The Climate Crisis is a growing threat to our survival. Decisive leadership is needed at all levels to reduce greenhouse gases and increase biodiversity. We were instrumental in declaring the Climate Change Emergency at Uttlesford District Council (UDC) and together with the community-based EcoForum, have been active in developing UDC’s climate strategy. We will continue to show leadership by working with businesses, farms, schools, churches, organisations, political parties and all the people of Uttlesford to address our environmental crisis.
We will maximise sustainable employment in our recovery from the pandemic. Instead of borrowing to invest rate payers’ money in far flung and dubious projects relating to the production of armaments, we will invest locally, taking full advantage of opportunities to grow a new, vibrant, green economy. The world is waking up to the urgency of change, and that change will generate new business opportunities.
Our local shops and businesses have done brilliantly to weather the Covid storm and we will do everything we can to promote our district as a shopping, social, cultural and tourist destination as well as encouraging the local green economy.
The pandemic also highlighted our dependence on a highly polluting aviation sector with thousands of jobs lost - some permanently. Greens will diversify local work opportunities. Sustainable, forward-thinking sectors will generate secure, well-paid jobs for current and future generations.
We will promote all the grants available for both reduction of energy consumption, including community led projects.
We initiated the Chairman’s Charter to reduce single-use plastics across the district. Deposit Return Schemes will be encouraged, and we will press for improvements in the amount of domestic waste that is recycled, with food waste and other organic material being banned from landfill and used to generate domestic gas.
Why is our road network in such a woeful state of repair? Why are potholes not fixed? Why have we missed out on the provision of cycle paths? Since the privatisation of Essex Highways, the quality of road repairs has dropped dramatically. The Green Party would encourage Essex County Council to cease outsourcing Highway maintenance, bringing full accountability for potholes back in-house, improving road repairs and reinstating comprehensive maintenance of the Public Rights of Way network.
Over the next 5 years there will be a major shift to electric vehicles, so we will ensure that all new builds have one charging point per car, that car parks and leisure centres are fully equipped with fast charging points and on-street parking has accessible charging. 20mph urban speed limits will make cycling safer and more attractive.
We will protect and enhance our village schools. They have been battered by government cuts and Covid. Village schools are central to our communities, providing quality education. We will promote pre-school and outdoor education as well as active travel and bus services to secondary schools.
Special educational needs are often under-served and parents of SEN children in Uttlesford often travel many miles each day to get the education they require. We would work to ensure that schools are adequately resourced so that children do not lose out simply because of where they live.
Our only further education college remains wedded to delivering a skilled workforce for the aviation sector, which exacerbates climate change. Greens would broaden educational opportunities at Stansted Airport College to provide vocational education in skills that will contribute to a vibrant, sustainable economy.
Adult education has been run down, robbing people of the chance to re-train and adapt to a rapidly changing economy. This has particularly affected the self-employed and parents returning to work. Greens will champion adult education provision, providing people with the chance to learn and develop new skills.
The continued support of Day and Community Centres is crucial to the wellbeing and health of the elderly and vulnerable groups. They make an immense contribution to strong and cohesive communities and are cost effective in terms of reducing the mental health impacts of loneliness.
We will promote healthy lifestyles and well-being, with particular emphasis on mental health and opportunities for exercise. Town and village commons should be full of fun and healthy exercise groups of all ages, reducing the burden on the NHS. Developers will be compelled to provide green, play and sports areas when new homes are approved.
We will encourage the funding of more police community support officers and special constables to promote secure and peaceful communities.
We will protect library, arts and museum funding and promote and expand their cultural and educational activities.
Local and Community Plans need to have sustainability at their heart. Our plans will promote healthy living environments which will improve our relationship with our planet. Housing will be located where there are clean, sustainable forms of transport, so that daily carbon emissions and pollution are massively reduced.
For years, planning policy in Uttlesford has added to car dependency, congestion and pollution. Our planning will minimise traffic and promote clean, healthy and active modes of transport.
But before we build any new houses, we will start with a vision, defining why we want them and why people would choose to live in them. We will focus on the quality of life and the environment around us, not on the required housing numbers.
All new homes should be built with the zero carbon features that are likely to be mandatory in 10 years time. For our existing homes and other buildings, we will lobby Government for new grants to pay the costs of retro-fitting.
Homes should be affordable. This means that in years to come they will be cheap to run, with extremely low fuel bills, and will not pass on pollution costs to our children and grandchildren.
Our homes should reduce the risks of climate change, not add to them. With new building techniques and materials, it is perfectly possible for homes to be both energy efficient and affordable. The cost of low carbon technology in our homes will reduce dramatically once local councils insist that all developers are required to include it.
The world is suffering massive biodiversity loss, and Uttlesford is no exception. We will embark on extensive tree planting and re-wilding projects, working with farmers to increase bio-diversity and the health of our soils, with towns and villages and with developers to ensure that new housing developments and existing communities respect our relationship with nature. We will end the practice of stripping all developments of their topsoil.
We will protect and enhance our existing Ancient Woodland, SSSI and other Nature Reserves.
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