Council unveils plan for tackling the climate
Buckinghamshire Council today formally approved its strategy for addressing the climate change crisis within the county.
The Climate Change and Air Quality Strategy is the council’s blueprint for how to tackle climate change and improve air quality within Buckinghamshire. The aim is to make Buckinghamshire as a whole, carbon neutral or net-zero in terms of carbon emissions by 2050 and to ensure that concentrations of air pollutants are at safe levels across the county. The strategy will also see the council reduce its carbon emissions by 75% by 2030, on the way to achieving net-zero no later than 2050.
The strategy sets out what the council will do and how it will work with partners and residents to achieve its aims. It has been developed, in part, using feedback from a public survey carried out in 2020 and other engagement work which showed overwhelming support for the council's proposed approach to tackling climate change. This includes nature-based proposals such as tree and hedgerow planting and rewilding initiatives as well as the expansion of vehicle charging infrastructure and encouraging greener housing developments and home heating options.
Peter Strachan, Cabinet Member for Climate Change and Environment said: “This is an important day for Buckinghamshire. Climate change is an issue that affects each and every one of us and we must take action now to tackle this crisis head on.
“As a council we are committed to doing everything we can to reduce our own carbon emissions. The government has set a target for all local authorities to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. Here in Buckinghamshire we are aiming to reach our target well before that. We have carefully costed everything out and so we know that what we are proposing is both realistic and achievable. We fully hope to reach the target of net-zero carbon emissions much earlier than 2050.”
Peter continued: “We also need to work with all our partners and residents to encourage everyone to take responsibility and think about both the big and small things we can all do make an impact and create positive change.”
The council has set aside a £5m Climate Change Fund which will be used in a variety of ways to meet the targets on climate change. These include:
Planting 543,00 trees in Buckinghamshire (one for every resident) alongside a range of other tree and seed planting initiatives
Generating more renewable energy and improving energy efficiency
Reducing emissions from vehicles
Improving infrastructure for active travel and electric vehicles
Working with partners, communities and suppliers to support emissions reductions.
Since becoming a new unitary authority in April 2020, the council has already made good progress in reducing its carbon emissions by around 6,000 tonnes a year. A large part of this is due to the impacts of Covid so won't necessarily be permanent. Over recent years, Buckinghamshire Council and the previous county and district councils have introduced a range of initiatives and changes to make a positive impact, including:
Upgrading over 22,000 streetlights to more efficient LEDs
Installed solar panels at 15 sites to produce zero carbon electricity
Improved the energy efficiency of council buildings through better insulation, lighting upgrades and improved heating systems
Other initiatives have encouraged local residents to embrace green energy and find alternatives to travelling by car:
Installing more electric vehicle charging points in public places including our car parks. This year we will nearly double the number of charging points, increasing from 38 to 70.
Introducing new walking and cycling routes around the county.
A key element of tackling climate change is ensuring the whole community is involved. The council's new, Bucks' Green Challenge will do just that, working with local residents and communities to promote the small changes we can all make in our daily lives to help combat climate change.
Peter explained: “There are many things we can all do to make a difference. From eating less meat, to turning down the thermostat and from walking or cycling more to reusing and recycling as much as possible, they are small things but if everyone does what they can, it can make a big difference.”
Climate change is the focus of the United Nations COP 26 conference in Glasgow later this month. Locally Buckinghamshire Council will co-host a prestigious transport and climate event on 10 November as part of this. Together with a group of local businesses and organisations, the Green Wheels in Motion, COP 26 Regional Roadshow event will showcase a range of innovative technologies and initiatives being developed and/or deployed in Buckinghamshire to decarbonise transport.
To find out more about the council’s Climate Change and Air Quality Strategy, visit our website.
The power of nature: Cabinet Member for Climate Change and Environment, Peter Strachan at Langley Country Park, next to an ancient yew tree. At an estimated 1,200 years old it is thought to be one of the oldest trees in the county.