In November 2020 Sustainable St Albans hosted a panel event discussing the council’s new Sustainability and Climate Crisis strategy . We focused on how we, as a community, can help to implement it.
Sustainable St Albans’ volunteer and event organiser Thalia Spittall has written this blog – so you can see the key issues, local resources and links discussed by panellists and shared by the audience at the event.
We had some great questions from the audience with answers from our panel that was made up of:
- Cllr Chris White (Leader of SADC)
- Cllr Will Tucker (Chair, SADC Working Response Group)
- Tim Hill (Herts & Middlesex Wildlife Trust)
- Amanda Yorwerth (Friends of the Earth)
- Catherine Ross (Sustainable St.Albans)
- Jess (UK Student Climate Network Herts) Unfortunately Jess couldn’t make the event – see info from Jess re schoolchildren at the end of this blog.
St Albans City and District Council’s Sustainability and Climate Crisis Strategy sets out a 3-year action plan to reduce its environmental impacts, improve the environmental sustainability of its operations and services, ensure that the district is resilient to changing environmental conditions and act as a strong community leader to ensure action continues to be taken across all parts of the community. Read the full report here: Sustainability and Climate Crisis Strategy
The strategy sets out plans to reduce emissions to Net Zero by 2030 and focuses on the following core themes:
- Governance and Leadership
- Energy Use
- Transport and Air Quality
- Nature and Sustainable Food
- Climate Change Adaptation and Water
Note: we have grouped the remainder of the blog according to these 6 themes..
1. Governance and Leadership
Cllr Chris White noted on funding that the District council is having to make significant budget cuts (you will have seen the plans in green waste announcements already) to make up for lost income that the government has only partially compensated for. But environmental projects, such as Wilder St Albans, mentioned by Tim Hill, have been protected.
Networking across Herts
The importance of networking across Hertfordshire to make this strategy a success is recognised. Herts councils network intensely, the Herts Growth Board is being formed, which looks for sustainable growth in the county and there is also a Herts wide Sustainability Forum (HSF) , the website of which is currently being redeveloped.
Sustainability and Climate Crisis Strategy Pages 43-43 outline what the Council will be doing in regards to governance and leadership.
Many resources were shared regarding sustainable energy. Lots of companies currently can help you switch to greener energy. Do your research and find what best suits you and your household’s needs but here are some recommended by attendees:
- Sustainability and Climate Crisis Strategy Pages 44-47 summarise how the council plans to tackle energy use.
- St Albans Solar streets: Want to make your home more sustainable? Have a look at our page on the Council’s Solar Streets initiative as a start – Note that with Solar Streets, for every house that has solar installed with the scheme, £50 will be donated for solar installations at a local community project (to be decided) and if there are 6 or more houses in one street having solar installed, the donation goes up to £75 per installation.
- Eco Homes: Our Eco Homes event discussed the government’s Green Grant and you can read information on Green Grants locally here. N.B. Government Green Grants are available to help you make sustainable improvements to your homes – and can be used up to March 2022.
20mph zones: Cllr Chris White has been working with fellow county councillors on introducing more 20mph zones as people feel safer when traffic is slower. Implementation of these zones could see a rise in people cycling in the district, for example to and from schools. St. Albans Friends of the Earth is also campaigning on this so have a look on their website if you did want to get more involved:
Holidays in the UK: Transport was seen as an area that individuals can take a lot of control over. Stopping flying is a great start. You can make your holidays more sustainable by finding one of the beautiful places in the UK to travel to. The Our Planet Our Future event team recently ran an event on Sustainable Holidays with some great guest speakers.
Sustainability and Climate Crisis Strategy Pages 48-51 outline what the council will be doing in regards to transport and air quality in the district.
Reducing Waste at home: There is so much you can do on an individual scale to make your lifestyle more sustainable. We have some great blogs on our website see the series on How To Go Plastic Free
- Council Recycling: Take a look at the council’s website for more information on recycling in St.Albans:
- Hard to recycle items? TerraCycle is trying to eliminate the idea of waste by finding solutions to recycling the “non-recyclable”.
- Sustainability and Climate Crisis Strategy Pages 52-53 outline what the council will be doing in regards to waste.
Crisis in Nature: Tim Hill from the Herts & Middlesex Wildlife Trust stressed there is no doubt that there is a nature crisis going on. Hertfordshire’s State of Nature Report came out in March 2020, comparing the state of nature in Herts now to 1970.
