Gazette letters: Climate action and using old rail tracks

The declaration of a climate emergency was signed at Islington Town Hall in June 2019. Picture: SEBA

The declaration of a climate emergency was signed at Islington Town Hall in June 2019. Picture: SEBASTIAN SANDYS - Credit: Sebastian Sandys

We write as organisations, businesses and people of the borough who care deeply about the future of our families, community, country and planet wrote Islington XR, Islington Clean Air Parents, XR Bunhill, Homeowners Declare, and a growing coalition of those who live work and study in the borough to Islington councillors.

We understand that burning fossil fuels creates greenhouse gases that trap heat in the atmosphere. We can see that this is leading to more droughts, floods, fires and heatwaves. We want to be part of the transition to a low carbon, less destructive and polluting society and do not want to be responsible for causing greater destruction and loss of life.

We were inspired by the council's decision in June 2019 to declare a climate emergency and to set the ambitious target to become carbon net zero by 2030. However we are now gravely concerned that since this declaration Islington Council seems not to have a plan for how to meet this target and passes much responsibility to central government, local residents and businesses. In its own summary of its 2020/21 budget the council commits to 'carry on implementing changes wherever we can' and little more.

This is not good enough. We want to be part of designing systems that address the urgent threat of climate change and environmental destruction. We understand that making widespread changes is complicated and we do not expect the council to do it all. We want to play our part as a whole community but we need ways to be involved so that we can coproduce solutions. We want the council to lead by example and to have clear targets so we can see they are playing their part.

The council has previously stated that it would have an action plan available for discussion with community groups in November, for sign off in February 2020. This is now postponed to sometime later in the year.

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We ask the council:

- Where is your plan?

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- How will you involve your community?

The voluntary and community sector are experts in social change and know their communities. They are able to communicate priorities to and from the council. They can ensure solutions are fair.

Many businesses and workforces are striving to be more sustainable and reduce their carbon and environmental impact. They have insights into the challenges and solutions. They need to be part of solutions that will be workable.

Individuals making personal changes need support from the council so that their efforts are recognised and examples of environmentally friendly behaviour become what we all expect of our neighbours.

This is an unprecedented challenge and not straight forward to solve. Wishful thinking won't get us out of this mess. More than ever Islington Council must recognise the importance of collaborating - cross party and with business, statutory and community and workforce representatives and citizens, at an early stage - in order to find solutions that will work for all.

To date no communication or demonstration of community wide cooperation has been evidenced. If Islington elected councillors believe they can do this by themselves, they are sadly and gravely mistaken.

I am writing concerning the previous edition of the Islington Gazette, from Clorence and Ivor Kenna, writes Mr J E Kirby, Clissold Crescent, Stoke Newington.

In theory, what they say about relaying old railway tracks is good on paper, unfortunately a lot of the railway tracks they refer to have had the ground they were laid on sold off to various concerns and roads and/or housing built over and on them. As a result, this land has been lost forever.

I suppose this could be blamed on the Beeching report of the 1960s which at one time advised on closing down approximately 50 per cent of the then rail network.

Another problem is that it would be great if more freight could be carried by rail, but then a lot of the old local goods yards have been sold off for either housing or industrial development.

At Highbury and Islington for instance, there was a goods yard to the left of the station as you approach from Caledonian Road but due to intense London Overground six to 10 minute interval service in either direction going to and from Stratford, you wouldn't be able to get freight trains in and out.

Yes, Highbury and Islington does have four tracks but the other two tracks are now terminal platforms for the East London Line so there are only two through lines.

I suppose we can say in hindsight, that if we had the sense to preserve the original railway right of way, then it would be possibly be easier to re-lay the tracks again as the two people suggest.

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