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Agenda item

Questions from Members of the Public

Minutes:

Question (a) from Rose Pryce to Councillor Burgess, Executive Member for Health and Social Care:

 

The dangers of EMF radiation from wireless technology have prompted the U.K. towns of Glastonbury, Frome and Totnes to apply the Precautionary Principle and halt the roll out of 5G. (The cities of Brussels & Geneva have done the same and there are many other worldwide campaigns to stop it). With zero studies to prove that 5G will be safe and considering its Duty Of Care, why isn’t Islington Council also putting the health of its community - particularly our children - first?

 

Response:

 

Thank you for your question and for drawing my attention to the position of Frome, Glastonbury and Totnes. I note that Glastonbury Council have passed a motion resisting the rollout of 5G equipment, however Glastonbury Council will not be able to put the motion into effect, because planning policies and planning decisions must be in accordance with national planning guidelines. These have been set by national government and have recently been updated. Our position in Islington is informed by the national guidance regarding radio frequency electromagnetic fields and their impact on health. The guidance is based on the latest scientific evidence.

 

There have been many scientific research projects and studies looking at the impact of exposure to radio waves on health. This body of research has been examined by groups of UK and international independent experts, who have concluded that there is no evidence of adverse health effects if exposure remains below the levels set by current standards. In fact, the World Health Organisation has classified the health effect of radio frequency radiation in the same category as using talcum powder, so I hope that is of some reassurance. However, I do assure you that the council will continue to regularly review our position, based on the latest scientific evidence, national guidance from Public Health England, and national planning policy, to ensure we continue to deliver a healthy Islington for all. Thank you again for your question.

 

Supplementary question:

 

Thank you. Can this be raised properly as an issue at a future meeting and given more time so that more evidence can be discussed? 

 

Response:

 

Thank you. The business that is carried on in this chamber does follow certain rules, but you will have seen tonight that there was a petition that attracted a lot of signatures and triggered a debate. However, I do emphasise, we can only follow the law and the guidelines, including from the World Health Organisation in this case, which is a pretty respected organisation.

 

Question (b) from John Hartley to Councillor Webbe, Executive Member for Environment & Transport:

 

I was shocked to discover that Islington does not provide a food waste recycling service to many flats, including for example, Xchange Point in Market Road. Modern, gated, plenty of ground level storage areas, with a regular refuse and recycling service – this large block of flats does not have a food waste communal collecting point because Islington will not provide a collection service. Why does Islington fail to provide a food waste recycling service to 75% of its households?

 

Response:

 

Thank you for your question, John. Islington Council is committed to creating a cleaner, greener and more sustainable Islington. To help achieve that ambition, we are working hard to reducing waste, and drive up recycling rates across the borough. Islington Council already provides a weekly food waste collection and recycling service to all street properties with a weekly recycling service, and to approximately half of all-purpose built flats. This means that we are providing food waste recycling to approximately 75% of all households in Islington. 

 

We are working hard to deliver food waste recycling to 100% of households in Islington. We have just consulted on our draft Waste Reduction and Recycling Plan, which is due to be adopted soon, and one of our proposals in that is extending our food waste recycling to all remaining purpose-built blocks of flats and trialling communal collection points for flats above shops. We of course need to ensure that we have the funding to do that.

 

It’s not just about providing the resource; it’s ensuring that residents understand the importance of food waste recycling. So we have been rolling out a really clear campaign to make clear that food is not waste, it is a resource. Food can be transformed in to so many things, from electricity to compost. We are making that very clear as part of our Small Change Big Difference campaign, to encourage more local people to recycle food waste. I’m with you; I can’t wait until I’m also able to access food waste recycling at home too.

 

Supplementary question:

 

Thank you. I applaud the policy of trying to reduce waste. However, I did submit a Freedom of Information request asking how many households did not receive food waste recycling services, and I received the response that approximately 75% of households do not receive it. So I am surprised by your response that 75% of households do receive it. You’ve said you would like to increase this to 100%, can you give a timescale of how long this will take?

 

Response:

 

I’m really sorry that you received incorrect information. We’ve just consulted on our Waste and Recycling Plan that sets out our intention to expand food waste recycling to 100% of households. We’re working through the consultation responses now, but we are hoping to take that to our Executive for agreement on 17th October. We will make the decision, then work towards getting that 100%, subject to us having the funding. It will then need to be considered in our budget for the coming financial year. By April by next year, I hope you will see this beginning to be implemented.

 

Question (c) from Richenda Walford to Councillor Webbe, Executive Member for

Environment & Transport:

 

There are many items that can be recycled in Hornsey Street but to do so you have to arrive in a polluting motor vehicle.  Arrive at the recycling centre on foot or bike and you will be told to take your recycling away and arrange for a motor vehicle to collect it. Why does Islington discourage zero-carbon journeys in this way?