Wilder St Albans: The Wildlife Trust is working with SADC and St Albans Environment Action Group on a new project called Wilder St Albans. The project started in 2019 and is expected to be launched around April 2021.The project will facilitate and enable residents and communities to make St Albans wilder by increasing biodiversity. It is all about individual action, but funded by SADC. A website is soon to come, along with the launch early next year so keep an eye out for this!
Nature Resources: Here are some great links from the nature enthusiasts attending our event:
- Hedgehog Streets: Find out how you can help the hedgehogs:
- Blue Hearts Campaign: Putting out blue hearts over areas to communicate to neighbours that they are being rewilded
- World Soil Day is Saturday 5 December 2020, “Keep soil alive, Protect soil diversity”
For years now in our district we have seen some great efforts to reforest the area.
Amanda Yorwerth from Friends of the Earth St.Albans said: “SADC and Friends of the Earth are working to find an area to plant the saplings that everyone has been growing at home (thank you) and to sort out a COVID safe regime for members of the public to do the planting. SADC thinks that money can be found for the protection materials that the new trees will need and we’re hopeful that a tree planting event will be possible in the new year.
In addition to this, SADC has been awarded funds for tree planting at 2 sites, one in St.Albans and one in Harpenden, which will happen this year. Schools, including STAGS and Sandringham, are also planting trees on their own land.”
Join the Trees of St Albans Facebook group to keep abreast of tree planting and more about trees or email firstname.lastname@example.org to join the St.Albans Friends of the Earth mailing list and receive information about this and other initiatives.
Sustainability and Climate Crisis Strategy Pages 54-55 outline what the council will be doing in regards to nature and food.
#Save10aDay: Here in St Albans District we use more water than almost anywhere else in the country. Each person uses about 10 litres more than the UK average every day. Affinity Water doesn’t know exactly why we use so much water in St Albans. They want us to use 10 litres per person less water per day as a start. Sustainable St Albans is currently supporting this Affinity Water initiative to encourage local residents to reduce water use.
- Dual Flush loos may very well be one cause…
- Check if you have a leaky loo:
- See Radio 4 Costing the Earth ‘The Great Leaky Loo Scandal’:
- Sustainability and Climate Crisis Strategy Pages 56-57 outline what the council will be doing in regards to water and climate.
Engaging school children – UK Student Climate Network Herts
Jess S. 17 years old, from the UK Student Climate Network Herts had hoped to be part of the panel, but was unable to attend. Here is her response, after the event, about how school children can engage with the Strategy.
Q: School children have driven significant change at a national level in how we understand the gravity of the climate crisis. What do you want them to do here in the District?
A: “Obviously strikes aren’t as feasible at the moment with social distancing and lockdowns, but I would encourage young people to help keep up the momentum and pressure on the government that striking created. Whether that’s through things such as petitions, writing to MPs or school based action, all of it keeps the climate crisis in the minds of those who have power to change legislation and ensures our voices as young people are not ignored.
Climate activism has taught me that young people are capable of incredible things and can create real change; over the last two weeks, students all around the globe came together for MOCK COP26 and globally, students have had a huge impact on public perceptions on climate change so never underestimate the power of young people uniting.” – Jess S.
Involvement from schools and young people is so important. See more and have a look at the Sustainable St Albans’ Sustainable Schools project
“a one-stop shop for St Albans District schools seeking help to reduce their environmental impact and teach children about the climate emergency“
Resources: Where to Start?
If you are new to wanting to make your life more sustainable and eco-friendly or want some guidance and framework on how to do so, here are some good resources.
- Calculate your Carbon Footprint with WWWF -a great place to start!
- Count Us In encourages people to commit take practical steps to reduce their carbon impact and persuade others to do the same:
- Take the Jump has six simple principles to help you take the first jump to start saving the planet
- Ethical Consumer is also a good website to use if you want to find out how ethical your consumer habits are by rating almost everyone from banks to kettles.
Want to get involved more?
- See Sustainable St Albans website
- See St.Albans Friends of the Earth website
- See Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust website
- UK Student Climate Network Herts
- UK Climate Assembly Report
It’s important to stay up to date on what is going on on a wider scale. Have a look at the UK Climate Assembly report to see the actions that residents on the UK Government’s Climate Assembly want to see.
At the event we asked our participants, ‘How will you respond to the Sustainability Strategy?’ and here were the results…
We hope that you will also be able to start thinking about ways to implement the Council’s Sustainability Strategy so that we all stand a chance of living in a more environmentally sustainable district.