Archive for the 'Camden Council' Category

Camden FoE Green Action for Change

With the excitement of the general election behind us, it’s time to re-focus on the local agenda.

In 2011 the council launched their sustainability plan, Green Action for Change, with some fanfare. The plan sensibly focused many of the Council’s initiatives around improvements that would directly benefit local residents (such as home insulation). At the same time it set some ambitious goals around carbon emissions, recognising that the big-picture threat of climate change could also directly impact on the borough.

What a contrast then, when earlier this year the fifth progress review was published almost without murmur. The review indicates a number of areas where the council appear to have made little progress (reducing and recycling waste for example). It’s also remarkably difficult to interrogate what has been achieved, as there is a shortage of clear analysis or assessment of lessons learned. Finally, while Camden clearly has made some good steps towards greater sustainability, the world has moved on since 2011, and what was ambitious back then now looks decidedly mediocre – in particular when compared with what other boroughs in London are achieving.

Camden Friends of the Earth have written to Councillor Meric Apak (the responsible Cabinet Member), urging the Council to once again take up their leadership position in this area and ensure that Camden is a healthy and resilient place to live in the future. We look forward to greater dialogue between the Council and the public over sustainability. If you are interested in finding out more about this, please get in touch with us.

Full letter here;

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Check out our latest #pesticidebuster video calling for a pesticide free Camden


We have been campaigning for the Borough of Camden to stop using glyphosate in our public green spaces for a year: it’s been an amazing journey and we couldn’t have got here without you!

Check out the progress we’ve made thanks to your support and learn more about what you can do to help us reach our goal of a #pesticidefree #Camden:



Thanks for watching, we hope you enjoyed it!

If you want to become a #pesticidebuster and join our campaign, please get in touch:, we would love to have you with us!

You can sign our petition here.

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Be a #pesticidebuster and make Camden pesticide free

We are calling on the London Borough of Camden to stop using all pesticides where an alterI am a pesticide busternative is available, whether by themselves or by sub-contractors. This should be in all areas under their control such as parks, streets etc.

Please sign the online petition here.


What’s wrong with pesticides?

Pesticides, including herbicides, insecticides and fungicides, are used in our towns and cities to control a range of perceived problems, including weeds. Non agricultural pesticides are used in schools, parks, playgrounds, hospitals and on our streets. These are all areas used on a daily basis by the public and often by those most vulnerable to the adverse effects of pesticides. In fact more people are exposed to pesticides on a daily basis in our towns and cities than are people living in the countryside.

However, more and more evidence is showing that the use of these chemicals can lead to serious issues in terms of negative human health impacts, harm to biodiversity and the wider environment and contamination of water supplies. There are rising incidents of childhood diseases that can be linked to increases in pesticide use. Pesticide use has a negative effect on urban wildlife and is a contributory factor in the decline of hedgehogs for example, and pesticides used in towns and cities find their way into water supplies and the cost for removing these is then passed on to the public in our water bills.

Camden Friends of the Earth are calling on the council to phase out its use of pesticides and for individuals to also commit to being pesticide free and be a #pesticidebuster



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A Manifesto for sustainability

It’s voting time – this Thursday 22nd May we have the opportunity to send a message to Camden council about the issues we care about.

CamdenCAN (Camden Climate Action Network) have prepared a series of commitments, defined with lots of input from different local groups, including Camden Friends of the Earth. We are supporting this manifesto for sustainability and we’d like to see the candidates commit to the issues set out below, to take action on climate change and create a better environment in Camden.

Manifesto for sustainability

  • Continued commitment to the two carbon emission reduction targets of 27% by 2017 and 40% by 2020 from 2005 levels. Some specific provisions include:
    • Actively lobby central government and other parties for the ongoing decarbonisation of the grid by writing to both local MPs and responding to any formal consultation opportunities.
    • Identify new CHP (combined heat and power) opportunities and provide guidance & support to enable them & others that in the pipeline to come to fruition.
    • Invest in best opportunities identified in the mapping of the study into boroughwide secondary heat source mapping
    • Continued promotion (through Council networks) and support (with people, advice etc) of Superhomes and other opportunities for people to touch & feel an eco-friendly house.
    • Continued focus on fuel poverty focusing energy efficiency measures in low income households.
    • Develop an ongoing engagement strategy on a street by street basis through use of infra-red imagery and other similar ideas.
    • Publish useable guidance on energy efficiency within heritage buildings which allows some appropriate relaxation for the rules for certain energy efficiency measures such as solid wall insulation taking into account fully the recent consultation responses.
  • A commitment to supporting businesses who reuse waste, particularly electronic waste by
    • Identifying potential space for such businesses to be located close by Regis road either on a pop up on regular basis.
    • Ensuring the North London Waste Authority procurement contract for waste disposal include targets around overall waste reduction (through reuse & repair) as well as recycling
    • Include provision for electronic testing & repair in tender for give & take days
    • Evaluate other solutions such as a drop in centre for waste or quarterly pick up days
  • A continued commitment to the transport hierarchy remaining as is with walking, cycling & public transport being the key areas of focus
    • Support additional car free days, targeting one per quarter.
    • Put continued pressure on TFL to increase pedestrian crossing times at key junctions through public letters, minuted meetings etc
  • A commitment to the actions identified by the AQ (air quality) working group including lobbying, awareness and on freight & construction emissions. Hold a follow up air quality summit on an annual basis
  • A commitment to regular face to face consultation & communication with local voluntary organisations & individuals (not just businesses) through quarterly meetings with a selection of representatives from such groups (not just businesses) on a pre-scheduled basis.
  • To ensure any changes and updates to Camden Council’s planning documents reflect the principles of sustainability and adequate environmental protection
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Can Camden go fossil-free?

