The focus of this virtual meeting was “Redbridge and the Climate Emergency – what has been done and what can I do?” as a follow up from the recent Walk of Peace and in acknowledgement of COP 26 the United Nationals Climate Change Conference commencing in Glasgow on 31st October.
Redbridge Climate Action Plan
Cllr Joanne Blackman presented an overview of the Redbridge Climate Action Plan with some interesting facts including that.
- 56% of the borough’s emissions originate from buildings (of these 75% originate from residential buildings and 25% business establishments)
- 36% of the borough’s emissions arise from transport
- 8% arise from waste.
The 3 year Action Plan has specific time constraints against a background of changing legislation with the Environment Bill and new technology. The aim is to reduce emissions, so the council has identified its own carbon footprint and committed to reporting annual against these.
In the next 3 years the council aims to achieve:
- 4% reduction in fuel used by buildings and fleet
- 69% reduction in emissions arising from electricity consumed by street lighting and buildings
To achieve this the council is converting its vehicle fleet to be UEZ compliance, will roll out electric vehicle charging points across the borough, introduce a workplace travel programme and promote cycling in the borough. It has already introduced “school streets” banning vehicles at certain times of day near schools and is planning to provide more secure cycle storage
To reduce emissions from property the council has launched Go Green Grants for low income households, will switch to a green electricity tariff in its buildings, and review the opportunity for energy regeneration in the borough.
A waste reduction strategy has been actioned including using wheelie bins throughout the borough and only accepting waste that is inside the bins – this has been unpopular, but the plan is to encourage more recycling. The recycling collection has now been expanded to take more plastic items and aerosol cans and next year there will be a campaign to reduce food waste currently accounts for 50% of general domestic waste.
The council is also developing a green urban landscape policy and has partnered with Trees for Cities to give away trees and recently gave away spring bulbs. 300 new trees have recently been planted in Goodmayes and the council is keen to ensure an equitable distribution of canopy cover across the borough. Several people said how sad it was to see established trees in private gardens being removed and often gardens being paved over or laid with artificial grass.
Council consultations are available on the council’s website :- https://engagement.redbridge.gov.uk
A Redbridge Climate Forum has now been set up and will be holding 5 virtual events. The Chair thanked Cllr Blackman for her input.
Gardens of Peace Muslim Cemetery
Mohamed Omer then gave a very interesting talk explaining how the organisation operates to be in tune with nature and reduce carbon footprint.
When the land was acquired in 1998 it was a barren piece of land off Elmbridge Road in Hainault. A master landscaper was engaged to plant as many trees as possible including many different species both deciduous and evergreen to reflect the rhythms of life. Water is very precious so a bore hole ensures there is water available for the trees. At that time alternative forms of energy were not readily available but solar panels were installed to heat water and excess electricity was sold back to the national grid.
Visitors are encouraged to use public transport and the organisation’s diesel vehicles are currently being replaced with electric vehicles.
Grass cuttings and plants are composted so there is no waste and bodies are buried in bio-degradable cloths. Sedum mats are used on graves and artificial flowers are not allowed to be placed on graves. All timber used is sustainable and ecological survey and reptile surveys have been undertaken.
Everything is done in accordance with the Muslim duty to be “a custodian of the earth”.
Mohamed ended with an invitation to anyone who wishes to visit the cemetery for a tour – this is the website for the Elmbridge road site www.gardens-of-peace.org.uk.
St Gabriels’s Church, Aldersbrook
Lesley Bond shared the journey that the church community has taken to become a more eco-friendly venue and launch a new initiative entitled “Hope for the Future” which had been publicised in the church magazine.
The work fell into three distinct areas:-
- The church held a Climate Sunday which involved looking at the liturgy to include more climate specific wording and bring the local paper in to publicise it. A group of people were asked what concerned them and what they could do about the climate situation. There was a good response including one from a local bee-keeper and these were compiled into a video to be shown in church. Prayers were formed to include in the service and the opportunity was taken to publicise COP26.
- The church was awarded a Bronze Award and is currently working towards Silver – this involved completing a lengthy questionnaire which looked at many aspects of the church’s infrastructure and practices. This prompted changes to be made such as the introduction of LED lights, draught proofing and producing a newsletter giving practical tips to be distributed in the locality. This in turn drew more people into the church community.
- The church worked in partnership with Hope for the Future (https://www.hftf.org.uk/)which is a charity that works to help community organisations (including faith settings ) to have their voice heard on climate change. The charity provided practical training on how to approach MPs and this provided to be very successful with their MP visiting the church and subsequently promoting an early day motion in Parliament and raised an oral question re the green homes grant.
An outcome of this effort has been that the local community is now much more involved in church life. The MP offered to attend coffee mornings on the premises, children attending an after school club have been making paper boats for a COP 26 display, a knit and natter group enables people to share their craft skills and it is hoped that this can play an important part in the transition movement, particularly by involving the next generation. The church will continue to work towards the eco-church Silver Award (https://ecochurch.arocha.org.uk/). Lesley was thanked for her most informative contribution.
Our Streets – Civic Pride
Joanne Smallman from the Our Streets Team in Civic Pride shared her screen to show attendees the Our Streets webpage https://www.redbridge.gov.uk/our-streets/ with a particular focus on the “Stay in the Loop” button which enables a sign up to receive monthly newsletters.
Joanne’s teams are tasked with keeping streets vibrant, clean and attractive by enforcing bylaws and dealing with issues such as flytipping. Fly tipping should always be reported on the council website (with a photograph if possible) and in the case of persistent cases the council has a mobile cctv camera which can be placed in position. The team are happy to help community groups organise litter picks and have equipment available for loan.
Another duty is to reduce waste and Redbridge is part of the East London Waste Authority and has recently expanded its recycling scheme to include aerosols and plastic pots, tubs and trays and clean aluminium trays and scrunched up aluminium foil. Next year there will be a campaign targeting food waste and teaching cooking skills
What residents can do
There are lots of initiatives residents can do to care for their locality including adopting a tree pit or starting a community garden. Recently there was a give away of spring bulbs to community organisations including faith settings and now fruit trees are available https://www.redbridge.gov.uk/our-streets/fruit-tree-giveaway/
There is London wide funding available for community projects and the next funding round closes on 17th November – see https://www.london.gov.uk/what-we-do/environment/energy/london-community-energy-fund.
Redbridge are also offering green grants for homeowners and landlords who fulfil the eligibility criteria see https://www.redbridge.gov.uk/housing/private-rentals/go-green/
Transition Ilford https://ilfordtransition.wordpress.com/ has initiatives such as setting up a Forest Garden in Valentines Park and launching a plastic free Ilford campaign.