01:00PM, Friday 23 April 2021
The Royal Borough’s climate strategy has made ‘significant progress’ according to the council – though one environmental group has expressed concern over its pace and level of oversight.
The council has started a four-week campaign – beginning yesterday (Thursday) on Earth Day – sharing ideas for how people can change their behaviour and reduce their carbon footprint.
It will also be showcasing local businesses and organisations which are doing their bit to help.
“Sixty per cent of reaching net zero is about behavioural change – we want to see daily action,” said Councillor Donna Stimson, lead member for climate change, sustainability, parks and countryside.
The council recently received grants of more than £1m from the Government to help with the decarbonisation of the borough’s schools.
It is currently working alongside environmental groups in the borough to look at habitats and wild species across the borough to make a biodiversity action plan.
It will be holding discussions in a cross-team of knowledgeable council staff and members of the public, including community leaders and farmers.
“We’re now more resourced for community engagement.
“Things are really moving on a pace and for me it’s very exciting,” said Cllr Stimson.
“I have been working at raising our ambition – I’m absolutely determined that despite the fact that don’t have a big budget we will get to net zero (carbon emissions) before 2050.”
However, some groups in the borough are not seeing such a ‘rosy picture’.
“If you were to ask the stakeholders, our view of the way things are going is very different,” said Paul Hinton, community lead of Plastic Free Windsor.
“There’s a lot of discussion going on but what tangible things are coming out of those discussions?
“We know for a fact that the cross-party climate steering group hasn’t met since November.
“There’s no oversight on development and delivery of the strategy.
“I think it (the campaign) is a very good step but it remains to be seen how effective and well-delivered it will be,” added Paul.
“We wanted a fast start, to hit the ground running – a 2050 net zero target means you can kick the can down the road, and no one who’s here now will be accountable then.
“Without the oversight in place, they (the borough) can continue at any pace they see fit.”
In response to Mr Hinton's concerns, Cllr Stimson said that the reason for the apparent lack of ‘tangible progress’ is that a lot of work has been going on ‘behind the scenes’ and is not ready to be shared publicly just yet.
She added that the borough also recently lost its sustainability and climate change lead but they have since been replaced with two new members of staff, who will separately handle projects and engagement.
As part of its green goals, Windsor and Maidenhead council is trying to promote active travel by consulting on walking and cycling route improvements in the borough.
It is also urging residents to 'waste less, recycle more'.