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Archive for the ‘Climate Change’ Category

Toads Hole Valley is the largest greenfield site in Brighton & Hove allocated for development. It was left out of the South Downs National Park after it was severed from the downland when the A27 bypass was constructed. Currently there is an application to build 880 homes, a secondary school, business units, a community centre, doctor’s surgery and local shops.

Whilst not against the development of Toads Hole Valley in principle, we have objected to the current proposals on transport and climate change grounds. In particular, the failure to properly cater for pedestrians and cyclists. The development will encourage car use, even with a bus serving the site, because it is all too easy to drive from one part of the development to another. Therefore, we believe the development fails to conform to the Local Plan and national policy.

This site offers us a once in a generation opportunity to do something really quite special. Unfortunately, while there are some good aspects to this proposal, it is badly let down by its layout. The provision for people who want to walk and cycle is also poor. It will place pedestrians and cyclists in conflict on shared paths deterring people from leaving the car at home.

There is an urgent need to reduce carbon emissions, as we have seen by the recent youth marches and numerous scientific reports. Transport is the one area where we are failing, and failing badly. Yet this development, rather than offering solutions for the future, will lock in the bad habits of the past. This will make it harder for us to tackle climate change, not speed us towards the path we need to take.

The local shopping centre and doctor’s surgery need to be placed, near the community centre, closer to the heart of the community, so that it is easier to walk and cycle there. Pedestrian and cycle facilities need to be segregated to improve comfort, safety and attractiveness. While crossings need to be simplified. Currently the main junction has five separate stages for pedestrians and cyclists to cross to reach the southern side of Goldstone Crescent. Cars only have one. This is hardly prioritising walking and cycling as required by national planning policy.

There is no excuse for not getting this right and we hope the developers will take on board these concerns and amend the application to produce something that is truly groundbreaking.

More reading: BHFOE objection to Toads Hole Valley application

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Outside The Grand with supporters

Outside The Grand with supporters

During the Labour Party conference we helped national Friends of the Earth leaflet about the People’s March for Climate, Justice and Jobs, taking place on Sunday, 29 November in London, to raise awareness about climate change.  In particular, the march is highlighting the urgent need for politicians to come to a meaningful agreement at the climate talks in early December in Paris.

Providing both people and a polar bear, we managed to distribute hundreds of fliers to delegates and members of the public along Brighton seafront.  The polar bear was a particular hit, in high demand for selfies and photos, bringing a smile and a willingness to engage from most people as we walked along.

The polar bear was only offended when he was mistaken for a giant rat by one ‘myopic’ meeting chair, who was quickly corrected by less visibly challenged members of the audience.  Overall, a great success and great fun too.

The Polar Bear and Monica prepare to leaflet outside the Mercure Hotel

The Polar Bear and Monica prepare to leaflet outside the Mercure Hotel

 

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We have responded to the consultation on the proposed modifications to the City Plan, which ended at midnight on 16 December. While we support much of what is proposed we have issues with three main areas:

Air pollution:  despite agreeing with the Council to proposed modifications on this issue earlier in the year, recent events (European Court Ruling and emerging research) mean that the proposed wording may be unsound as it does not go far enough to reduce air pollution and act to bring it down below legal limits as fast as possible.  In fact developments could still be approved that will make it worse.

Urban Fringe development:  we have pointed out errors in the Urban Fringe Assessment which undermine the figures for housing in the urban fringe.  We have therefore questioned whether it is justified to have an allocation of 1,060 homes in the urban fringe.

Watering down of energy efficiency:  we have objected to the watering down or energy requirements in new development, not least because as a city we have consistently missed our carbon reduction targets and need urgent action to bring us back on course.  Indeed the fact that we’ve missed our targets year on year, means that we have emitted more carbon than we should and so need to cut our levels even more to compensate.

To see our full comments and links to references, see our submission.

