My daughter actually said these words to me tonight 😲😍. As I sat down next to her bed at bedtime I told her I'm still emailing the council about that tree. I thought she would be bored of it by now. I thought she wouldn't care. But she does, and so, it turns out, do hundreds of people across Rugby and beyond.
We see it on the news and on documentaries daily that there is a climate emergency, that we are causing irreversible damage to our beautiful planet. Then you see in the news that a local developer has permission from our council to remove a 100 year old oak tree and build 860 houses on greenfield land.
The oak tree on Ashlawn Road. Photo: Richard Allanach on Rugby Advertiser Website.
The reaction I've had this week on social media and in 121 conversations have shown that the public are rightly joining the dots. Increasingly it is becoming clear that this is not just about each person making their own little changes in their daily lives. No longer can we bury our heads in Christmas or whatever distractions are current. No longer do we want to. We know that trees absorbs over 1 tonne of carbon dioxide in 40 years. We also know that the homes planned for this developments won't have solar panels or air source heat pumps. I've been asking questions of the council and now that I'm studying an MSc in Renewable Energy Engineering I can't help but be ashamed of the lax requirements our council is putting on developers. Lets face it. Why would they go to the extra expense of incorporating this beautiful ancient tree and important hedgerows in the design if if costs more? Why wouldn't they try to submit the easiest plan to build from their point of view and wait to see if the council's environment officer rejects it? And then the officer doesn't reject it. So they get on with building it how they want it. We shouldn't be building on greenfield land at all, but if we have to at least make them go around the carbon capturing valuable trees.
It seems to me that we place a lot of trust in our council to enforce rules on developers. It seems these rules are not written properly. They are not explicit enough about our expectations. Our children will look back on these decisions and wonder what the hell we were thinking. Building new homes is the perfect chance to install micro generation technology, yet the Rugby Borough Council Local Plan page 82 only requires developers to "negotiate based on the viability of the development". What regulation is that to drive low carbon buildings?
So talk to your kids about this. Tell them about what the council and developers are doing. Make sure they know that they can challenge it too. Oh yes. They can write to the council officers involved. They can protest. They can make a difference. This is about more than switching your lights off when you don't need them. I want my kids to be proud of us.
Here they are, my crazy three, will they be proud of us?