The council was one of many local authorities that declared a climate emergency in 2019, pledging to become carbon neutral by 2040.
As part of its commitment a draft climate change strategy was produced, which went out to public consultation at the start of 2020. The strategy was due to be submitted to cabinet for approval in April but the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic – and the lockdown measures brought in by the Government – delayed this process until this month.
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At Thursday’s cabinet meeting, Councillor Jonathan Price, cabinet member for environment, revealed the response to the strategy and work taking place. He also sought approval from fellow cabinet members to use earmarked reserves to fund an 18-month fixed term post to co-ordinate the council’s climate change and green recovery work.
He said: “The consultation took place between January and March 2020. We had a total of 63 responses submitted either via email or online form. I have to say I am a little disappointed with the low numbers, considering how important this particular document is for the borough.
“I am pleased to say however that the general view held was the strategy was heading in the right direction. Respondents have identified areas of focus that have been included in the action plan or were being addressed in other policies.
“As we are now starting to move into the response phase of Covid-19 we now have an opportunity through our recovery workstreams to commit to incorporating climate change and green recovery aspects into all of our operations.
“During the lockdown period some of the projects we intended to focus on as part of this strategy to support reductions in carbon emissions from our own activities have been accelerated. This primarily relates to staff travel from work and meetings, introducing new technology solutions and also flexible home working arrangements for our staff and members.
“This council has recognised it has an important role in responding to the threat of climate change. The climate change and green recovery strategy will focus on reducing emissions from our own activities, working in partnership with Government, elected bodies and members, partners and residents across the borough to take action that contributes to carbon neutrality and sustainable development within communities and across the natural environment, mitigating and adapting to climate change and meeting our own green recovery objectives.”
A new climate change and recovery group including representatives from across the borough is to be set up to co-ordinate work and monitor performance and progress. The council is also set to carry out a carbon audit in the next few months.
Cabinet members have approved the climate change and green recovery strategy, which will now be submitted to the full council for ratification.