The Environment matters even more in today's political climate

September 2, 2018 7:43 PM
By Tony Clayton
Originally published by Liberal Democrats in Sevenoaks, Dartford and Gravesham

Tony Clayton in Bayham Rd

Some politicians may have decided that the environment matters less than picking quarrels with our neighbours, or starting trade wars, but fortunately people haven't. As forests burn from Greece to California in yet another year for record temperatures, and plastic chokes our oceans, the reaction of most in our communities is that this needs fixing.

Two big issues affecting us here in Sevenoaks are high on the local poltical agenda, and are not going away. Housing development and air quality will dominate the choices we make for years to come.

As the plans for almost 14,000 new houses in the next 20 years grind through the Local Plan consultation, people are thinking seriously about just how sustainable a 30% population increase can be. How will we deal with the traffic? How will we get to work? Where are the new schools and hospital places? Where will the water come from? It is less than clear that the planning process will answer these questions.

And as traffic continues to grow in Sevenoaks streets more people recognise the serious air quality problems in our High Street and all along the A25. Within four years, as our schools expand, there will be 5,000 students between Riverhead, Seal and Sevenoaks School spending all day near these pollution hotspots. Air pollution shortens lives.

The challenge for politicians is to grasp local challenges like these and make a difference. It's too easy to pretend that it's beyond our control. That's what Sevenoaks District Council does when it claims air pollution is down to motorway traffic, when it's clear from the data that local traffic in our streets does the damage.

The challenge for voters is to demand better, and hold politicians to account.

Tony Clayton, Sevenoaks Town Councillor