Green Every Home
Nationally, energy usage in our homes accounts for 14% of UK emissions. The quality of British homes is amongst the lowest in Europe for thermal efficiency. 2.5 million people live in fuel poverty due to poor insulation and heat loss.
The cost-of-living crisis - rising taxes, soaring energy prices and high inflation - has reinforced our belief that investment is needed to make our homes substantially more energy efficient. Liberal Democrats will make home insulation a priority.
The recent huge spike in the cost of gas has shown us how unpredictable and dangerous the fossil fuel market is to the average household. We must take action now to improve homes and make them greener. To do this we will access all Government funds made available to reduce our carbon footprint. Thus, not only will our plans help lift households out of fuel poverty, and cut down on the reliance on fossil fuels, it will also create jobs and protect the planet. Investing to cut carbon from our energy networks will pay an environmental dividend for decades.
This will be achieved by upgrading all existing houses by 2030 and requiring all new houses to be built to an eco-friendly standard. Medway Liberal Democrats would also identify ways so the council can assist homeowners in converting their gas boilers into fully electric.
Transport is the UK's biggest source of carbon emissions, and yet public transport in Medway has been neglected and dismissed for decades forcing people to make even more unnecessary car journeys. Medway Liberal Democrats are committed to delivering sustainable transport, cutting carbon emissions by 2030 and supporting public health.
Medway Liberal Democrats call for a major push in electric car charging points. We shall push for more car charging installations in residential streets which lack off-road parking. This allows those willing to purchase an electric vehicle to do so.
A reassessment of the bus routes is needed to improve connectivity. We call for a Medway travel card. Our goal is to make public transport quicker and cheaper than car journeys. We would extend rail coverage where we believe there is a strong case for re-introducing a rail passenger service. We have proposed this for Grain to Higham. Currently, travel time from the Peninsula to Medway's urban areas and beyond is only accessible by car and bus, contributing to pollution and road congestion.
The biggest impediment to taking up cycling is perceived danger. We would push for more infrastructure at a time when the technology to make light work of our local hills is readily available. There is a huge growth in e-bikes and scooters, which are becoming steadily more affordable, allowing people to start to take to Medway's streets and roads with confidence. Active travel, walking and cycling, will be encouraged as much as possible.
Our policy will rebalance the way in which we travel around Medway and tackle the challenges of pollution so improving our air quality, the climate emergency and boosting our health and wellbeing.
Improving Medway's Air Quality
Urgent action is needed to reduce emissions in our towns. Otherwise, air quality will worsen and the health of future generations will suffer.Our town's towns' air pollution must be tackled now, not only to save our environment, but also to save lives. A report produced by the Centre for Cities found that 1 in 16 deaths in Chatham "are exclusively driven by combustion in commercial, institutional, and domestic activities linked to long-term exposure to particulates." Nationally, Liberal Democrats are calling for the World Health Organisation's (WHO) guidelines on particulate matter to be adopted into UK law, and met by 2030.
Within Medway Council there are the following air quality management areas:
- On the A2 from Strood to Hoath Way, Gillingham, with extensions along Luton Road and between Cuxton Hill and Frindsbury
- Lower Lines to Danes Hill in Lower Gillingham
- The length of Rainham High Street
- Four Elms Hill, Chattenden
This is a huge area of Medway where people are suffering poor air quality. Medway Liberal Democrats will invest in infrastructure that will improve the air quality and the health of Medway residents.
One in four children in the UK attend schools in areas that regularly break air pollution limits, with air pollution linked to increases in childhood asthma and breathing disorders. No child in Medway should have to risk their lives to attend school. We will supply Medway schools with air quality monitors to help educate and inform students and their families.
Nationally, Liberal Democrats are proposing a £20 billion clean air fund that will allow councils to create safe walking and cycle routes for our children. Some of the funds will be invested in making our buses electric and emission free.
As Medway faces new developments, we will commission a report into an understanding of air quality and its effects around our towns and by reviewing and upgrading our air quality monitoring network to reflect the growth. We would fight to manage our towns' air quality, by minimising carbon emissions and where necessary extending coverage of monitoring to include more potential pollution hotspots around our area.
Save Medway's Countryside - Making Planning Work for Medway's Environment
We recognise the necessity for sustainable new housing to meet the needs of Medway's growing population and to attempt to combat the trend of local people being priced out of the housing market. We understand that some areas within Medway are more suitable for new housing than others and therefore we will commission a comprehensive survey to identify the most appropriate areas, using a range of factors, including more accessible data about habitats and species, to ensure a sustainable future planning model around the results of that survey. Regardless of location, any new developments must incorporate adequate public green spaces and sufficient infrastructure commensurate with the size and nature of the proposed development. This will avoid costly mistakes and help to direct development away from more sensitive sites.
We will preserve open spaces around our towns. We will not cause harm to Medway's most sensitive wildlife habitats and species. We will improve the connectivity of habitats to provide robust ecological networks using green corridors.
We will highlight the importance of access to green spaces and nature for physical and mental health. 4 out of 10 British species are on the decline (State of Nature report 2019), and the UK is failing to meet 17 out of 20 of its biodiversity targets (RSPB analysis, A lost decade in Nature, 2020). In Medway, large areas of countryside are being swallowed up for housing developments and our parks and greenspaces are being underfunded and neglected. For those who live alone across our towns, or without access to gardens, balconies, or green space, exposure to nature is a key factor in maintaining positive mental health.
We will halt this decline by giving more power back to the community on how they run their parks and greenspaces. Medway Liberal Democrats encourage community groups to form with a goal of improving their local area. We would free up more council parks and land to these groups. This would allow them to plant trees, create habitats for wildlife, and make the best use of the space.
We will improve environmental standards around Medway by adopting sensible and consistently applied planning policies which are in line with the surrounding environment, because Medway's current planning system has proved ineffective.
Green Energy Switch
Only half of Britain's energy comes from renewable sources, and we are all feeling the chaotic effects of the fossil fuel market on our energy bills. Switching to green renewable energy is vital to cutting emissions, meeting our climate change targets, and saving the costs of our energy bills.
Nationally, it is the Liberal Democrats goal to invest, so that Britain gets 80% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030. Medway Liberal Democrats will do their part by identifying and installing solar panels on all viable council buildings and land.
Liberal Democrats will invest in renewables to transform the UK into a green economy, a world-leader in clean energy and deliver real change on the climate crisis.
Medway has a long coastline, which can be used to invest in solar, wind and tidal energy. This investment in renewable energy and green infrastructure in our towns would make Medway an innovator in energy technology.
Renewable energy alone cannot meet the energy needs of the country. In order to fulfil the green energy requirement, storage is also required. The most effective, environmentally safe method is to use excess-to-demand electricity to convert water to hydrogen and oxygen, then store the hydrogen until it is needed, whereupon the hydrogen can then be used to generate electricity to meet demand.