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Council adopts climate strategy but critics blast plan’s lack of ‘ambition’

PUBLISHED: 07:00 09 July 2020

Jamie Osborn, Norwich Green Party councillor. Pic: Jamie Osborn

Jamie Osborn, Norwich Green Party councillor. Pic: Jamie Osborn

Jamie Osborn

A Norfolk council has adopted a new strategy to reduce its carbon emissions - but critics blasted the plans for a lack of “ambition”.

James Wright with Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson. Picture: Liberal DemocratsJames Wright with Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson. Picture: Liberal Democrats

Norwich city councillors have voted to agree new plans to tackle climate change and make the city more environmentally friendly.

The strategy includes actions such as more 20mph zones, making council homes more efficient, a new cycling map for the city, cutting the council’s carbon emissions to net zero by 2030 and getting more charge points for electric vehicles.

READ MORE: Can these ideas stop the countryside being dug up for future wind farms?

And the plans were discussed at a meeting of the council’s cabinet, held on Wednesday, July 8, where opponents criticised city hall’s Labour administration and said the vision should include more “science-based targets”.

The housing minister Esther McVey MP with councillor Alan Waters leaving one of the award-winning, low emission Goldsmith Street properties in Norwich. Picture: Neil DidsburyThe housing minister Esther McVey MP with councillor Alan Waters leaving one of the award-winning, low emission Goldsmith Street properties in Norwich. Picture: Neil Didsbury

Kevin Maguire, cabinet member for sustainable environment, told the meeting the plan was “forward looking” and set out the council’s future approach to climate issues.

“It’s our fourth environmental strategy and it contains over 130 actions to be delivered between now and 2025,” he said. “We are the only council in Norfolk who consistently publish emissions.

READ MORE: Call for council to consider closing city centre car parks to encourage walking and cycling

“This council has been hit over the past 10 years with cut after cut but has done so much and will continue to do so.”

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But Green Party councillor Jamie Osborn said: “We can’t endorse the strategy because of its lack of science based targets.

“I want to ask about lobbying central government and the LEP. It would be helpful to see what actions the council has been doing to lobby for greater urgency on the climate emergency.”

Director of place, Graham Nelson, said the report reflected the wider council vision and a climate group had been set up with business leaders for work on a broader strategy for Norwich.

Mr Maguire said the council had originally aimed for a 40pc reduction in emissions by next year but was now almost at 60pc.

READ MORE: Council leader blasted for ending climate change debate

Council leader Alan Waters said the report was “timely” and “a reminder of the challenges”.

He added: “I am very pleased we have taken on this piece of work.”

And Gail Harris, cabinet member for housing, said: “The work is always ongoing.”

And James Wright, leader of the Liberal Democrat group, added: “The pandemic, tragic as it is, has given us an opportunity to rethink how we do some things. This work could be more ambitious but I’m pleased to see it’s been done.”

He said there was an “overall increase in emissions in Norfolk”.


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