The green agenda pops up at almost every council meeting these days but is the clash between the dream and the reality beginning to appear?
Last week, councillors on Wokingham Borough Council’s planning committee unanimously approved the new TV studio at Thames Valley Science Park but during the debate, questions arose about the amount of parking and whether it was right for the size of audiences for shows.
Although the parking seems ample, assumptions seem to have been made, based on cars carrying an average of three people. The point was made that that seems an unlikely figure.
A council officer pointed to the half-hourly bus service but Cllr Stephen Conway (a LibDem) said: “As performances are likely to finish at 11pm, I can’t imagine, on a wet November evening, people will be very enthusiastic about using a bus.”
That would seem to strike at the very heart of the issue. The reality is wet November evenings at bus stops are neither desirable nor safe – and it’s 200 metres to the nearest at TVSP. And how can a bus serve the various directions in which people will need to go? How much of a late night walk do those people face at the end of their bus journey?
The reality is far from the dream.
Public transport, cycling and walking, so desired by Oxfordshire county councillors as their opposition to a bridge over the Thames proves, isn’t always practical. But are they themselves living the dream they impose upon the rest of us?
At a meeting in March, just when the county council was passing its plans for a zero emissions zone in the centre of Oxford, which starts in August, Cllr Yvonne Constance said: “It’s £10 per day for vehicles with no reduction in emissions, which means I’ve got to change my diesel before August.”
She went on to say air pollution was the ‘greatest cause of ill-health’, apparently unaware that someone driving a diesel in the city centre might have been contributing to that.
As we’ve seen so much in recent times, people making onerous rules seem to excuse themselves from them.
Not long ago councils were falling over themselves to declare climate emergencies with, it would seem, little regard for what this will actually mean. But reality is now coming into view.
And as we get closer to the net zero carbon era, the spotlight might be best placed on those enforcing the rules to make sure they are also obeying them.
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