Call for wider Calderdale community to be involved in shaping climate change plan

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The wider community and not just the council should be involved in drafting a plan to deal with climate change as it affects Calderdale, a working party heard.

In the new municipal year after the May elections Calderdale Council’s Cabinet will consider proposals to change its climate change working party into a multi-agency climate action partnership.

Cabinet member for Climate Change and Resilience, Coun Scott Patient (Lab, Luddenden Foot) told the working party the partnership should have a “direct line” and the ability to make recommendations to Cabinet and full council, including cross-political group councillor membership.

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A climate change action plan was now being developed with the borough having a zero carbon target date of 2038 with significant progress to be made by 2030, said Coun Patient.

Traffic on the M62Traffic on the M62
Traffic on the M62

“Hopefully, at the other end we will come out with an action plan fit for purpose, and fit for Calderdale,” he said.

Developing an emissions reduction pathway would be a key focus when developing the plan – in January 2020 consultants Element Energy were commissioned to draft a study to provide baseline figures for carbon dioxide released into the borough directly or indirectly.

This was providing value-based data sets, said Coun Patient.

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But Anthony Rae, of Calderdale Friends of the Earth, said a transport task group should be added to those drafting the plan because actions which were outlined, while important, did not deliver reductions in transport tonnage – halved by 2030 – that would be fundamental to achieving the pathway.

It was a pessimistic view, but better to know it, said Mr Rae, and numbers must be embedded into the pathway from the start.

Work on the plan to co-create Calderdale’s Climate Action Plan began in January this year and the panel heard there were two initial workshops held by the Climate Change Working Party to define outcomes, with a recommendation from members and co-optees to establish a three-year action plan (2022-2025) to ensure focus and swift action while also formulating plans for medium and long term issue.

Working groups were addressing themes which include: a “shared voice”, providing an overview and responding to feedback from schemes, providing a link to regional and national ideas and actions as well as establishing a lobbying arm; skills needed for a green economy; ways in which the community can be involved in taking climate action; challenges around retrofitting

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Calderdale homes to make them more energy-efficient, working with local builders; sustainable transport; developing natural flood management; and growing healthy food locally.

Climate and environment Action Plans have already been published by the

Yorkshire and Humber Climate Commission and Leeds City Region but the Calderdale plan will suit local circumstances, the panel heard.

This will consider specific challenges the borough has in terms of its historic economy and existing assets – beautiful, solid, stone build properties but expensive to insulate, a wealth of small and medium sized businesses, local strengths in manufacturing, communities who live in the valley bottom near Calderdale’s arterial road, rail, river and canal network and those who live on the tops and hills in more rural settings.

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It must respond to Calderdale’s unique flood risk and identify how widespread action can result in more effective natural flood management and biodiversity improvements in a landscape which has seen historic heavy industry and pollution.

And communities have to have a say in how this future should be shaped, including businesses and voluntary groups.

As well as Mr Rae’s view that a group considering transport issues was crucial, Coun Colin Hutchinson (Lab, Skircoat) and Prof Peter Roberts both said how industry might develop was important, and Prof Roberts said small and medium sized businesses would require help.

“Big businesses are already taking on challenges because their investors will require it – it is small and medium sized enterprises who do not have specialised staff that need help and support,” he said.

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Prof Roberts said actions had to embedded in all aspects of life, thinking and acting locally and globally at all levels, and this meant involving all the community.

Rob Baylis said food as an issue was as important as transport to address.

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