We are progressing – but do we care enough?
I was recently asked when our group would be taking action on the Green Living Plan. The answer is that our role as honorary consultants is to prepare the plan, not to act on it before it’s ready.
We aim to finish and deliver the revised plan to Thame Town Council early next year. The council has already approved last year’s consultation version and the next stage is to put forward specific ideas and proposals for action in a new, part three of the plan.
These ideas and proposals will include the areas we’ve been working on this year – walking and footpaths, cycling and cycleways, and green spaces/biodiversity. Supported by many volunteers we’ve been busy mapping what currently exists, evaluating options and preparing specific recommendations.
Safe and pleasant routes for walking and cycling, together with open green spaces, not only improve our quality of life but also provide alternatives to vehicle travel. We need to recognise that motor vehicles are major contributors to both greenhouses gas emissions (via petrol fumes) and dangerous low-level air pollution (via diesel fumes). It’s why we’re also looking at how more electric vehicles and increased use of solar power could help to reduce emissions, and what the implications would be.
What is clear is that there will be trade-offs if we’re to make a significant move towards cleaner air and energy. For example, any restriction on traffic in one area will affect others elsewhere; town centre parking is closely linked to the town centre vibrancy; and 20 mph limits, however desirable, need county council and police support to be effective. There needs therefore to be a strong groundswell of public support if the councils (district and county, as well as town) and developers are to take our plans seriously enough to make real change.
So my question to all of you in and around Thame is not whether you care about our air and environment but whether you care enough to do something meaningful. This will mean changes to how we go about our daily lives, including travelling less or in different ways. Remember that, even if you still doubt climate change science, low level pollution is here and now and highly dangerous. We can’t just leave it to others. The Green Living Plan is our opportunity to tackle the issue here and now.
We and the town council will need evidence that the people of Thame and the surrounding area care enough and want change. That needs people and support to make it happen. In particular we need a clean air group to come together and work with us with a determination to produce a well-researched set of practical proposals in this critical area.
Are you up for the challenge?
If so, please get in touch using the contact form on this website’s home page, and let’s hear from you. If we can get enough people we’ll set up a meeting specifically on this issue. We know most of the problems, and have to be realistic on the solutions, but until we start ‘down the road’ nothing much will change until it’s forced on us. Can we afford to wait?
Finally, let me repeat what I said at the last Town Hall meeting – let’s not just wait for everyone else. A community like Thame is well placed to take the lead. If it can’t or won’t, what chance do others have?