Following the declaration of a climate emergency in October 2019, East Cambridgeshire District Council (ECDC) is moving forward with its environmental ambitions by seeking approval for its climate change strategy and action plan and setting out its bid for COVID-19 funding, to support “pop-up” cycling schemes.
The ECDC Environment and Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan, which will be considered at next week’s Operational Services Committee, is a result of a wider climate change motion which was presented and approved at last October’s Full Council meeting.
The Ideas Forum, a place to gather suggestions from residents, was created and promoted to residents online, through the local media and at Ely Markets.
The document has a two-pronged approach; to mitigate climate change and seek to boost the natural environment in the district.
The action plan focuses on what the Council can do to make a difference, but it also commits to facilitating the preparation of a district-wide plan, which will set out how residents and businesses can also do their bit. It is the Council’s hope, that with their assistance, the district-wide plan will be prepared and owned by residents and businesses.
Following proactive conversations at the recent Parish Forum, the Council is also committed to working with parish councils to create a parish-specific plan.
Cllr Anna Bailey, Leader of East Cambridgeshire District Council, said:
“The Council recognises the role we have to play in order to protect and improve the environment to safeguard it for future generations. Some measures are in the direct control of the Council and we will be doing all we can to make improvements; the majority of measures will need to happen together with our partners. Residents, parishes, the County Council, the Combined Authority and central Government must all work together to realise the changes we need.
“This action plan is just the first step to delivering what the climate change motion seeks to achieve.
“The COVID-19 pandemic, as awful as it has been and continues to be, has brought a collective examination of what is important in life with a new sense of increased value being placed on our natural environment and on the importance of having time to appreciate it.
“The recovery from the pandemic therefore requires us to think about a different future and to capture and nurture those positive things that people have experienced.
“This is a 30 year plan - work has already begun, but with a new collective focus and money coming from central Government we must seize the chance to accelerate delivery.”
Cllr David Ambrose Smith, Chairman of the Operational Services Committee at East Cambridgeshire District Council, said:
“Firstly I would like to thank residents for their contributions to our Ideas Forum.
We have tried to include as many ideas as possible in the Strategy and Action Plan.
“This week we are submitting our proposals to the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority for “pop up” cycle schemes across East Cambs. This opportunity has arisen from the new funding coming from central Government and this gives us the chance to kick start one element of this work in earnest.
“Schemes can be trialled and if successful, taken forward as permanent changes. This money must benefit the whole county and we hope we can get some quick wins for cycling and walking improvements in East Cambridgeshire.”
A list of 20 commitments for the upcoming year have been detailed within the report, this includes:
- A full review of the Council’s entire electricity and gas contracts, and, where practical to do so, amend to 100% renewable electricity tariffs and 100% carbon off-set gas tariffs as soon as possible
- Undertake a thorough appraisal of the potential to expand electric car charge points
- Prepare, consult and adopt two Supplementary Planning Documents (one on the Natural Environment and the second on Climate Change)
- Work proactively with the Combined Authority, as part of its recently launched Climate Change Independent Commission
- Finalise the Council’s bus, cycling and walking review (which commenced over winter 2019/20), and work with a wide variety of partners to try to implement its findings, taking advantage of new Government funds, linked to COVID-19 recovery, to boost cycling and walking infrastructure.