A new policy has been agreed which will enable Wirral Council to achieve its ambitious but achievable target to be net carbon neutral by 2030.
At a meeting of Wirral’s Environment, Climate Emergency and Transport Committee on 16 March, councillors signed off on the policy which will change the way the council operates, makes decisions, and provides services.
The Environment & Climate Emergency Policy includes a number of commitments and actions which are already underway as well as future plans, such as:
- Reducing emissions to net zero; by switching to 100% green energy and reduced demand, transforming the council’s buildings, street lighting and fleet.
- The re-introduction of carbon budget reporting, introducing sustainability appraisals, and ensuring that the environment climate emergency is considered in all reporting and decision making. The policy will be a material consideration for planning decisions and a significant matter to be considered in the development of the Local Plan.
- Enhancing biodiversity and the local environment through new methods of operation and land management to promote wildflowers, pollinators, and insects. During the summer, the council piloted the creation of pollinator sites across the borough with reduced maintenance. These sites have proven to be an initial success in encouraging insects and wildflowers and a Pollinator’s Policy is being developed.
- Investment in facilities and infrastructure to support active and alternative powered transport. The council is working with partners to support and sustain the growing interest in active transport, which accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic. There are also a number of initiatives to establish infrastructure for alternative powered transport such as charging facilities for electric vehicles.
- Storing more carbon. Plans are already underway to capture more carbon naturally with Wirral's tree, woodland and hedgerow strategy which sets out to plant and grow over 200,000 trees in the next 10 years, doubling Wirral’s tree canopy.
- Futureproofing Wirral against climate change through coastal and flood management and nature-based solutions.
- Measuring progress along the journey and keeping residents informed about the progress towards achieving net carbon neutrality.
The approval of this new policy comes after the council declared an ‘Environment and Climate Emergency’ in July 2019. It has been developed with cross-party support and supported by third party climate change experts who have agreed that the council’s 2030 target for net carbon neutrality is ambitious but achievable.
Cllr. Liz Grey, Chair of the Environment, Climate Emergency and Transport Committee, said: “Everyone needs to work together to tackle climate change for the benefit of us all. Much of this work has already been underway since 2019, but I believe our new policy gives us the impetus to push forward with exciting plans to help reduce our emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change.
“Over the past year we have pulled together with our partners and residents in the face of adversity, and we will need to do the same here.
“I hope our actions inspire other organisations and individuals to play their part and take action to reduce carbon emissions across Wirral."
This ambition supports the Wirral Plan 2025 ambition to create a ‘sustainable environment that leads the way in its response to the climate emergency and is environmentally friendly' and is the council’s locally determined contribution to Cool2 Wirral wide strategy.