Call for Chorley to show how it will go carbon neutral by 2030 as council says its climate change strategy is coming soon

The Green Party in Chorley has called on the borough council to set out how it intends to achieve its aim of making the district carbon neutral by the end of the decade.

Monday, 8th November 2021, 8:52 pm
Updated Monday, 8th November 2021, 8:54 pm

Chorley Council declared a “climate emergency” exactly two years ago and pledged to consider how it could encourage stronger borough-wide action on climate change. That was to include working with other organisations, community groups and individuals to hit a net zero carbon target by 2030 - 20 years ahead of the one set by the government for the whole of the UK.

The council has recently created a new role for an officer who is responsible for leading its climate change programme - and says that it is poised to publish a new strategy on the subject in the new year. It also committed £500,000 to climate change action in its budget last year.

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Chorley Council wants the borough to be carbon neutral by 2030 - but the Green Party's Andy Hunter-Rossall says the authority needs a plan for how to achieve that aim

However, Andy Hunter-Rossall, chair of Chorley Green Party, says that the authority has made only ad hoc green commitments since outlining its aspirations in a notice of motion passed by the full council in 2019 - and now needs to draw up a “roadmap” revealing exactly how to fulfil its vision of eliminating carbon emissions.

“They’re coming up with individual actions like tree-planting - which is great - and they have done an air pollution consultation, which is fine. But they don't even know, as far as I [am aware], if these individual actions are going to add up to getting anywhere near net zero.

“So we need to have a measured plan that says where we are emitting carbon at the moment and how we’re going to get it down to zero.

“Having looked at the data for Chorley, the biggest areas [of carbon emission] are housing and transport - and I have not seen anything yet coming out to say how they're going to deal with those two massive issues,” Mr. Hunter-Rossall said.

Campaigners gathered outside Chorley Town Hall late last month to mark the start of the COP26 climate change summit in Glasgow by taking part in the nationwide “Clang for the Climate” event - and the Green Party in the borough has launched a petition pushing for more definitive local action.

Mr. Hunter-Rossall says that there is little point in his party coming up with a “wish-list” of measures, because the work needs to be quantified in order to ensure that it enables Chorley’s net zero target to be achieved. However, he repeated a call he made during the Local Democracy Reporting Service’s local election debate earlier this year for “win-win” climate change policies that make people’s lives better in other ways, too.

“You could tell people to get rid of their gas boilers and get electric boilers which are really expensive to run - or you could tell people to get rid of their gas boilers and [then] make their homes super efficient, so that they won't have to burn as much fuel and they’ll be better off, warmer and zero carbon as well,” he said.

Responding to the Green Party’s concerns, Peter Wilson, the deputy Labour leader of Chorley Council, said that the authority's climate change strategy was now “at an advanced stage and will include both short-term and long-term climate actions that can make a real difference”.

He added: “We intend to share this strategy early in the new year and will be seeking feedback from residents, businesses and other organisations to formulate a unified, borough-wide response to the climate emergency.

“In the meantime, we have already been doing a great deal of work towards our target of becoming a carbon neutral borough by 2030 – with a number of positive initiatives that will help us reach this ambitious but achievable goal, including planting a tree for every one of our 116,000 residents.

“We have dedicated significant resources and money to achieve this aim and are already delivering more Green initiatives than most other authorities across Lancashire.

“The council has recruited a dedicated Climate Change Programme Officer to help drive climate action, which will take various forms - from promoting and implementing a programme of decarbonisation, to improving energy efficiency, developing more sustainable transport and enhancing local biodiversity.

“We also have an upcoming business event later this month which seeks to connect businesses who wish to change the way they operate with organisations that can assist them, as we realise that everyone needs help to change their habits and previous processes.

“We will, of course, continue to engage with our local community throughout, as we did with the public consultation regarding our Clean Air Strategy earlier this year - and by working together we can all achieve positive change for our local environment and our planet,” Cllr Wilson said.

Residents can keep up-to-date with the council’s climate change work at chorley.gov.uk/climatechange - and can e-mail the authority on the subject at [email protected].