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Viewpoint: Bins, climate change and budget cuts

More smells and no

chance to be smug

We are being rewarded for our forbearance during lockdown 1, with a return to fortnightly black bin collections (“Much ‘rubbish’ is Food Waste and Recycling”, letter from Cllr David Coppinger, Viewpoint, December 23).

Imagine the following scenario: A blue bin overflowing with cardboard and paper etc.

It can’t happen that often, and if it does, a fortnighty collection would be an occasional inconvenience rather than a matter of hygiene.

A black bin belonging to an average family, full to the brim, left for two weeks uncollected.

Does that not pose smell and hygiene problems?

What if it’s missed once, as happened to me, then we’re talking four weeks.

I know which one I would choose for a fortnightly collection.

Some households do not use the food caddies which in any case are blown around.

Not all households put out their blue bin each week.

I used to be a bit smug about our weekly rubbish collections, in comparison to some other areas.

I’m still smug about our libraries and parks.

Maybe I can continue thinking my black rubbish bin will be emptied each week.

The link to the petition is: petitions.rbwm.gov.uk/KeepWeeklyBins/

SYLVIE HOWSE

Maidenhead

Serco would benefit from fewer collections

I would like to thank Cllr Coppinger for explaining to us concerned residents the reasons for reducing black bin collections, apparently in part based on his virtuous and eco-friendly lifestyle.

I would however suggest that there is a different perspective, for the frequency of collection being based on content rather than volume.

A specific example would be disposable nappies and colostomy bags.

Fine to sit around in winter, but less so during the height of summer.

It would raise a stink.

I separate recycling and food waste, on principle rather than duty.

Like every other RBWM resident I experienced the effects of the reduced bin collection during lockdown, and it was a disaster.

What seems more likely to me is that the meagre saving from reducing black bin collection is to accommodate the limited capability of the current cut-rate Serco contract.

ANDREW BENTLEY

Bissley Drive

Maidenhead

Development, need and our green space

In my letter published in the Maidenhead Advertiser (Viewpoint, December 23), I summarised the Government’s revised planning algorithm for determining the number of new homes required.

The revised Government plans will now prioritise building in urban areas most in need of development and developing family homes in 20 of England’s largest cities and making use of vacant buildings and underused land.

In the same publication of the Maidenhead Advertiser, Cllr David Coppinger, lead member for planning and Maidenhead, welcomed the Government’s planning revision. However, he said: “The Borough Local Plan (BLP) is in examination. It is in the final stages and we can’t change it.”

I am unsure as to whether the council even wishes to make changes to reflect the Government’s new planning algorithm.

However, it is possible that such modifications can be made by the Government appointed Inspector, Louise Phillips.

We can only hope that she will consider them.

Should this be the case the number of new homes required in the Royal Borough and in particular Maidenhead would be significantly reduced.

This would allow our largest greenspace, Maidenhead Golf Course, to be preserved for the benefit of generations to come.

The proposed massive development of 2,600 homes on the golf course and land South of Harvest Hill would have an enormous impact on pollution, congestion and the wellbeing of residents.

I am not sure if the council realises the scale of this development.

It represents the addition of a large village on the outskirts of the town.

A massive development is already taking place in the town centre itself where it is planned to build 2,700 new homes.

Cllr Coppinger stated in the article, that the council’s whole process within the BLP, was to put brownfield sites first.

We can only hope that, in the interest of our town, the council will implement this policy and redetermine their housing numbers in accordance with the Government’s planning revision.

GEORGE MIDGLEY

Walker Road

Maidenhead

Why build on green lung of golf course?

I read with interest Kieran Bell’s article in last week’s paper, (‘Royal Borough ‘welcomes’ Government Planning reform ‘climbdown’).

The Government’s latest planning reform proposals, which will help protect greenspace, and focus more housing development on brownfield sites in large cities, are very welcome.

It is however extremely disappointing to hear that Cllr Coppinger says this has come too late to save the greenspace of the golf course.

How can this be so?

The golf club hasn’t left and the BLP isn’t signed off yet?

Cllr Coppinger says they’ve run out of brownfield sites, but the impact of the coronavirus pandemic cannot yet be fully assessed.

