Wealden District Council now has a Climate Emergency Plan. Will it get us to Carbon Zero in time?

17 February 2020

When two Green district councillors were elected last May their first priority was to push for Wealden District Council to declare a climate emergency. They demanded immediate action to bring our greenhouse emissions to zero. 

Cllrs Keith Obbard and Patricia Patterson Vanegas were delighted when the Council declared an emergency but disappointed that the Council set a zero greenhouse emissions target date of 2050. The science is clear that we only have till 2030 to make the radical changes we need to protect our environment and biodiversity. 

Cllr Obbard says, ‘We are encouraged that the Cabinet has released this Climate Emergency Plan and hope we can help them to make it more robust, ambitious and urgent.’ He adds, ‘The biggest source of emissions in Wealden is transport. The action plan places considerable emphasis on private car travel and installing large numbers of electric charging points. While we are in favour of this, we feel strongly that we also need a creative and ambitious plan to make it easy and cheap for people across Wealden to travel on foot, by bicycle, and by public transport.’ 

Heating domestic housing is the other major source of greenhouse emissions in Wealden. In Wealden most housing is older and poorly insulated, and new-build commercial developments are little better. Lax government policy allows developers to build energy-hungry houses and does not permit councils to enforce higher standards.

We want to see the Council put extremely forceful pressure on central government to change this and to provide significant grants to improve existing stock.

As Wealden District Council's Local Plan has just been rejected by the government's inspector, the Council now has to start work on a new plan. We want the climate and ecological crisis to inform every part of this new Local Plan: it makes complete sense to use this unwanted opportunity to build environmental planning into every aspect of Wealden's future.

We want the climate emergency plan to give greater emphasis to far better waste management, and the potential of community energy generation.

Finally, the Council plans to set an example and hope that people will follow. We propose rather that we turn to the residents of Wealden and ask them to lead. Citizens Assemblies, which bring together randomly chosen people to explore a problem, listen to conflicting views and seek solutions have proven excellent at building understanding and commitment to major changes. Let’s take the lead by asking Wealden’s residents to decide how they want to get to zero.

Read the Council's full Climate Emergency Plan.

Read the Council's statements about the Climate Emergency Plan (go to point 10).