Council Planning for a Zero Carbon Reading

Reading’s pledge to work towards a carbon neutral town by 2030 will be embedded across every area of the Council’s work in the coming weeks.

Earlier this year Reading Borough Council joined other local authorities nationwide in declaring a climate change emergency,  pledging to work with partners towards a carbon neutral Reading by 2030.

To ensure a ‘golden thread’ of helping to tackle the climate change emergency runs through all areas of the Council’s work, changes have been made to the Council’s constitution which all standing committees on Reading Borough Council will now be asked to sign up to. It would mean future Council committee reports would include a section on environmental implications and mitigations.

The Council’s Adult Social Care and Children’s Services and Education Committee will be the first to receive the Climate Emergency report next week (Monday July 1st). It will then be considered by other Council Committees through the summer. The full report can be found at https://democracy.reading.gov.uk/documents/s7609/Climate%20Emergency.pdf

Reading Borough Council has a long standing commitment to action on climate change. A signatory to the Nottingham Declaration on Climate Change in 2006, it was one of the first authorities in the UK to produce a detailed Climate Action Plan. Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in Reading have fallen by 41%, which is greater than all but 19 of the 405 authorities in Great Britain. Reading Borough Council has reduced its own emissions by 53% since 2008, reaching its own target three years early.

Tony Page
Cllr Tony Page

Councillor Tony Page, Reading’s Lead Member for Strategic Environment, Planning and Transport, said:

“By creating a ‘golden thread’ of action on climate change across all areas of the Council’s work, we aim to give it the prominence and priority it needs across every single Council service and committee.

“Committees will be expected to regularly report on the relevant elements of Reading’s Climate Change Strategy and the Climate Emergency Action Framework, ensuring services are held to account in public forums and that it remains top of everyone’s agenda. The creation of a new Cleaner Air and Safer Transport Forum will also help add another level of scrutiny to the progress being made.

“Reading’s success in cutting carbon emissions is there for all to see. The Council recently met its own target to cut carbon emissions by 50% three years early, helping to achieve the borough wide reduction of 41% which puts it in the top 20 local authorities in Britain for progress.”

Councillor Page added:

“What is completely clear however is that  while the Council will lead by example, this is not something the we can do alone.  The scale of change needed to achieve a carbon neutral Reading by 2030 simply cannot be achieved without significant national policy changes and national and local actions by businesses and residents and other stakeholders.

“Reading’s Climate Change Partnership already has a broad representation across the business, community and the public sectors in Reading and this will need to increase significantly in the years to come. The very successful Partnership event on 13th June underlined the commitment and enthusiasm to deliver these new targets.”

An important element of the climate change report is a recommendation asking the Council’s Chief Executive to write to the Government and local MP’s setting out the urgent need to equip local authorities with the policies, power and funding necessary to deliver on climate change.

The Climate Emergency report outlines the fundamental actions would be needed to make significant progress towards a carbon neutral Reading by 2030. They are:

i) Widespread retrofitting of private and public housing stock and commercial buildings with insulation and other energy efficiency measures.

ii) Putting solar arrays on most of the suitable roof space and erecting more large wind turbines.

iii) Significantly less petrol and diesel powered vehicles on Reading’s roads, through more cycling and walking and accelerated uptake of electric vehicles.

iv) Widespread use of smart technologies for energy storage and connecting to local power grids.

v) Recycling standards on industry and supermarkets whilst supporting the delivery of increased recycling rates and maximising the potential to generate clean local energy from waste.

vi) Developing innovative solutions to include district heating systems, ground source heat pumps and the use of rivers and watercourses to generate energy

Reading Council is working alongside the Reading Climate Change Partnership in coordinating the development of the new Reading Climate Change Strategy which will be launched in April 2020. The timetable for this strategy has now been brought forward by six months due to the declaration of the Climate Emergency.

The Climate Emergency report also details the Council’s successes to date. They include:

  • A new Local Plan which goes further than ever in setting requirements for zero carbon planning on all large residential developments and BREEAM ‘Excellent’ standard on large commercial developments.
  • How the Council met its own target to reduce emissions by 50% from the 2008/9 level three years early. Its Carbon Plan includes a target to generate 20% of the Council’s energy from renewable sources by 2020.
  • 13,000 new energy efficient streetlights and around 7000 solar panels installed on Council buildings since 2008 and almost 100 energy efficiency projects delivered as part of its SALIX energy efficiency programme
  • Sustainable transport schemes which include the Council’ owned bus company very successful and sustainable bus fleet, an extended cycle network, including a new pedestrian and cycle bridge over the river Thames, and a number of park and ride schemes.

Notes To Editor:

Reading’s Third Climate Change Strategy

Over 120 people attended the recent Reading Climate Change Strategy consultation event on June 13th. The representatives of business, public sector and communities filled the Council Chamber to discuss the development of the third Reading Climate Change Strategy.  Hundreds of ideas were tabled and focus groups started to lay out the structure of the new strategy.  Work will continue in six theme groups over the next six months to develop the strategy in time for the new business year in April 2020.

The six proposed themes of the strategy are:

  • Energy and Low Carbon Development
  • Natural Environment
  • Resources and Consumption
  • Sustainable Transport
  • Health
  • Water Supply and Flooding

Ideas that came forwarded included:

  • Renewable energy and whole building retrofit
  • Electrically powered shared public and private transport
  • A safer and extended cycling and walking network
  • Clean air, re-wilding, more tree planting and plants for bees
  • Greater preparedness for climate risks such as extreme weather
  • Waste minimised through re-use and repair
  • A ‘circular economy’ that re-processes products using renewable energy.

Oscar Mortali

For media enquiries about this release email oscar.mortali@reading.gov.uk or call 0118 937 2301