The great plastic waste con (that we all pay for)

“The first council in the UK has said it is planning to tell residents to stop recycling mixed plastic, sparking fears that years of progress on reducing black bag waste is on the verge of going into reverse.

It comes as the Environment Agency is understood to be investigating the plastics recycling industry over claims that millions of tonnes of plastic is never actually recycled, meaning consumers may have been wasting time separating plastic waste.

Plastic recycling waste has been building up in the UK since China stopped importing it last year, with the situation now so bad that councils have now started cutting plastic recycling services.

Swindon has said it wants households to put mixed plastic items, such as yogurt pots and plastic trays, in the bin with regular waste.

Instead of recycling it is proposing to incinerate it along with other household rubbish. The Environment Agency is said to be investigating claims that plastic meant for recycling is being left to leak into rivers and oceans.

The problem has led to Basingstoke Borough Council taking the decision yesterday to close all 29 of its mixed plastic “bring banks”.

And in Southampton, plastic left over in the bins will be removed in the next two weeks and incinerated to generate energy for the National Grid.

Geoff Quayle, sales director of Printwaste Recycling and Shredding which provides 19 banks to Southampton City Council and 29 to Basingstoke and Dean as well as other local authorities, said the company has already stockpiled around 40 tonnes of plastic since July.

… Julian Kirby, plastics campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said: “We can’t burn our way out of the plastic pollution crisis.

“Incinerators belch polluting, poisonous fumes and ash into the atmosphere. “The ultimate solution is to avoid the use of unnecessary plastics in the first place. This is why we’re campaigning for legislation to end the use of all but the most essential plastics.”

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/10/18/plastic-recycling-crisis-first-council-plans-tell-households/

“Bus travel hits 12-year-low as prices rise and services are axed”

“… The latest figures from the show 1.2 billion local bus journeys were made across Britain between April and June – a 10 per cent decrease since the peak of 1.33 billion between July and September 2008.

The fall in journeys coincides with a 55 per cent hike in average fares over the past decade.

Demand for bus travel has not been this low since the beginning of 2006.

A recent CBT study found that funding for supported buses has almost halved in the last eight years, leaving many areas without public transport.

Local authority bus budgets in England and Wales were slashed by £20.5m last year – the eighth consecutive annual government cut.

“The falling number of passengers taking the bus is a consequence of continued cuts in funding to support services,” said Darren Shirley, CBT chief executive.

“Nationally and locally this is resulting in fewer services and higher fares. The statistics back up what our research has been showing for years: that buses are in crisis.”

Mr Shirley urged the government to use its upcoming budget to reverse the “trend of cutting support” for buses.

“They are vital for the economy and the environment but year-on-year, people – especially in rural areas – are losing their bus service, making it difficult to access jobs, education and other essential public services.”

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/bus-travel-numbers-price-rise-public-transport-a8584211.html

“‘I leave the car at home’: how free buses are revolutionising one French city”

“… One month ago, Dunkirk – with a metropolitan population of 200,000 – became the largest city in Europe to offer free public transport. There are no trams, trolleybuses or local commuter trains, but the hop-on-hop-off buses are accessible and free – requiring no tickets, passes or cards – for all passengers, even visitors.

The scheme took its inspiration from Tallinn in Estonia, which in 2013 became the first European capital to offer a fare-free service on buses, trams and trolleybuses, but only to residents who are registered with the municipality. They pay €2 for a “green card”, after which all journeys are free. The city has reported an increase of 25,000 in the number of registered residents – the number previously stood at 416,000 – for which the local authorities receives €1,000 of each resident’s income tax every year.

Free urban transport is spreading. In his research Wojciech Keblowski, an expert on urban research at Brussels Free University, found in 2016 there were 107 fare-free public transport networks around the world: 67 in Europe (30 in France), 25 in North America, 11 in South America, 3 in Asia and one in Australia. Many are smaller than Dunkirk and offer free transit limited to certain times, routes and people.

In February this year, Germany announced it was planning to trial free public transport in five cities – including the former capital Bonn and industrial cities Essen and Mannheim. In June this was downgraded to a slashing of public transport fares to persuade people to ditch cars.

The largest in the world is in Changning , in China’s Hunan province, where free transit has been in operation since 2008. Passenger numbers reportedly jumped by 60% on the day it was introduced.

A study into free public transport by online journal Metropolitics found an increase in mobility among older and younger people, and an increased sense of freedom.

… Vergriete believes this is all part of an erroneous received dogma. He admits free public transport may not work everywhere, but says that, as well as being good for the environment, it is a social measure, a gesture of “solidarity” and promotes a more egalitarian redistribution of wealth than tax cuts.

