We will lead in tackling the Climate Emergency and take responsibility for our impact on the environment.
- A council that take decisive action to tackle the climate emergency and that strives to be carbon neutral by 2040;
- Promises on tree planting to be delivered;
- Investment in green travel to enable residents to leave the car at home and
- A council that will enable communities and local partners to become greener.
Back in May 2019, it was the Gloucestershire Liberal Democrats who pushed the County Council to declare a Climate Emergency. This included a timetable for action, including an ambitious commitment to an 80 per cent reduction in the county’s emissions by 2030.
Yet two years on, little has been achieved:
- Despite ambitious words about planting more trees in the county, only a tiny fraction of the promised trees have been planted, leaving our county more than 2 million trees behind target already.
- With historic underinvestment, and poor bids for Government grants, Gloucestershire missed the opportunity to capture the boom in active travel seen in the Spring of 2020.
- Even prior to the pandemic, public transport numbers had stalled, and the present Conservative County Council has no plans to bring passenger numbers back up once Covid-19 restrictions are lifted.
Not forgetting that it was also this Conservative administration that chose to build a waste incinerator in our county, having previously promised it never would. At a cost of over £650 million, this facility will emit more than 1 million tonnes of carbon dioxide over its lifetime.
In tackling the climate emergency, we know that if you start slowly you will fail fast. In power we will take decisive action to become a national leader in tackling the Climate Emergency. In doing so, we will invest in our county to ensure we hit the 80 per cent reduction in emissions by 2030, and strive to become carbon neutral by 2040, or as soon as possible thereafter – ten years earlier than the Conservative Government plans to.
This is an extremely challenging target, and will need a wholesale re-evaluation of the council’s role and responsibilities, but we also know it is necessary to protect our environment for future generations.
“WE WILL STRIVE TO MAKE GLOUCESTERSHIRE CARBON NEUTRAL BY 2040 – TEN YEARS EARLIER THAN THE CONSERVATIVE GOVERNMENT.”
Some of the measures that we will take include:
Working on the County Council’s own estate:
- We will maximise green energy production on County Council land and accelerate plans for district heat sources.
- We will lead by example, significantly reducing staff car travel, incentivising travel by public transport or active travel instead, and eradicating petrol and diesel cars from our own fleet.
- We will aim to make the County Council’s buildings and services carbon negative by 2030 (absorbing more carbon than they emit).
- We will review all farmland owned by the County Council and work with tenants to transition to a sustainable farming model, harnessing expertise from sustainable farming pioneers operating within Gloucestershire.
Enabling partners and our communities:
- Working with highways colleagues and the newly installed Green Transport Commissioner, we will invest heavily in measures to drive down transport emissions, including a fully segregated cycling network.
- In collaboration with the Gloucestershire Local Nature Partnership, we will invest council resources to realise the ambitious target of 35 million trees planted by 2030.
- Working with landowners and residents we will encourage rewilding schemes across the county.
- We will facilitate community energy schemes, as seen in other counties in the South West such as Cornwall and Somerset.
- Working with districts we will ensure all councils have ambitious climate targets –helping those lagging behind.
Providing leadership in the county:
- We will create a cabinet role purely dedicated to tackling the Climate Emergency and to providing leadership for businesses and communities.
- We will install a “waste reduction officer”, to work with supermarkets, businesses and communities to eradicate waste within Gloucestershire.
- We will also fund high quality data collection on air quality, and work with districts to tackle hotspots.
- We will highlight those sectors that are slow to decarbonise, and work with them to improve the pace of change.
We will also explore the possibility of developing a Severn Wildbelt, a wildlife corridor to help protect our environment, improve biodiversity, and connect existing wildlife and conservation projects in our county.
Leading the charge to clean Gloucestershire’s Rivers
Over this last four years Gloucestershire Liberal Democrats have been responsible for leading the attempt to clean up Gloucestershire’s rivers from waste pumped out by water companies and pollutants flowing from farmland.
We have now established a County Council Task Group to work with Government organisations, local campaigners and the polluters themselves. In power we will challenge them to change their behaviour and create safe bathing spots in some of our county’s rivers.