Councillor Steve Mckenna’s Response to Planning for the Future White Paper

RESPONSE TO PLANNING FOR THE FUTURE WHITE PAPER

Introduction

The planning system is often misunderstood but it has made an enormous positive impact since its creation in 1947. From a Green perspective it has protected countryside and key heritage assets but its not simply a story about preservation. The planning system has helped build communities, deliver homes and jobs and is a key component of local democratic decision making.

Sadly this White Paper makes assumptions that are simply wrong  and accuses the planning system as being the disease not the cure, blaming it for failings such as the lack of delivery of new homes. In reality if the issue is one of delivery then the White Paper should have focussed upon giving Local Planning Authorities incentives and resources to carry out steps that would help delivery such as through commissioning, see below.

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Making Space for Nature

The Surrey Hills AONB Board has organised a Surrey Hills Symposium and you are all cordially invited. Taking place for free on the 25th November, experts from across the environmental spectrum will join in an online forum to discuss the question:

‘How can we reverse the drastic decline in nature and achieve a healthy natural environment that will allow our plants and animals to thrive?’

The talk marks the 10th year since Professor John Lawton published his Making Space for Nature report on creating a healthy natural environment that will allow our plants and animals to thrive. This forum will provide an opportunity to see what strides we have made into achieving Lawton’s goal.

 

Click the link to book your place and for more information: Surrey Hills Symposium

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The government’s planning proposals: wrong answers based on wrong assumptions

Councillor Steve Mckenna is compiling a response from the local Green Party to the Government’s ‘Planning for the future’ policy proposals – please send your thoughts before Thursday, 29 October and he will try to include all useful contributions in our response.

 

The planning system is often misunderstood but it has made an enormous positive impact since its creation in 1947. From a Green perspective it has protected countryside and key heritage – but it’s not a story about preservation. The planning system has helped build  communities, deliver homes and jobs, and is a key component of local democratic decision making.

The Government’s proposals aren’t just minor changes to the current system – they are a wholesale replacement.

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Friends of the Earth and Robert Jenrick to take part in Horse Hill judicial review

Friends of the Earth and Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, Robert Jenrick, have been granted permission to participate in a local campaigners’ legal challenge over oil production at Horse Hill, near Gatwick in Surrey.

Local Green Party member Sarah Finch argues that the Council failed to consider the direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions of the project, and the government’s Net Zero target for carbon emissions. Friends of the Earth applied to make a legal intervention to support Sarah’s challenge; the Secretary of State applied to be joined in order to oppose it.

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Art For The Earth

In order to fight the legal battle against the continuation of oil extraction at Horse Hill Sarah Finch has launched Art for the Earth. The initiative will help to raise the remaining £4,500 needed in legal fees. Here is a message from Sarah Finch on the #ArtForTheEarth scheme: Click here 

 

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Nuclear Weapons and Our Future

The threat of nuclear weapons is a dull, anxious constant for many people. Those who grew up during the cold war will recognise the fear of seeing a plane’s vapour trails in the sky. Whilst nuclear weapons may not make the headlines so much anymore, that does not make them any less prevalent in today’s society. Last year the UK government spent well over £7bn on nuclear weapons (commonslibary.gov.uk), and the US spent close to $100bn. In an era where these staggering figures could solve so many of the World’s greatest challenges there has been a resurgence in calls for nuclear disarmament. If you want to have your voice heard in this discussion then we have the forum for you to do it.

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One enormous council?

The leader of Surrey County Council, Tim Oliver, has written to the government saying the existing two-tier system should be replaced with one single council. With 1.2 million residents this would make it the largest unitary council in England. The Federation of Surrey Green Parties has issued a statement in response to the proposal, asking for public consultation and safeguards for effective local democracy and local decision making, alongside the desire for efficient administration.

You can read the statement here: Read More »

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Support Horse Hill campaign

Campaigners are very excited to have secured permission for a Judicial Review of Surrey County Council’s decision to allow 20 years of oil extraction at Horse Hill. The judge gave permission on the basis that one of the arguments against drilling, put forward by claimant Sarah Finch, had not been fully considered. This is good news – but also means more legal costs for the campaign group.

To launch the crowdfunding effort to raise £10,000 for legal expenses, a free public webinar is taking place on 24th September, starting at 8pm. You can hear from Rowan Leigh, solicitor for the campaign; Sarah Finch, the claimant; and Kirsty Clough, author of the new report “Why we don’t need more onshore oil in the UK”.

Book here for the free webinar

You can support the crowdfunder relaunch by sending a 20-second video message! Please get in touch to find out how.

 

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Reigate’s cycle scheme scrapped – Press release

The Green Party’s press release on the Reigate high street cycle lane:

It is widely known that Surrey County Council’s current highways contract will be coming to an end in 2022, but the fact that the process to appoint a new supplier starts this week has come as a surprise to councillors. A webinar is planned with interested parties on 08 July, with an article in the construction industry press confirming that contractors have been alerted to plans for a maintenance framework contract of up to 21 years, worth £800m. (See https://www.constructionenquirer.com/2020/06/23/highways-firms-on-notice-for-800m-surrey-deal/ for details made public).

At today’s Council meeting, Jonathan Essex, Councillor for the Green Party (Redhill East) submitted a question asking for further information on the progress of the new maintenance contract.
Jonathan said, “It is unacceptable that the Council is looking at the possibility of locking us into such a lengthy agreement without consulting with councillors. We must be able to scrutinise the terms of any possible contract, including the potential for local aspects to be delivered locally, such as tree maintenance and basic pothole repairs.”

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East Surrey Greens’ Constitution

East Surrey Green Party Constitution

Agreed at meeting 15 February 2016

Below is a complete copy of the East Surrey Greens’ Constitution Read More »

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