No COP Out: Council must make ‘practical and time-bound commitments’ to tackle climate change

As the world’s leading politicians meet in Glasgow for the COP-26 conference to renew their commitments to address climate change, the Oldham Liberal Democrats called on Oldham Council to make some local commitments to reach Net Zero.

Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader Councillor Chris Gloster, who is the party’s Shadow Cabinet Member for Finance and Low Carbon, proposed an amendment to a motion at Wednesday’s meeting of the Full Council (3 November) listing a series of measures that Oldham should commit to as an authority ‘ambitious to become a carbon neutral council by 2025 and a carbon neutral borough by 2030’.

Commenting Councillor Gloster said: “The Liberal Democrats first called on the Council to declare a climate emergency in July 2019 and the Council subsequently adopted a new green plan for the borough. We have made some progress, but we need to do more, and we need to do this more quickly, if we are to prevent the adverse impact of climate change becoming irreversible. As a local authority we need to lead by example, and 2025, and even 2030, are not long off.”

The Liberal Democrats propose a series of actions that the Council, with its public and business partners, should seek to deliver to achieve its ambition; these are to:

  • Deliver the town centre heat network proposals once the money is found.
  • Support the development of other renewable energy and battery storage projects, either alone or with private or public sector partners and communities, within the borough.
  • Reduce the carbon footprint of its estate and vehicle fleet by divesting itself of surplus or energy-inefficient properties, retrofitting existing buildings, investing in solar and other renewable technology to light and heat its estate, and replacing diesel-petrol powered vehicles with electric, hydrogen or hybrid models wherever possible.
  • Retrofit all streetlamps over time with more efficient and less costly LED lights.
  • Work with public and private sector partners to accelerate the provision of electric vehicle charging points across the borough.
  • Deliver 20mph zones to reduce vehicle speed, increase public safety and improve air quality.
  • Increase tree coverage in the borough by retaining existing trees and engaging in the extensive planting of new woodland, particularly of native variants.
  • Work to make this authority single plastic-use free.
  • Work with supermarket retailers to establish reverse vending machine sites in the borough.
  • Establish new planning guidance under the Local Plan requiring developers to achieve higher standards of insulation, take account of the impact of heatwaves and flooding, provide for greater in-situ self-generation of power and heat (through renewable technologies), and make provision for on-site electric vehicle charging points.

Liberal Democrat Councillor Louie Hamblett seconded the amendment.

He said: “Our amendment represents a practical ‘shopping list’ of actions. Liberal Democrats have raised these ideas previously in correspondence and in private meetings with the Administration, and in discussions at Council.

“The possibility of a town centre heat network plan was first suggested at a Council meeting by Liberal Democrat Group Leader Councillor Sykes. Several have also been the subject of past motions we have brought to Council, such as becoming ‘single plastic use free’ and instituting 20mph zones. This is not an exhaustive list, but it does represent a way forward that is positive and achievable.”

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