 

Response:

 

Thank you for your question Richenda. We are committed to driving up recycling rates in Islington and our Waste Reduction and Recycling Strategy sets out a number of actions to help us achieve this. The Reuse and Recycling Centre does have a drop-off facility for pedestrians and cyclists, where local people can drop off many items. However, the site is an industrial site which is used almost 24 hours a day by heavy good vehicles who manage the large volumes of waste and recycling and consequently. It is simply not safe for pedestrians and cyclists to access the site.

 

There are a number of other ways in which local people can recycle items without needing to drive a polluting car to the centre. Including at public recycling points for smaller items, using council collection services. We will continue to promote those, as well as the use of car clubs, which are a greener, more sustainable option for anyone who needs to drop-off bulkier items to the Reuse and Recycling Centre.

 

If you are walking or cycling, you shouldn’t need to go all the way to the Waste and Recycling Centre. You should be able to drop items of locally. We are committed to working with local people, to make it easier to recycle, and so people can drop off items that need to be recycled.

 

The safety aspect of the Waste and Recycling Centre is important. There is, however, a drop-off point at the entrance to centre for smaller items.

 

Supplementary question:

 

There is indeed a drop-off point, but there are other items such as asbestos and household chemicals that are not allowed at the drop-off point. We had some asbestos that we couldn’t drop-off at the gate; you have to get a local vehicle to do it for you. Why do you not encourage zero carbon journeys in this way?

 

Response:

 

You raise an interesting point. Asbestos and chemical items are too dangerous for individuals to drop-off themselves so would require those to be transported safely. I will look at that closely, as we wouldn’t want asbestos or dangerous chemicals to be dropped-off at other points either. It shouldn’t be right that a pedestrian is carrying asbestos or chemical products by hand through the streets of Islington. We need to protect our residents. These are important questions and I am sure there will be an adequate solution.

 

Question (d) from Talia Hussain to Councillor Webbe, Executive Member for Environment & Transport:

 

The draft Transport Strategy says that Islington will investigate the elimination of parking permits for diesel & petrol vehicles by 2030. At the same time, the target for privately owned cars is over 30,000, which suggests that Islington could see 30k electric vehicles on the streets by 2030. How many vehicle charging points will this require on our streets, how much will this cost and how will they be paid for?

 

Response:

 

Thank you for your very important question. In June the Council declared an Environment and Climate Emergency and committed to making Islington net zero carbon by 2030. To achieve this bold ambition and clean up the air we breathe, we want to see Petrol and Diesel vehicles removed from our streets by 2030. Nevermind the government’s plan to end the government’s plan to end Petrol and Diesel cars by 2041. In Islington, we want to ensure that those who need to use vehicles do so sustainably, that is why we have called on the Mayor of London to end diesel vehicles in London by 2025.

 

We want Islington to be a place where people use healthy, efficient and sustainable modes of transport, where there are no barriers to walking, cycling and using public transport. In terms of targets for charging points, we want to make sure that the number of charging points is sufficient for the future. We have committed to installing 400 electric vehicle charging points by 2022. We have already delivered 167 on-street charging points. Our ambition is for zero emission vehicles; electric cars are part of that agenda, but there is also talk of using hydrogen and other technologies. There will be a need to ensure that those who need to make car journeys are supported in doing so as sustainably as possible.

 

Supplementary question:

 

I know that Councillor Webbe is very passionate about carbon reduction and is engaging with climate campaigners on environmental issues. What science tells us about electric vehicles is that they emit as much particulate matter as conventional vehicles. They include carbon emissions from their production which are as much as 90% of conventional vehicles and of course they represent the same road danger. The answer isn’t more vehicles on our roads. Will the council engage with the evidence on electric vehicles, including that they use rare minerals that are mined in poor countries with poor labour standards such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, that produces 60% of the world’s cobalt and has terrible child labour laws?

 

Response:

 

As I set out, our future isn’t necessarily electric vehicles. What we are seeking to do is move with the advances in technology. At the moment the technological advances suggest that, for the UK right now, that for those who need to use a vehicle, it is better if they are using an electric vehicle. They are available in the UK right now. We have looked at other types of vehicles, but the infrastructure isn’t there to take this forward. What we have now is electric vehicles.

 

Electric vehicles may not be the latest technology in 2030. What our strategy sets out is that we want to move to zero emission vehicles. We hope that technological advances will mean that we will get new forms of vehicles that will not emit particulate matters. We are concerned about particulate matter and that is why our Air Quality Strategy sets out that we will move to World Health Organisation standards on particulate matters. Our agenda for moving forward is based on the reality. We understand these issues and will challenge the industry to get answers quicker; we will not sit still.

 

Question from a member of the public to Councillor Webbe, Executive Member for Environment & Transport:

 

What measures are you taking to reduce car parking in Islington?

 

Response:

 

Thank you for your question. What we want to do is create a transition and rebalance our roads in favour of walking, cycling and public transport. For too long our records have been designed for cars. What we want to do is change and transform our roads so that we improve opportunities for walking, cycling and public transport. We are removing parking spaces and delivering cycle parking across the borough.

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