West Suffolk Council takes step to address climate change
Council chiefs have recommended a climate emergency should be declared in West Suffolk and agreed a new task force with ambitious aims to find practical solutions to tackle it.
West Suffolk Council Cabinet agreed at the first possible opportunity to recommend to Council that a climate emergency should be declared.
In addition it agreed the new task force should be set up to help address this with actions and deeds as part of its terms of reference.
It will build on the work already going on in West Suffolk and how the Council can play its part in the climate emergency that has been announced for Suffolk.
This includes various proposals from practical solutions, use of investment and looking what actions the council would have to take to be net-zero carbon by 2030.
Leader, Cllr John Griffiths, made the announcement that the new Environment and Climate Change task force should be set up during his first speech of West Suffolk Council’s inaugural General Meeting in May.
Cllr Griffiths said after the decision by Cabinet: “I believe pretty much everyone can agree we need to act quickly to protect our environment which is why Cabinet has recommended to Council we declare a climate emergency.
"Rightly our residents want actions and deeds and not just words over this crucial issue which is why this task force was one of the first things I announced.
" I am pleased that cabinet also agreed my recommendation that we can now set up this task force to tackle climate change issues and further carry on our work to protect our environment.
“I have been very clear that this must be looked at using the latest evidence so that we can take further meaningful and achievable action that will make a real difference.
"To make sure we are as effective as we can be, we have to understand what will work, what is achievable, how much it will cost and how soon we can implement it.
"This effects everyone which is why the task force will be cross party and report to Cabinet so their findings can be looked at as quickly as possible.
“West Suffolk already has a good reputation for protecting the environment and reducing our impact on climate change.
"We have for example the largest solar farm of its kind owned by a council in the UK and are a national leader in helping businesses reduce their impact by installing solar panels on their roofs as well as on our own premises.
"The steps we have taken have had a purpose, been practical and have had meaningful benefits. The task force, I am sure, will build on this excellent work.”
A significant amount of West Suffolk Council’s activities already actively protect and enhance the environment.
It has one of the largest solar farms of its kind in the UK and up to the end of last year the Community Energy Plan (CEP) alone has invested £1.48million into renewable energy projects across West Suffolk.
The council is delivering a strong pipeline of roof mounted solar PV installation projects, including working with local businesses, generating carbon dioxide savings of around 1,000 tonnes.
However a number of recent reports and events have highlighted the importance of considering further measures to enhance environmental stewardship, not least in the area of carbon emissions and climate change.
This includes the recent government target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
The task force will gather and review evidence, appraise options and make its first report back to Cabinet in autumn 2019.
Given the extent of the work it will undertake, a further report is expected in early 2020.
The new Environment and Climate Change Task Force is the second task force announced by the leader. A new Rural Task Force has also been set up.