Winchester City Council sets out actions to achieve ambitious carbon neutrality targets

The council’s Cabinet has today formally adopted a Carbon Neutrality Action Plan, following its declaration of a Climate Emergency in June this year.

The plan commits the council to review its own activities to reach carbon neutrality by 2024 – and sets the same ambitious goal for the wider district by 2030.

The aim is to reduce the carbon emissions that are cause climate change and to support environmental improvements in the district. The focus is on the biggest sources of carbon emissions – transport, property and energy. Progress will be measured and reported publicly.

To see the plan click here:  Carbon Neutrality Action Plan (pdf, 2.6mb)

Hampshire Chronicle Article:

Campaigners fear ‘many problems’ in Council’s plan to reduce carbon footprint.

CIVIC chiefs have faced criticism over a plan to reduce Winchester District’s carbon footprint.

Winchester City Council has laid out new plans for Carbon Neutrality Action Plan which aims to see the authority be carbon neutral by 2024 and the district by 2030.

Introducing the plan to cabinet, council leader Cllr Lucille Thompson said that “some very bold targets” have been set.

Cllr Thompson continued: “But we recognise we cannot do all of this on our own and to make real improvements in the district as a whole and to ensure that we meet our ambitious 2030 target we will need the support of everyone. We will be collaborating with our partners, businesses, organisations and residents to encourage them to take an active part in this plan.

“This council will lead by example and by working with others we will be promoting the change we need.”

The authority has looked at ways that it will be able to take action on climate change in several areas including transport, energy and housing, along with offsetting, which includes planting new trees.

However, the plan as a whole drew much criticism from members of climate groups and councillors.

Bob Whitmarsh, of Winchester Action on Climate Change, thanked the council for taking the initiative but said he hoped that the group could offer some ideas that it believes will improve the plan.

Mr Whitmarsh said that the council’s two targets are interwoven throughout the plan which “sometimes confuse the picture”.

He continued: “We are also disconcerted by the almost casual mention of using offsetting to reach carbon neutrality. There are many problems with offsetting. WinACC’s view is that offsetting is not a cure for climate change; the only effective way to combat clime change is to directly reduce our emissions by changing how we live.”

This was reiterated by opposition Conservative councillor Caroline Brook said that she believes the plan “doesn’t go anywhere near far enough”.

“This paper continues to seek ways of sustaining our lifestyle when in reality the only route to carbon neutrality is changing our not sustainable lifestyles,” and Cllr Stephen Godfrey said: “There is no sense of urgency about this plan”.

Peter Todd, on behalf of Extinction Rebellion Winchester, congratulated the council, but said: “The action plan doesn’t read as if you believe that we face extinction.

“The climate emergency must take priority. The actions set out in the plan will not reach your targets.”

But Cllr Kelsie Learney said: “While it is urgent we need to be doing things now and in eight years’ time, and those things we are doing in eight years’ time will not be the same things as we are doing to do and to a great extent some of them may well be unpredictable.”

She added: “We do recognise that we need to keep developing the action plan to deal with the district’s emissions….but working with others is going to be key.

“I do think it is a shame that Conservative councillors have been so political about this because I think we need to welcome the fact that this is moving forward.”

Councillors approved the plan, along with £100,000 for project feasibility research by University of Southampton and retro-fitting of efficiency measures on its housing stock.