The first 30 mins of Waverley’s Executive was to listen and hear the impassioned pleas of Farnham residents “unaccustomed – and terrified,” of public speaking to heed their calls for local action on the World Climate Emergency. They painted a terrifying picture of the damage to the UK’s biodiversity due to loss of habitat and the damage caused by air pollution.
By 2030 ‘Your Waverley’ intends to achieve net Zero Carbon Emissions in recognition of the URGENCY of the Climate Emergency (CE) facing us.
Never before has Waverley Borough Council declared an EMERGENCY.
Becoming carbon neutral will effect everything that Waverley Council does from now on.
£300,000 has been allocated in direct expenditure to deal with the (CE) Action Plans. But that is not all.
In every action and every decision taken; every report published; ‘YW” will take account of both the borough’s carbon and financial footprint. The Portfolio Holder for Finance told the EXECUTIVE earlier in the meeting this would also include any future dvelopment at The Burys and any other Waverley’s properties. However, it was not just a case of getting its own house in order, but encouraging the wider community to become more carbon conscious in their everyday activities.
Introducing the new Green Deal for Waverley Cllr Steve Williams outlined the Climate Change and Sustainability Strategy saying:
Some say our target is too ambitious. Yes, it is ambitious, and is challenging and it may be impossible unless we secure the support we need to secure our targets. Garnering that support is important. We need support specifically from Surrey County Council (SCC) and central Government.
Surrey County Council
Cllr Williams said there were already some encouraging signs. At a recent (SCC) meeting a representative of The University of Leeds had spoken of the county council’s own emergency planning. Work on targets and strategies it would share with district/ borough councils which would aid ‘”YW’ to sharpen up its own work.
An Annex of targets in the Action Plan, may need refining, but one action that WILL NOT CHANGE. A Net Zero carbon footprint by 2030.
H e said: ” I cannot help but notice there is an irony here that we are embarking on this most ambitious programme for our locality at a time of ongoing utterly crippling cutbacks to local authorities by central government, from which the borough will require additional support over the coming years.” However, he was heartened by the University of Leeds findings that revealed three equal packages of measures that can be taken over a ten year period to reduce ‘YW’s carbon footprint to ZERO.
- The first 33% of carbon reduction is cost effective. e.g. we invest in energy saving and there is a cost saving on energy useage.
- The second third will cost, but will also provide clear benefits other than carbon reductions. Developing cycle routes reducing carbon footprint by reducing vehicle emissions plus significant public health benefits.
- The third measure would require considerable additional resource based on the current state of knowledge and technology. Which could not be achieved if existing revenue sources were restricted. But as the Government now saw the situation as URGENT. He said, let’s be positive.
The first steps taken will be – quick wins – and made absolute economic sense.
“We know now, that we can break out of the downward spiral of austerity by investment, which hurts those that have the least, by economic investment. We know that we can break out of the downward spiral of fossil fuel reliance by investing in the green economy. There is a synergy here. We can tackle social inequality and climate change by investing in our local green economy, so our starting point for the Action Plan we are proposing takes on board that synergy.”
But, he warned, unless everyone adopts the same measures, everything that Waverley does will be entirely ineffective.
Jerry Hyman (Farnham Residents’) Said: “Pressure is coming from our own residents, and that pressure is paying off. As for air quality issues affecting Farnham, I am disappointed. Whilst words are laudible we now need action.” Biodiversity, he said, was high on his agenda.
“This isn’t politicians promising the earth, but a balanced and evidence-based decision to make huge improvements by acting together.”
Deputy Leader Lib Dem, Paul Follows said officers had brought these plans forward at a pace and significant time had been spent across every department.
Saying, “We all heard from residents when we ran for election about their climate change concerns, and one of the benefits of having an administration made up of so many differing groups had now resulted in a robust strategy to go before the Full Council. However, it would be constrained by money and law. It is now in the public domain and can be read by our community. There are plenty of experts out there in the community, who will read this and comment upon it. It is a live document that will evolve over time. We know we have set ourselves a challenge here, but it is a challenge we have to meet. We know some say it is impossible and hard – and we know failure is a possibility, but to do nothing would be an even greater failure.”
Cllr Mark Merryweather Portfoilio holder for Finance said. “We are not just councillors we are residents. I have been here a year but didn’t come here to promise the earth, but to try and improve it. He added, that not everyone could ride a bike, and stressed the importance of introducing electric buses.
Said Cllr Williams:
“If we are promising the earth – we owe it to our children and our grandchildren to do our bit to save the earth. We know we are limited to what we can do, but at least we will be doing everything we possibly can.”
The Strategies now go to the council’s Overview & Scrutiny Committee on 23rd March. Public consultation will occur over the coming weeks.
Here’s the link to th papers.