2018

September 2018 - The Council’s air quality action plan

We are waiting for a new draft air quality action plan to be published by the Liberal Democrat Council which took over in May 2018.

You can read the first draft plan here: - follow the link at the bottom of the page.

The Richmond and Twickenham Friends of the Earth response is here.

We believe that the first draft plan is inadequate and does not go nearly far enough to address the scale of the problem. Please email your local ward councillors if you are concerned about air pollution. Points you might wish to make could include:

  • Why you are concerned about air pollution
  • The plan falls far short of proposing measures that will be sufficient to address the scale of the problem, for example it states that in George Street, Richmond it will be necessary to reduce emissions from traffic by 73% to meet legal limits but then doesn’t propose anything likely to achieve this
  • The actions which are listed are often vague, or promise assessments and frameworks rather than actions
  • The plan lacks clear timescales and measurable targets
  • Other Boroughs, for example, Greenwich and Islington have far more ambitious plans

You might also want to suggest things that would make it easier and more pleasant for you to walk and cycle. Our wish list includes: 

  • Change from trying to keep traffic flowing’ to reducing the amount of traffic
  • Require all buses to switch off their engines when stopped at bus stops in George Street, Richmond, Twickenham Town centre and other busy locations
  • Don’t grant permission for any more cutting down of healthy mature trees in the Borough e.g. as proposed at Chalker's Corner in Morlake in connection with the Stag Brewery redevelopment
  • Reallocate one third of the existing parking wardens’ time towards enforcing no-idling zones, mandatory cycle lanes, parking on pavements and advance stop lines.
  • Reallocate one third of the current transport budget specifically to walking and cycling infrastructure improvements and provide greater transparency on how the transport budget is allocated and spent.
  • Change the current parking charges (both for residents parking zones and council car parks) to incentivise hybrid and electric vehicles.
  • Re-evaluate the latest plans for Twickenham Riverside to remove much of the parking which is currently proposed and make the Riverside more attractive for cycling and walking.
  • Close George Street to through traffic (apart from buses) between the junction with Red Lion Street and the junction with Church Road opposite the Orange Tree (see below).
  • Remove all parking on the Kew Gardens side of the Kew Road to enable a permanent cycle lane
  • Provide a fund for implementing suggestions by cycling and walking groups with an internet suggestions scheme in the same way the Council’s pavement fund has operated.
  • Make the default speed limit 20mph Borough-wide
  • Plant hedges between main roads and adjacent cycle routes/pavements in areas such as along the A316 where pollution is highest
  • Continue to increase the numbers of bike racks across the Borough and install bike channels on all the footbridges in the Borough.
  • Introduce no stopping zones outside schools at drop off/pick up times or consider closing roads altogether at these times
  • Improve signage of cycle routes.

 At our June meeting we enjoyed a talk by Nikki Jones, independent writer and researcher, on "The Future of Climate Change".  Nikki's website can be found here  We also raised £138 for the charity SolarAid which will be doubled by a generous donor.

May 2018 - Brexit discussion

Opposing sides of the Brexit debate unite on Environmental Protection

Surprisingly, opposing voices from the Brexit divide agree that environmental protection must be built into to any UK legislation, international agreements and trade deals. This common ground was highlighted as a result of recent meetings with Richmond and Twickenham Friends of the Earth.

Very little has been mentioned about protection of the environment during the many hours of debate about Brexit, but the EU currently sets the rules for environmental protection as well as constraining as well as putting constraints on individual member countries wanting to increase protection beyond the EU regulations.

Politicians can quite legitimately see Brexit both as an opportunity and as a threat to the environment. The two MPs in Richmond upon Thames, Vince Cable (Lib Dem, Twickenham) and Zac Goldsmith (Con, Richmond Park) represent these two positions on opposite sides of the Thames and on opposite sides of the Brexit debate. Yet remarkably both have agreed with the environmental protection “green red lines” drawn up by Friends of the Earth.

These “green red lines” call for the current EU environmental protection to be transferred to UK law and for any new trade agreements to respect and enhance them. Crucially, they call for an organisation independent of government to monitor government compliance with a set of overall principles for environmental protection.

Zac Goldsmith sees the opportunities arising from Brexit to transform farm subsidies so that land owners are encouraged to protect the countryside and to raise standards of animal welfare, both domestically and for imported animal products

Vince Cable is concerned that the risks of Brexit could mean the undermining of current air quality standards and other environmental protection coming from and safeguarded by the EU.

Richmond and Twickenham Friends of the Earth welcomes the support of these two MPs and hopes that there will be more open debate about the consequences for the environment arising from Brexit and any resulting trade deals.

ENDS

Editors’ Notes:

Friends of the Earth (England Wales and Northern Ireland) Brexit Environmental “Green Red Lines” are:

•             All current environmental protections stemming from the EU need to be transposed into UK law before Brexit. This should include all regulations, directives not currently in UK law, principles, and governance arrangements, covering everything from air quality to water, habits, food standards etc.

•             The UK government must commit to maintain these at or above the current EU standard now and in the future – which should include safeguarding secondary legislation from themselves and other future governments weakening.

•             We need an independent, properly resourced body to monitor government compliance with these laws in future, and with the power to penalise the UK or devolved nation governments when they don’t comply.

