Wed, 16 Oct 2019
A PLAN of action to reduce Thatcham’s carbon footprint is under way.
The plan covers a range of issues – including the level crossing.
The Liberal Democrat-controlled town council declared a climate emergency in June.
It sought to support and promote a wider programme of activities to help the town become more sustainable and aim to reach carbon neutrality by 2030.
Town council leader David Lister (Lib Dem, Thatcham West) said that councillors wanted to understand the town council’s carbon footprint.
A carbon audit of town council activities and what it can do to work towards net zero carbon is already ongoing.
But Mr Lister estimated that the town council’s carbon footprint was between 50 and 100 tonnes, compared to Thatcham’s 150,000 tonnes overall.
The report highlights that in West Berkshire, 33 per cent of CO2 emissions arise from industry and commercial, which accounts for 1.9 tonnes per person.
Transport accounts for 2.3 tonnes and 39 per cent of emissions, with domestic heating at 1.6 tonnes and 28 per cent.
The draft report assessing the steps needing to be taken includes a traffic flow assessment around the railway crossing and enforcing no-idling laws at known congestion locations.
Mr Lister said that increased electric train services through the district were positive for the environment, but were offset by the increase in the number of services not stopping at Thatcham.
“What we currently understand is the new service does not have more trains stopping at Thatcham, he said.
“All that’s going to do is create an increase in the barriers being down and create more congestion.”
The document also requests that West Berkshire Council specifies guidance and enforces building net zero carbon standards on new developments and to ensure that appropriate land is allocated for renewable energy schemes.
A grant for introducing electric charging points in council-controlled car parks also features.
Mr Lister admitted that a lot of the actions were outside of the town council’s control, but added that everyone would need to work together to tackle the issue.
“We can set our own guidelines,” he said.
“Our view is we have a voice that we want to be heard.
“We do need the whole planning process to improve and have the same aspirations that we have.
“We can’t do this by ourselves, it requires action from individuals, district council and national level.
“Where we have some level of influence we will try and take this seriously and move this forward.
“I don’t believe there are any electric charging points in public car parks in Thatcham.
“I know there are some in Newbury, but nothing is coming to Thatcham.
“We need take some responsibility with that going forward.”
Councillors are also discussing a green directory which lists companies’ environmental credentials and it is assessing provision for secure cycle parking in public car parks, commuter hubs and retail centres.
Reviewing bus routes and cycle routes is also in the draft document.
Topics on how the town council can reduce its carbon footprint, plastic usage, education and community engagement are yet to be written.
Looking ahead, Mr Lister said he wanted to firm up and seek approval on recommendations and to try to “guide developers toward what we think is acceptable”.
He added: “We can’t do it alone, so we are reaching out to the community to enforce this aspiration.”