National report ranks Telford & Wrekin in top 3% of UK councils tackling climate change
A report by campaign group Climate Emergency UK has ranked the climate change action plans of the UK’s 409 local authorities, with Telford & Wrekin Council coming in 13th place.
The report, released exclusively to the Guardian last week, also showed that Telford & Wrekin Council ranked fourth out of all the UK’s unitary authorities and was the number one unitary authority in the West Midlands.
Telford & Wrekin was named in the Guardian report as an example of a council with a strong record on climate change. The authority’s solar farm – which has saved more than 13,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions to date – and its 57% reduction in operational carbon emissions since 2020 were highlighted.
The Guardian report focused on the findings that one in five councils in the UK has no climate action plan. Authorities without plans (including nine in the West Midlands) scored 0% in the ‘scorecard’ rankings, while Somerset West and Taunton Council came top nationally with a score of 89%.
Telford & Wrekin Council scored 78%, placing the council in the top performing 3% of all the UK’s local authorities.
The council’s action plan scored full marks in four categories: Commitment & Integration; Measuring & setting emissions targets; Education, Skills & Training; and Ecological Emergency.
Climate Emergency UK stated that this first year’s scoring was intended to establish a baseline of councils’ plans and scale of ambition, advising that next year’s scoring will assess to what extent local authorities are on track to reach net zero emissions.
Cllr Carolyn Healy (Labour), Telford & Wrekin Council Cabinet Member for Climate Change, Green Spaces, Natural and Historic Environment and cultural services, said:
“This external validation is absolutely fantastic news for our team and for our borough. It shows that our plans are well thought out, well integrated and that we have everything in place to deliver.
“I’m pleased that this report enables us to identify areas where we can further improve our climate change work, and am confident that we will rank highly again next year when the extent to which we have progressed our plan is taken into consideration in the scoring.
“As our internal report at the end of 2021 showed, we are currently ahead of schedule to meet our carbon neutral commitment by 2030. But of course there is always more that we can do, so I am excited to implement ideas that we have drawn from Climate Emergency UK’s analysis.”
Telford & Wrekin Council Leader, Cllr Shaun Davies (Labour), added:
“I would like to commend my colleagues for their work and commitment to progressing our climate change agenda. To have our action plan ranked amongst the very best in the country is an outstanding achievement.
“We know this is a subject that matters to our residents, which is why we reinforced our commitment to tackling climate change with an announcement last year that we will be investing £4m to reduce emissions in our borough.
“We want residents to know we are on their side, and we will continue to push to achieve these nationally recognised levels of service delivery for our borough.”
Telford & Wrekin Council has announced a number of climate change initiatives over recent weeks, including the introduction of Eco Grants, provided by its Pride in Our High Street programme, to help high street businesses operate more sustainably.
A separate council fund, the Telford and Wrekin Climate Change Fund, which provides grants totalling more than £100k to community groups for carbon reduction projects, has also been well-received. Little Wenlock Village Hall, who saw their carbon footprint reduce from 7,645kg p/a in 2019 to 1,395kg in 2021 after they received council grant funding to help install a new heating system with an air source heat pump, is one such success story.
NuPlace, the council’s wholly-owned housing development company, has also been commended by residents for embedding sustainable elements into its latest development off Southwater Way.
New resident, Jayne said:
“Having not long purchased my first electric car, once I learnt that the new homes came with fully installed car charging points, at no extra hassle or cost to me, I was sold instantly.
“The solar panels will be new to us as a family. This is incredibly innovative and something I am really looking forward to benefiting from.”