Nick Sandford on Environment Capital

Nick Sandford is unconvinced that awarding itself titles will help Peterborough in its green aspirations. Broadcast at 07:20 on Tuesday 28th September 2010 in the Peterborough Breakfast Show hosted by Paul Stainton on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire.

PS: Peterborough’s environment capital bid, you know the one, Home of Environment Capital, word missing, well it’s quickly becoming a PR gimmick. That’s the claim of Liberal Democrat councillor Nick Sandford. He’s urged the Council to stand up the city’s green credentials before awarding itself the title. There have also been concerns raised by English Democrat councillor Stephen Goldspink. (TAPE)
SG: But I’m currently asking questions about what we need to do to become Environment Capital, what our aims and objectives are, what we have to do by when, and who’s doing it. And I’m drawing a blank. But I have got a meeting on that later in the week. Because I’m very clear. If we’re putting money into something we need to know what the objectives are going to be, and when it’s going to be delivered. And if we don’t know that, we shouldn’t be putting money in to it. (LIVE)
PS: As I said, Nick Sandford, Liberal Democrat councillor, also accusing it of being a gimmick. He’s with us this morning. They’re doing their bit aren’t they? They’re trying to push this city forward, trying to make it green, trying to encourage us all to be green, and show us the light?
NS: Yes. I agree with what Stephen Goldspink was saying. I don’t always agree with English Democrats but I do on this point. He’s saying what the Liberal Democrats have been saying to the Council for quite some time, that yes, it’s great that we’re aspiring to become the environment capital. We want to improve our environmental performance. But what they’re doing on the thirteenth of October, they’re taking a page and a half policy paper to Full Council to ask councillors to declare Peterborough to be the home of environment capital. And we keep asking the question, where are the targets? Where is the independent assessment?
PS: What does it mean? What does home of environment capital mean? I’ve tried my best to ask these questions to find out what it actually means. And Marco Cereste’s on after eight this morning. I’ll ask him again. What does it mean?
NS: Well, I suppose it’s not saying that we are one hundred per cent the environment capital. I think it’s some half-way house. But the problem is Stephen’s absolutely right. We do need meaningful targets, so that we can say when we have achieved these targets, we can declare ourselves the environment capital.
PS: So we’re awarding ourselves the title. Is that what we’re doing?
NS: I think as I said when I was on the programme a couple of weeks ago, it’s seen as a PR thing, that what the PR people are saying to them is you’ve got to move it forward. You’ve got to move from creating the environment capital to being home of environment capital. And then presumably at some point they’ll say we now are the environment capital. But the only independent assessment that they’ve had so far was a survey from Forum for the Future, Jonathan Porritt’s organisation. They didn’t publish all the figures for that. And the figures that they haven’t published show that on things like health, i think we’re nineteenth out of twenty two. In terms of the amount of waste per head of population, we’re number twenty two out of twenty two. And that’s being a bit unfair quoting those statistics, because there are some statistics from that survey that show we’ve got a very good envronmental performance, on public transport, recycling .. But we really need to decide what the criteria are, strive to meet the criteria, and then have those criteria independently assessed, before we go making these claims. Because if you make claims that then turn out not to be justified, you don’t enhance the reputation of Peterborough, you’re just going to make us look rather silly.
PS: Well anybody can award themselves titles, can’t they? I can call myself the green champion of Peterborough. I could be Mr Green.
NS: Well I’m wearing a green shirt. Perhaps I should be the green champion.
PS: It’s only just green. It’s only because you put it in with some socks. But you are quite green, aren’t you, because Marco Cereste was on this show last week, and he was talking about investing in solar energy, and we had the guy on from the solar company. It just made sense to me. And you’ve already followed that advice.
NS: Yes. I had some photo-voltaic panels installed , because I think that it’s up to each individual to decide what contribution they can make. I’ve already had insulation put in my house, so I decided that solar panels was the next way forward. One of the things that the Coalition Government is doing is they’re just about to introduce a package of incentives to get householders to insulate their homes. Because unfortunately there’s twenty something million houses in the United Kingdom that don’t have adequate levels of insulation. So it’s a question of looking at what’s appropriate for each individual household.
PS: And some of the money you’re raising from the panels you’re donating to charity?
NS: Yes. What I’ve said is the company … that I’ve signed up with offered a small referral fee to each householder if you get someone else to have a quote. So what I’ve said is that half of the referral fee I get I will donate to the Mayor’s Charity. And I’m sort of hoping that will encourage more people to come forward and have a quote. Because it does involve an initial amount of cost, and it might not be suitable for all people. But you look at all these houses in Peterborough. You can look at the Town Hall, in fact, and you think, wouldn’t it be great if we had solar panels on the Town Hall.
PS: I think that’s Marco’s plan, isn’t it? He’s going to put windmills everywhere, and solar panels.
NS: Yes well Marco has a lot of plans. we need to see them translated into action I think.
PS: Well we’ll talk to him after eight this morning. Nick, thank you for that.