North Northamptonshire Council (NNC) has committed to becoming carbon neutral by 2030 - just over six months after voting against a bid to do so.
The Conservative-run authority has today (Monday) announced its target date for net zero emissions, having declared a climate emergency at a meeting in July.
At that meeting Green councillor Sarah Tubbs proposed a target date of 2030 for net zero carbon, only for ruling Conservatives to vote it down despite defunct predecessor authorities previously agreeing to it.
But now, seven months later, NNC has committed to the target date - much to the delight of the Green Alliance group.
Cllr Emily Fedorowycz (Green) said: “We tried to get the climate and environment emergency amended to set a date of 2030 at the full council in July 2021. However, it was voted down, so we are very glad to see this announcement and are grateful for the hard work that has gone on behind the scenes doing the carbon audit.
"A lot has changed since July, with COP26 and even more understanding of the threat we collectively face from our changing climate.
"As councillors we will continue pushing for the swift action on climate change that we need, and while a target of carbon neutrality by 2030 is admirable, we hope that can be achieved much earlier, possibly even seeing NNC become carbon negative by 2030.”
The council - subject to approval at the full council meeting February 24 - has proposed specific budget of £1m in funding over the next three years to tackle climate change. It is expected that elements of this funding will be used to develop a carbon management action plan and establish a climate change and environment strategy.
In the immediate term, the funding will also be used to roll out environmental awareness training for all elected members and staff in a phased approach, starting in March.
Cllr Harriet Pentland (Con), the council’s executive member for climate and green environment, said: “At a meeting of the council in July 2021, we declared a climate and environment emergency which was a very important commitment for us to make as a new council.
“At the time, we said that we would set a date for reaching carbon neutrality once we better understood our current carbon emissions by consolidating the position of our predecessor authorities - the most prudent approach to take. We are now in a place to give a realistic, whilst ambitious, timeframe by which we can reach this important goal.
“And while we have set a goal for 2030, addressing climate change is a much longer-term commitment that will require innovation and widespread change.”
Cllr Jason Smithers (Con), leader of the council, said: “I’m proud of the work we have done so far and look forward to seeing further measures put in place to move towards this goal.
“I would like to personally thank Cllr Pentland and her executive advisory panel for moving forward with pace and getting NNC to this point so early on in this new council’s journey.”
More than 2,000 trees have been planted in the past three months as well as a continued campaign to ‘feed the bees’ by allowing wildflowers to flourish in some roadside verges, where appropriate.
The authority also hosted its own conference - NN Climate 21 - in November, to showcase pioneering measures already in place and in development to reduce carbon emissions in the North Northamptonshire area. Included in this were details of the rollout of on-street electric vehicle charging points with the company Liberty Charge at seven locations in the North Northants area.
Residential, on-street locations were chosen to address charging needs - but not all of the original proposed locations were popular.