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Greens slam council's environment strategy

Party criticises 'vague inspirations with little sense of how they are to be achieved'

Jonathan Ashby

Jonathan Ashby

jonathan.ashby@newburynews.co.uk

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01635 886637

Greens say environment strategy is 'uninspiring'

WEST Berkshire Green Party has criticised the district council’s draft environment strategy – labelling it “uninspiring”.

Although the party said it appreciated the work the Conservative-led council had put into the strategy and welcomed many of the ideas, it said there were too many vague aspirations and not enough concrete targets.

The council’s strategy – which was unveiled in January – aims to make the district carbon neutral by 2030.

It features initiatives such as installing more solar panels across the district and increasing the number of charging points for electric vehicles.

However on Tuesday, the Green Party published a nine-page response to the strategy in which it slammed the council for being too timid in its proposals.

The party added that there was nothing in the strategy inspiring West Berkshire residents to commit to the project.

In particular, the Green Party describe the strategy’s suggestions for improving the transport infrastructure simply as “vague inspirations with little sense of how they are to be achieved”.

Instead, the party has published a number of its own proposals.

It proposes a zone-centred traffic plan by 2021 with a significant increase in electric vehicle charging points, making council cars fully electric by 2025, introducing a parking levy on places of work with 10 or more parking spaces to pay for improvements in public transport and re-establish subsidised bus services to villages.

It also suggests that the London Road Industrial Estate should be turned into West Berkshire’s first Green Development Zone – a fully sustainable mixture of housing, businesses and sporting use.

The party’s response also drills in on clean air in West Berkshire, accusing the council of being uninterested in “low-emission or zero-emission zones, or, to be blunt, any measure that might be seen as too radical or upset the status quo”.

The party proposes that the council should develop a Clean Air Strategy for West Berkshire and set a target for a clean air zone in the centre of Newbury.

Specifically, it wants Northbrook Street and the northern end of Bartholomew Street completely traffic free by a specified date and suggests Clean Air Day on June 18, 2020, as an appropriate target. 

The party also offers a raft of proposals on other elements of the strategy.

These include:

  • Introducing new safe cycling and walking routes;
  • Abolishing the green bin charge and permit scheme, eliminating all single-use plastics by 2030 and a big increase in food waste recycling;
  • Installing solar energy on every council building, including schools, alongside other energy efficiency measures;
  • Establishing a citizens’ assembly, with representatives from all ages and social groups across the district to work with the council on delivering its strategy;
  • The council appointing a senior climate change officer responsible for coordinating and prioritising policies to achieve zero carbon by 2030;
  • A new forum involving local farmers and landowners to explore measures to reduce the negative environmental impact of agriculture and encourage biodiversity;
  • Doubling tree cover across West Berkshire by 2030.

Chair of West Berkshire Green Party and leader of the Green group on West Berkshire Council Carolyne Culver said: “The council’s draft strategy is uninspiring.

“There is nothing that acknowledges the scale of the task or the fact that our goal can only be achieved if there are radical changes in the way we all live and behave.

“It will take vision and imagination, but if we work together there are real practical benefits for our communities – in health, in wellbeing and in the quality of our environment.”

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Article comments

  • NewburyResident

    20/02/2020 - 09:49

    And there plans for everything else apart from penalising the motorist? Diddly squat! Vote Green and have all big and medium size business leave West Berkshire! Then we residents can drive miles to work - that will be good won't it!

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