Transition Stroud

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Thursday, 31 January 2008

Transition Stroud response to Sustainable Community Strategy

The Business and government Group have been working on a submission to the District Council's consultation paper. Our work is enclosed below and will be circulated more widely to encourage participation in this important policy-forming document - various Transition Stroud folk have already submitted their comments - the local Green party's draft comments are available here and at the bottom of that link are details on how to participate - or go to the Stroud District Council website here.

Transition Stroud response to Sustainable Community Strategy

On behalf of Transition Stroud
co-ordinated by the Business and Government Group

Enquiries: Fi Macmillan on 07973 322373
fi.mac@virgin.net
____________________________________

background

The challenge for the Sustainable Community Strategy is to be sustainable; to meet the needs of existing generations without taking away from future generations.

Given what we know about climate change (IPCC report Spring 2007) and declining global oil supply (International Energy Agency), a Sustainable Community Strategy will centre on the reduction of fossil fuel use. And this means looking much further than filling up the car less. It means building a local infrastructure which can operate with a fraction of the fossil fuel we use now.

Our comments centre on:-

- Developing community cohesion so we can use our skills and knowledge as a community to overcome these unprecedented challenges
- Significantly expanding local food production capacity to meet the needs of Stroud district when imports drop and nationwide food distribution costs becomes increasingly prohibitive.
- Developing local supplies of water and renewable power to provide for our basic needs when fossil fuel is priced out of everyman’s range.
- Making sustainable transport – on foot, bicycle – and public transport a priority over car use on our roads
- Feeding our local economy to keep wealth within the district through supporting local shops and businesses, rather than the national retail chains that currently fill our high streets.

A product of this will be the ability to meet significant carbon reduction targets, currently set by the Government at 60% by 2050. Latest scientific reports suggest that at least 80% will be necessary.

specific comments

Q1. A key strategic problem is that those issues which are of concern to local people, and have been used to develop the Vision, are not necessarily those of sustainability. Transition Stroud (‘TS’) agree that the challenges identified by the Community Strategy are important community challenges and they do not necessarily address issues of sustainability.

TS identifies the main challenges as

Developing community cohesion so we can use our skills and knowledge as a community to overcome these unprecedented challenges
- Significantly expanding local food production capacity to meet the needs of Stroud district when imports drop and nationwide food distribution costs becomes increasingly prohibitive.
- Developing local supplies of water and renewable power to provide for our basic needs when fossil fuel is priced out of everyman’s range.
- Making sustainable transport – on foot, bicycle – and public transport a priority over car use on our roads
- Feeding our local economy to keep wealth within the district through supporting local shops and businesses, rather than the national retail chains that currently fill our high streets.

Working with the identified challenges, TS comments:-

- Improving Housing Opportunities would include a large investment in making homes energy efficient
- Creating an expansion of wealth is not sustainable and wealth might mean different things if we approach life with sustainability at its core i.e. fresh water and sustainable power, local vegetables and craft skills maybe wealth in an energy-constrained future
- Access to Services and Rural Transport might be more appropriately safe and pleasant bike/pedestrian routes, strong public transport infrastructure and who knows what those services will need to be in 20 years time? Food distribution, localised medical care or skills training?
- Health and Well-Being will be greater in time with a lesser dependence of fossil-fuels if basic needs are met and planned
- Crime and Community Safety is a real challenge in an energy-constrained future where basic resources are likely to be scarce
- Preserving our Natural Environment is a key challenge that is best effected by reducing our use of fossil fuels and our Cultural Environment will be a key part of developing Community Resilience

Q2. If we are to be measured on ‘reducing stress on resources’ (SDC Environment Strategy 2007), it will be vital to our quality of life to:-

Reduce carbon output to a minimum of 80% of 1990 levels by 2050. This needs to be addressed at a district levels, as well as a national level. Stroud district has the opportunity to lead the way with a clear and institutionalised commitment to these cuts – local business, SDC and other LSP members.
Cut fossil fuel use by minimum of 50% in next 25 years (Heinberg). Again Stroud district has the opportunity to lead the way.

Other quality of life indicators will be undermined unless we tackle climate change and Peak Oil.

Q3. Get people into public spaces together:-

Get people out of their cars - onto bikes, walking and public transport
More community events
More enjoyable public spaces, community growing space and community orchards (the Stroud-Stonehouse cycle track was built as a linear orchard – why not community restoration of this wonderful resource).
Supporting voluntary groups who are active in bringing people together.

Q5. ‘Reducing any negative impact on the environment we live in’ means addressing both points above in Q2 – carbon reduction and fossil fuel use reduction.
Set a carbon budget for the district – leading with GCC and SDC adhering to this.
Develop Oil Depletion Protocol for the district (see Richard Heinberg’s work).

Q6. How will the housing stock be developed to deal with fuel and power shortages (‘Peak Oil’) and extreme weather? Also housing needs to have productive growing space around it. See DVD ‘the Power of Community – How Cuba survived peak oil’.

In addition, homelessness will increase with climate change as areas become uninhabitable with sea-level rise.

Q7. More objectives for housing
Targets for creating 40% houses (see SWEA report)
Targets for uptake of energy efficiency surveys
Initiate and support Low Impact Developments (LIDs) in conjunction with nascent co-housing groups.

Q8. Increase in above

Q9. Declining fossil fuel availability and increasing energy costs are likely to result in economic downtown, if not collapse. Therefore they constitute an economic challenge which can be adapted to now, and also meet carbon reduction targets for Climate Change.

Q10. More economic objectives
To keep trade local and promote local business, as opposed to high street chains.
To promote barter and traditional skills development e.g. food production, animal husbandry, leather working, water management

Q11 & 12. More transport objectives
Travelling in a carbon neutral/efficient way around the district therefore
Increase in pedestrian journeys
Increase in cycling journeys
Increase in car sharing/car club use
Increase in public transport use

Q13. Health and wellbeing challenges
Peak oil is likely to lead to food scarcity as imports drop, productivity drops (fossil fuel based fertilisers less available) and food distribution networks falter. Individuals will need to be stronger to deal with requirements of every day life. Less dependence on fossil fuels, more physical activity and a largely organic diet are likely to determine better health and well-being if basic requirements are met i.e. food, water, renewable energy.

Q15 and 16. Challenges for crime and community safety
Peak Oil and extreme weather events linked with Climate Change are likely to present special public order challenges. TS notes that the water distribution in Gloucester last year, with bowsers being contaminated, was an example of this.
Wholesale oil prices and food prices have risen steeply in 2007. As Peak Oil hits scarcity of basic resources such as food, water, energy is likely to cause social unrest.

For further links to research used in this document, please contact Fi Macmillan on 01453 832892 or 07973 322373, fi.mac@virgin.net

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