Improvements to Calderdale highway plans could be affected by carbon audit, claims campaigner

A West Yorkshire review of the impact some highways projects may have on carbon reduction targets might affect some of Calderdale council’s schemes, claims a campaigner.

Saturday, 13th March 2021, 7:00 am

Friends of the Earth’s Anthony Rae told members of Calderdale Council’s Climate Change Working Party the council should be prepared to cancel or modify any of its West Yorkshire Combined Authority funded corridor improvement schemes if the audit showed the impact would be adverse.

Major schemes include those along the A58/A672 from Junction 22 of the M62 at Ripponden to King Cross in Halifax and the A646/A6033 from Todmorden to Skircoat Moor.

Mr Rae said that at the climate working party’s November meeting he had posed a question about what Calderdale Friends of the Earth argue is inconsistency between the council’s draft Local Plan – with a third set of hearings into the plan due to begin this spring – and its declaration of a climate emergency, which needed radical reductions in carbon emissions.

King Cross in Halifax

“Friends of the Earth doesn’t think it will bring about a carbon reduction,” he said.

He said the Corridor Improvement Programmes underpinned the Local Plan.

Mr Rae said he knew the issue was raised at a meeting of WYCA’s Green Economy Panel last Friday, with a question asked about when a carbon impact assessment audit would be completed.

This is being carried out by consultants Mott Macdonald.

Mr Rae said there was an agreed opt out for some schemes which, as a question from WYCA panel’s chair had clarified, would be those which had reached contract stage – these would not be included in the audit.

The climate change panel knew from work done by consultants Element Energy that transport emissions had to reduce by about half, from around 400,000 tonnes or above to 200,000 tonnes in 2030 to meet targets.

Given that, he asked if Calderdale was prepared to consider the results of the green panel audit and anticipate the fact that presumably many of the corridor schemes will be included in it, and that it will find out the carbon impact on those schemes.

“In Calderdale anticipating these schemes will face an audit and if it is found out they are incompatible with reductions in transport carbon emissions, is it prepared to contemplate cancellations or modifications of those schemes?

“I am trying to put the council on notice that the contradiction I talked about is likely to come into effect and be visible.

“I would like the council to be preparing for that, identifying those not yet at contract stage and preparing to start to review this,” said Mr Rae.

Climate panel chair Coun Scott Patient (Lab, Luddenden Foot), who is also the council’s Cabinet member for Climate Change and Resilience, took the point and said it would certainly be remiss, in terms of anything the council did in the future, not to take the results of that report into account.

“I can certainly guarantee we will make a robust response to anything in there,” he said.

He said he hoped a more detailed written response might allay some of Mr Rae’s fears.