MIDDLESBROUGH: Plan aims to make town net carbon neutral by 2039
Middlesbrough Council has adopted a new ‘green strategy’ which aims to make the authority net carbon neutral in the next eight years and ensure the same for the town by 2039.
It follows a public consultation, the results of which were overwhelmingly in favour of such a strategy, albeit with only a limited number of responses being received.
A report said the council had a “moral and legal responsibility” to address climate change and reduce carbon issues and taking no action was not a viable option.
It said the green strategy would also help meet Middlesbrough Mayor Andy Preston’s priority of ensuring the town became a leader on environmental issues.
Key approaches include increasing energy savings within homes and businesses, moving towards greener transport and encouraging cycling within the town, increasing levels of recycling and sustainably managing and promoting green spaces.
Within the first 12 months of the plan the council wants to host a climate conference with its partners, gain ‘World Tree City’ status, plant 15,000 trees, sew 30,000 square metres of urban flower meadows, work with businesses to reduce commercial waste and roll out mandatory climate change training to all staff.
Other objectives include installing electric charging stations across Middlesbrough, delivering an ‘eco festival’, developing two new nature reserves along with clean air zones, and expanding the council’s electric vehicle fleet.
Mr Preston told a meeting of the council’s executive it had the most ambitious carbon emission targets of any of its neighbouring authorities.
He said: “I think we can actually even improve on what we have set over time.
“You can have all the economic growth that you need, but you have to look after the environment for everyone’s physical and mental health.”
Councillor Brian Hubbard welcomed the strategy, but said how it was implemented was the “acid test”.
Cllr Hubbard, a member of Middlesbrough Independent Councillors’ Association, said the council was “relentlessly pushing forward with destroying the pond on Centre Square” and also possibly building a spine road through Mandale meadow, which is opposed by campaigners.
Mr Preston said he believed the land on which the pond sits was not in possession or the legal control of the council.
He said: “If the people or the town want to stop development on the pond it will be up to the planning process to determine and the public can make their voices heard.
“With regards to Mandale meadow, we don’t want to build a road, it’s expensive and will add to pollution.
“The challenge is that sometimes roads like this are absolutely necessary and it’s in the Local Plan so if somebody comes forward and wants to build the road they can legitimately do that without significant challenge from the council.
“The way that people can stop a potential road is again in the planning process when planning permission is applied for.”
The council executive also approved an amended tree policy, which was first adopted in 2016 and covers the management of trees in the borough, also providing advice to residents dealing with tree-related issues.
Councillor Barrie Cooper, the executive member for the environment, finance and governance, said the aim was to create a positive perception of the town and make it “look and feel amazing”.
He said it was important the tree policy was reviewed and amended to ensure it remained in line with legislation and best practice.
Words: Stuart Arnold, Local Democracy Reporter
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