He says that brownfield is only suitable for high density flats, but why can’t some brownfield sites provide space for new houses?

He says he wants to build houses on the golf course, but high rise flats are also planned.

Time after time local people have expressed their concern over our council’s plans to build on this vital green lung for our town.

These concerns have been echoed by the Government’s national consultation and have led to the Government changing its proposed planning reforms.

Why can’t our council change its mind too and accept that this proposed development of our greenbelt is both unnecessary and damaging to the health of our town?

DEBBIE LUDFORD

Rushington Avenue, Maidenhead

Member of the Create Maidenhead Great Park campaign group

Now we’ve woken up it is time to act

It was good to listen into the RBWM Cabinet meeting endorsing the Council's Environment and Climate Strategy earlier this month.

As everyone acknowledged, it’s just the first step on what will be a long, tough journey.

Perhaps most important, as Cllr Stimson pointed out, is the behavioural change we need to adopt.

We are in the crisis we face because of how we have all behaved for far too long.

Mostly it was done in ignorance.

But we now know – and we know we have only limited time.

The real change will come not from what councils and governments do, essential though that is.

It will come because we recognise that we have taken more from our planet than this little speck in the universe can support.

Technology will be part of the answer.

But remember that it is our technology that has got us into the mess; and there are no emission-free technologies.

So how far are we all prepared to go to change the way we live and the profligate, thoughtless way we use the world’s resources?

We have to hope that our local community can come together to help us all through the process and share the struggle in making those big lifestyle changes.

As we approach a new year, it’s a good time to ask ourselves: what am I going to do to make a difference?

MIKE COPLAND

Lee Lane

Maidenhead

Energy and reducing carbon emissions

Excellent work the RBWM has been doing, developing its response to the climate emergency.

The strategy has now been approved by the cabinet, as you reported in the Maidenhead Advertiser last week.

I was one of those who provided input to this, and just one point for clarification.

You refer to achieving energy reduction by decarbonising power supply and increasing renewable generation.

This does not reduce energy, but carbon emissions.

Energy supply is not changed by this.

Efficient energy use is covered by the other actions in the strategy regarding engaging with business and home owners to better understand and manage their energy consumption, to avoid wastage and use energy as efficiently as possible, thus reducing demand.

MARTIN FRY

Hon President, Energy Services and Technology Association

Visiting Professor, City, University of London

Airport polluntants are

not just at ground level

Paul Groves hits over a dozen nails on the head (Viewpoint, December 23) in why Heathrow leaders are pursuing a dead horse in persisting to claim that a third runway is essential to meet aviation’s needs and ensure its ongoing viability.

I am not attacking people’s livelihoods as its current employment needs will grow as the airport gradually recovers in a different world after the COVID crisis.

However the dawning awareness of the worldwide transmission of new contagious viruses coupled with the Government’s highly-publicised commitment to ‘level off’ transport and other services across the nation can only see any future aviation growth in the regions.

The ever-growing housing crisis and over burdened road, rail and health services in the South East are highlighted by the fierce arguments about the Royal Borough and other local plans.

It must be emphasised that these are based on current needs, not guesses about the hugely greater stresses if Heathrow was allowed to double its capacity with another runway.

The densest and multi-storey housing areas have suffered the highest levels of COVID deaths and suffering but even denser and high rise housing with no gardens where land is scarce or costly will generate even higher health and mental risks in the future if the ease of global travel returns in the future.

Housing, costs of living and running a business in the South East are already among the highest in the UK, so while expansion of Heathrow’s goldmine might make sense to its foreign owners, it would have a totally reverse effect upon OUR residents and businesses.

It is absolutely essential the Government’s levelling off commitment includes promotion of regional airports to drastically reduce long distance passenger and goods road traffic but also directly share Heathrow’s worldwide connectivity with the regions.

Heathrow’s astounding promise that it will meet the National Carbon Neutral target long before 2050 totally ignores the enormously poisonous air pollution of all the aircraft which use it!

That is totally unacceptable as every take off creates an enormous volume of exhaust pollution to lift many tonnes of plane and cargo from a ground level standstill to an astounding speed and height in minutes, while reverse thrust engines on landing and loads of brake drum and tyre dust are enormous pollutants – all directly associated with the airport.

