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Wiltshire Council responds to claims that it ‘does not know’ how to make the county carbon neutral

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WILTSHIRECouncil has said that they are ‘working hard’ to meet their pledge to make the county carbon neutral by 2030 – despite reports that they are unsure how to do so.

In the last issue of the Melksham News, it was reported that the council’s deputy leader, cllr  Richard Clewer, had admitted at a recent local area board meeting that Wiltshire Council does not know how to make the county carbon neutral.

Following the story, the council has released a statement about its work to meet its pledge of carbon neutrality in the county by 2030, and has said that they are ‘working hard on a number of projects to make a difference’.

The council reports, “In February 2019 at a meeting of full council, Wiltshire Council resolved to acknowledge there is a climate emergency and seek to make the county of Wiltshire carbon neutral by 2030. In July 2019 Wiltshire Council’s cabinet also pledged to make Wiltshire Council carbon neutral by 2030.

Since then the council has: Committed to invest £5.2m to make its buildings more energy efficient; Encouraged the public to make a Green Pledge; Hosted a number of well-attended special climate change-themed area board meetings; Secured all the electricity on its corporate contract from a green tariff from April 2020; Supported the bid and invested to bring electric buses to Salisbury; Committed to invest £3.8 million assigned to solar projects on park and ride sites; Proposed funding a climate change team in the 2020/21 draft budget; Committed to invest £12m on a major public highway LED light replacement project; Planned event to engage closely with schools on this global issue.

“The council’s Global Warming and Climate Emergency Task Group has also been both supporting and challenging the executive in a number of areas; such as: Ensuring that new council planning policies help to drive low carbon development; Working with the Swindon and Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership to discuss the impact of its industrial and local energy strategies; Working with council officers to encourage pension investment in carbon neutral funds; Scrutinising the council’s own housing development plans in terms of their energy efficiency standards; Talking with transport planners about ‘greener’ alternatives for shorter journeys and ensuring that the council’s next Local Transport Plan prioritises more sustainable modes of transport; Meeting with community energy providers to discuss what the council can do to support the generation and use of renewable energy.”

Cllr Richard Clewer, Wiltshire Council deputy leader and cabinet member for climate change said, “At our recent Focusing on the Future meetings, climate change was a topic that came up time and time again. That was no surprise to us, and we’re keen to harness the clear local passion for this global issue as we all work together to make a positive difference.

“We have always said that we can’t do this alone, however, we can lead from the front and hope others follow. Together with the task group, we will continue to look at all avenues and projects to ensure we deliver on our pledge. We know there’s more to be done but progress has been made and this is just the beginning of a long journey.”

Cllr Graham Wright, chair of Wiltshire Council’s global warming and climate emergency task group said, “I would like to thank all the task group for their commitment and also compliment Wiltshire Council officers for their  professional approach to climate change. Making positive changes to reduce our carbon footprint within Wiltshire is complex however, the task group is focused on doing just that.”

All people need to do to take part in The Green Pledge, is agree to make a difference in their everyday lives that could have a positive impact. For more information about that, and other projects, people should visit: www.wiltshire.gov.uk/ green-economy-climate-emergency

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