Monday, 26 February 2007

Climate Change and Local Authorities

The Borough Council agreed to sign up to the Nottingham Declaration on Climate Change at Full Council last Thursday (22nd Feb) – with a commitment to producing an Action Plan by next March (2008), but a suggestion that all we’ll be doing is ‘badging up’ things we are already doing.

Obviously, I feel we should get as committed to taking action on climate change as possible while its still ‘flavour of the month’ with the other political parties. We’ll see how things go….

Meanwhile - the Local Government Association (see has set up a "climate change commission" launched today (26th Feb) intended to make sure that councils are in the lead in delivering climate change policies. Everyone can give evidence to this commission and point out what local authorities should or could do.

In my view – there’s a lot councils can do to sort out our own act before taking on a self-declared leadership role:

bypasses are a big problem: The Lancaster northern bypass supported by Lancashire County Council produces 25,000 tonnes of CO2 each year which when costed at Treasury rates over the normal 60 year life of the road comes to £44M. There are dozens of these bypasses around the country

* airports: Councils often support airports (e.g. part of Newcastle Airport is in Castle Morpeth). Councils have to be far clearer in taking on the role of saying "enough is enough" (I understand that Uttlesford DC has just done this for Stanstead)

* cycling, walking, public transport: Castle Morpeth BC adopted a green travel plan when it relocated to Longhirst Hall, but I’m not aware it has been implemented in any real sense.

* procurement: There’s a lot of scope here. Currently, it’s getting more centralised and the main pressure is to cut costs. If we’re serious about climate change, we should be including carbon counting or eco-auditing as part of the procurement process.

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