This section looks at improving the pleasure we take in our environment, reducing our environmental impact, increasing biodiversity and making us more resilient to increasing fuel prices and climate change.
Dog-fouling, litter and recycling
Dog fouling and littering were the top reported environmental issues in the Alnwick and Denwick community consultation last year. Contact with dog waste can cause toxocariasis, resulting in blindness. Research by Keep Britain Tidy suggests that more bins in the right places help tackle littering and dog fouling.
We recycle 40% of waste in Northumberland, but this will not increase much further unless we make it easier to recycle materials like glass, cartons and textiles. There are sites at Lionheart Business Park, Greenwell Lane car park, and less well-used sites at Willowburn Sports Centre and the Co-op petrol station, but no supermarkets or other car parks provide recycling.
Warm homes and renewable energy
Carbon emissions from our homes are 23% higher in Northumberland than elsewhere in England and Wales. This is largely due to the number of older solid wall properties. A 2009 study found that 18% of Alnwick households lived in fuel poverty, whilst in Denwick the figure may be around 45%. These numbers will have increased with rising energy prices, and can be expected to increase further. The plan could make homes more energy-efficient through incentives, publicity, supporting schemes or through the planning system.
Currently about 1% of Alnwick and Denwick’s energy use comes from local renewable sources, such as solar panels, wood burners and heat pumps. Planning permission is often required to install solar panels in conservation areas. The plan could come up with measures to encourage householders and businesses to adopt renewable energy.
Trees and nature reserves
Alnwick and Denwick have many attractive and historic trees along routes into the town and in the town centre which should be protected and preserved. Very few of our publicly accessible trees produce edible fruit. Predicted doubling of oil prices in 10 years and lifestyle changes in the developing world will make expensive food even more costly. The North-East is a net importer of fresh fruit, so more fruit trees in publicly-accessible space will help protect communities from rising prices. Grants for trees are available from many organisations, and tree planting has been carried out by volunteers from environmental groups, Alnwick Lions, Girl Guides and town councillors.
We also have very few local nature reserves. There are small reserves at Craster, Whittingham and Littlehoughton, but the total area falls far short of the government agency Natural England’s standard, and there are no nature reserves at all in Alnwick or Denwick. To meet the standard, we need to set aside more land for nature conservation. This need not be expensive as wildlife can prosper on marginal land with no development value and can often be secured through agreement with landowners.
Key issues – Emerging already
- What measures can be taken to minimise littering and dog fouling?
- What is the awareness and scope for expansion both of town recycling points and of the materials which can be recycled there?
- How can we reset the priority accorded to cars relative to other transport modes – especially in the market place, but also at other hotspots?
- How can we connect Alnwick to surrounding settlements using lower-impact travel modes – bus, cycle, foot?
- How can we retain and ideally enhance bus services?
- What scope is there to introduce 20mph speed limits and traffic calming measures in the town?
- How can we ensure that Alnwick and Denwick reduce both energy costs and environmental impact through efficiency measures and energy generation (whether individual or community owned)?
- How can we support micro-generation – solar, GSHPs, small scale hydro and wind, and overcome unforeseen consequences of conservation areas.
- Where can we develop more green space in the town, and prevent building on green space when brownfield sites are adequate?
- How can we prevent sprawl in Alnwick, and ensure that new developments are produced with facilities which minimise car dependency?
- How can we meet Natural England's Accessible Natural Greenspace Standard (ANGSt)?
- How do we maximise the area of land given over to allotments and under cultivation?
- What measures can we take to preserve current low levels of air pollution and reduce light pollution?
- How can we ensure that new developments include tree planting, especially trees with edible produce?
- How do we reasonably maximise mixed planting elsewhere in the area to enhance biodiversity and better adapt to a changing climate?
- How can we ensure that building does not take place on flood plains and reasonably minimise the risk of surface water flooding?
- Do we actually need the population of Alnwick to grow? What's the evidence, and what are the knock-on effects for facilities and for other towns?
- How do we maximise take-up of local goods and services to strengthen the Alnwick economy.
Areas of potential overlap with other topic areas
- Energy efficiency, renewables, green space, flooding (Housing)
- Renewables in conservation areas (Heritage)
- Sustainable travel (Transport)
- Local goods and services (Retail)
- Renewables in general (Economy and employment)
- Cycling and footpaths, open space (Sport and recreation / Community facilities)
- Green space (Community facilities)
Factors constraining options
- Financial and spatial resources
- Law enforcement
- Existing strategies