Meeting Report

July 2022 Meeting – Barnet Climate Assembly

Our July meeting was on Tuesday 26 July 7-8pm via Zoom. The subject was: What should be covered in a Barnet Climate Assembly?.

Dave McCormick led the discussion about Citizens Assemblies. He has written a briefing paper about Citizens Assemblies (PDF, 200Kb, 5 pages) describing the experience of other councils, and giving guidance on how we should proceed in Barnet and suggestions for further reading.

Meeting Report

Barnet Environment Hustings – video and links

BCAG took part in an excellent environment policy hustings event on Wednesday 20 April 2022 organised by Barnet Friends of the Earth, Better Streets for Barnet, Barnet Green Spaces Network and BCAG focusing on energy, climate, green spaces and transport issues. A recording of the session can be seen here.

The manifestoes of the four parties contributing to the evening’s discussion can be seen here:

A list of candidates in all wards can be viewed here:


Barnet Local Plan Response

The Barnet Climate Action Group has prepared a response to the latest consultation on the Barnet Draft Local Plan. Full details of the Local Plan and the consultation are on the council’s web site .

The BCAG response is here: BCAG Barnet Local Plan Response Aug 2021.pdf (PDF 258 Kb, 4 pages).

BCAG does not believe that the Barnet Draft Local Plan goes far enough in tackling climate change. The challenge of reducing carbon emissions of new build – and opportunities to use new build to reduce emissions of nearby existing buildings though the use of heat networks/decentralised energy options – across the borough are not fully addressed in the Local Plan.

While the Barnet Draft Local Plan is stronger on adaptation measures, BCAG believe there is more that needs to be done to protect the borough’s communities and infrastructure from the impacts of climate change.


One Plastic Bottle Doesn’t Matter Does It?

Notes from Breakout Session 1 – 16th May 2021

Presentation: Waste BCAG May 21.pptx (PowerPoint 800Kb)


A suggestion came from Julia Hines around help setting up a ‘library of things’ in East Finchley, which could be a ‘tool library’. Library of things could be set up at the local, neighbourhood level.

Attendees highlighted a series of existing projects within the community such as: – East Finchley group which works with shops and businesses, encouraging less packaging and refillable bottles of , eg olive oil.

A Zero Waste Market taking place in Barnet on 23rd May:

This led to a wider discussion about the need to share and exchange information on reducing waste, such as more information on how and what to recycle, as well as encouraging people to use local shops which are actively cutting down on packaging, especially zero waste shops.

Several contributors suggested that there needs to be an information exchange about such initiatives and campaigns, including September’s Big Green Week:

People also shared information about TerraCycle, who recycle crisp, sweet and biscuit wrappers:

There was also a recommendation for Olio, a recycling app:

Wendy from Incredible Edible Barnet talked about the value of teaching people to start growing some of their own food – it reduces food miles, reduces packaging, helps people engage with nature and encourages them to value the time and energy it takes to produce what they eat, thereby often influencing them to throw away less.

It also improves our food security. More food should be sourced locally, it is better, fresher and uses less transportation. Returning to theme of educating and informing people – it was suggested that there could be more information on how to start their own compost heaps.

There was a discussion about the need to put pressure on supermarkets, as most people buy the majority of the things they consume from them. Points raised here included:

  • Write them letters. Tell them we want an end to single use plastics, unnecessary wrapping. Why are some products cheaper when wrapped in plastic than alternatives that are sold loose?
  • Ask them to introduce stations which dispense loose items into brought-in reusable containers – as some small shops already do.
  • More recycling points.
  • Get them to agree to reduce waste of such items as bread.
  • Start a campaign, collect signatures to demand the supermarkets make surpluses available to the local community and ask them to place this in community fridges.

There was also a need to put pressure on manufacturers to make items that can have be more durable and be used for longer use, and to penalise them for short life items, such as  washing machines that only work for a few years. Making them pay for the cost of disposal of white goods and electricals was also supported.

The use of and promotion of repair shops was also supported. People highlighted the Restart Project which has taught people how to make their own repairs by running repairing workshops

The group was also supportive of putting pressure on the Council to reintroduce a food waste collection. Alan Schneiderman says there has not been a commitment to bring it back, the council leaders say there has been ‘low take-up’ but a third of residents were using the service when it was scrapped – which itself cost the council money in terms of having to collect and incinerate the additional waste.

