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Council Needs Private And Government Funding To Hit Climate Targets

Published on: 29 Jan, 2020
Updated on: 29 Jan, 2020

Guildford Borough Council says it needs more money and official help to hit the net zero carbon emissions target of 2030.

The leader of the council, Caroline Reeves (Friary & St Nicolas), said: “All local authorities will need private sector funding and government help to do it properly or if at all. But it isn’t only money. We need government direction as well.”

Cllr Reeves was with Cllr Gordon Jackson (independent, Pirbright), chairman of the Climate Change Innovations Board (CCIB), this week in an exclusive interview with The Guildford Dragon NEWS.

Cllr Gordon Jackson, chairman of the influential Climate Change Innovations Board, speaking to The Guildford Dragon NEWS at the council’s offices in Millmead.

He said: “Global warming is human induced and happening at speed, but the situation can be turned around. Five years ago, it was on no-one’s radar. Now, everybody is talking about it.

“We all have to change our way of life but I’m not sure people have really signed up to it yet.”

The interview had been prompted by the publication of the CCIB minutes after pressure from residents and The Dragon.

A press release (November 27) had spoken of “openness and collaboration” and the CCIB working with partners to tackle the “causes and effects of climate change together”.

Cllr Jackson said: “We will launch a dedicated public engagement group where residents, schools, colleges and groups of all ages can get involved. We need to develop a well-thought-through, science-based strategy.”

He added that GBC had to be radical: “We will look at all options such as privately funded solar farms. We might have to relax our planning rules but others have done it, so why not us?”

Cllr Caroline Reeves emphasised that all councils would need funding from the private sector and help and direction from the government.

Cllr Reeves emphasised the complexity of fighting climate change. “Control of most of the emissions is not within our remit. For instance, the area does not have sufficient electric capacity available, especially if we move over to electric cars.”

The CCIB will report to the council within 12 months.

Adrian Thomson, chairman of the Guildford Environmental Forum, which sits on the CCIB, said: “We are delighted to be working with the council to help shape the future of Guildford, making it a greener town by informing and working with residents, businesses and visitors.”

Later, Cllr Maddie Redpath (R4GV, Holy Trinity) welcomed the move to openness but added: “It would be more appropriate to allow the local press to report for themselves what happens at CCIB meetings.

“Guildford is extremely lucky to have such environmentally engaged residents who are ready to help, influence and suggest new ideas. The CCIB would benefit greatly to harness this enthusiasm and allow the public to participate in the board discussions.”

Cllr Susan Parker (Guildford Greenbelt Group, Send) said: “While the engagement with climate change is encouraging, in practice I think much of this is just lip service paid to the environment. I fear however, that Guildford is window-dressing at the moment.”

A statement received from Guildford Conservatives said: “The Conservative Group welcome all initiatives to further the issues of climate change, particularly at a local level.”

A spokesperson from Extinction Rebellion said: “We are pleased that GBC has pledged more transparency.

And, referring to the money pledged to deliver the council’s climate change objectives and energy management plans, they added: “The council cannot solve everything alone but they are not adequately responding to the climate emergency by allocating £250,000. That is a tiny fraction of the investment needed, particularly when spending millions to upgrade one unsightly yet functioning bridge.”

The Guildford Dragon NEWS has requested comments from the other parties on the council, and awaits replies.

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