“We have been pragmatic: we looked at the advantages of free transport and weighed them against the disadvantages and decided €7m is not a lot to pay for all the benefits. If I can pass one message to other mayors it’s to fight the dogma. Put the advantages and disadvantages on the table and consider it realistically. It may be that the financial cost is too great, but don’t underestimate the social advantages. You can’t put a price on mobility and social justice.”

https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2018/oct/15/i-leave-the-car-at-home-how-free-buses-are-revolutionising-one-french-city

Ageing-friendly cities [towns and villages]

Given East Devon’s demographic of a large elderly population, some of the points made in this article about designing ageing-friendly cities apply to our towns and villages too. There appear to be few (or no) design features for the older population in, say, Cranbrook, where it seems people are expected to move on if they grow older.

“…Getting out and about

The quality of the environment outside the home has a huge bearing on an older person’s quality of life. Joe Oldman, Age UK’s policy manager for housing and transport, says paying attention to the built environment can make the difference between someone participating in life, and them being isolated at home. “Accessible public transport, level pavements, places to sit, the removal of trip hazards, good street lighting and public toilets are all vital components to encouraging older people to stay engaged with their local community.”

New York City has added 1,500 new benches and 3,500 new or improved bus shelters in the last decade, in consultation with senior centres on their placement – such as within 250 metres from hospitals or community facilities. In the UK, 300 businesses in Nottingham have signed up to the city’s Take a Seat scheme, identifying shops where older and disabled people are welcome to rest with a “We are age-friendly” sticker.

With older people less likely to drive, affordable, accessible public transport is crucial to an age-friendly city. In January a UK study of 18,000 over-50s found that free public transport resulted in fewer cases of depression, after researchers tracked changes in mental health before and after people became eligible for free travel.

Natalie Turner of the UK charity, the Centre for Ageing Better, believes cities need inclusive transport strategies. “Good transport links help everyone, whatever their age, to access vital services such as doctors and social and cultural amenities, so that they can be involved in city life, stay independent and keep up social connections.”

Many cities, including Washington DC and Bilbao in northern Spain, have identified improving access to transport as a cornerstone of their ageing strategies. Proposals include making bus drivers aware of the needs of vulnerable community members, maintaining bus stops and pavements, and ensuring route information is accessible.

Innovative schemes are making cycling more accessible to older people. In south London, disability charity Wheels for Wellbeing offers sessions on specially adapted bikes, encouraging users to keep mobile, independent and fit. For those who no longer have the physical ability, Cycling Without Age – piloted in Copenhagen and now in 40 countries – enables the elderly to go out in tricycle rickshaws pedalled by volunteers.

Participation

An age-friendly city should provide opportunities for people to participate in public life and contribute to their communities, through paid or voluntary work. Evidence shows doing so increases social contact and good health. In Hong Kong the elder friendly employment practice helps older people to continue flexible employment post-retirement, through initiatives such as employment fairs and an online job-matching.

Roger Battersby, an architectural consultant to PRP Architects, specialising in age-friendly housing in China, says many members of the country’s growing population of over-65s are employed by local government in landscaping services. “One sees armies of older people tending the urban landscapes which, as a consequence, are generally of a high quality.”

But Professor Chris Phillipson says an age-friendly city needs to go far beyond work, housing and infrastructure to take in global factorssuch as climate change and pollution, to which older people are particularly vulnerable.

Unless the bigger picture is tackled, Phillipson says, we are likely to see an increasingly unequal society in the future, with the elderly among those bearing the brunt. “There will be a significant number of people in their 50s still renting. One-third of over 50s don’t own property. They will have rented for a long time and won’t have equity or savings. Gentrification has also had an appalling effect on older people.”

One example is Berlin, where low-income flats are being sold to private developers, leading to rent increases that have made many areas unaffordable to older people.

“We need policies that have a real impact on the urban development that is taking place,” says Phillipson. “If the environment is hostile to people on low incomes, that impacts disproportionally on older residents. Cities must not think about housing and town planning policies in isolation. Age-friendliness needs to be part of the debate about urban development.”

https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2018/oct/10/what-would-an-age-friendly-city-look-like

New National Park for East Devon? Not while people like Diviani are councillors!

This is the aspiration:

“A new Dorset and East Devon National Park could be created.

Cllr Martin Shaw had called for Devon County Council to support the establishment of a Dorset and East Devon National Park and to submit a case for this to the DEFRA review of national parks.

But Devon County Council agreed that any expression of support for the establishment of a Dorset and East Devon National Park should be deferred until the overriding benefit was clearly demonstrated and that it would come from additional funding. …”

https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/new-national-park-could-created-2090631

This is the reality (November 2017 and nothing has changed:

It has been suggested that the area might secure some £10million of annual central government funding with more than 90 per cent of this being invested in the local economy.”

Responding to the question, council leader Paul Diviani stated that EDDC is not directly involved in the proposals and awaits further consultation as it progresses through the process of consideration.

