Category: Environment

Shropshire Council is dragging its feet on introducing wheelie bins for recycling

We have all seen it. Plastic recyclables blown out of boxes put out on the pavement ready for collection for Veolia. The boxes are not fit for purpose. They do not have lids and even if that was the case, there is a chance of the lids going the same way as the plastic milk bottles and trays that litter our streets in a decent storm. The good news is that Conservative administration for Shropshire made an election pledge to replace boxes with wheelie bins. The bad news is that the Conservatives had not worked through the election pledge. Any commitment will depend on costs and decisions to be made later in the year. With finances under stretch and no more than a weak commitment to tackling the climate emergency from the Conservative administration, the manifesto commitment on recycling might prove to be just rubbish.

Yesterday was Earth Day – was it also the day we really began to tackle the climate emergency?

Earth Day is now in its 51st year. If Donald Trump had gained a second term, it would have probably gone unnoticed in the Capitol yesterday. But Joe Biden is now leading America and he used the occasion to host an international summit and announce deep cuts in carbon emissions. Pledges came in from leaders across the world. Boris Johnson got his pennyworth in earlier announced that he will set in law “world’s most ambitious climate change target”, cutting emissions by 78 per cent by 2035 compared to 1990 levels in pursuit of zero carbon by 2050. Admirable stuff. More important than the headline figure is that the UK’s Carbon Budget will incorporate our share of international aviation and shipping emissions, which each contribute three to four per cent each to global warming. Are we turning the corner at last in getting the political commitments we need to drive the business and societal changes needed to tackle climate change? Maybe.

Earth Day: One fifth of the country’s poultry units are in Shropshire and Herefordshire – are our planning rules too lax?

Ludlow resident and PhD researcher Alison Caffyn has been scrutinising the outbreak of poultry units across our area of the Marches. As CPRE has pointed out, we have become the chicken shed capital of England – by July 2019, there were 500 farms with a total of 1,420 intensive poultry units/sheds, containing over 44 million birds in Shropshire, Herefordshire and Powys. As a member of the Southern Planning Committee, I know it is almost impossible to turn down a well prepared application for a poultry unit. Moral arguments cannot normally be used in planning decisions. The planning system only asks councillors to look at the form, location and impact of a facility and whether its purpose is appropriate for the location. It has been long established that industrial farming units are “appropriate” for the countryside even though they are little more than factories.

Recycling rates have stagnated – here are five steps to recycling heaven in Shropshire

Shropshire Council is in the top fifty councils in England for recycling rates. It recycled 54.6 per cent of its waste in 2019/20 but that rate has not improved over the last five years. Though it’s good news we are among the high recyclers, there is never room for complacency when it comes to environmental matters. The council has become complacent. South Oxfordshire and the Vale of White Horse districts, both rural areas, recycle 63 to 64 per cent of their waste. Why can’t we do the same? Or better still, do better. The way recycling operates in Shropshire can and must be improved. Shropshire Council should set a target of being in the top ten of councils for recycling by 2026. We should aim for a minimum of two-thirds of our waste being recycled within five years.

We can’t solve climate change and biodiversity loss without solving planning – a view from the grass roots

I am writing from the heart following a battering few years trying to protect biodiversity landscapes from new developments and to get sustainable transport written into housing and supermarket schemes. On biodiversity, all we have got from developments in my expanding rural town is tokenism. Replacement trees within manicured landscapes. Not the untidy scrubby bits of landscape that are or will become biodiversity rich. On sustainable transport, the car remains king. There are no plans for bus routes to serve four major housing developments. The out of town supermarket, with the backing of councillors and planners, doesn’t even have a bus stop. The planning system is working against our national and international ambitions to enrich biodiversity and tackle the climate emergency.

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