The seven-year vision statement of Rother District Council ignores what is now recognised as one of the most serious threats to our way of life – climate change – says the Rother Environmental Group (REG).
Its comments are on Rother’s draft corporate plan. An updated “vision” is due to be presented to Rother’s Cabinet at the end of this month after a review of consultations. Christopher Strangeways, a committee member of the environmental group, says: “In the analysis of the ‘feedback’ there is no mention of the need to address climate change, which is expected to drastically affect the area.”
Meanwhile, a response from David Russell, a Tory councillor on Rother, suggests that he is sympathetic to some of what the group says and hopes that our local MP will be pushing green issues, especially after her promotion in the recent Cabinet reshuffle.
Dr Ian Graham-Bryce, who lives in Rye, a distinguished scientist and a former member of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution and the Natural Environment Research Council, comments: “While the detailed effects of climate change may be hard to predict, it would be foolhardy to ignore the potentially serious adverse consequences. All in positions of responsibility for the wellbeing of the community should incorporate plans for mitigation and adaptation in their forward planning – failure to address this major issue in an adequate manner is a surprising omission.”
REG concedes that Rother has limited resources and scope for comprehensively dealing with the issue “but it can help residents and communities to adapt to the impacts of climate change and so increase their resilience to the anticipated changes”.
Periods of extreme weather are predicted, says the group, and prolonged heavy rain would threaten a number of Rother communities with flooding. Long droughts are also expected in a region with limited water. As sea levels rise over time, flooding in coastal areas could mean the abandonment of some communities and settlements. Furthermore, climate change will cause significant further rises in the cost of fuel and electricity as alternatives to fossil fuels are sought.
“The plan does address the current issue of fuel poverty, but the need to increase households’ energy efficiency and develop much more energy generation from local renewable sources should be given a higher priority,” says Strangeways.
In an email to Strangeways, David Russell writes: “I will put to colleagues your suggested paragraph concerning adapting and becoming resilient to climate change. In practical terms, Rye is hot on emergency planning matters and so is Rother. And, now we have the Parliamentary Under Secretary for Energy and Climate Change [Amber Rudd, MP for Hastings & Rye] in our midst, there will be exciting times. Amber’s particular responsibilities will include climate change and the green agenda. I hope that she will be harnessing tidal and solar power for all she is worth and explaining that fracking is safe.”