Wiltshire Climate Alliance (WCA) has responded to the news that Wiltshire Council is developing a Climate Strategy, condemning its lack of ambition and commitment to achieving its goal of seeking to make Wiltshire carbon neutral by 2030.
Bill Jarvis of WCA’s Steering Group said Wiltshire Council are “recognising that major changes are needed but lacking any commitment or timescale for reducing emissions outside of the Council’s own operations.
“There is little sense of the urgency needed for taking action, and a dependency on future plans and policies that may take us in the opposite direction,” he added.
Stabilising the climate requires rapid, deep and sustained emissions reductions, argues the group.
Their response goes on to say: “It is particularly concerning that the Strategy provides no detail of how its objectives will be delivered, referring simply to ‘future delivery plans’. It seems clear therefore that Wiltshire Council’s decarbonisation objectives will be no more than a ‘wish list’ in the Local Plan, Local Transport Plan and other plans, most of which have completely contrary objectives and will not be in place for at least 2 years.”
Among WCA’s key concerns were:
- No mention of the Council’s own Climate Emergency Task Group’s recommendations, which included evidenced examples of the kinds of policy changes and investments that are needed;
- A lack of measurable objectives, and associated milestones and proposed investments, with the prospect of no detailed plans until 2022/23, 3-4 years after declaring a Climate Emergency;
- No plan to implementing the necessary policy changes (e.g. on net zero planning policies, renewable energy support – simply ‘aspired to’) or channeling the necessary investment (e.g. into EV charging or active travel infrastructure);
- Little more than ‘encouragement’ for active travel and no clear path for improving public transport (over 40% of Wiltshire emissions come from vehicles);
- No mention of enabling zero emission taxis through investment in charging points and changes to licensing;
- No mention of the potential for Wiltshire Council’s farms and County farms to generate renewable energy, plant trees, apply regenerative agriculture or produce food for local consumption;
- Complete dependency on other plans and strategies that are yet to be developed which in themselves present a significant risk of increasing the County’s emissions (e.g. though more commuter based development and road building).
- Wiltshire Climate Alliance says that they are keen to continue to support Wiltshire Council and its councillors in taking the urgent action that is now required.
“Climate denial must not be replaced by delaying climate action. We urge Wiltshire’s residents and its elected representatives to join us in demanding better,” added the group.