Ealing Friends of the Earth

Ealing Independents Join the Climate Crisis Debate

Ealing Independents are the second local political party to answer EFoE’s challenge and reply to six important environmental questions for our borough. The replies were sent by a group called Team Ealing.In.

We also contacted the local Labour Party, Conservatives, Green Party and TUSC (Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition) and are waiting to hear back from them. Ealing Liberal Democrats were the first group to reply and you can read their answers elsewhere on our website.

 Question 1:

Would you review Ealing Council’s Climate Strategy on a regular basis? (Climate and Ecological Emergency Strategy – Adopted January 2021). In particular, would you provide estimates of the emissions saved so far as a result of the actions in the strategy and a projection of total emissions forward to 2030 (‘Net Zero’ year)?

We would review Ealing’s Climate Strategy regularly and get local people involved in that ongoing review process. We would include people like Centric Lab in consultation to inform a more equitable and holistic approach. We believe that bigger changes are needed that recognise the impact of all of us on people in other parts of the world. Electric vehicles and charging points are part of the proposed solution, but what impact do they have on people like us in Africa and South America where the lithium to power them is mined? Is ‘Net-Zero’ and offsetting carbon emissions by planting 50,000 new trees enough, or do we need systemic change to substantially reduce emissions? If that’s what we need to do, how do we ensure local people don’t feel that their lives are being made
unnecessarily difficult? How do we ensure that people have safe and secure, energy efficient homes and communities, enough food, health and social care, meaningful work and income, and viable transport alternatives to polluting vehicles? How will affordable (preferably free) public transport be there in all weathers (and effects of climate change) to get everyone to where they need to be in a safe, accessible and timely manner? Electric vehicles are currently way out of the price range for people on low incomes, yet charging points are appearing in these same areas potentially drawing in more traffic to already congested roads.

Ealing Independents answered Questions 2 and 3 together:

2. Ealing Council’s Biodiversity Action Plan revision seems to have stalled. Would you ensure the revision is completed and adopted by the end of 2022?

3. Would you require developers to provide an estimate of carbon emissions – direct and ‘embedded’ – for all major planning applications in the borough?

Ealing’s Biodiversity Action Plan has some worthy aims, but the reality locally is that Berkeley Group have been poisoning the air in Southall for five years and Ealing Labour not only stood by and let
it happen, their past and current leaders accepted hospitality from developers to fly to Cannes in the south of France six times for the annual MIPIM property marketing festival described by Private Eye Magazine as “a booze ‘n’ hookerfest”. We want a public inquiry into what has gone on in Southall. Not only that, we now learn that Warren Farm Nature Reserve has been earmarked by the new leadership as a suitable venue for Southall Football Club’s new stadium, training grounds and car park. “They paved paradise, and put up a parking lot” sang Joni Mitchell, and now that’s what Ealing Labour are actually planning to do. Worse, Southall Football Club is owned and run by the Ealing Southall Labour MP’s son and grandson.

 Question 4:

Would you place a requirement on developers to provide net zero carbon housing units?

We want developers to build homes that are safe, energy efficient, affordable to local people and suitable to their needs – family sized homes. The episode with Berkeley Group has proved that developers cannot be trusted to regulate themselves, and Ealing Council needs to ensure it
puts the needs of local people above the needs of developers.

 Question 5:

Would you set a target to stabilise and then reduce the amount of motor traffic on Ealing’s roads? What policies would you adopt to achieve this?

We want to fix the broken, filthy, obstructed pavements, particularly in Southall, so that everyone including families, older people and people with mobility needs can get around more easily. The pavements in Southall are so bad that I regularly see people with wheelchairs and walking frames using the roads instead. That can’t be right. Again, in Southall, where average household incomes are half those of people in the richest parts of Ealing borough, and where more people were
furloughed during the covid pandemic than anywhere else in Ealing, people need their cars to go about their daily lives and to get to and from work. We would all love to have fewer polluting vehicles on our roads, and the pandemic showed that working from home is the most viable
way to achieve that where it is feasible for people to do. Southall is a working class community, and people need their cars. Current policies are often punitive (congestion charges, low emission zones), and are a tax on the poor and working people. I believe FoE’s own research for Ealing shows that insulating our homes more effectively and reducing emissions from construction sites are also important areas to address. In Southall, what we have seen under Ealing Labour, is thousands of new
homes being built, new roads, and thousands of new residents and their cars adding to already congested roads.

Question 6:

Would you establish a plan to address air pollution such that pollution levels across the entire borough are brought within UK legal limits and WHO (World Health Organisation) Guideline Values?

Yes. But as our experience with Southall Gasworks shows, you can have these legal limits, but what is the use of them when rich corporations like Berkeley Group can get around them by manipulating their self-reported air quality monitoring data, refusing to publish them at all, and when they do covering up local excesses by presenting averaged site-wide data taking no account of local wind conditions, or local community experiences of nuisance odour and health impacts? Berkeley Group provided a Construction Management Plan that predicted increased rates of asthma, eye and throat irritation among ‘sensitive receptors’ in the nearby community, yet this plan was missing from Ealing Council’s planning portal and paper archives for the duration of the works cleaning up the contaminated soil. How was the plan regulated without access to it? It’s a complete nonsense. After five years of complaints from Southall residents, Ealing Council decided it was time to install independent air quality monitors and sensors around the site boundaries. But these monitors record only ‘urban background’ non-odorous pollutants, and when high levels are recorded the company contracted to monitor them simply delete the data without any investigation into possible causes. So any requirement to uphold legal limits on air pollution are welcome, but it needs to be through who will monitor these levels, how and when, and what will happen when they are exceeded, otherwise, as we know in Southall, it’s just more toxic Ealing Labour politics and hot air.

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