While it might be reasonable to assume a shared responsibility with the airlines for half the total pollution of every flight to or from the airport, nobody appears to be responsible for the tonnes of pollutants from every flight or the transport links to and from the airport.

The commitment to plant thousands of trees and create peat bogs to absorb pollutants to offset on site operational activities do not convince many environmentalists as nearby spare land is almost non existent.

Furthermore most of our natural trees lose their leaves in the winter and peat bogs take thousands of years to evolve from decaying vegetable matter in perpetually wet locations.

MALCOLM BEER

Chairman, Local Authorities Aircraft Noise Council (LAANC)

Orchard Road, Old Windsor

Norden Farm really is invaluable to us

Some thoughts on potential budget cuts.

Sadly, budget cuts need to be made – the reasons for this are irrelevant but it is how they are decided that is now important.

I feel it would be devastating to Maidenhead and the surrounding area if a large cut was made to the grant to Norden Farm.

They already have had to deal with earlier cuts.

Maidenhead has few entertainment places (though many small specialist clubs) and to put this one in danger would be not only a great loss but an irresponsible one.

Many people know of its main programmes but perhaps are not so aware of all its other community and educational activities.

Educational activities help all local schools to continue to have arts programs suitable to their age group.

For example the Christmas show was streamed to the schools who would normally bring children on site to see them.

Community activities cover a wide variety of offerings from those for babies to those for the elderly and for those in-between.

People on their own always feel welcome and often form friendships as they discover something in common without any of the usual pressures.

Currently, despite being in Tier 4 and so having the premises closed to on-site activities, they are doing as much as they can by streaming and so allowing various groups to continue to interact.

As soon as Norden Farm can reopen, people without internet access will have somewhere to go where they feel safe and loved.

Please be thoughtful about the impact any budget cuts will make for the future.

Some will be reversible in the future but others will not.

FRANKIE HOLNESS

Laburnham Road

Maidenhead

Building quality homes in the right place

Kieran Bell recently wrote an article about local councillors who have expressed concerns about the largest changes to the planning system since 1947 (Advertiser, December 17).

The Government has yet again missed an opportunity to save our planet, our life-support system, and also install a new green paradigm which would have also boosted our economy, created jobs, and improved well-being in the most holistic sense.

As Boris Johnson indicated in his foreword to the proposals, it has been more than 80 years since the planning system was fundamentally re-written.

Such legislation may not be completely rewritten for many decades to come, yet we face challenges greater than ever faced by mankind before which require agile and expert changes to be facilitated by this ponderous planning beast.

Once again, our Government has failed to place at the heart of legislation the requirement to significantly tackle climate change, to build in resilience to the extreme weather expected in the UK, and to reverse mass extinctions of UK species.

The ‘use of land’ needs to be managed to provide truly extensive areas for carbon sequestration and biodiversity restoration, swapping out pastoral farming for arable farming (indicating a move towards plant-based diets), and the creation of more, expansive and managed green belt areas.

The location of constructions need to be limited to brownfield sites only and building processes must be carbon negative.

Key permissible parameters of developments should include protecting residents from the extreme weather expected in the decades to come, facilitating carbon negative living, and tie into a national Biodiversity Action Plan, which should include the greening of urban areas and developments.

Planning regulations need to be re-written now to view all developments through the lens of existential climate change and biodiversity extinction.

Only then can we release developers to retrofit and build freely; the right buildings; in the right way; in the right place; to benefit present and future generations.

CLLR WISDOM DA COSTA

West Windsor Residents Association, Clewer and Dedworth West

‘Take the positives and

be optimistic’

I’m a life-long Maidonian and I wanted to take the chance at the end of the year to share my appreciation for the whole community of Maidenhead.

As many have said before, what a year!

Having seen at first hand the efforts and professionalism of my colleagues at Claires Court school, I wish to express my gratitude not only to all of our staff, but indeed to everyone who works in the education sector as teachers, support and admin staff, nurses and other colleagues, to maintain and protect young people’s education and welfare in extraordinary circumstances and challenging times.

They’ve shown great adaptability and creativity to continue to give the best for our pupils and families to have a sense of normality and keep things going.

