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Draft Royal Borough environmental strategy unanimously agreed on by councillors

A draft strategy that aims to achieve carbon neutrality in the borough before 2050 ‘if possible’ was unanimously agreed upon by councillors.

Before Tuesday’s virtual full council meeting descended into chaos, all members unanimously agreed to back the council’s draft of an updated climate strategy.

Created by a cross-party working group, a draft strategy and action plan setting out the council’s approach to tackling the climate emergency was laid out by lead member for biodiversity, Cllr Donna Stimson (Con, St Mary’s) and seconded by Cllr Karen Davies (Lib Dem, Clewer East).

The strategy, which builds upon the one that was announced in June last year, seeks to achieve carbon neutrality in the Royal Borough by 2050 but aims to achieve that goal at an earlier date if it is possible.

The draft is based around four key themes: circular economy, energy, natural environment and transport.

According to the report, circular economy is achieved by reducing waste and consumption while increasing material re-use. Energy is made greener by reducing energy consumption and decarbonising the energy supply. A natural environment is achieved though cleaner air, higher water quality and increased biodiversity. And transport is made more sustainable by enabling and encouraging more sustainable transport options.

Speaking at the meeting, Cllr Leo Walters (Con, Bray) described how he had been transformed from a climate change sceptic to a full supporter of the strategy.

He said: “I am probably one of the oldest people at this meeting and I was originally a climate change sceptic and used to follow Christopher Booker (a journalist who regularly claimed climate change was a hoax), but I am now fully convinced I was wrong.

“I have noticed myself the lack of insects in my garden here in Holyport and it really is happening (climate change).”

Speaking in support of the plan, Cllr Davies said: “A year ago I argued that we should be setting a target to do a 2030 strategy, there’s a clear acknowledgement of that, but in this plan 2050 is a backstop, and that target will be brought forward as and when this is possible.”

Rounding off the discussion, Cllr Stimson added: “We aren’t always on the same page but that is what makes us better, that we’ve got different views, and we try and agitate to give us the best possible borough we can have.”

Tribute was also paid by councillors to the number of members of the public passionate about the environment who asked questions at the meeting.

Eighteen of 23 questions that were asked related to climate change or biodiversity.

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