Councils asked to back pledge to tackle climate change

Staffordshire councils are being asked to set out plans to reduce energy consumption and switch to low carbon vehicle fuels as part of their work to tackle climate change.

Stafford Borough Council
Stafford Borough Council

Local authorities across the county have declared climate emergencies during the past three years and set deadlines for working towards becoming carbon neutral.

They are also joining forces through the Staffordshire Sustainability Board, which was set up last year.

The board aims to support collaborative working so that each authority work towards their climate change goals.

And now councils are being asked to back a “vision and base pledge”, with commitments such as publishing an annual baseline analysis of their organisation’s carbon footprint, encouraging members to act as “climate change ambassadors” and taking steps towards procuring 100 per cent green energy supplies for their electricity as soon as possible.

Other areas of action include creating a county-wide waste strategy and communications plan.

Stafford Borough Council cabinet members backed the plans at their meeting on June 9.

And Cannock Chase Council’s cabinet is due to consider the proposals at its meeting on Thursday.

Mark Winnington, Stafford Borough Council’s new cabinet member for environment, said: “It is something all portfolio holders will have to be aware of.  In particular from my point waste and recycling.

“I think this is an important point – by 2025 there will be a countywide waste strategy that all authorities will adhere to. This strategy will cover all aspects of the countywide waste operation, to reduce residual waste creation, increase recycling rates, promote composting of food waste at home and establish food waste collections throughout the county.

“We’re all aware that one of the ways of mitigating against climate change is reducing waste, particularly food waste. This is something I will be looking at and working with cabinet on.”

Jonathan Price, who was appointed Stafford Borough Council’s cabinet member for climate change last month, responded: “I think Stafford Borough as a small authority punches well above its weight with the work (waste collection) contractor Veolia does on our behalf around recycling, the fact we introduced the blue bag which has increased recycling rates for this authority and less waste, the quality of recyclables in the blue bin has also gone up and the fact this authority has no landfill at all.

"Our residual waste goes to the W2R (energy recovery) facility where it is burned and turned into energy – the work we do is absolutely phenomenal.

“We will end up having to go down the waste food collection path at some point because of Government legislation. While I welcome waste food collection the purpose is to reduce that waste.

“We don’t want to be collecting food waste because technically if we’re doing things right as a community and people are being sensible there would be far less,  if no food waste at all. That’s really the position we want to find ourselves in.”

The council’s deputy leader Jeremy Pert said: “I am sure Councillor Price will hold to account every partner to join on the journey and play their part actively in getting the borough to be carbon-neutral by 2040. I welcome the plan and the initiative – I think it is a sign of our commitment and how seriously we take this agenda by having a dedicated cabinet member.”

Councillor Mike Smith, cabinet member for resources, said: “I would like to emphasise that climate change is down to individuals – not just councils. Therefore I welcome the paragraphs about training councillors and councillors becoming ambassadors.”

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