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Climate Emergency in Spelthorne

15th October 2020

Spelthorne Borough Council has declared a Climate Emergency for the Borough.

Leader of the Council, Cllr John Boughtflower said, “We have always regarded climate change as a very serious threat and have made some great steps to reduce our carbon footprint. However, to avoid any doubt how serious this administration takes climate change we have taken the decision to declare a Climate Emergency. There now needs to be a greater step change to reduce carbon emissions and reduce the damage to the environment for our residents and future generations”.

Spelthorne now joins a growing number of domestic and international authorities that have adopted a carbon-neutral target. Across the Council’s services, all strategic decisions, budgets and approaches to planning decisions will be aligned with the goal of achieving a shift to carbon neutrality. This Council intends to accelerate its efforts by introducing greener buildings, transportation, greener investments and increasing renewable energy. Spelthorne Council will develop a detailed action plan to support the cause which will set out key actions and milestones to achieve its goal.

The Council has committed to work with the local community and all other relevant partner agencies to support making the Borough carbon neutral as soon as practically possible. It will also need to work with the Local Government Association and leading environmental Non-Government Organisations to ensure we can learn from ‘best practises’ in mitigating the effects of climate change and to seek funding opportunities from various sources including central Government.

Earlier in the year Spelthorne Borough Council launched a dedicated member task group with the sole aim of tackling climate change as quickly as possible by developing a strategy and action plan. Cllr Bob Noble, Portfolio for the Environment and Chairperson of the group said, “Our pragmatic approach to tackle climate change has always been to accelerate actions as efficiently and quickly as possible so we can reach net zero carbon emissions. By declaring a Climate Emergency this administration is publicly prioritising this agenda. We know a great effort must be made locally and nationally to mitigate the effects of climate change. We all have an individual responsibility and for the sake of the young and future generations we must act now to pursue behavioural change.”

The Council has already progressed a large number of measures to address climate change including:

  • Council offices reducing its energy usage by almost 40 per cent
  • new electric vehicles and electric bicycles for staff to use when travelling between our sites on Council business
  • single-use plastics policy
  • stopped cutting large areas of grass to encouraging biodiversity through lowering grass cutting frequencies in certain open spaces
  • paperless Council meetings
  • sustainable housing strategy to include electrical vehicle charging points for new housing and commercial developments
  • over 1000 trees planted in Spelthorne in the last year
  • spent £1.2million making homes in the Borough more energy efficient with funding awarded for new boilers and insulation upgrades.
  • installation of solar panels for the housing development in the West Wing of the Council Offices and on our community centres
  • recycling rate of 48%
  • weekly collections of food waste, textiles and small electricals mean that these items are diverted from landfill. This avoids greenhouse gases, which negatively affect climate change, being released into the atmosphere
  • in 2023, we will review the refuse collection fleet and aspire to convert to electric or hydrogen vehicles for 50% of the fleet, depending on the best technology available and in 2027, we aim to replace the remaining fleet of vehicles with electric or hydrogen.
  • 53 electrical vehicle charging points across the Borough with plans to introduce at least another 30 in the immediate future
  • low energy lighting introduced on Council premises and light sensors at offices to reduce electricity consumption.

To recognise this increase in activity, this Council’s climate change emergency declaration demonstrates our commitment to addressing this major issue for society that hasn’t gone away, even with the focus on COVID-19.

As a first step we are fully assessing and identifying our own carbon footprint and have commissioned a study to identify this.  We also recognise that our communities have a critical role to play and are proactively working with residents, local businesses, children and schools. In 2021 this Council plans to launch ‘Community Climate Change Forums’ to help us identify ‘Green Champions’ and influence each and every resident to take personal responsibly for becoming just that little bit greener.

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