A vision for a low-carbon Winchester

We caught up with Phil Gagg from WinACC recently. Winchester Action on Climate Change is dedicated to combating climate change and inspiring sustainable living.

Here’s Phil with his own views on how we can achieve a low-carbon future for Winchester…

Once we have successfully addressed the Covid-19 crisis, we will next have to address the climate crisis. As Winchester is a relatively affluent place, its greenhouse gas emissions per person are relatively high, so it is particularly important that Winchester acts fast and radically. The City Council’s target of carbon neutrality by 2030 will not otherwise be met. We cannot ignore any possible course of action, and we will have to take risks.

The need to address global heating dominates my vision for Winchester.

First and foremost, Winchester needs to be fundamentally reorganised to reduce the detrimental impact of traffic. Transport is the source of 58% of Winchester District’s greenhouse gas emissions. This means that a net-zero-carbon Winchester would be one transformed so that most journeys within the city would be by cycling and walking.

There would have to be:

  • a major transfer of space from vehicles to cyclists and pedestrians
  • reduction of traffic through restricting access to within the ancient walls to disabled drivers, residents, buses, essential vehicles and deliveries
  • a comprehensive network of foot and cycle routes between all the main hubs
  • and safer routes for cyclists to neighbouring areas.

In addition, deliveries would be decarbonised through the creation of a rail-served freight hub and a fleet of final-mile electric vans; a network of frequent electric district buses would dispense with the need for extensive parking facilities and provide energy-efficient zero-emission access to the city; good public transport connections at the station would encourage the growth of low-carbon through journeys from all parts of the district to the rest of the country and further afield, and reduce journeys by air.

This would give central Winchester outstanding public spaces, free of congestion pollution and noise, and be a major attraction for visitors and businesses.

We must wean Winchester off gas consumption through the widespread introduction of air-pump-based electric heating. The supply of cheap zero-carbon electricity would be increased through the revival of schemes for on-shore wind farms and the active encouragement of solar farms and energy storage facilities. Local gas and oil extraction facilities would be abandoned.

A major programme of heating efficiency improvements would be carried out on all leaky buildings, and rigorous standards for low-carbon construction and energy efficiency applied to all new buildings.

The green revolution

All open spaces in the city would be managed in ways that capture maximum carbon, conserving the quality of the soil, and following the principles of rewilding.

Winchester would be heavily engaged in and benefiting from the forthcoming industrial green revolution. Investment in green businesses locally, nationally and internationally, would be encouraged, dirty investments clearly labelled.  Information and expertise would be pooled and made available. A system of business emissions labelling, similar to hygiene labelling would be instituted and made highly visible, on both the internet and in the high street.

Regular citizens’ engagements would take place to review progress and recommend policy changes. Most recent polls show a clear majority of people in favour of change.

Do you agree with Phil? What do you think needs changing for the future of Winchester? Participate by joining a working group. Find out more here.

You can also join the conversation via our social media channels. You can find us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

 

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