An update will be provided by Penelope Tollitt on the Climate Change work being undertaken in the High Wycombe area.
Penelope Tollitt, Director, Making Places Together and John Shaw, Chiltern Rangers, provided a presentation on climate change setting out evidence, consequences and actions that could be taken. Penelope noted that she believed this was a very urgent matter.
A number of charts and diagrams were provided in the presentation setting out the evidence and website links were provided for the source material. Penelope noted that after leaving the Council she reconnected with environmental issues and confirmed that she was Member of Institute of Environmental Sciences and a Chartered Environmentalist. She provided information on an initiative to support action against climate change, the ‘11th Hour Strike for the Climate’. Penelope provided a number of slides setting out evidence with regards to global warming, the effect on the planet, the economy and food and water shortages.
John provided information on the history and impact on the Chilterns and the chalk stream, specifically water usage from these streams. He noted that the impact of climate change was already visible in the Chilterns and water scarcity was an issue. Water resource needed to be protected and was one of the most important problems that needed to be considered. The Beech woodlands were also at risk due to climate change, and pest and diseases that thrive in a warmer climate. The chalk grasslands, rare areas of habitation which hosted various species of plants and butterflies, were declining and adding to the bio diversity crisis. Newly planted trees were helping to mitigate the crisis by linking habitats, creating hedgerows and protecting areas. All of these issues would need to be considered to protect against the threat of climate change. Urban spaces would also need to be used better for bio diversity in the town. It was suggested to act locally, make small changes, sharing of information and to save water at home where possible.
Actions suggested for High Wycombe included: tree and wild flower planting, rewilding areas in the town such as Desborough Rec, electric car networks, off-road bike super networks and more allotments. It was suggested that a High Wycombe climate change action team could be created with the High Wycombe Town Committee and the Community Board using volunteers and to connect with individuals, schools and groups.
In response to a number of questions the following main points were noted:
· Concern was raised regarding the increase in the number of bonfires and people paving over gardens. It was noted that most gardens were unregulated in planning however education was preferred over regulation.
· The ability for people to act together would enable changes to be made.
· Education of children was suggested to enable change within individuals and families.
· Water leaks should be rectified.
· Developments should be designed to support the environment. Alternatives to car use and the benefits of using other types of transport should be considered.
· Consideration should be given to the future rather than looking at the mistakes in the past.
· Regulation, education and leading by example would be required to deal with climate change. It was recommended that the council should go paperless.
· Elected members should set the standard and show by example. It was suggested that members provide information on changes they have made to tackle climate change.
· An information stall could be provided in the town centre providing information. Projects could be undertaken with schools and groups through the Community Board funding. It was suggested that a working group be created to move this work forward.
· It was suggested that members could work with faith and community groups on projects to tackle climate change.
· Consideration would need to be given nationally regarding electrical distribution for electric vehicles as some infrastructure would be outdated.
· Local energy production such as solar panels could be considered.
· Community champions could be used to highlight issues.
· Cabinet Members had been difficult to contact with issues and it was important that members were supported on a local level.
· Local people needed to be supported to change.
· Woodland could regenerate without the need for additional planting and was able to regenerate naturally.
· There were issues with consumption rather than just population.
· Members supported the suggestion of setting up an action team.
· It was confirmed that the presentation would be circulated to members.
The Chairman thanked Penelope and John for their presentation.