Chair of WEN, David Highton looks at the Transition movement in Ealing.
In Eric’s well-earned absence I thought I’d add a few comments following an LDF related meeting I went to last night.
The meeting was organised by the Ealing Transition Steering Group (see www,ealingtransition.org). There were 16 of us and it was facilitated by Trevor Sharman of the Steering Group. Trevor was one of those who attended the Council’s LDF consultation last week at Ealing Town Hall. The idea behind Transition towns is acting as a focal point for community action on peak oil and climate change.
The aim of the meeting was to get us thinking about what we want the Council to treat as priorities from the perspective of peak oil and climate change.
I was one of the few lucky (!) attendees who had even seen let alone read the Council’s LDF documents. One other attendee actually had the documents in his bag but, with expletives deleted, was not entirely complimentary about the readability and usefulness of these documents.
Splitting in to three groups we each discussed what we viewed as priorities for the Council to include in its LDF plan for Ealing from 2011-2026. As you might expect we talked about the impact of high fuel costs on food production, local transport and building and development and so on.
What struck me ( prompted by an earlier meeting with Trevor) out of all this, and I’ve been back and checked the Council’s LDF documents as best I can, is that I can find no key assumption about the likely price of fuel over the next decade and more. Surely we need to plan with an assumption that,say, oil will cost at least $70, maybe even $100 a barrel, if not more and what will that mean for Ealing residents? What will that price mean for food supplies, type of buildings, building costs, transport costs, other infrastructure costs and so on?
I can find no mention whatsoever of food supply in any of the LDF documents. There is a section on climate change in the Issues and Options paper but this seems to skirt around the fundamental issues and makes no mention of food supply or seeking to increase local food production.
The LDF consultation has a way to run yet but I’m left wondering whether some of the really key issues are simply being ignored. I hope not and I hope that community led groups such as Ealing Transition along with residents groups will be able to shift the perspective of the Council enough to take on board these major questions.