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Royal Borough reveals plan to tackle climate emergency

Adrian Williams

Adrian Williams

Cabinet members will discuss the Royal Borough’s plan for tackling the climate emergency tonight (Thursday).

In it, the borough outlines ways to reduce its own environmental impact, and ways to encourage residents and incentivise businesses to do the same.

The plan outlines aims to replace council pool cars with low emission alternatives, launching a car sharing scheme, and making sure planning officers have biodiversity training by 2021.

It also proposes reducing energy demand from council sources by 10 per cent by 2023, with a new stretch target agreed by 2025.

In the community, the borough wants to open repair cafes, plastic-free refillable shops and swap shops, with pilot swap shops to be held in three schools.

It has also proposed launching more specialist recycling facilities, using Maidenhead Library to trial a mini specialist recycling centre.

To promote more sustainable food choices, the council suggests creating a food section in resident communications and newsletters, advising residents on locally sourced and plant-based eating.

In addition, it plans to increase availability of allotments so residents can grow their own vegetables.

In terms of energy use, the proposal recommends enforcing minimum energy efficiency standards in privately-rented housing.

The council plans to increase the borough’s generation of renewable energy, working with MaidEnergy and other community cooperatives to install five new renewable systems a year.

To increase biodiversity, the borough aims to plant 15,000 new trees by 2025, and to pilot ‘green infrastructure’ such as living lamp posts and green walls by 2021.

It proposes that all new town centre developments provide green infrastructure in any public area, and that site promoters develop additional walking and cycling plans for Ascot, South West Maidenhead and Maidenhead Town Centre.

To reduce transport emissions, the borough is seeking to install ‘no idling’ zones outside schools by April 2021 and plans to prepare a funding bid to Government to increase funding for buses.

The council is also considering technological advancements to reduce emissions, such as trialling ‘smart city’ concepts in the borough, and rolling out more digital infrastructure including 5G or superfast broadband, helping residents work from home.

Sarah Bowden of campaign group RBWM Climate Emergency Coalition has reviewed the proposal.

She feels that the document will not engage and inspire the community.

“You can see the comms effort that goes behind Surrey and Reading council. They have a much more engaging climate strategy. A dry paper isn’t going to cut the mustard,” she said.

Ms Bowden also believes that the council’s consultation approach has not been ‘truly collaborative’ with knowledgeable residents.

“It’s been more of a ‘put your message in a post box and we’ll receive it, and maybe take it on board,’ approach. That’s not working as a team,” she said.

Cllr Donna Stimson, lead member for climate change, said that there is money put aside to make the plan more dynamic.

Cllr Stimson also said that she understood Ms Bowden’s frustration and she was working to address this, within budget constraints.

“Some people have asked ‘why don’t you delay [the proposal] and wait until it’s perfect?’ but for me, done and delivered is better.”

This evening, the cabinet and council will vote to approve, refuse or delay the draft strategy.

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