By Andy Hirst
Kirklees Council should scrap all its road improvement schemes if it’s serious about its ambitious plan to tackle climate change, says Huddersfield Friends of the Earth.
The group has welcomed the council’s plan to get to zero carbon emissions by 2038 but insists road widening schemes must go as they are at odds with the plan which they say should have been underway by now.
The Huddersfield Friends of the Earth group, which has been campaigning against road expansion within Kirklees, says cancelling road schemes would save millions of pounds of public money and show that Kirklees is serious about its Climate Change Action Plan.
The plan was unveiled last month and broadly welcomed by Friends of the Earth for its aims for economic, social and health benefits associated with reducing carbon emissions, such as improved energy security, reduction of fuel poverty and an improved and efficient public transport and active travel network. Active travel involves physical exercise such as walking or cycling.
But the group has criticised the speed with which the council is developing these plans which are only likely to start being implemented in 2024, five years after the council declared a climate emergency in 2019. The lack of measurable targets and failure to undertake annual monitoring of targets is also criticised.
Chayley Collis, spokesperson for Huddersfield Friends of the Earth, said: “The council has effectively lost five years to move Kirklees towards its 2038 net zero target and so will now need to work even harder to meet its climate goals.
“he Climate Change Action Plan as it stands is just a ‘wishlist’ of uncosted actions without a clear timetable for implementation.
“Many of the measures outlined are ones we have been asking for, for many years. Climate action can help reduce the impact of the current cost of living crisis by reducing our reliance on expensive fossil fuels.
“Having energy-efficient homes will bring our energy bills down and a greater uptake of active travel or public transport options will reduce our reliance on diesel and petrol cars.”
The group has also strongly criticised the current lack of measurable and timetabled actions and has emphasised the importance of having annual reviews of progress, not the three-yearly reviews proposed by the council.
This action plan marks Phase 2 of the council’s response to the climate emergency, building on the large-scale investment and actions already undertaken by the council in Phase 1 such as investing £7m into electric vehicles and installing charging points, planting more than 35,000 trees with the aim of planting millions in the coming years and promotion of active travel.
It sets out longer-term ambitions for Kirklees to reach the aim of becoming Net Zero and Climate Ready by 2038.
Climate ready means being prepared to mitigate against the impacts experienced from severe weather events.
Measures to try to get to net zero include:
- Improving the energy efficiency of buildings as they are the second highest emitter of greenhouse gas emissions for Kirklees but with the largest emission reduction potential. This needs to be done by reducing carbon emissions and energy consumption;
- Taking steps to transition Kirklees Council’s energy to green and clean sources such as using solar panels;
- Protect and improve the natural environment and biodiversity in Kirklees;
- Enhance demand for locally grown food to make it more sustainable;
- Encourage people to use alternatives to cars powered by combustion engines such as public transport, cycling and greener forms of transport;
- Encourage more recycling and reuse to reduce the amount of rubbish in landfill such as getting people to move away from so-called fast fashion with fashion being one of the Earth’s biggest polluters.
Clr Will Simpson, Cabinet member for culture and greener Kirklees, said: “Local, collaborative climate action by all is essential to protect our environment and livelihoods for future generations.
“This action plan doesn’t just outline actions for Kirklees Council but measures that can be adopted by us all as residents, businesses, charities and partners alike as we all must be on this journey to a Net Zero and Climate Ready future together.”
An animated film has been made which covers the main thrust of the plan and can be viewed HERE.
For detailed information on the Kirklees plan go to www.kirklees.gov.uk/climateemergency
* Copyright for this story belongs to freelance journalist ANDY HIRST who runs his own Yorkshire agency AH! PR (https://ah-pr.com/) specialising in stories for the media, press releases, blogging, copywriting, scriptwriting and applying for awards.