By Cllr Andy Croy
None of the actions in the Plan are – in themselves – bad.
As a shopping list of individual actions they are fine, we all want more trees, greener energy and fewer cars on our roads.
But the items in the plan will not get the borough anywhere near carbon neutrality by 2030. The carbon savings against individual items do not add up to the carbon savings we need to see.
For nearly a year I have been asking for a carbon budget to be included in the Plan.
Instead, the Tories have wasted that time talking about how great the plan was going to be.
As recently as May, the carbon budget was not fit for purpose. The budgeting should have been front and centre of the plan instead it has been tacked on at the last minute.
There is a sneaking suspicion that the tardiness around the carbon numbers – and the fixing of a July reporting date – was in some way linked the local elections which should have happened in May.
It would have been far, far better for the Conservatives to fight that election with some cherry-picked headline numbers and media-friendly projects rather than with the detailed carbon budget presented at council.
It is said that no plan survives contact with the enemy. In this instance, the enemy is maths.
The plan simply does not add up.
Line items do not always add to subtotals while sub totals are different to the totals presented in tables.
Depending on which numbers you use there are in fact three different totals – three different plans.
And none of these totals are big enough to close the carbon gap. This is the fundamental problem – the plan does not add up.
Even with the best will in the world, assuming all the assumptions are correct and all the targets are met and depending on which version of the plan you use, a third to a quarter of our carbon gap will not be fulfilled.
Looking at the targets in detail is even more dispiriting. There is evidence of targets being doubled for no other reason that the number needs to be bigger.
It is an interesting approach to budgeting and planning.
A more rigorous assessment of the targets in the plan could easily see the savings gap grow to 50% or more.
The ‘target’ saving associated with Electric Vehicle update is a fantasy and that one line is expected to deliver 20-25% of all the savings and there are other instances where the detail does not support the numbers.
Of course, a document like this is a living document and chunks of the plan could frankly be culled – this would allow officers time to focus on the things which will make a difference.
Of the milestones, 84 have no impact on carbon use, 29 of the actions have no impact,12 targets and four whole areas of the plan have no impact.
A third to a quarter of the plan using these metrics is empty space. It is almost like the plan has been padded out to include items that will look good on a press release but serve no other function.
If we in the Labour group of councillors supported this plan we would be sending the wrong message to residents.
We would be signalling that everything is okay and the Borough is on a path to Carbon neutrality. Everything is not okay.
The Borough is not on a path to Carbon neutrality. The Plan proves it.
Cllr Andy Croy is the Labour group leader on Wokingham Borough Council