•             We should stay part of any EU body or mechanism required to ensure the above – or have a system in place to ensure the UK learns from the best of this and has the capacity to make our own systems to en sure this (i.e. if we leave EU bodies that regulate bee harming pesticides, we’d need our own body to research and guarantee safety in the future)

•             No trade deal should be prioritised over the above requirements – particularly around food, animal welfare, GM and chemicals usage

•             And finally, overall, Brexit shouldn’t lead to any negative change in any protection relating to nature, climate or the environment as a whole.

Friends of the Earth are the leading organisation in the coalition Greener UK which has proposed changes to the EU (Withdrawal) Bill to safeguard UK environmental protections and is working to secure strong future UK legislation on the environment.

Press contact: Simon Tompsett 07931 984694

2017

At our November meeting held at the ETNA Centre Jenny Bates of Friends of the Earth and Jenine Langrish talked about air pollution.

Copies of the slides are here:

Jenny Bates, Friends of the Earth national air pollution campaigner, and

Jenine Langrish from RTFoE and Make Air Safe and Clean, a local alliance of organisations concerned about air pollution

Councillor Jean Loveland the London Borough of Richmond cycling champion came to our September meeting to discuss planned improvements to cycling in the Borough (plus a range of other topics including electric cars and air pollution). The cycling strategy was published fairly recently and the air pollution strategy is due to come out in a draft for consultation in autumn 2017.

Councillor Pamela Fleming, London Borough of Richmond's Cabinet Member for the Environment came to talk to us about recycling and waste disposal locally on Wednesday 7th June.  It was a very interesting discussion covering everything from recycling in flats to where the various waste streams are being sent, including a new incinerator in Avonmouth. We also discussed air pollution locally and will be commenting on the forthcoming LB Richmond Air Pollution strategy.

On Thursday 25th May we organised a general electon hustings meeting for the Twickenham constituency on the subject of the environment, human rights and the arms trade at the Baptist Church in Teddington. Vince Cable (Liberal Democrat), Tania Mathias (Conservative) and Katherine Dunne (Labour) all attended and there were many questions ranging from Heathrow expansion to arms sales to Saudi Arabia.

We had a stall at the Richmond May Fair on Saturday 13th May concentrating on air pollution and have given out 10 diffusion tubes to local residents who are putting them up to measure nitrogen dioxide emissions in their area.

The new MP for Richmond Park, Sarah Olney, came to our meeting on 1st March to talk to us about her experiences to date and hear about our environmental concerns.

At our meeting on 1st February we showed the film "Growthbusters" - for more information see http://www.growthbusters.com a very interesting website with a trailer for the film and a lot more information about the maker Dave Gardner's activities.

 

2016

We had Christmas Dinner at Diner's Delight Turkish Restaurant in Teddington again! Their food is delicious.

Letter to the local papers about the Richmond Park by-election (November 2016):

Richmond and Twickenham Friends of the Earth welcomes the Richmond Park by-election as an opportunity to refute Heathrow’s absurd claims that the community supports its damaging expansion plans. All the candidates standing so far are rightly opposed to Heathrow expansion. There may yet emerge a pro-Heathrow candidate but not from the main political parties. We believe that the voters of the Richmond Park constituency are intelligent enough to know that Heathrow expansion would not only bring aircraft noise and air pollution, but would increase congestion and contribute to climate change too. While RTFoE will not support any specific political party, we hope there is a good turnout to demonstrate that local opposition to Heathrow expansion is strong and that the Government should think again.

Heathrow expansion has been our main campaign again this year. The Government's announcement that it favours a third runway is most unwelcome and we will continue to campaign against any expansion of airports in the UK.

We have been working with a number of other organisations on air quality locally. We have funded some measurement tubes that will monitor NO2 in Kew.

We have supplied wildflower seeds to London Borough of Richmond to create a wildflower area in High Park Road, Kew and to Strawberry Hill House where they will be planting a wildflower area outside the main gate in Autumn 2016.

We enjoyed visiting the Hive in Kew Gardens during August.

 

2015

We enjoyed a delicious Christmas Dinner in December at Turkish Restaurant, Diner's Delight, in Church Road, Teddington.

At our meeting on 4th November we showed the film This Changes Everything.

We held stalls to talk to the public about Heathrow expansion in Teddington on 7th November and Richmond on 28th November and have submitted hundreds of requests to the Prime Minister from the public locally to dismiss the idea of a third runway. We are against any new runways in the South East. We responded to the Davies Commission consultation on airport expansion in February and to the May 2015 consultation on air quality and Heathrow.

RTFoE member Simon Bailey gave a talk on electrifying transport on Wednesday 1st July 2015.

 

2014

RTFoE campaigned for a Bee Action Plan from 2011-14. The Government finally produced a National Pollinator Strategy in November 2014. This is a step in the right direction but Friends of the Earth feel it needs to be strengthened and recent concessions granted to allow the continuing use of neonicotonoid pesticides are worrying.

We held a workshop with the organisation Share Action on the subject of pensions and climate change in October 2014. We corresponded with the Pensions Committee of London Borough of Richmond during late 2014-15 asking if they could be doing more to divest from fossil fuels but found the councillors seemed to be very scared to take action or even to question their fund managers on this topic.

We conducted a survey of candidates standing in London Borough of Richmond's local elections on 22nd May 2014. A copy of our report is here.

The overall response was 44% (88 out of 193 candidates).

The response rate for each party was:

Lib Dem 70% (38 out of 54)

Conservative 30% (16 out of 54)

Labour 31% (17 out of 54)

UKIP 26% (5 out of 19)

Green 100% (10 out of 10)

Independent 100% (2 out of 2)