People agreed that we need to think about what we buy.

Notes and suggestions from the Jamboard:

Screen with lots of virtual post-it notes. Sorry there is too much text to transcribe.
Click image to see the same image on a page by itself, which may be easier to zoom in to

5 Actions for us:

We need to share information about the need to reduce waste, the existence of local zero waste shops and markets, the impact that changing your diet can have, and the projects that already exist across Barnet that are taking action around reducing waste.

We need to take action ourselves, by setting up community ‘libraries of things’, setting up local projects on food waste and by consuming less stuff.

We need to support our local shops that are setting a good example, by using repair shops and zero waste stores whenever we can.

We need to grow our own by encouraging gardening, composting and growing own fruit vegetables. We also need to set up collective community gardens and allotments.

We need to say no to single use plastics – especially in shops and supermarkets.

3 Actions for others:

Barnet Council needs to take action to support the reduction of waste generated by residents and to increase the ease and rate of recycling through better services and improved information. Barnet Council should reintroduce the collection of food waste as soon as it can.

Manufacturers and producers need to make things that will last longer, are repairable, and take responsibility for the disposal of items when they reach the end of their useful life.

Supermarkets need to drastically reduce the amount of waste they generate and adopt zero waste practices, by ending the use of single use plastics, reducing packaging, introducing refill stations, finding uses for items that need to be thrown away (such as through community fridges).

Event Meeting Report

Report on meeting with Alex Gilbert

12th February 2020, 6.30pm, St Mary’s Church, Hendon Lane N3 1TR

Present: 27

Welcome By Philip Davison and reading of poem – “The meaning of existence” by Les Murray.

Syed Ahmed gave an update on Barnet Climate Action Group (BCAG)
We agreed to link ourselves to the Friends of the Earth Climate Groups which will give us access to information and resources
Charles Wicksteed had offered to build a BCAG website. This now exists in skeleton form. It can be found at Claire Martin is happy to run @barnetclimate twitter. [Update: this page used to say “Actually @B_C_A_G”, the old name, but now it is indeed @BarnetClimate (Ed)]
Syed Ahmed, Jeffrey Newman and Philip Davison met with the Barnet Director of Environment, Geoff Mee, Adam Driscoll and Robert at the council offices in Colindale. There is a desire to actively promote dialogue. The climate message needs better coordination. There is an issue of politics in this borough (!). It was acknowledged that information for businesses and residents was hard to find on the website. GM and Barnet Environment are taking these matters seriously.
Letter to Theresa Villiers – a work in progress with Green Christians Barnet.

Presentation: The Future of Transport and Energy in London, Alex Gilbert

Alex is an investor and advisor and focuses on opportunities within Clean Technology, Future Infrastructure and the Energy Transition.

Alex acts as an independent ‘Green Infrastructure’ investor and advisor, focusing on: the ‘energy transformation’; clean-tech investment; and the financing of smart, low carbon, sustainable cities.

He is currently curating, commercialising and delivering the energy projects that will assist in the transformation of TfL; London’s largest and most significant energy user.

The context – increase in powers of Local Authorities and cities with decline at national level. The direction is the rise of the city state. London has notable cohesion.
TFL – working for innovative integrated infrastructure. TFL is a transport authority but much more beside. It has power and influence to make an impact on the city greater than similar organisations in other cities eg building 10,000 homes – the most active housebuilder in London – operating 17 modes of transport. With integration it can achieve as low carbon as possible. There is need to support SMEs, local enterprises and logisitics – 500million packages come into London.
What is the future of the city? More congestion, more deliveries and returns. There is a need to join up freight fleet organisation corporate sellers, streets and modes of transport.
The way we order is important – bulk buy, local drop offs.
Target is to have 10,000 banks of lockers impacting both the environment and community.

Q – next day delivery – we are used to it but is it necessary?

Transport and energy.
Commercial development: TFL has some 6,000 acres
Waste heat capture: fuel poverty is a big issue, along with the movement to low carbon homes. Working on capturing heat from the tube both to get it out of the underground system and also use it to heat homes
Renewables wherever possible – using rooftops for solar. Feasibility of trackside solar?
Electric vehicles: charge point hubs.2040 mayor strategy is 80% journeys not by car. Demise of the car in the inner city? TFL to lead on building hubs. Infrastructure not like functional patrol stations and not piecemeal development but rather strategic placing.
Electrification is essential – buses 2030 and zero carbon rail.

