OPINION: Open letter from South Lincolnshire Green Party to Kelham Cooke, Leader of South Kesteven District Council

  Posted: 14.09.21 at 15:40 by South Lincolnshire Green Party

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Open Letter to the Leader of South Kesteven District Council from South Lincolnshire Green Party

"In the run-up to COP26, and with the Climate Coalition’s Big Green Week about to start, I am writing to urge you to act in response to the recent IPCC report, which states that climate change is “widespread, rapid and intensifying” and Chris Packham’s manifesto for wildlife, in which he talks about us “normalising the drastic destruction of our wildlife”.

"The IPCC report and the Manifesto for Wildlife lay out in alarming detail the problems we face, and we all need to increase our efforts to save our planet. We need to think globally and act immediately and locally.

"The UK is looked upon as a leader, so excuses such as “we only produce x% of the world’s green house gas emissions” don’t wash. Statistics can obscure our per capita emissions (which are high); they don't consider history and how we use our land …...

"Here are some shocking facts:

"From the Government’s advisors on climate change
unless there are immediate, rapid and large-scale reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, limiting warming to close to 1.5°C or even 2°C will be beyond reach.

Coun Kelham Cooke, leader of South Kesteven District Council

"At 2°C of global warming, heat extremes would more often reach critical tolerance thresholds for agriculture and health.

"Climate change is intensifying the water cycle. This brings more intense rainfall and associated flooding, as well as more intense drought in many regions.

"For cities, some aspects of climate change may be amplified, including heat (since urban areas are usually warmer than their surroundings), flooding from heavy precipitation events and sea level rise in coastal cities.

"From the Government’s advisors on Nature, the State of Nature Report:

*Between 1970 and 2013, 56% of UK species declined

*Of the nearly 8,000 species assessed using modern criteria, 15% are threatened with extinction. This suggests that we are among the most nature-depleted countries in the world.

*Of the 218 countries assessed for ‘biodiversity intactness’, the UK is ranked 189, a consequence of centuries of industrialisation, urbanisation and overexploitation of our natural resources.

"It is often mentioned that we outsource our carbon dioxide emissions to other countries (which is why the Government is able to claim that the UK has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 40+% since 1990).

"We do the same for our land - we outsource much of the production of horticultural crops, sometimes at the expense of countries growing food for their own population. In developing land, we put biodiversity bottom of our priorities because is hard to assess its economic value.

"In Lincolnshire, we could make a difference. Lincolnshire is an important agricultural area; leaders should be working with farmers to help them mitigate the impacts of severe weather events and a changing climate, by reverting to a horticulture-style production and local food markets.

"We need to cut energy use by 50% (some organisations such as the WWF say 75%) and rapidly reduce our dependence on fossil fuels by facilitating more renewable energy schemes, normalising alternatives to gas boilers (e.g. heat source pumps) and transport alternatives to the car. Leaders could be facilitating wind farms and local schemes to help people make better transport choices like walking and cycling instead of using the car.

"We can’t wait (and neither is there time) for the SKDC Environment Committee to work though the carbon accounting they are doing now before looking at the biodiversity and the climate emergency.

"We call upon you to ask them to publicly acknowledge the IPCC report, the State of Nature Report and to take local action to protect South Kesteven.

"All actions of the Council must be scrutinised to ensure that they have put the nature and climate change first.
There is no economic success if we end up in a situation where we can’t control or adapt to the changing climate or we suffer irreversible ecosystem collapse. Mitigation measures need to be front and central to ensure that the changes that will happen impact less on our area.

"This gives us an amazing chance to get ahead of the game - to produce thousands of local jobs, to enable the start up of local companies and to increase the nutrition of our population.

SKDC could support:
*making it easy for people to exchange goods, share resources and equipment and/or set up a repair shop
*cancelling the Southern Quadrant development, which will not make only an impact on an important Site of Special Scientific Interest and the River Witham (where we have the rare native crayfish), but with more frequent heavy rainfall, threaten to flood Grantham
*retaining the 67000 trees that were planted as Grantham’s Green Lung at the Prince William of Gloucester Barracks
*getting the roads properly swept and pressure LCC to liaise with their contractor to clear all the road drains. Flooding is becoming an issue across the area as more hard surfaces are created
*green walls, flower and vegetable beds to be made by residents on public land. This already happens in many towns such as Brighton and Acton
*pressurising Lincolnshire County Council to bring forward the installation of the long promised cycle routes. LCC have been talking about this under the ‘Active Travel’ scheme for over a year and for at least a decade prior to that. Their current proposal is fundamentally flawed as they do not know the streets in Grantham (thinking for example that we already have a cycle lane on St Peter’s Hill). They are planning to make Westgate a major through route after semi-pedestrianising it only recently (a picture of Martin Hill enjoying the new pedestrian friendly crossing was on the front page of the Journal). This is a retrograde step. We must reduce our dependance on cars and replace it with cycling - and we have a local bike manufacturer in Nottingham
*only giving planning permission for retail in the town centre and bringing back empty dwellings into use
*making it clear that cutting down trees, and the unnecessary cutting of verges should not happen. We can’t afford it to lose any more biodiversity. Replacing old with new doesn’t do the job
*making it clear why gardens should not be paved over - because of the pressure on the town’s drains.

*Nub News welcomes a response from Coun Cooke, which we are more than happy to publish in full.

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