Environment and Climate

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“We are the first generation to know we are destroying the environment and the last generation with a chance to do something about it.” Barack Obama, Former US President quoting Jay Inslee Governor of Washington State

What is the challenge?

If we fail to act, all nations will suffer the impacts of floods, storms, heatwaves, droughts, food shortages, rising food prices and infectious diseases. We must act now to avoid the worst impacts.

What will we do?

Wiltshire should not only play its part in responding to the climate crisis but lead by example, creating a clean, green, sustainable environment for our community. This is why Liberal Democrats led Wiltshire Council’s decision to acknowledge the climate emergency and to seek to make the county carbon neutral by 2030.

We will declare a wider environmental crisis as well as a climate crisis, as we can see the ecology and biodiversity of our planet are as much under threat from human activity as the global climate and the two are deeply connected. 

We see this declaration being threaded through all Wiltshire Council policies as well as being incorporated into all management operations, decision making and future planning. A Liberal Democrat administration on Wiltshire Council will see the  new Wiltshire Climate Strategy developed and implemented to reach our targets for a Zero Carbon Wiltshire by 2030.

In Wiltshire, a Liberal Democrat Council will:

Communicate the Emergency

Communicating the Climate and Ecological Emergency (CEE) to the general public, outside of committed activists, at every opportunity, and using every council building - office, school, library -  and every newsletter and public communication, including road signs until the wider public sees the council acting as if there is a real emergency. There will be a commitment to ensure that the CEE is on every agenda for every council meeting, to ensure the issue is constantly kept visible. The biggest lesson from the COVID-19 Pandemic is that the precautionary principle was not observed, and at nearly every stage the Government reacted too slowly and too late, and have been catching up and responding to events, rather than keeping the initiative. If we wait for the climate and ecological emergency to fully unfold it will be much too late.

Council investments

Wiltshire Council will have a policy to cut investments under its control in companies that produce or use fossil fuels and to use its influence to push for a faster switch to low-carbon energy.  

A just transition 

Wiltshire Council will support people on low incomes to ensure everyone has access to better insulation and affordable heat in their homes, and to affordable carbon neutral public transport. Also to help people whose jobs may be at risk by a switch to greener policies, with reference to re-training and job creation including insulating and retro-fitting the existing housing stock. 

Policy & Planning

  • Talk with people and organisations, including the National Farmers Union, town and parish councils and local environmental groups in a county-wide conversation on green policies;
  • Work with local and national environmental groups, as well as other councils, to find appropriate local solutions and share best practice;
  • Following consultation, build climate-smart infrastructure – such as footpaths, cycling routes and public transport in partnership with town and parish Councils;
  • Ensure all new housing, commercial and industrial developments in the county are zero-carbon by changing planning priorities and protocols;
  • Include transport in the working forum with neighbouring counties to improve infrastructure (see planning priorities).
  • Embed local transport networks as a key factor in revising Wiltshire’s local plan with a focus on building communities rather than simply providing housing (see planning priorities).

Renewable Energy

  • Promote low carbon energy production and storage, including community energy schemes;
  • Install solar photovoltaic (PV) systems on all council property, where possible, including the council’s farms.
  • Energy use: Following Wiltshire Council’s acknowledgement of global warming and the Climate Emergency thanks to the Liberal Democrat lead motion of February 2019, the Council has switched to obtaining its energy from 100% renewable sources of electricity. This policy will continue along with efforts to reduce still further our use of energy, and to generate more renewable energy in the county.

Biodiversity

  • Seek nature-based solutions - enhancing green spaces, planting trees and encouraging climate-friendly agriculture; restoring high-carbon soils, restoring carbon-absorbing habitats to invest in regeneration and resilience of ecosystems; and recognising natural ‘bio-regions’ that support bio-diversity;
  • Invest in a county-wide tree planting scheme for currently open spaces with diverse species and initiate a "Replace the Ash" scheme to work with and encourage buy-in from land / woodland owners and coordination with community groups in the county who would enable the project to access both funds and manpower.
  • Ensure 25% native tree cover in all new housing developments;
  • Proactively promote biodiversity on all council land, including promoting wildflower growth along roadsides building on current pilots and on Wiltshire Council owned land, and ensuring that three trees are planted whenever one tree has to be felled;
  • Seek to make Wiltshire Council owned farms and countryside sites role models for leading ecological/organic management in the county and beyond, as well as contributing to the county’s zero-carbon status by 2030; working in partnership with the Soil Association, the Biodynamic Association and the NFU to promote best practice in reaching zero-carbon by 2030.
  • Work with national initiatives such as ‘The Queen's Green Canopy’, to plant trees to celebrate the Queen’s platinum Jubilee and Wiltshire Wildlife’s 30 by 30 ‘Wildbelt’ campaign, to ensure that 30% of our land is managed for nature and biodiversity.

Zero carbon, Waste & Pollution

  • Commit to a series of interim emission-reduction targets to achieve zero-carbon status by 2030.
  • Eliminating all single-use plastics on council owned property unless bottle collection systems are installed with a deposit.
  • Initiate the cyclical plastic economy in Wiltshire in partnership with the private sector and supermarkets to facilitate the chemical recycling of single use plastics used in food wrapping and artificial fibre based clothing.
  • Invest in increased eco-friendly recycling with the aim of reaching total recycling and zero landfill by 2030.
  • Introduce a moratorium on the incineration of waste, unless and until its use is proven to be absolutely necessary in the light of the latest evidence (private sector, academic & Environment Agency);
  • Install air quality monitors for industry and traffic: with clean air zones, restrictions on ‘idling’ engines outside schools and action to encourage commercial vehicles to use trunk roads to avoid towns.

Immediate Priorities

  • Work with council officers, environmental groups, energy, transport and other providers to draw up a more detailed roadmap to carbon neutrality by 2030.
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