Council declares climate emergency

In a motion, approved at a meeting of the full Council tonight (25 July), the Council committed to ensure its activities and operations are carbon neutral by 2030.

A commitment was also made to remove single-use plastics from the Council’s operations and activities, replacing them with sustainable alternatives, by the end of the current administration in 2023.
In June, the Council supported National Refill Day with the announcement that a number of Council buildings would be offering free water refills.
The impacts of climate change and plastic pollution are causing serious damage around the world. The impact on everyone in Telford and Wrekin is also likely to be profound, with risks to life, property and the environment, if no action is taken.
Plastic pollution is also having a significant impact on the environment, for example:
• 8 million pieces of plastic go into the ocean each day;
• Single-use plastic bottles account for 40% of all litter by volume;
• 1 million seabirds a year die from plastic pollution;
• 1 in 4 fish caught for human consumption now contain plastic.
These issues are compounded by the fact that 50% of plastic produced is used only once and can then remain in the environment for up to 400 years. In many cases there are practical alternatives available that are either re-usable or more sustainable. 
The two parts of the motion agreed at full Council are inextricably linked, as 99% of plastics cause climate change, therefore the Council has committed to addressing these issues in a holistic way. 
Cllr Carolyn Healy, cabinet member moving the motion, said: “By declaring both a Climate Emergency and supporting our Plastic Free Communities Campaign, this Council is recognising the seriousness of both of these issues and the urgency of taking action now.
“This Council is making a commitment to achieve carbon neutrality from the operations and activities that are under the Council’s control, alongside a commitment to remove single-use plastics and to replace them with sustainable alternatives.
“We are further committing to engage with residents, businesses, fellow public sector organisations and partners to work together with the aspiration for the whole Borough to be carbon neutral and a recognised Plastic Free Community as set out by Surfers against Sewage.”
Cllr Hilda Rhodes, cabinet member seconding the motion at the meeting, said: “Unlike other Authorities we are setting a date for these commitments, showing our ambition and determination.
“By committing to carbon neutrality by 2030 we are setting ourselves a target that is 20 years earlier than the Government has set as their own target.”
This Council’s motion also resolved to:
• Call on the Government to provide the powers and resources to make both parts of this motion possible, and ask local MPs to do likewise;
• Ensure that the Corporate Plan and all Council reports consider their contribution to our commitments to becoming carbon neutral and plastic-free and identify the actions to be taken to address these issues;
• A report will go to the Council’s cabinet on Plastic Free Telford in September 2019 and on Climate Change in January 2020.
As a Borough, Telford & Wrekin Council is already leading the way in addressing climate change:
• One of the first LA to install a commercial solar farm which is generating 4MW of clean electricity sufficient to power more than 800 homes pa;
• Affording protection to significant areas of greenspace and forestry and continuing to invest in additional Green Guarantee Sites – which provide ‘green lungs’ across the borough;
• Close to completing the conversion of 20,000 traditional street lights to LED – reducing the quantity of CO2 being emitted by 1,887 tonnes pa alongside significant financial savings being reinvested into frontline services;
• Fitting low carbon technologies in 27 public buildings across the Borough;
• Achieving a recycling target for household waste of in excess of 54% with residual waste diverted from landfill as a renewable energy source;
• Providing grant funding via Business Energy Efficiency Programme to support businesses increase their energy efficiency – with as an example - just one Telford based manufacturer having saved over 41 tonnes of carbon pa;
• Establishing policies in the Local Plan that promote more cycling and walking and sustainable drainage measures;
• Ensuring all major new developments adopt and implement travel plans that support sustainable forms of transport.
The Council has also made progress with reducing and removing single-use plastics, for example:
• Signing up to support Refill, a national campaign that promotes ‘Refill Stations’ where people can fill water bottles with drinking water for free – the Council is committed to continuing to support national plastic-free campaigns such as Refill;
• Banning the use of balloons at Council-run events;
• Stopping the use of single use plastic cups and water bottles at Council meetings;
• Removing plastic-free stirrers and straws and using fully compostable cups at the café in the Council’s main building.

All Council libraries have now signed up as Refill Stations which means that anyone can now go in and ask for a free water refill at Wellington, Madeley, Newport, Southwater One and Oakengates libraries.
These are in addition to Refill Stations already at these Council buildings: Newport swimming pool, Café Go in Addenbrooke House, Café at Telford Town Park, Horsehay Golf and Leisure Centre and Costa at Southwater One.