DRAFT plans for the council to tackle the climate change emergency are approved unanimously – but some key stakeholders have withdrawn their support.

The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead (RBWM) Council declared a climate change emergency in June 2019 where it was committed to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050 and reduce energy consumption by 21 per cent.

In a report presented by the lead member for environmental services and climate change, councillor Donna Stimson (Conservative: St Mary’s), said the draft paper was ‘not perfect’ and is an evolving climate strategy where more ideas and actions to tackle the emergency will be added later on.

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The strategy – which was created by cross-party working group – is based around four key areas which includes:

  • Circular economy – reduce waste consumption, increase material re-use and increase recycling rates in the borough.
  • Energy – reduce energy consumption and decarbonise supply.
  • Natural environment – cleaner air, higher water quality and increased biodiversity.
  • Transport – Enable sustainable transport choices by encouraging more active travel such as walking or cycling.

Other ideas include planting 15,000 trees across the borough by 2025, support community led renewable projects, launch a car sharing scheme, and trial a ‘smart city’ concept in the borough by 2023.

A public consultation will be conducted in July to help form a finalised strategy to be brought back to council in six months’ time to be approved and then implemented.

During public questions to cabinet members, Sarah Bowden from RBWM Climate Emergency Coalition campaign group said she will withdraw her support from the council for a ‘lack of urgency’ and to put more time into more efficient ways of tackling the climate emergency.

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Cllr Stimson said: “There are people who have different views from us – but they bring enormous experience to us and I look forward to working with our stakeholders.

“You can hear that we aren’t always on the same page – but this is what makes us better that we got different views and we try and agitate to give us the best possible borough that we can have.

“I will miss Sarah Bowden – but she has done an extraordinary job getting us where we are today.”

The opposing Independents and Liberal Democrats voted in favour of the strategy and called it ‘a good starting point’ – but suggested further actions the council can take to tackle the climate emergency.

West Windsor Residents Association councillor, Wisdom Da Costa (Clewer and Dedworth West) said: “Residents and stakeholders feel like they’ve not been listened to.

“The stakeholders are starting to disengage and stop supporting the council. The one world-renowned expert has even called this council and this paper ‘hapless’ and has withdrawn his support.

“We got to address this issue and involve residents and collaborate because we’re all in this together.”

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He suggested three main objectives the strategy should go for such as having a target to be net zero carbon by 2030/2040, protect and restore biodiversity’s as, at least, a quarter of UK mammals are facing extinction, and develop climate change resilience for extreme weather.

Cllr Da Costa also suggested these three points should be embedded in the borough local plan and planning documents.

In support of the draft strategy, councillor Karen Davies (Liberal Democrats: Clewer East) – who seconded the report – said: “A year ago, I argued that we should be setting a target date of 2030 as many councils have – but in this strategy there is a clear acknowledgement that 2050 is a backstop date and the target date must be brought forward as and when this becomes possible.”