Speech: Supporting Green environmental amendments

I had the task of speaking to our budget amendments which dealt with environmental issues. Unfortunately none of them gained enough support to go through.

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Budgets always present difficult choices — we can’t possibly afford to address all the issues we’d like to. The Green Group feel that the proposed Conservative budget does not best address the most urgent issues facing our city’s residents.

We are proposing four simple, cost effective measures that will improve residents’ quality of life. These measures will also contribute to safeguarding our environment. The proposals I’m speaking to are:

  • Free home insulation for 900 families in lower council tax bands.
  • Protecting people from noise disturbance with additional noise team patrols.
  • Promoting garden and food waste collections.
  • A downland protection fund to preserve our unique countryside landscape.

Despite recent small drops in fuel costs, overall household fuel bills have been on the rise for the past few years. Our home insulation proposal will save money for families on lower council tax bands whilst also reducing the emissions from heating their homes.

With regards to noise, the recent studentification scrutiny panel highlighted the need for more support for residents when faced with noise nuisance. The 2003 Licensing Act has also unleashed far more disturbance on the city’s residents. More shifts from the noise team will allow more residents to seek relief from noise and get a good night’s sleep.

It costs us, as a Council, more to ship waste to landfill or incineration than it costs to recycle it. So it makes financial as well as environmental sense to seek alternatives. Our amendments seek to bring in a garden green waste collection scheme at zero overall cost to the tax payer. Residents will pay to subscribe to the regular doorstep collections, at a substantial saving compared to commercial green waste collections. Where possible we would encourage people to compost at home, but many are unable to do so and need an alternative. This measure has had great support from the Older Peoples’ Council.

Whilst garden green waste is 10%, food makes up 35% of our municipal waste. To make a significant impact on our waste levels and meet our recycling targets, we need to tackle food waste. Our proposal aims to update work previously done to ensure the viability, logistics and detail of a food waste collection in the city. Many people, especially in flats, don’t have room to home compost so municipal food and garden waste collections are essential.

Finally we are proposing a Downland Protection Fund to preserve our unique countryside landscape. This fund would support a number of measures to protect precious downland ecosystems and has received widespread support from local associations. Measures include mowing, composting and bringing forward sheep grazing, which we support.

I urge you to support our amendments.

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