Wealden District Council has declared a climate emergency and is embarking on a series of actions where it can make a difference.
It is aiming to achieve net-zero carbon dioxide emissions by the Council and across the District by 2050 – and pursue efforts for an earlier date.
“The picture has changed,” said Councillor Roy Galley, Cabinet member with responsibility for climate change. “The situation has become more urgent. That is why we must take action now.”
The 24 July meeting of Full Council unanimously approved the climate change policy which been put forward by Wealden’s Cabinet. It highlights those areas where the District Council is making a difference:
•Using the Wealden Local Plan to encourage low carbon and renewable energy schemes and mitigate the effects of new development in the District.
•Exploring options to promote and accelerate the take-up of electric vehicles in the District.
•Delivering domestic energy efficiency schemes to all households.
•Supporting homes facing medium/high risk of flooding and encouraging flood resilience/ defence measures.
•Promote waste reduction, including implementing a plan to reduce single-use plastics.
•Sharing expertise with other councils, public bodies and local businesses.
An all–party Cabinet Advisory Group, to be chaired by Councillor Galley, will start work on devising a costed plan. This will enable the Council to make its first steps towards achieving its net-zero carbon dioxide goal.
“We need to be ambitious,” said Cllr Galley, proposing the motion. “We need a vision, but it must be based on reality and properly planned.”
The Council, he said, had not been dragging its feet when it came to reducing carbon emissions. Its Vicarage Lane offices, refurbished in 2012, included a passive ventilation system, solar panels to generate electricity, air source heat pumps and a dedicated car share scheme. Air source heat pumps had been installed on 184 council properties and solar panels installed on 10 retirement living courts and 40 new build council homes.
Planning consent had been given to nine wind farms across the District, with eight of these using solar photovoltaic technology. Two country parks have been established covering 143 acres, helping to reduce vehicle emissions in Ashdown Forest.
“We have to get to work to deliver a net-zero carbon district as early as possible, and at least by 2050,” said Council Leader Bob Standley, seconding the motion. “We need to work together as a Council, and with Parishes, the County Council and the Government.”
The Economic and Waste Cabinet Advisory Group has been tasked to develop and resource an action plan to address the climate emergency in Wealden. Its initial report will be presented to the December meeting of Wealden’s Cabinet.
Before the debate, members of Wealden’s Cabinet answered 12 supplementary questions from members of the public about climate change and biodiversity issues.
The Council debate in full including responses to public questions on the climate emergency can be watched on the Wealden webcast..
Photo shows Walshes Park, one of two country parks the Council has established.