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‘Could do better’ – town council’s view of Wiltshire’s climate strategy

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MELKSHAM Town Council has described Wiltshire Council’s draft climate strategy as lacking ambition and tangible targets, as well as lacking progress.

They were considering Wiltshire Council’s climate strategy consultation which will shape Wiltshire Council’s action on climate change over the next five years. Residents, businesses and local groups are being urged to respond to the consultation, which runs until Sunday 17th October. 

Town councillors agreed not to respond to Wiltshire Council’s draft climate strategy using the online questionnaire provided by Wiltshire Council. Councillors agreed that by answering questions in a questionnaire format, it led to agreeing to the questions posed, without an opportunity to put forward ideas to question or influence strategy. Instead, the town council will send a letter to Wiltshire Council outlining their response.  

The matter was discussed at a meeting of the town council’s economic, development and planning committee last week. Councillors spoke at length about different ideas and strategies they felt would be of benefit to the town, as well as the overall impact on climate change across the county.  

Chair of the committee, cllr Jon Hubbard said, “We value the opportunity to able to contribute to this important discussion, it was clear that the consultation that Wiltshire Council are conducting is targeted at individuals, not organisations. We felt giving a bespoke response was more appropriate. We can’t afford to stick our heads in the sand on this issue and must all recognise that it is important that we take whatever action that we can. That is why we were disappointed that the proposed strategy from Wiltshire Council appears to lack both ambition and tangible targets for the council to achieve.” 

Cllr Saffi Rabey said, “It is very fluffy, there are no clear targets within that [draft climate strategy]. I would rather have a document that told me what their aims are; how many [electric vehicle] charging points will there be per town, how many per accommodation, how hard are they going to push developers, be it in terms of private property or business development, to include electric vehicle charging points? We are in 2021 and approaching 2022 rapidly and the detail should be in this document.” 

Cllr Graham Ellis who is also vice-chair of the Melksham Transport User Group said, “The climate emergency was declared in spring 2019, and I would have expected this kind of paper in the autumn of 2019. We should have made more progress. I was disappointed there was no mention of being more climate friendly with trains, as all Wiltshire stations are currently served by diesel trains.” 

The committee reiterated that it is important for individuals to fill out and send the draft climate strategy questionnaire and they also encourage residents to write or email in their thoughts to Wiltshire Council.  

Wiltshire Council acknowledged a climate emergency in February 2019. The council says it is fully committed to becoming carbon neutral as an organisation by 2030 and will also support Wiltshire to becoming carbon neutral by 2030.  Details of the draft climate strategy and the questionnaire can be found on Wiltshire Council’s website www.wiltshire. gov.uk Consultation ends on Sunday 17th October. 

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