THE CLIMATE CHANGE CLOCK IS TICKING AND WE NEED TO BE AHEAD OF TIME
An easy headline to write, much more difficult to implement. So much lies behind it.
Southend-on-Sea Borough Council declared a Climate Change Emergency in 2019 and then Covid hit - the best laid plans of mice and men went out the window. Although plenty has been going on in the background, for obvious reasons somethings have been delayed.
We have though approved our Green City Action Plan, a new Tree Policy, a new policy on electric vehicle (EV) charging in new developments and the major project of our new Local Plan, which is shortly entering its second phase of consultation.
Our Local Plan is vital to the green future of the Borough. The biggest challenge is the possibility of having to use our precious Green Belt to fulfil the Government's ridiculous housing requirements. Of course discussion of the Plan was followed swiftly by local Tory opposition to even consulting in accordance with the rules. (The local Tories want to encourage us to breach legal obligations.) We want to build houses for our residents, of course we do, but not in the numbers required and not at the expense of our Green Belt - on that the Council is united. But we have to go through these procedures while at the same time challenging the Government figures.
Southend will soon be engaging a Climate Change Officer to ensure a cross-Council unified approach to tackling the problems and to work with partners and other organisations to make sure that we do create a Better Greener Southend. And local Lib Dem councillors are leading the way with the Portfolio for Environment, Culture, Tourism & Planning, by which we can ensure that there is joined-up thinking, co-operative working practices and a greener future in a Borough that is already leading the way on recovery.
Climate Change is ever present on our TV and in the papers and it is clear with recent events it is more crucial to tackle it than ever.
In October the long heralded COP26 will take place in Glasgow and this is the Government's opportunity to make a real difference with an ambitious programme going forward - but will they?
They need to look at all areas across the climate range and that includes some knotty problems like air pollution, aviation noise, sea level rise and transport to name but four.
Councils around the country are struggling with the fallout from the pandemic, Government grants have not covered that effect and many councils are in financial difficulty. Southend through prudent fiscal measures has fared better than most, but it can't be sustained unless we get the support from Government that we need to recover AND tackle climate change.
The Lib Dems have always had the greenest of credentials and our new National Green Recovery Plan shows this well in its clear focus on bringing the nation up to scratch in climate change terms whilst ensuring that our recovery is Green-led and Green sustainable.
We're sick of years of Conservative complacency on the climate. So back the Lib Dem's Green Recovery Plan.
This year alone, the Tories bungled and then scrapped the Green Homes Grant, making heating our homes more pricey and fuel poverty a greater risk. Not only that, they've slashed grants for electric vehicles. That's kept them prohibitively expensive for too many British people.
The Lib Dems green recovery plan is what a climate crisis response should look like. It contains provisions to:
- Save our countryside
- Green every home
- Clean up our air
- Revolutionise British transport
- Kickstart the switch to green energy