OPEN LETTER: EARTH TO CLLR WILLIAMS – AMEND THE SOUTHWARK PLAN

The council’s new Southwark Plan is not aligned with Southwark’s climate commitments – and Southwark Council knows it. Join us at 6pm on 23 February 2022 to demand the council back their climate promises with policy.

The Southwark Plan will be Southwark’s borough strategy from 2022-2036. All planning decisions must be made in line with this Plan. For example, it contains the plans and policies on housing insulation standards, housing development plans, green spaces, industrial land use, and so on.

It covers a lot of areas where if the right decisions are made, significant carbon reductions can be achieved. At over 600 pages, it’s a long read. It was also in development for seven years.

The council plans to adopt this strategy on 23 February 2022, at which point it will be in place until 2036: during a crucial decade for climate action, this plan will impact the decisions made within Southwark for the next 14 years. In that time, Southwark Council theoretically has pledged to achieve carbon neutrality (carbon emissions offset) by 2030 and be well on its way to being net zero (reduced carbon emissions) by 2050.

SO WHAT’S WRONG WITH THE NEW SOUTHWARK PLAN?

The new Southwark Plan doesn’t contain any detail on how Southwark is going to become carbon neutral. It simply repeats the goal, and leaves it there.

A goal is one thing, but to achieve a goal you need a plan for how to achieve it: otherwise a goal is just empty words. The new Southwark Plan also does not contain targets or a baseline, crucial for the council to be able to measure its progress and understand if its actions are working or not. It is completely hypocritical for Southwark Council to produce climate targets and then ignore them in almost everything they do.

What’s worse is that the council knows this is a problem. They have acknowledged that the plan does not contain the detail required to bring it in line with Southwark’s climate commitments, and page 63 of the plan itself explicitly states that ‘the council has declared a Climate Emergency with the ambition to reach carbon neutrality by 2030 and will review this plan to meet that target.’

IF THE COUNCIL SAID THEY’D AMEND IT, WHAT’S THE PROBLEM?

The problem is two-fold:

  • We do not know what those amendments are and whether or not they will be effective in bringing down greenhouse gas emissions in the borough.
  • There’s no timetable for when those amendments will be adopted. It has taken seven years already to get to this point. Now we’re only eight years away from the Council’s carbon neutral goal, and the global deadline of reducing carbon emissions to avoid a climate and ecological catastrophe.

THIS IS WHY XR SOUTHWARK WROTE AN OPEN LETTER DEMANDING:

  • That the proposed amendments are made public for community input alongside the adoption of the NSP
  • The proposed amendments will make it clear how the new Southwark Plan will help achieve Southwark Council’s carbon neutral goal and what the greenhouse gas emission reductions will be

This letter, below, has been co-signed by a range of local organisations including:

  • Aylesham Community Action
  • Brunswick Park TRA 
  • Clean Air Dulwich
  • East Dulwich Station Healthy Streets
  • Extinction Rebellion Scientists
  • Friends of Burgess Park
  • Fossil Free Southwark
  • Housing Cooperative for Balfour Street Housing Project
  • Old Kent Road Community Campaign
  • Nunhead Knocks
  • Peckham Vision
  • Southwark Cyclists
  • Southwark Green Party
  • Southwark GMB
  • Southwark Law Centre
  • Southwark Living Streets
  • Southwark Momentum
  • Southwark Nature Action Volunteers
  • Southwark Pensioners’ Action Group
  • Southwark Planning Network Development Group
  • Southwark Unison
  • Trees for Bermondsey
  • Yes to Fair Redevelopment

HOW CAN I HELP?

XR Southwark will be outside the council offices on 23 February, the night they plan to pass the plan, to remind councillors that the plan in its current state is simply not good enough. 

Join us there: Southwark Council offices, Tooley St, at 6pm.

WHAT’S NEXT?

Local councils have a huge role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and preserving biodiversity.

XR Southwark will continue to hold Southwark Council to account on protecting the residents of Southwark and the whole planet from catastrophe.  

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