Archive for the 'Camden Council' Category

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 comeap.org.uk

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: healthyair.org.uk

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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Consultation responses

We recently responded to two consultations run by Camden Council: the Environmental Sustainability Plan and the Draft Transport Strategy.  

See below for our responses:

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Carbon Descent: How Camden might reach 40% target

On Monday 6 September Camden invited members of the public to hear a presentation of Carbon Descent’s report on how it might reduce its emissions by 40% by 2020, compared to 2005. The meeting was chaired by Angela Mason, the Director for environment and a number of staff too. Friends of the Earth sent a delegation to the Council chamber a few months ago making this request so it was gratifying to see the Council so quickly produce a report setting out some ideas of how this might be achieved.

Two-thirds of the Boroughs emissions are from commercial and industrial, around third from home and a small amount from road transport. Since 2005, Camden’s emissions had grown by 2.6% by 2008. This means we have to reduce our emissions by 42.6%.

The consultants suggested a number of options to hit this target. Quite a large part (around 40%) would be achieved simply by grid electricity becoming partly decarbonised by 2020 through an increase in the amount of renewables and a shrinkage of the percentage coal. But Camden would have to increase the amount of solid wall insulation and CHP-district heating.

The report was a little quiet about the measures the commercial and industrial sector would take. Carbon Descent were negative about the amount of control the Council would have over businesses. Local renewables such as medium scale wind and micro-renewables like PV and solar hot water were not anticipated to make much of a difference.

Download Carbon Descent’s presentation
Download the full report - Meeting 40% Carbon Emissions Reductions by 2020

Angela Mason also launched the Camden Communities Green Fund which provides between £250 and £5000 to help local communities develop local projects.

(Thanks to Prashant Vaze, author Economical Environmentalist for the above summary of the event)

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Cutting Camden’s CO2 by 2020

Great news - Camden Council have just announced a seminar on cutting CO2 emissions across Camden by 40% in 2020 - the target of our Get Serious about CO2 campaign!

The event, “Cutting Camden’s CO2 by 2020: working together for a greener Camden“, will be held on Monday 6 September, 7-8pm, Council Chamber, Camden Town Hall, Judd Street WC1.

Chris Dunham of Carbon Descent will present Camden’s recently completed feasibility work on how Camden can achieve 40% CO2 reduction. They will focus on:

  • which low carbon strategies and technologies are likely to have the biggest impact
  • the probable challenges
  • the role people in Camden can play in Camden’s low carbon transition

After the presentation, there will be an opportunity to discuss the feasibility work with Carbon Descent and members of Camden’s sustainability team.

It sounds like a great event and shows how successful our campaign has been so far, with the council putting effort and resources into seeing how we can achieve substantial CO2 reductions across the borough.

All are welcome to attend - please contact harold.garner@camden.gov.uk if you plan to go along.

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Camden Green Summit

The new Executive Member for Sustainability at Camden Council, and Deputy Leader of the Camden Labour Group, Angela Mason, has asked Camden Council to organise a Camden Green Summit on Saturday 17th July from 10am to 3.30pm at Parliament Hill School, Highgate Road, NW5 IRL.

The twin aims of the event are:

  • to develop an overall vision for the Council’s engagement with the community on green issues
  • to think about how Camden as a borough can achieve a 40% reduction in carbon emissions by 2020 (a target we have been asking the council to adopt as part of the Get Serious About CO2 campaign)

If you plan to attend, then please register in advance online or over the phone (020) 7974 7362. Places are limited so early registration is advised.

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