Bath's climate action plan moving 'at a snail's pace'

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image captionCouncillors asked to be patient over Bath and North East Somerset's carbon neutral goals

Almost no progress has been made towards Bath becoming a carbon-neutral area, councillors have claimed.

In March 2019, Bath and North East Somerset Council declared a climate emergency, pledging to provide "leadership enabling the area to be carbon neutral by 2030".

Scrutiny councillors said work had been done "at a snail's pace" and a lack of data had made progress hard to track.

The council's corporate sustainability manager asked for patience.

The UK parliament declare a climate emergency in May 2019 and councils across the country UK made their own declarations, committing to plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions and reduce energy consumption.

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image captionMany UK councils declared a "climate emergency" following a series of protests in 2019

Bath and North East Somerset Council completed the first phase of its climate action plan in October 2019, mapping its carbon footprint.

It said there were three key areas for action:

  • Improving buildings' energy efficiency and only allowing zero-carbon new build projects
  • Creating a "major shift to public transport, cycling and walking to reduce transport emissions"
  • Seeing a "rapid and large-scale increase in local renewable energy production"

It also set out a 43-point plan of policies, procurement choices and public grants that it aimed to adopt by 2021.

'Progress too slow'

Councillors responsible for overseeing the council's delivery on its climate plans have said little has been achieved.

One of them, Grant Johnson, said: "It is very disappointing how far we've got. In a couple of years we haven't done anything. I can't think of many things we've actually really achieved."

Criticism also came from former cabinet member for transport Joanna Wright, who said "political rhetoric" from her party's administration about planting 100,000 trees by 2023 made the public think that "deals with the problem".

Councillor Sarah Warren, the cabinet member for climate emergency, said that planting trees was only one strand of the council's work, but added that "trying to create a whole industry around retrofitting houses is a much harder and more nebulous thing".

Corporate sustainability manager Jane Wildblood said: "We had a pandemic in the middle of it all and it did sort of throw all our plans up into the air."

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