundaries….”

There is thus no implication whatever that safeguarded land has been pre-allocated for development in the short term. More specifically, the NPPF says that “local planning authorities should make clear that the safeguarded land is not allocated for development at the present time. Planning permission for the permanent development of safeguarded land should only be granted following a Local Plan review …” (my emphasis).

So, when Rob Davies for the Council says that “ … the new location has already been agreed in the Local Plan and … tested thoroughly …” he is, unusually for him, talking nonsense. The Local Plan simply protects the area from development pending an application from the Council which, under the NPPF, requires a Local Plan review. Neither the development in principle of the park and ride extension, nor the planning application in detail, can be prejudged by the designation of the area as safeguarded land.

If the Council carries on with this regardless of the rules and public opinion it is likely to find its decisions successfully challenged by those who cherish our riverbanks and green spaces.