Whilst the issues surrounding climate change and its effects appear more and more in the national news headlines, we take a look at what is being done at a local level to mitigate the impact our actions are having on our surroundings.
One example is an environmental project in Winsford involving the creation of a new habitat for wildlife and the planting of thousands of trees and shrubs.
The project is due to begin in the spring, and is being spearheaded by Cheshire West and Chester Council.
The initiative will include:
- 11,300m2 of woodland planting (5,026 trees and shrubs)
- 6,307m2 of woodland edge planting (6,307 trees and shrubs)
- 81m of native hedgerow (405 shrubs)
- 106m2 of aquatic planting (432 marginal plants)
The new wildlife habitat will provide a new home for amphibians, insects, birds, bats and badgers.
The scheme also aims to substantially boost the local population of the great crested newt, a protected species.
A special licence was granted by Natural England to allow a large population of great crested newts to be moved from their home by Road One on Winsford Industrial Estate to a 6-acre site on the southern boundary of the estate.
Hundreds of newts have been moved so far, which means development work can continue on Winsford Industrial Estate.
Cllr Karen Shore, cabinet member for environment at CWAC, commented: “Cheshire West and Chester Council declared a climate emergency in May 2019 and this project supports our efforts to become carbon neutral.”
The council made an official commitment on Tuesday 21st January to take rapid action to tackle the climate emergency and to support the borough as a whole in achieving carbon neutrality.
The Labour-controlled council declared cross-party agreement on the issue in May last year, and appointed Cllr Matt Bryan to chair its climate emergency taskforce.
Cllr Bryan presented a report at the full council meeting, summarising in-depth research and discussion that has taken place over the last eight months.
Its findings show that Cheshire West is an area with one of the highest carbon footprints in the UK due to its industrial base – and therefore an added responsibility in tackling emissions.
A significant amount of work will be required in order to achieve the objective of becoming carbon neutral by 2045, as set out in the council’s original declaration.
Measures being lined up include:
- retrofitting 7,000 homes with energy saving measures (such as solid wall insulation and loft insulation) by 2025
- installing 43,000 new efficient heating systems in homes (such as heat pumps) in the next six years
- reducing the miles travelled by car by people in the borough by a quarter by 2025
- increasing solar power capacity tenfold in the next six years
- planting 150 hectares of new forests per year
Council leader, Cllr Louise Gittins said: “It is clear from Tuesday’s meeting that there is a passion in our borough to take action to address the climate emergency and a commitment to become carbon neutral.
“We know that to reach this ambitious target will require significant contributions from our businesses, partners and residents.”
She added: “As a council we aim to lead by example, by taking measures to make the council as an organisation carbon neutral by 2030.
“We will also be looking to central government for comprehensive support in regard to both resources and an ambitious legislative and policy framework for carbon reduction.”
Cllr Margaret Parker, Conservative opposition group leader, added: “We have the opportunity to make big changes in our borough which will help and protect our local environment, the health and wellbeing of our residents and the world as a whole.
“With our large industrial base the borough has a responsibility to make a significant contribution to the nation’s carbon reduction objectives which will help limit the effects of climate change worldwide.”
Cllr Parker continued: “The report is clear that action needs to happen now, before it is too late.
“We have set a target date for the borough to become carbon neutral by 2045 but every day is a deadline and we must all make changes at every opportunity to reduce the areas emissions.”
The council’s climate emergency taskforce, made up of cross-party councillors, has reviewed all the evidence gathered and will develop a Climate Emergency Response Plan to be presented in December 2020.
You can visit the council’s climate emergency pages for further details about the monthly taskforce meetings and to sign up to the council’s climate emergency enewsletter.