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WILTSHIRE Council say that the aim of becoming carbon neutral by 2030 will be ‘challenging’ and may not be achievable, with the council’s deputy leader admitting they do not know how to make the county carbon neutral.
Deputy leader for Wiltshire Council, cllr Richard Clewer, made a presentation at a local area board meeting last week about Wiltshire Council’s current stance on climate change, a year on from Wiltshire Council declaring a climate emergency.
“Getting Wiltshire as a county to be carbon neutral may not be achievable, but we will see what we can do. The UK has pledged carbon neutrality by 2050, this seems more achievable as right now, we do not know how to make the county carbon neutral and that’s us just trying to be honest.
“Yes, planting trees is a good thing, but in order to make Wiltshire carbon neutral by just planting trees, we would have to plant trees one and a half times the size of Wiltshire and unfortunately, we all have houses and cars, so that’s not do-able.
“We are currently working on our carbon reduction strategy using our current plans such as the local plan, transport plan, air quality plan etc to come up with possible solutions to reduce carbon emissions and hope to have full council approve this strategy by the end of the year.
“Being a rural county, it is hard to make changes to our transport plan as so many people rely on their cars, as we are such a large rural area.
“Our local plan, which determines how our houses are built, was written 12 years ago and is pathetic around carbon reduction plans. I did, when it was being written, ask that renewable energy was used on new housing, but this was turned down at the time.
“Our county also has a number of listed buildings, 7%, which will take some work to become carbon neutral. Wiltshire Council doesn’t have lots of money sitting around. We would need government level money if we are wanting to sort them out. It is going to be challenging.
“But as a population of over 500,000 in Wiltshire, if we all choose to make small changes they will make a huge difference. It’s all well us doing what we can as a council, but we need to bring the entire population with us.”
“As a business entity, Wiltshire Council is making progress to becoming carbon neutral, we are committed and have reduced waste to landfill from 56% in 08/09 to 16% in 18/19, as well as a £5.2million scheme to make our own buildings more renewable, looking into solar panel canopy sites and our pledge to change street lights to LED bulbs.
“We were also named by Friends of the Earth as the most climate-friendly council in England and Wales. But, we still have lots to do and it isn’t an excuse to be complacent.”