Beyond our current policies – As minimum to mitigate climate change I would campaign for the extension of the climate change levy into a carbon tax and use it to meet a minimum aim of being a country in the better half of impactors on climate change rather than be one of the the 35rd worst countries (out of around 200) by 2030.
I would set up an organisation whose task is threefold:
One group of independent experts would estimate the likely production of climate change gas each country would be producing in 2030 and provide the data for a target for Britain. This target to be set so that Britain is on the less polluting side of the median of countries in the world – in the better half.
A second group of independent experts would analyse the polluting factors involved in climate change and work out whether they are significant to bother counting, can be suitably measured and what the carbon tax figure would be appropriate for them.
A third group of independent experts would establish the carbon tax rate that would be needed to hit the target set by the first group using the figures produced by the second group. This tax rate would always be set five years in advance.
The target will be dynamic as each country develops in its own way. If other countries become more active in mitigating climate change then our task will be become harder. The carbon tax rate will rise faster. If other countries are lax then our task will be easier and our carbon tax will rise more slowly. However, as we are currently 35rd worst we have our work cut out in any case.
All this work would be public to allow for independent scrutiny.
In independent taxation system will provide a neutral way of nudging consumers into making decisions that favour the environment (often without consciously thinking about it because the cost is subsumed in the purchase price of what they are buying) and nudging industry to invest in more sustainable projects. Because the taxation is set in an independent framework business would be able to rely on the direction of travel. Although having the carbon tax set for five years hence can be quite short term for many industries such a move is far better than what we have now.
This tax would replace road fuel duty either partially or fully depending on whether or not road user charging was introduced. It would also replace all the special charges, grants and funding that government currently undertake to clumsily attempt to influence the economy – picking winners as it is often called. Government investment in research is fine as is investing in demonstration projects but subsidizing industries is counter productive.
The tax could either become part of general taxation to reduce other taxes – to raise the threshold for income tax higher for example and/or fund the insulation of homes and the general decarbonizing of commercial activities.
The annual awards, dubbed the “Noise Oscars”, are hosted by the Noise Abatement Society and Elmbridge collected the local government award for its out of hours enforcement service run in partnership with Surrey Police. The service is in its second year and is conducted during the summer months (April – September) dealing with noise, alcohol and taxi licensing issues. The service was judged a great success, combining innovation with partnership working as well as offering great customer service.
The John Connell Awards recognise organisations and individuals for their outstanding efforts to reduce the impact of noise nuisance and pioneer practical and innovative solutions to noise pollution.
A number of people have mentioned the recent increase in aircraft noise around Weybridge. This is do with the need to review the flight paths around Britain. Such a review has not happened for over forty years despite a rapid increase in air travel. Each airport has been asked to examine possible new routes.
A many of you know, there has been a large puddle outside the station in Old Heath Road for over thirty years. Liberal Democrat candidate for Weybridge South Sue Bohane had the drain cleaned out but the problem is more deep-seated than that. So working with Weybridge’s Cty Cllr Christian Mahne we have got closer to a remedy.
Cllr Mahne has arranged with Surrey highways to find the budget to fix the problem in the financial year 2014/15. The main drain has an ineffectual gradient and Surrey highways decided that relaying the main drain would be too expensive.
Cllr Mahne tells me that the lesser of two evils was to create a new soakaway instead of digging the thing up and extending a new drain. A new soakaway will be located in the hillside separating the highway with the station. It’s taken so long because the prevailing wisdom had always been to spend the money on the areas that affected the most people – roads basically – and all the other niggles fell by the wayside including this one.
It’s going to cost something like £26k (highways think). Cllr Mahne will be part funding it with his highways allocation but highways are just sorting out the finance for the rest of it at the moment.
Morrisons has withdrawn its application for the variation to the planning conditions laid down by Elmbridge. The reference was 2014/0484 Variation of Conditions 5 (Deliveries/Servicing) and 10 (Plant Noise) of planning permission 2013/1611 (New food store). There were 228 objections.
You do not have to build a straw bale home to make your life greener and save money on heating bills because throughout Surrey on 17 and 18 May 2014, inspirational eco-home owners are opening their doors to members of the public, to show how they have made their homes cheaper to heat and more comfortable to live in.
This is a free opportunity to see energy-saving technologies in action and to ask the homeowners those burning questions. Plus every resident who visits an eco- home can enter a prize draw to win a free green deal assessment worth £100.
If your home was internally damaged by flooding between 1 December 2013 and 31 March 2014 you can apply for up to £5,000 to better protect your home against flooding. This grant is administered by Surrey and is now available. Applications can be submitted up to 30 September 2014.
Liberal Democrats are proposing a six point action plan to tackle Surrey’s flooding. The proposals aim to reduce the impact of future heavy rain by putting in place preventative measures.
Complete and update Surrey’s currently outdated records on where flooding occurs (wetspots) and the Flooding Asset Register of walls, ditches and bridges which are known to cause flooding.
Increase the cleaning of gullies (road drains) which is currently usually only once a year.
Plant trees, particularly on high ground. An environmentally friendly way of trapping and slowing down the movement of water.
Work with districts and boroughs not to build on flood plains.
Repair flood damaged roads and bridges.
Apply for funding from central government and the European Union.
Stephen Cooksey said: “These actions if implemented by Surrey will make a real difference to prevent the flooding in the future.
“The recent floods have had a devastating effect on many residents and businesses. Everything possible must be done to reduce the risk of this recurring.
“The Conservative administration has taken its eye off the ball and has not given enough priority to flood prevention. Basic things are very out of date, for example its record of places where flooding occurs ‘wetspots’ hasn’t been updated for two years.
“Similarly Surrey’s Flooding Asset Register, in which it is legally required to record details of walls, ditches or bridges known to cause flooding is woefully incomplete, only recording 65 items for the whole county, and is out of date having last been updated over two years ago.
“Surrey urgently needs to get its act together, update its information on flooding and structures that cause flooding before assessing what needs to be done to prevent flooding in the future and to calculate the cost of doing so.
“I question the adequacy of Surrey’s policy of only cleaning out gullies at least once a year, this clearly needs to be increased as many of Surrey’s gullies are blocked, which then causes flooding. In addition needs to review its ditches policy in rural areas to help prevent flooding.
“Whilst Surrey’s staff, the emergency services and other agencies have done an excellent job in responding to this crisis, much could have been done to lessen the impact of the recent bad weather if Surrey had taken preventative action, and lessons need to be learnt and acted upon to ensure the effects of future heavy rainfall is reduced.”
There has been good progress and it is now possible to walk most of the route. There is some clearance work needed on the western end which the borough is carrying out with its own team. This should be completed by the Spring. Phase two involves the county dedicating the path whereby it is officially recorded as a public right of way. Once this is done the county will erect the official permanent footpath signs.
Following pressure from the Broadwater Lake Society with Focus team the borough’s strategic director, Ray Lee, has begun to bring the interested parties – landowners, tenants, Surrey and other bodies, together to discuss the causes of the delay in implementing the path on the north side and how they might be overcome. The Walton Bridge project should have a positive impact on the scheme so the timing could not be better.