AS COUNCILLORS prepare to officially unveil their Climate Emergency Action Plan at a council meeting this evening, Wokingham Liberal Democrats are setting out their alternative ideas to green up the borough.
Under the action plan, Wokingham Borough Council aims to make the borough carbon neutral by 2030.
Ideas, as exclusively revealed in The Wokingham Paper of January 2, include boosting solar energy, launching a green bank to enable residents to fund eco-enhancements to schools and creating an energy company.
The Liberal Democrats said that while the party welcomed the council’s decision to declare a Climate Emergency in July last year, it had undertaken its own, independent research in the steps necessary to green-up the borough.
In a statement, they said they would introduce more robust monitoring of air pollution across the borough including nitrogen dioxide, and other pollutants such as particulate matter, which have a massive negative impact on our air quality.
Cllr Sarah Kerr said: “Given that a recent report published by the council states that we are below regional and national averages for young children being hospitalised for respiratory tract infections, means this is something we need to urgently tackle. This monitoring would not only help the council to identify the real problem areas to enable it to provide solutions, but it could further investigate being used to inform the borough’s residents, potentially through an app, of where poor air quality areas are, so they can make conscious choices to avoid those areas when pollution is particularly high.”
The proposal to launch a borough council-owned energy company is endorsed by the Lib Dems. It pledges to support solar farms and other areas of renewable energy production, such as ground source heating.
Deputy leader Cllr Clive Jones said: “This has been our policy for a number of years. We are aware that there are a number of pitfalls with a scheme like this and will ensure that we fully scrutinise any plans that we propose and look at best practice across the local authority sector.”
The party is also looking at ensuring there is a ready supply of native tree species as councils and housebuilders aim to plant more of them in a bid to suck up carbon emissions.
And they are also looking at transport options.
Cllr Paul Fishwick, the highways spokesperson for the Liberal Democrats, said: “The next generation of electric vehicles is arriving on the market in the next few years, and we will work to get a much-improved infrastructure to support this. However, longer term, we recognise that what we need to aspire to do is to reduce reliance of private car use, and will work to achieve this.
“There are many methods we would consider, including further rolling out of the car club scheme in more urban areas, where residents share a pool of cars that they can hire out as and when required.
“Other measures would include improving the infrastructure for sustainable travel methods such as walking and cycling, and investigating better ways of utilising public transport.”