Q – is proposal to increase air quality in the tube? Yes! Air quality is a big issue. Problem is cleaning stations and old trains and tunnels. We are though not in the tube for that long. Looking at sucking particulates out of the air. Ultimately new trains.
Q – local transport issue West London Orbital railway (Cricklewood to Ealing) The tracks are already there
Q – Electric Vehicle chargers in Barnet, TFL thoughts.
How do we drive down car ownership and what will replace it? TFL talks to all boroughs. There are different types of charging, slow (home), fast and rapid (50KW+). Rapid charging is closer to filling with petrol.
TFL concentrate on those who have to drive – taxis and fleets – public will be less than 1/3. Co-locate with bus hubs, elockers and ebikes. There is a danger of EV congestion as ULEZ expands. Aim is to decrease use of cars.
TFL housing developments are all car free.
Q – terrace houses parking and charging. Need to rethink future of fuel. Need to provide a service – public charging facility.. Possibility of shared taxi-type transport. With latest technology pick up on demand. Increase in charging points means increase in electricity supply – is that all renewables?. City planning – private hire taxi option with car share and ride share. In Netherlands developments have 30 flats with 4 shared cars.
Hubs with top quality facilities, possibly local solar. Offer many opportunities to charge and dynamic pricing eg solar in middle of day for free.
Pressures in grid are huge. Decarbonising electricity required – still using fossil fuels.. Essential national question – keep decarbonising the grid.
Q – e-cargo bikes: TFL has a freight strategy stepping down ultimately to cargo bikes for the last mile (the most expensive part of the system)
Q – storms and resilience plans of TFL and flood prevention. There is team focusing on climate change, adaptation & mitigation. Also house building.
Q – cool tubes? Adaption to climate change challenge also an opportunity eg waste heat.
Q – phone charging lockers at Victoria station. Revenue £100K per year yet got rid of…terror threat!
Nov 29 5.035million journeys a record.
Heat – old stock. Need for deep tube upgrade, Northern line is deepest tube in world.
Q – orbital route. Is it necessary?
Realism necessary. Possibilty of trams in outer boroughs
Local transport and get rid of short journeys across London
DLR change in communities astonishing
Opportunities new communities city energy etc

Event Meeting Report

January Meeting — Brian Cuthbertson

13th January 2020,  St Mary’s Church, Hendon Lane N3 1TR



Present: 28
Apologies: 5

• Jeffrey Newman welcomed everyone and introduced Brian Cuthbertson, Head of Environment and Sustainability at the Diocese of London

• Syed Ahmed, Energy for London, talked about decarbonising existing buildings.
There are 3.5 million buildings in London so decarbonisation is a challenge. They provide 1/3 of London’s carbon footprint. ¾ of that energy is used for hot water and heating and 90% of this is provided by gas. The key is energy efficiency. Currently it is poor – ¼ of London homes are in the lowest  EPC band.

There are 4 unique challenges for decarbonising London.
1. High proportion of solid wall homes
2. High proportion of flats
3. High proportion of private rented homes
4. High proportion of houses in conservation areas.

Non-domestic properties produce 40% of carbon emissions in capital – there is no government strategy for SMEs.
40% of non-domestic properties in lowest EPC category
£3.7 bn on energy bills in London of which £3.1bn is London businesses. 30-40% is simply wasted.

Highest rate of home retrofit was 2012. Money is available but funding cut by 90%. Need to quadruple the uptake of retrofit to get to net zero.

• Brian Cuthbertson, Head of Environment and Sustainability at the Diocese of London.
Church of England as an organisation is far behind where it ought to be. We must not be downhearted! Prophetic voice is coming rather from Greta Thunberg and XR.
Carbon targets vary: XR is 2025, many LAs 2030, government 2050. CofE is proposing 2045 which is arguably not bold enough.
Efforts relating to carbon reduction and climate change need to be embedded within wider environmental objectives, the three main ones are:
1. Climate Change
2. Biodiversity
3. Waste production especially plastic.
These are all connected. Mitigating one can be negative on another so we need to be very canny and wary of bandwagons an example being Gordon Brown and the enthusiastic encouragement of diesel cars or encouraging biofuels that lead to deforestation.
Different people engage with different issues. Plastic is popular because easy to visualise.
We need to plan transition but there is no end point eg abolishing fossil fuels is not like abolishing slavery. The end point is not as clear as it seems and we need to respond  to new circumstances as they arise.
What would we do if we fail?
In the technical challenge there are gaps in what we can do. We could do everything we set ourselves and find that climate change is beyond control, but we have to keep going – faith, loyalty and justice. We must not be diverted but we must be realists.

