Stafford Borough Council sets out plans to adapt to climate change

Flooding and water supply issues are just two of the climate change risks faced by Stafford borough residents in the coming years – and the borough council is now setting out plans to tackle future challenges.

A flooded riverside footpath through Stafford's Victoria Park
A flooded riverside footpath through Stafford's Victoria Park

The authority declared a climate emergency in 2019 and is working towards becoming carbon-neutral by 2040. Alongside action to reduce the levels of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere it is also looking at measures to deal with the local effects of climate change.

Stafford Borough Council’s draft Climate Change Adaptation Strategy, which was presented to cabinet members on Thursday, stated that flooding was a “significant risk” for Stafford. The town has been hit by several deluges in recent years following periods of heavy rain and other parts of the borough have also been affected by flooding, such as Eccleshall.

The document said: “Flooding is a recurring issue in Stafford Borough. The Met Office projections for the West Midlands show that the risk of flooding is likely to increase.

“Under the Flood and Water Management Act 2010, county councils are designated as Lead Local Flood Authorities. Therefore, Staffordshire County Council are the strategic leader for flood risk management within Staffordshire and their Local Flood Risk Management Strategy sets out how flooding will be managed in the local area.

“We will continue to work in partnership with them to further develop and implement the findings of the Risk Strategy. The role of Stafford Borough Council in preventing and responding to flooding lies in three main areas; ensuring development is delivered in a manner which does not cause flooding impacts to worsen, working with partner organisations to deliver habitat enhancements which act as natural flood management measures, and to provide an emergency response to periods of flooding.”

Water supply for residents has also been highlighted in the strategy. It stated: “Stafford Borough has been identified by the Environment Agency as falling within an area of serious water stress.

“As the population continues to grow and the climate continues to change, it is likely that this problem will worsen. Ensuring everybody has access to an adequate water supply, particularly during heatwaves and droughts, requires the implementation of water saving measures, as well as the behaviour change of consumers.”

Other areas covered in the strategy include increasing biodiversity resilience and the role of green spaces in adapting to climate change.

The strategy is set to go out to public consultation after being backed by cabinet members on Thursday.

Councillor Jonathan Price, cabinet member for environment, said: “For me, looking at the work we are doing around climate change and adaptation, we’re streets ahead of many authorities.

“The adaptation strategy considers the impact of changing climate and identifies measures that are needed to ensure the council and partners are better prepared to deal with the impact.

“It is acknowledged that some of the measures identified in the climate change adaptation strategy involve a broad range of partners. So it is essential we have collaborative working and that will be key to our success.”

The cabinet report said: “Even if the emission of all greenhouse gas stopped today, the levels that already exist in the atmosphere would continue to drive climate change for at least the next 30 years. In short, climate change is now unavoidable.

“Ensuring human and wildlife populations can deal with the impacts of a changing climate is therefore an essential step in the fight against climate change.

“It is in the interest of the council to provide climate adaptation measures both internally within the council, and across the wider borough area. Providing the necessary climate adaptation measures will increase the resilience of the council’s own services, local communities, and biodiversity.”

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