The whole community has shown such resilience and support to help when things were difficult.

Incredibly inspiring.

And, as we heard from one of our Year 10 girls in a pre-Christmas assembly, when reflecting how difficult the year had been she immediately asserted to the headteacher to look at the positives.

She said she felt so lucky to have been able to come into school every day since September, she felt she was ahead in her courses because of how much both she and her teachers had done during lockdown, and everyone she knew was healthy and well.

She went on to say how even when her friends at Claires Court had to isolate, they still logged into their lessons in real time and did not miss out. I know this is not the case for all of us, but this little conversation serves as an important reminder to take the positives and be optimistic.

My brother has joined me in wishing all in the community a safe and healthy Christmas and, of course, a better new year as mass vaccination becomes a reality.

In particular, we hope that all our teaching colleagues and other frontline healthcare professionals as much of a restful break as possible.

HUGH AND JAMES WILDING

Principals at Claires Court

Counting the costs of

the PM’s concessions

When Prime Minister Boris Johnson addressed the nation on Christmas Eve he may have broken his personal record for mendacity with this claim: “We have completed the biggest trade deal yet, worth £660 billion a year".

In 2019 UK GDP was £2,169 billion, so £660 billion would be a massive 30 percent of GDP; however, of course, he had wrongly equated the value of his trade deal to the value of the trade, as if the trade would entirely cease without his deal.

Plus £668 billion was the trade both ways, but only the £294 billion of UK exports to the EU contributed to UK GDP; and of that only £170 billion was goods which would have attracted tariffs in the absence of his “Canada style” trade deal.

And the average Common External Tariff applied by the EU to goods from the UK would have been just a few percent, not the atypical 40 percent plus so often highlighted for exports of lamb which make up less than 0.02 percent of GDP.

According to one analysis the negative effect on our economy of such modest EU tariffs might have been between 0.1 and 0.2 percent of GDP; taking the central estimate that would have been around £3 billion a year, not £660 billion a year.

So supposing that Boris Johnson truly had over-estimated the economic value of his preferred trade deal by a factor of two hundred, how much would that matter? It would depend upon the costs of the concessions he made to get the deal.

But the deal is now done, and it cannot be changed, and supine parliamentarians will agree to short cut the statutory twenty-one sitting days for them to scrutinise the treaty before ratification, so will further commentary serve any purpose?

Dr D R COOPER

Belmont Park Avenue

Maidenhead

Still much we can do to

protect our future

Brexit is not worth it. While this Government has pulled us back from the brink of a catastrophic No Deal outcome, we must be under no illusions. Johnson’s choice of Brexit is a bad deal for Britain.

ThIs Brexit deal has no upsides to justify the fanfare with which it has been received.

This bad deal for Britain leaves us in a worse position than we held as a member of the EU.

Now that more detail is available we already know that: This is a bad deal for our economy.

It largely ignores the service industry.

This means that we are still in the dark about the long-term implications of Brexit for the service sector that makes up 80 per cent of our economy.

One thing is for certain, we have less market access for services.

This is a bad deal for UK businesses that trade in goods, which will now face more red tape, more bureaucracy and more blockages at our borders.

This is a bad deal for British food and farming, with customs checks creating extra hoops for our British farmers to jump through, just to make ends meet.

This is a bad deal for British people.

How is it going to make our life better?

We have lost access to programmes ranging from Erasmus to development funding. We can no longer travel freely in Europe and we have been denied a voice in European bodies that will make decisions that affect our daily lives.

Boris Johnson has chosen to begin the next phase of the UK’s relationship with the EU as a weaker, poorer nation.

This is the first trade deal in modern history to implement more barriers to trade.

The Government will get its deal through the Commons – there is no doubt about that – but it should not be endorsed by anyone who believes Boris Johnson’s Brexit is bad for Britain.

We should hold this government, and this government alone, responsible for this terrible deal.

We need to pull together and fight for our future relationship with the EU.

There is so much still to fight for, so much to do to protect our future. But right now, nothing is more important than standing up and saying loud and clear: Johnson’s Brexit deal is a bad deal for Britain!

DR JOSEF KONRAD

Powney Road

Maidenhead

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