SWTC actions to reduce climate change - news update

Saffron Walden Town Council Climate Change:

At its Full Council meeting on 8th April 2019, Saffron Walden Town Council (SWTC) resolved to declare a climate emergency and committed to the following: 

  1. To continue to work with the local community, business, schools and the district and county councils with the intention to make Saffron Walden and Essex Carbon Neutral by 2050 following recommendations from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
  2. To commit to continued working with other local authority organisations and appropriate government departments to determine and implement best practice methods to limit Global Warming to less than one and half degrees Celsius.
  3. Determines to place this issue on Council Committee agendas to agree strategies and action plans.

In considering local initiatives and actions, the Council further agreed that it should:

  • aim to create a truly green town, with new open spaces, more trees, reduced use of plastics and improved connectivity for walking and cycling;
  • aim to ensure that new homes are built to high environmental standards to reduce carbon emissions and to make them affordable to run;
  • take positive measures to reduce the illegal levels of pollution by improving monitoring, cycling and public transport, increasing vehicle charging points and pushing for road changes, noting the Public Health England advice that they are no safe levels of air pollution;
  • support allotments and local food production;
  • continue to move towards the use of electric rather than petrol- or diesel-powered vehicles and tools;
  • endeavour to hold other authorities to account for their part in this.

In October 2019 and in light of the growing need for communities to act, and to act now, the Town Council amended its resolution; aiming to be carbon neutral by 2030.

Recognising that words are cheap and easy, the Town Council is aware that a climate change declaration must be backed up and supported by actual, local tangible action; otherwise there is no point.  To that end, SWTC has undertaken the following: 

  • Reduced mowing and hedge cutting in its public open spaces, allowing the growth of flora and fauna
  • Working with the local church in its furtherance of becoming an “Eco-Church”, in the creation of wildflower areas
  • Prohibited the use of glyphosate in Town Council managed green spaces
  • Planting of new hedges and trees.  We hosted a community tree planting day in November 2019, attracting over 50 community volunteers.  A great time was had by all with another scheduled for November/December 2020
  • Purchase of battery-operated gardening tools and equipment (rather than petrol); this is not only having a positive impact on the environment but also is of benefit to our employees
  • Replacement of petrol and diesel vans and cars with electric vehicles
  • To continue supporting allotments and the provision of local food produce.  We will provide allotments to both the public and the community.  We will continue working with Dig-it Community Group in their outreach projects with the provision of allotment space.  We will support local food producers through our market and retail sales at the Tourist Information Centre
  • Built and installed bird and bat boxes
  • Supported litter campaigns and local walk to school days
  • Removed the use of plastic cups in all our venues
  • Installed 10 drinking fountains in and around the town centre

Whilst we do not have any power or authority over the creation of green spaces, we lobby developers and the local planning authority to improve the quality and value of public spaces in new developments.  As a principle, the Town Council will adopt new public open space to ensure that it is maintained and managed in an appropriate and environmentally friendly manner. 

We lobby Essex County Council (the local Highway Authority) to improve connectivity for walking and cycling in and around town.  We are clear and forthright about what action must be taken to achieve a greener, cleaner town.  We make representations in new planning applications to try to ensure the Department of Transport’s hierarchy of use is maintained in putting pedestrians first and cyclists second.  We ask developers to provide porous and easy access from their development into town.

We work alongside and support local community groups and activity related to environmental protection and preservation.  We supported local young people in 2019 when they held a climate change demonstration, we engage with an environmental community group, Saffron Walden Against Climate Change (SWACC).

The Town Council promoted the “Clean Air Day” in October 2020, raising local awareness and asking people to make a change or commitment to their way of life to improve local air quality.  Our market stall was very well received with residents pledging to make tangible changes to their ways of life in order to protect our world.

We have commissioned a carbon audit report to assess the Council’s current carbon footprint, this will identify the particular areas where further improvements can be made in our working practices and how we can achieve our net zero target. 

The Town Council acknowledges there is still much to do but that every little step and every individual contribution helps towards reducing our global impact on climate change.  To quote from David Attenborough “Real success can only come if there is a change in our societies and in our economics and in our politics”.  Saffron Walden Town Council remains committed to reducing its carbon emissions and will continue to work with and support individuals and community groups in their efforts to this same goal. 

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Posted on 20/10/2020