Have you signed the Fossil Free Camden petition yet?

We believe our local government has a responsibility to divest from an industry that’s destroying our future. By continuing to invest in fossil fuels (for example in pension investments), Camden Council is supporting the power, influence and activities of the fossil fuel industry.

Why are Camden investing public money in fossil fuels, while at the same time they are spending money on sustainability initiatives to combat climate change?

We would like to see Camden Council lead the way on sustainability and ensure their investments act for the public good by not investing in activities that are damaging for people and planet.

Leading cities around the world are already divesting from fossil fuels, including Seattle and San Francisco… wouldn’t it be great if Camden could lead the way in London?  Sign up to support Fossil Free Camden now and please share!

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Power to the pedestrians

Camden Friends of the Earth - sustainable transportWe love sustainable transport – we even made a sustainable transport treasure trail!

Camden Council have some innovative initiatives around sustainable transport including Green Streets Fitzrovia and free car club membership for the first 150 residents to give up their resident parking permits.

However we are worried that TfL’s plan to roll out pedestrian countdown crossings across the borough will reduce pedestrian crossing times in favour of motor vehicles – as seen at Oxford Circus.

We recently wrote to Camden Council on this issue:

As we said on 26 February 2011 in our response to Camden’s draft transport strategy, there is evidence that TfL is using Pedestrian Countdown at Traffic Signals (PCaTS) in order to allocate more “green-light time” to traffic against pedestrian movements. This is consequently offering more capacity for traffic volumes and speed to increase, and is further severing communities living along busy roads. This is also reducing attractiveness and accessibility of streets to pedestrians.

For these reasons, we would appreciate if Camden Council could answer the following two questions:

  1. How will the Council ensure that new pedestrian countdowns are neither used to reduce pedestrian crossing time nor used to deliberately increase capacity for traffic on streets in Camden?
  2. As part of roll-out of PCaTS at 220 sites, how many are planned in Camden and at which junctions?

We are awaiting a response.

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Camden Council supports our Final Demand

Camden Council has joined Friends of the Earth and other local authorities across the country in objecting to the Government’s consultation proposals to cut Feed-in-tariff (FiT) rates for solar electricity projects.

A news article on Camden’s website Camden Council slams government’s bid to cut solar feed-in-tariffs states:

The FiT currently guarantees an income to installers of solar electricity panels and is instrumental in supporting low carbon growth in Camden.

As well as cutting FiT rates, the government’s latest review makes two other controversial proposals: firstly it proposes to bring forward the cuts to a date prior to the close of the consultation and secondly it further reduces rates to organisations that install more than one solar system.

Camden challenged both of these proposals through the consultation process and made its submission on 20 December 2011.

Over 200 councils, businesses, organisations and MPs nationwide, have signed up to support our Final Demand joint statement. Signatories include Cllr Sean Birch, Cabinet Member for Sustainability and Transport, together with a number of other Camden councillors and representatives of local community groups and businesses in Camden. The statement asks the Government to urgently rethink its proposed changes to solar energy policies, specifically, the cut to the feed-in tariff. Read the full statement here.

Sign our Final Demand petition

Over 100 people in Camden have also signed our Final Demand petition, asking David Cameron

  • To launch an independent public inquiry into the Big Six’s power over consumers and influence over politicians.
  • Not to axe support for clean British energy produced by communities, councils, business and householders.

The Big Six energy companies make billions in profits each year and the Government is letting them get away with it.
If you haven’t already please sign the petition online and join the 20,000+ people nationwide who’ve already signed.

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Air Quality Summit in Camden

On 21 November, Jess and Alex have been to the Air Quality Summit, jointly organised by Camden and Islington Councils. Here’s their report:

Professor Frank Kelly (King’s College) started the summit on the impacts of air pollution. With 29,000 death per year in the UK, this kills more than road collisions! more than alcoholism! Note that for each of those victims, pollution is causing the loss of 11 years of life on average. He talked in great details of some of the most harmful pollutants: the particulate matters (PM) emitted by diesel vehicles. PM10 are six times thinner than a hair, and yet very harmful. One of the most alarming issue is their effect on the development of children’s lung. For more resources, please refer to

Isabel Dedring (Deputy Mayor for Transport) helped us identify the sources of PM10 and NOx. On the one hand, PM10 is a typically transport related pollution, with enormous contributions from the black cabs and from ‘tyre & brake wear’. On the other hand, NOx is a more complex issue, to which traffic but also gas boilers contribute to a great extent. When asked by a conservative councillor why the Mayor didn’t do more to reduce congestion, she pointed out that quicker journey times would generate more demand for car travel. We were happily surprised by this wise position.

