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West Berkshire tops table for climate change action

However council admits 'we have a lot more to do'

Local Democracy Reporter Alex Seabrook

newsdesk@newburynews.co.uk

Newbury pupils stage bigger climate change protest

WEST BERKSHIRE has ranked the highest local authority in the county in a league table for action on the climate crisis.

The district scored 68, higher than bottom-placed Reading at 52, Bracknell, Wokingham and Slough all at 60, and Windsor and Maidenhead at 64.

The league table, compiled by Friends of the Earth, ranks local authorities on various metrics, like household energy efficiency, renewable energy, the proportion of people travelling by public transport, cycling or walking, the number of electric vehicle chargers and tree cover.

West Berkshire Council lead member for environment Steve Adargh-Walter (Con, Thatcham Colthrop and Crookham) said: “It’s encouraging to see a respectable ranking at the start of our work following the climate emergency.

“But we have a lot more to do.”

The council declared a climate emergency on July 2 and pledged to work towards the district becoming carbon neutral by 2030.

 

However, West Berkshire scored lower than other neighbouring local authorities Wiltshire (92), South Oxfordshire (72) and Basingstoke and Deane (84).

Steve Masters (Green, Speen) said: “The figures show that West Berkshire’s performance is average.

“However, this also illustrates more needs to be done both locally and nationally.

“While it is commendable that we have a climate emergency declaration here in the district, decisions such as the backing of Heathrow, leave more questions about the administration’s environmental credentials and credibility, than answers.

“If the score were a student’s homework, it would be a six out of 10 – must try harder.”

Mr Ardagh-Walter said: “One of the main benefits of league tables is showing us good examples of other local authorities and we’re already talking with other authorities around very specific things.

“We have done a number of good things leading up to now. Cycling, for example, I am very keen about.

“We have a very strong active cycle forum in the district.”

Mr Ardagh-Walter mentioned the work on the cycle lane along the A4, which goes from Newbury to Reading.

The data in the league table doesn’t take into account some recent decisions, like cuts to bus services, or publicly supporting the expansion of Heathrow airport.

Friends of the Earth chief executive Craig Bennett said: “All local authorities, even the best performing, need to ramp up what they are doing.

“If we want to change things for the better, let’s start at home.

“Doing things right now about climate change isn’t just good news for future generations and people most vulnerable to an erratic climate, it’s good for everyone.

“Creating cleaner and greener places to live means healthier, happier lives.”

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