The examiner will now look through all responses to the consultation and see whether any areas warrant further investigation or debate before deciding whether to accept that the City Plan is sound and can be adopted.  The is an important moment for the Council as without a agreed Plan it is in a very weak place to prevent damaging developments.

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Brighton & Hove Friends of the Earth (BHFOE) is pleased to see that EON is progressing with the Rampion windfarm with the announcement that it will be using 116, 3.5MW turbines, with a tip height of 140.2 metres in a smaller array than originally planned.   The wind farm will provide enough electricity for 290,000 homes and save 600,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide each year.

BHFOE is also welcoming that fact that since the start of the initial consultation, the width of the wind farm has been reduced quite significantly.  In the latest plans, the field of view has reduced from 33 to 10.6 degrees when viewed from the Heritage Coast and the distance of the closest turbine (to the Heritage Coast) has also been increased.  These changes, along with the fact that EON has selected a turbine which is only 140 metres tall, mean that the visual impact from the Heritage Coast and the South Downs National Park is very much reduced.

Chris Todd from BHFOE said:

“This is really good news as it brings us another step closer to reducing our carbon emissions here in Sussex.  We also welcome the fact that EON has altered the size and layout of the wind farm which will dramatically reduce the visual impact from the Heritage Coast and the wider South Downs.

“We look forward to the wind farm producing its first electricity in 2017 and being fully commissioned the following year.  Given the current failure to properly address climate change both in this country and abroad, this is a much needed development.”

Other wind farm facts:

[1]   The wind farm will be built in an area covering 72 square kilometres compared with the 122 square kilometres it was given permission for and the 167 square kilometres that it first proposed.  EON was also given permission to build up to 175 turbines.

[2]   Energy generated in 1 year is estimated to be 1,366 GWh.

[3]   From Devil’s Dyke the field of view has reduced from 58.3 to 28.2 degrees, although the distance to the nearest turbine is about the same as before.

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Brighton & Hove Friends of the Earth (BHFOE) has registered its interest in the Rampion wind farm proposals with the Planning Inspectorate today.  The deadline for registering an interest in the proposals and potentially submitting further information or appearing at any hearings is tomorrow – 11 May, 2013.
The group welcomes the steps E.ON has taken to address concerns raised during the public consultation, particularly reducing the scheme’s impact on the Heritage Coast.  However, while it is backing the proposals in principle, it would still like to see further improvements made.
It is also pressing for a package of community benefits to offset the long term landscape impacts.  These could include: removal of eyesores on the South Downs, a better crossing for the South Downs Way over the A283 and a visitor/educational centre.  It would also like to see the options for community ownership of one or two turbines explored more thoroughly.  To see its full submission click here.

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The second round of consultation on the Rampion wind farm is currently underway and will finish on 8 August, 2012.  Brighton & Hove Friends of the Earth (BHFOE) is urging people to get involved and let their views be known.  It is supportive of the proposals as it believes we need to take urgent action to tackle climate change.  However, it is disappointed with the level of detail provided in the draft Environmental Statement produced by E.ON which it feels is inadequate.  It would like to see more justification and evidence as to why a shorter cable route through the South Downs National Park is not possible and it would also like to see proposals to mitigate and compensate the visual impact on the Heritage Coast – the undeveloped coastline of the South Downs between Seaford and Eastbourne.

It does not believe that the impact on the National Park has been taken seriously enough and wants E.ON to review its proposals.  Another example of a failure to understand the importance of the National Park is in the way that E.ON is taking the cable across the South Downs Way.  For example, E.ON is proposing that where the cable crosses National Cycle Routes it will be done without disturbing the cycle routes so that they can remain open all of the time.  BHFOE welcomes this but is questionning why this same approach is not being applied to the South Downs Way which is probably better used and more important to the local economy.

BHFOE is also calling on the developers to establish a visitor / educational centre to be established in the Brighton – Shoreham area to increase awareness about climate change and renewable energy.

BHFOE has produced a flier outlining its concerns.  Please take the opportunity to have your say.

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