Lewis Merdler (Environmental Protection UK) encouraged us to follow the @HealthyAirUK campaign:

Simon Birkett (Clean Air in London, @CleanAirLondon) pointed out that the Environment Audit Committee, in their latest report [link to the EAC report] is talking of a ‘national scandal’ caused by the inaction of the government on air quality. On Euston road, a stone’s throw away from the Council Chamber, the average level of NO2 is three times the legal limit. Already 40 Germany cities have implemented low emission zones (LEZ). What are we waiting for? And are we protected indoors? He recommends us to check if our offices’ ventilation system comply with the EN 13779 standard.

Roger Madelin, developper of the new land behind Kings Cross, has given an enthusiastic talk of which we can remember two points:

– Euston Road has had its capacity severely reduced over months during the rebuild of St Pancras Station around 2004: the road network system didn’t collapse, traffic levels through the area simply dropped! That’s a lesson to learn for decision makers contemplating a reallocation of road space!

– His developments will rely on a heat network, hence preventing the use of individual boilers and reducing NOx emissions.

Lucinda Turner (TfL) was presenting the range of policies which TfL is implementing. In particular, TfL is campaigning for motorists to turn off their engines as soon as they plan stopping for more than 1 minute, which is allegedly the environmental threshold beyond which savings can be made. She also acknowledges that electric vehicles are not ideal considering that they cause congestion, severance… [+ collisions and obesity, which we would add to her words]

Many thanks to Cllr Paul Braithwaite and Cllr Sean Birch for their leadership in organising this meeting. The speaker’s presentations, but also the complete video of the event, have now been uploaded to the Camden Council website

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Camden’s Transport Strategy 2011-2031

The Camden Transport Strategy 2011-2031 sets out how the Council will address a range of transport challenges. The strategy also forms the Local Implementation Plan, also called LIP, a key element to request funding from TfL.

Camden Friends of the Earth answered the consultation in February 2011, supporting most orientation but pushing for a more ambitious approach. Considering the financial difficulties the Council is facing, planning is critical. We have to set the priorities right. We must identify and support the future patterns of sustainable travel.

Amongst our many concerns, three key issues can be identified:

1) Camden must get serious about cutting excessive speeds in our neighbourhoods using physical measures such as speed tables and raised crossings;

2) The Council should explicitly stop supporting populist myths such as the “clean car for all” and the “lower emissions from smoother traffic flows”;

3) The strategy should plan for a legitimate steep increase in parking charges.

Our full answer can be downloaded here [PDF 500ko]. We are expecting Camden Council to publish a final version of their plan this month on this page: [Council’s Transport Strategies and Plans]

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Sustainability deputation to Camden Council

Update: Read a report from Transition groups on our deputation. Following the deputation Camden council have now signed up to support Friends of the Earth’s call for national legislation on Local Carbon Budgets.

On Monday 28 February Camden Friends of the Earth, along with other green groups in Camden will be petitioning the council for more action on sustainability issues. We’ll be giving a deputation to the full council meeting at Camden Town Hall on Judd St, from 7pm. Please do come along if you’d like to (you’ll need to be there by 6.30pm).

Our deputation reads as follows:

We – CamdenCAN, Camden Cycling Campaign, Camden Friends of the Earth, Gaia Foundation, Jewish Community Centre, Transition Belsize, Transition Bloomsbury and Transition Primrose Hill:

  • Are delighted that Camden has signed up to the Friends of the Earth “Get Serious” campaign to reduced the borough’s emissions by 40% by 2020, but believe that the government’s figures for decarbonisation of the grid, and Camden Council’s adoption of them, are unrealistic, so we would therefore urge the council to publish a Plan B scenario which does not use such optimistic figures for decarbonisation of the grid;
  • Urge Camden Council to take part in the Green Deal if allowed as we believe that local authorities are far better placed to be able to provide loans for energy efficiency measures to householders in their local areas than private companies;
  • Would like to see Camden Council back the creation of a Peak Oil Report for Camden as Bristol and many North American cities have done;
  • Support the Green Action for Change but we think it is not relevant enough to the general public, and specifically we urge the council to replace the Carbon and Air Quality sections by one on Pollution, change the Waste section for a Reuse and Recycling section, add an Energy Saving section, and to make Food a main pillar of the strategy as we believe that food, in all its manifestations, is the easiest way to get residents thinking about sustainability;
  • Urge Camden Council to adopt a blanket 20 mph limit through the borough on non-TFL roads to encourage more people to give up their cars in favour of walking and cycling; and
  • Ask Camden Council to support national legislation on local carbon budgets being promoted by Friends of the Earth.
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