It is, I decided early today, far too nice to blog. So instead I’m just going to feature the environment video which accompanies our manifesto.

I’m a regular user of Battersea Park and have seen the difference that council investment has made, both directly and by leveraging funding from elsewhere. The green spaces in Wandsworth are a real jewel in the crown for the borough.

But it’s not just about green spaces. Over the past few weeks I’ve realised the enormous impact the noise from aircraft on the Heathrow flightpath make. And, of course, it’s about the council being as environmentally friendly as possible, and making green choices as easy as possible for residents.

…well, not at all really but last night’s Environment and Leisure Committee considered a report on a trial of pyrolysis in two of our council blocks.

I’m slightly surprised this hasn’t seen more coverage (as far as I’m aware it’s never been reported outside of the council’s formal meetings) since it’s a fairly innovative way of dealing with household waste – although apparently it’s been used on submarines for years.

Pyrolysis, essentially (and unscientifically) is burning without oxygen so there is no fire. The process creates a dust that can be washed away with waste water through the drains. Remaining items, like glass and metal can be recycled. This has potentially huge environmental benefits, from reducing the number of refuse vehicles on the road, through to minimising the amount of landfill needed.

The two test sites were a success, proving that it is a viable technology but identifying a few problems or issues that need to be resolved. It’s now for the manufacturer, PyroPure, to go away and work up their prototypes into a commercial product.

If your New Year’s Resolution was to read more council reports the latest update is contained within the agenda to last night’s meeting.

I’ve had notification of a few more trees due for removal in the ward, so if you are near any of these trees, expect to see them disappearing soon.

Ashley Crescent – outside number 7 (prevention of damage to nearby wall)
Dunston Road – garden of 76-86 (tree growing against windows and removal needed to allow works, tree is also wild, rather than planted)

So the government have given the go-ahead to the 3rd runway, not good news for those in the north of the borough who will face more disturbance as a result.

Now, I must confess that I have changed my opinion on this.  Up until a few years ago I really couldn’t understand the fuss about Heathrow.  I had chosen to live in London, and one of the things you accept about living in a big city is the noise, but over the years I’ve come to realise that not only is the Heathrow flightpath having a huge effect, but that it has slowly become worse and worse.

If you follow me on Twitter you will have seen an exasperated early morning tweet:

Damn those early morning arrivals at Heathrow – I want another hour asleep!

Although written at 6.14am, it followed a couple of hours of the incessant drone of engines, approaching then fading, then realising that the fading engine noise is actually the next plane.  (That this followed a sleepless night with an unsettled baby just compounded my frustration.)

It is a difficult subject to tackle, and I’m aware of the risk of seeming to be a NIMBY politician, but the government is railroading a decision without consideration of the alternatives.

We could expand existing airports.  My council colleague, Nick Cuff, has written a thoughtful article – ‘There are alternatives to expanding Heathrow’ – on the ConservativeHome website detailing some of the smaller airports in the south-east that already have expansion plans and could accommodate increased air-traffic.

We could invest in high-speed rail.  The 2M Group, of which Wandsworth Council is a member, published a report on how a high speed rail network could connect the UK to many European cities in under four hours (good when you consider the time wasted at airports in addition to flight times)

Or we could take the radical option of building an airport that is actually designed to be a good modern airport, rather than one that has evolved since the 1930s.  Apparently, one of the reasons the car-parking is so far from the terminals is that originally it was assumed passengers would be chaffeur driven and wouldn’t need to park nearby.

Boris Johnson has suggested that the best solution would be a new airport in the Thames Estuary (with most flights over water and therefore not causing the disruption we currently suffer), that could be designed to meet the demands of modern air-travel and modern passengers.  Sadly, it seems no-one in the government has his foresight.

Trees do a lot to make our streets look greener and more pleasant, unfortunately, like all living things they don’t last forever and sometimes the council has to remove them.

Trees in the following eight locations in the ward will be removed shortly (with the reason for removal):

Brassey Square – opposite number 17 (root rotting fungus)
Elsley Road – outside 14 (tree is dead), outside 76 (extensive decay)
Eversleigh Road – outside 203 (tree is leaning into, and obstructing, the road)
Grayshott Road – outside 109 (tree is 60% dead)
Holden Street – outside 62 (root rotting fungus), outside 46 (dead sapling)
Sabine Road – outside 122 (root rotting fungus)
Town Hall Road – outside 1 (tree is 60% dead)

Where possible a replacement sapling will be planted in the next planing season – unfortunately that isn’t until November.