Council is not doing enough on climate emergency, says Banbury area councillor who says there is a 'huge mismatch' between words and action

A Cherwell councillor has slammed Cherwell’s Tory ruling group for failing to make progress on the climate emergency.

By Roseanne Edwards
Tuesday, 2nd August 2022, 3:26 pm
Updated Tuesday, 2nd August 2022, 3:33 pm

Leader of the Greens on Cherwell District Council, Ian Middleton, blasted the Conservative group for lack of action at its Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting last week.

He criticised a ‘cut and paste’ report for lacking in substance and the council for not doing enough since it passed a climate change emergency motion in 2019.

The report – One Planet Living - was compiled for the council by environmental consultancy, Bioregional, and presented to the meeting by the council’s Lead Member for Clean and Green, Cllr Dan Sames.

Cllr Ian Middleton, leader of the Green Party on Cherwell District Council

Speaking to the meeting Mr Middleton said: “In the words of Peggy Lee, is that all there is?”

He said he respected the work of Bioregional but it looked generic and ‘off the peg’ with proposals that could apply to any organisation and, over three years since the council passed its climate change emergency motion in 2019, there should be more substance.

Mr Middleton said: “The council passed its climate emergency motion during my very first full council meeting after I was elected in 2019.

"The council engaged Bioregional shortly after but gave them a very narrow remit. Since then I’ve been asking for details of tangible policies and actions but there’s been nothing of substance.

"If this is the best the council can come up with after three and a half years of work, we’re never going to reach the target of net zero by 2030.”

“Why has it taken the council over three years to consider it? There are numerous generic references to things like avoiding unnecessary developments, protecting green spaces and being responsive to local communities, yet in my area (Yarnton), the Conservatives voted to concrete over vast swathes of green belt in direct opposition to local concerns. There’s a huge mismatch between the words and the actions.

“I’ve brought numerous motions, including decarbonisation of the pension plan, protection for trees, support for the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill and a request for funding for environmental initiatives aligning with the COP26 Glasgow Climate Pact.

"All have been blocked by the Conservatives, showing how much they really care about climate change.

“All the council has to show is a cobbled together, cut and paste report with the council’s logo slapped on the front. We’re beginning to see what climate collapse may look like. We need real action to protect future generations.”

A council spokesperson said: “The council has a strong track record on climate change. From 2008/09 to 2020/21 the council has (achieved) a reduction in its overall emissions of 51 per cent.

“Last year the council was awarded over £5 million from the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme to decarbonise its buildings. Projects include installation of air source heat pumps, a solar car port at Bicester leisure centre and battery storage. These should reduce emissions by a further 1,000 tonnes of CO2.

“Further projects will be set out in Carbon Management Plans for 2022-2025. We forecast the council’s overall emissions in 2024/25 will be 65 per cent lower than 2008/09.

The spokesman said decarbonisation of vehicles requires greatly increased power supplies and Thorpe Lane Banbury, will have over £200,000 invested in a new power supply this year allowing more electric vehicles.