It is vital to work as a team and draw in stakeholders, councils, schools, aid agencies work with and through people. The Church needs to set an example as an organisation and then spread ripples into members’ lives. We face hard choices on food and flying for example. These are common issues. The Church must not preach but present people with choices they can intelligently address and decide what is right (not what is simply comfortable or expedient). This means being realistic in ambitions eg dates for decarbonisation 2025/30 if the policy direction is not shared by country. Government and business dictate the pace of decarbonisation eg  electricity grid.

There is a necessary reliance on offsetting in order to meet national target. Green tariffs will change but predicting the future is very difficult. Intelligent/realistic guesstimate required for policy/practical decision now eg for churches whether to replace a boiler with a more efficient gas boiler now. Government still subsidises fossil fuel.

Gas is vital in London and UK. There are two ways to decarbonise: use hydrogen which is effectively carbon neutral or increase biofuel/biomethane. Moving from gas to electricity needs to balance removal of gas boiler with increase in electricity burden, as with electric cars – adds to electricity demands. Best source of renewables is offshore windfarms.
Most people in the UK think that most people in the UK do not like wind farms! It is not true!  There is a lot of ground to be made up.

There is a problem with decision making. Solar panels in churches is very difficult in terms of planning permission. It is OK if they are completely invisible. Planning is likely to beat down plans to up to half of what was wanted. On an unlisted building planning is not required in certain circumstances but if the site faces a road it may be needed. Have to deal with LA planning officers effectively working against Council climate emergency. National planning policy and lawful application affected by judicial process that looks to the past.
Heat pumps have potential.
It is important to engage hearts and minds of congregations/communities and all pull in the same direction. Communication is key – an understandable message, expressed in simple terms to enable people to respond. We need to do very big things but it is hard until we get consensus. Positive egs smoking ban or drink driving. But much more and much wider action in our lives is necessary.

• Group Discussion
Q – does CofE use green energy supplier? Yes, Parishbuying energy basket (with Total!)

Q biofuel production – could we use European farming surpluses/lakes? Biogas comes from biodigestion. Barnet has gone backwards on food collection and anaerobic digestion. Barnet can get back by 2022. Disposal is actually cheaper in biodigestion!
More damaging though is unrecyclable material in recycling. If in doubt put it in general waste!

Q Meeting with Theresa Villiers connecting with specialists.

Q what countries are doing best and what can we learn? Costa Rica good. Scandinavia not as good as it seems. UK claims it is a leader but is in fact a laggard though ahead of comparable countries.. All countries face different challenges and resources eg China carbon emission is massive and per person higher than UK but govt gets climate change – limits to enacting policy even in a totalitarian state. Countries need to understand one another. US, president a climate change denier but states and cities and some corporates are leaders.

Q biodiversity. Wildlife in UK under severe threat – depletion of species and habitats animals particularly threatened. This is problem in its own right. Intensive farming and pesticides aggravated by climate change. It is possible some plant life will benefit but animals will struggle. Churchyard diversity is important. Needs to be managed. Churchyards are evenly distributed across the country and become refuges and stepping stones for species distribution. There is general drift northwards. We can encourage habitat and maintenance for most under-threat species eg bees and encourage other kinds of pollinators. See Waltham Forest pollinator strategy.

Q – winning hearts and minds is it individualism vs collectivism? Is compulsion necessary? Power of LA in planning. Councils make arbitrary decisions. Decarbonising food production very difficult. It is heavily dependent on fossil fuel. Building in concrete. Necessity of consent.

Q coastline and threat to sea life especially birds

Q – Church of England and poor parish maintenance of buildings, houses and churches. There is a big gap between best and worst.

Q – waste and incentives. Good example from cashback at supermarkets in US.

Q – church owned land and PV/wind turbines. Diocese of Truro are doing a lot using glebe land for environmental projects.

Q – consultation on building regulation “Future Homes” website gives help if we wish to respond.
Try watching Apocalypse Cow (George Monbiot) on Channel 4.

• Details of Next Meeting – Wednesday 12 Feb 6.30pm-8pm [see february-2020-meeting-12th-feb-630pm]