04:21PM, Tuesday 22 December 2020
Climate emergency protesters outside Maidenhead town hall in 2019.
The Royal Borough has adopted a new environmental strategy, setting out the framework to achieving net carbon neutrality by 2050.
After the draft strategy was approved in June, a public consultation ran from July 29 to September 29, which received 1,775 comments, including 134 responses from young people from the Local Environment Action for Youth (Leafy).
At a meeting on Thursday, cabinet unanimously approved the Environment and Climate Strategy 2020-2025, which was created by a cross-party working group, spearheaded by lead member for climate change and sustainability, Councillor Donna Stimson (Con, St Mary’s).
The strategy centres around four key themes: circular economy, energy, natural environment and transport.
The strategy aims to introduce a circular economy by reducing waste and increasing material re-use, while energy reduction is seen as achievable by decarbonising the power supply and increasing generation of renewable sources.
Action will be taken to enhance the natural environment to improve air quality and support resident health and wellbeing, while aiming to reduce traditional transport by introducing better infrastructure like cycle lanes and electric vehicle charging points and encouraging people to travel in more sustainable ways.
Speaking at the meeting, Cllr Stimson said: “It’s a wonderful day, its been a long time in the making.
“Without our community we are nowhere, this is how we have to move ourselves forward, with that community. It’s such an exciting place to be in.
“We have made several improvements as a consequence of the public consultation, you have all got to remember, if you feel strongly about something contribute to it, because you have made a huge difference by contributing to the public consultation.
“This document will drive our decisions, our resources and our actions. When acted upon we will be creating a more sustainable borough that is also a healthier, more community-focused place to live, for my children, for their children, for all our children.”
Following the consultation, several improvements were made to the plan, including updating the strategy to be consistent with the Paris Climate Agreement, seeking to achieve faster decarbonisation in the early years, and implementing more objectives on improving air quality.
Fiona Hewer, representing Wild Maidenhead, which contributed to the strategy along with many other community groups, said: “This strategy marks a culmination of almost two years of lobbying, campaigning and commitment from volunteer groups.
“This is an emergency, and writing a strategy is only the beginning. The real work starts here.
“We hope that many more residents, businesses and groups will get involved to help us tackle the environment and climate emergency that we face.”
Cabinet members and councillors who attended the meeting were all in favour of the plans.
Councillor Karen Davies (Lib Dem, Clewer East) said she was ‘particularly glad’ the plan had been updated to address resident concerns about air pollution, while Councillor Gerry Clark (Con, Bisham and Cookham), the council’s former environmental lead who called the climate emergency in 2019 said he was ‘quite emotional’ now the strategy was ready.
Cabinet members voted unanimously to adopt the strategy.
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