Chelmsford now has a plan of action to address the climate and ecological emergency that it declared last summer. This was adopted at the City Council Cabinet meeting on Tuesday 28 January.
In July 2019, Chelmsford City Council pledged to reduce its own carbon emissions to net zero by 2030 and to lead in encouraging others to do the same. Over the past six months, Councillors and officers have been conducting research, investigating and reviewing the organisation's existing processes, equipment and premises to determine where improvements could be made.
The resulting plan, proposed by Councillor Rose Moore and approved by the cabinet, sets out practical, ambitious steps which the authority pledges to take over the coming years. These actions include:
- Establishing reliable, objective ways to measure the Council's carbon emissions so it is clear whether targets are being met
- Reviewing planning policies for the future to encourage developers to build to zero-carbon standard
- Planting woodland and significantly increasing the number of trees, which are key in absorbing carbon emissions
- Updating planning guidance on integrating sustainable design and on-site renewable energy measures into new developments
- Working with Essex County Council to improve cycling and walking routes, encourage sustainable transport and reduce traffic congestion
- Further reducing how much waste is generated by Chelmsford and ensuring as much of it as possible is reused, recycled or composted
- Protecting and expanding natural habitats and biodiversity
- Upgrading the Council's fleet to use the latest low-emission technology
- Measures to reduce the risk of flooding to the area
- Providing more recycling bins in busy streets
- Creating opportunities for local people and businesses to get involved and inspiring others to make a difference
- Establishing a new 'green wedge' through the Chelmer River Valley
- Creating new natural open spaces and country parks in North East Chelmsford and Sandon
Councillor Stephen Robinson, Leader of Chelmsford City Council, said, "We need to act NOW on the biggest challenge to our way of life. These steps will enable us to significantly reduce our impact on the environment. Some of them are major projects and will take time to complete, so I am keen to get started and am delighted that we have already made some headway with our early tree planting and energy switch initiatives.
"With climate change on everybody's minds, I am sure that new technology will emerge which will open up further possibilities. This plan is an adaptable document and Chelmsford City Council will continue to explore further opportunities to help our planet as they arise."
The Council has already switched to a zero-carbon electricity provider, which in combination with its offices' existing solar panels and a combined heat and power facility means that all the authority's electricity is now zero-carbon.
Tree planting, another major element of the strategy to achieve net-zero carbon by 2030, has also begin, since winter is considered the best time for planting. Over six thousand trees are already in place, with thousands more planned with the public's help at two Community Planting Days on Sunday 2 February and Sunday 1 March.
Councillor Marie Goldman, Deputy Leader, added, "The scientific evidence is overwhelming: the need to act now is pressing. These actions are bold and unprecedented for Chelmsford City Council, but they are still not enough. If the damage that humanity as a whole is inflicting on our own home is to be reversed or even lessened, we're going to need everyone to be involved, not just councils.
"There are also small actions that we can all take in our everyday lives, from encouraging wildlife in our gardens to reducing how much plastic we buy and throw away, which add up to a greener Chelmsford and ultimately a better life for future generations."
You can read the Action Plan in full at: www.chelmsford.gov.uk/_resources/assets/inline/full/0/3649750.pdf
Wednesday 29 January 2020