Chorley wants greater powers to tackle climate change

The leader of Chorley Council has written to the government demanding that local authorities are given more powers to help deal with climate change.

Wednesday, 8th April 2020, 8:57 pm
Updated Wednesday, 8th April 2020, 9:00 pm

Alistair Bradley penned the letter to business secretary Alok Sharmar just weeks after the authority agreed to create a £500,000 fund for green initiatives in the borough when it set its budget.

He told the minister that “radical change“ is needed in Chorley and that councils across the country are “uniquely placed” to make a difference – but lack the powers to do so.

Chorley’s latest climate change initiatives include programmes focusing on energy efficiency in the home and the use of renewable energy in the council’s operations – as well as the planting of 116,000 trees, one for every resident.

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Could Chorley's contribution to tackling climate change be better co-ordinated from the town hall rather than Whitehall?

Along with neighbouring South Ribble and Preston councils, Chorley has also set a target of becoming carbon neutral by 2030 – two decades before the UK as a whole expects to achieve the same ambition.

Cllr Bradley said that he was calling on the government for the creation or devolution of powers to tackle climate change issues “on a more meaningful scale”.

“We recognise the importance of the climate crisis and that’s why we committed to taking action by declaring a climate emergency last year – but what we need now is to be able to make bigger changes at a local level.

“Although we are taking many steps towards tackling the climate emergency, we need to have the power to be able to make more radical changes and have more influence as a local authority – rather than relying on central government – so that we can deliver real change across Chorley Borough.”

Cllr Steve Holgate, chair of the council’s green agenda task group, said that one of the most effective things that central government could do is strengthen the control of local authorities over planning policy.

“We didn’t have the knowledge and technology in the past to build carbon neutral properties – but now we do.

“If we were able to insist on a higher standard, then at least we wouldn’t be repeating the mistakes of the past,” said Cllr Holgate, a veteran climate change campaigner who added that he was pleased that his group’s recent recommendations on tackling climate change had been approved by the authority.

These included support for businesses and strengthening the green message given to residents to encourage them to change their behaviour.