When asked if he agrees with claims that a national park would bring significant economic benefits to the district, Cllr Diviani said: “National parks and AONBs are not about making money. The AONBS are much more localised than national parks ever can be.

“It is an opportunistic type of approach that people in Dorset are taking about our assets here in East Devon.”

https://eastdevonwatch.org/2017/11/09/dorset-positive-about-national-park-we-cant-join-up-as-diviani-doesnt-want-to-lose-control-of-assets/

“Michael Gove: Let homeowners scavenge for waste at council dumps”

Ooooh, the Telegraph – and Michael Gove – have only just discovered recycling centres, or “waste dumps” as they like to call them and are suggesting you “scavenge” them. Presumably only just noticed because the servants dispose of his rubbish for him.

Can you imagine trying to “scavenge” at Tipton, where skips are about 6 ft below you and filling up all the time! Much easier to go to the on-site shop!

Do let us know if you see Michael Gove “scavenging” at your “waste dump”!

“Homeowners should be allowed to scavenge for old televisions, furniture and appliances at dumps so they can reuse them, Michael Gove has suggested.

The Environment secretary told a meeting that he wanted to change rules at council recycling centres so people can recover valuables.

Currently, many local authorities ban people from taking away anything their tips,however Mr Gove said he wanted the rules to be relaxed.

According to the Sunday Times, Mr Gove told a meeting: “We must reduce the amount of material we waste.

Beware council promises – an example from Teignbridge

“Plans for a new country park serving the 2,500 homes to be built on the edge of Exeter are being cut back, it has been claimed.

The 70-hectare park (173 acres) in the area of the new homes around the Devon Hotel is being dropped by Teignbridge District Council in favour of one that is much smaller, says local county councillor Alan Connett.

Cllr Connett says he has uncovered the council’s plan for a park less than two-thirds the size of the original plan, at 39 hectares (96 acres).

He said: “Teignbridge’s own Local Plan, which sets out how the district will develop over the next 20 years, promises a ‘ridge top park of approximately 70 hectares’. “However, we see yet again how the council promises the earth and then quietly changes the plan.”

In a confidential report going to Teignbridge Council’s Executive committee on Tuesday, October 2, Mr Connett said it was understood the ruling Conservative councillors would be asked to back a new, smaller countryside park for the South West of Exeter development.

Cllr Connett, a Liberal Democrat, said: “Teignbridge now wants to concentrate on a country park that is over a third smaller than it promised residents. “Much of the development at South West Exeter is, in fact, in the parish of Exminster, which will see an extra 2,000 houses within the community, and just 500 ‘over the border’ in Exeter.

“The ridge top park is seen as an essential part of the development not only to provide open space for the residents who will live in the new homes but also to take pressure off the Exe Estuary and reduce the number of visitors.

“This is another example of the planning system promising one thing but delivering less than that promise.

It was the council that put forward a country park of approximately 70 hectares but now, in a secret meeting not open to the Press or the public, and without any consultation, it plans to renege on that promise.

“This is why local people lose faith in the planning system and don’t believe councils when they say good quality community benefits will be gained from large scale housing developments.

“Of course, a park of 96 acres will still be a big space to walk dogs, enjoy picnics and family time together, but that is not the point. “The park will be part of the community for ever more, we hope, and it’s already being downsized.

“As Exeter and Teignbridge continue to grow in the years to come, future generations will come to regret that the Park was not the promised 70 hectares.

“Also, as a local councillor I am now gagged and prevented from saying more about what I have uncovered because the council has ensured all this is being discussed in private, in secret session.”

“Teignbridge says it is an ‘open and transparent’ council, but yet again we see it is anything but that. “It prefers to do its business and cut back on its promises in a private meeting which the public are not allowed to attend.”

A spokesman for Teignbridge Council said Teignbridge adopted its Local Plan in 2014 and at the time the Plan’s independent Inspector noted that the Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspace allocation at South West Exeter was sufficient to address the impacts planned development, as well as possible needs in the future.

He said: “The same year, a masterplan for South West Exeter was publicly consulted on and adopted by the Council.

“It explained that 36 hectares of the 70 hectare allocation were needed to accommodate planned development and that the allocation of the larger area therefore provided longer term flexibility.

“The additional provision to the total of 70 hectares indicated was put in there to provide greater flexibility for the countryside park to expand in the future.

“In all cases the land areas being talked about are significantly larger than Dawlish countryside park.”

Cllr Humphrey Clemens, Teignbridge’s Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Housing and Planning, said: “In line with council procedure, Cllr Connett has had the opportunity to raise any questions in advance of the Executive and I welcome the opportunity to have an open discussion with him during the meeting.”

https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/devon-country-park-shrinks-2062679