Carbon emissions target agreed by council despite fears over how to pay for it
PUBLISHED: 08:00 12 February 2018
North Somerset Council has committed to cutting carbon emissions by half – as long as it does not end up costing the authority money.
Executive members voted to adopt a district-wide target to reduce emissions by 50 per cent up to 2035, matching a national target.
But council leader Nigel Ashton said he was ‘disappointed’ to see a report which would ‘clearly take investment’ without clarity over how much it would cost.
He said: “I am happy to endorse the proposals but before we agree to any activities I want to see a business case for it.”
The strategy includes improving greener transport, so people decide to cycle, walk or catch a bus rather than drive alone.
There is also an emphasis on reducing household waste, more efficient street lights and reducing energy consumption at the council’s offices. The authority has saved hundreds of thousands of pounds by preventing waste from going to landfill and its own carbon strategies.
Cllr Ashton said: “When we are actively looking at reducing carbon, there is a danger it will cost us money. We have saved money up to now. We are cutting things (in the budget) we shouldn’t be cutting because we have no alternative.
“If we cannot afford to do it, it has to take its place in the queue.”
Cllr Ashton said he will need to see how much the initiatives will cost, and how it fits into the budget proposals before proceeding with any measures.
Cllr Don Davies said: “We are worrying about the cost for next year, when 2050’s children will not thank us for not doing what we need to do to keep the planet sustainable.”
The authority is part of a North Somerset Climate Coalition, set up in 2016, with the aim of taking action on carbon. And between 2005 and 2015, carbon emissions in North Somerset were reduced by 28.5 per cent.
Deputy leader Elfan Ap Rees, who presented the report, said future house-building could lead to a big increase in carbon emissions.
He said the authority would look at whether solar panels could become a planning condition for developments in the future.
Cllr Tom Leimdorfer said the council may have missed opportunities when developing new schools by not including solar panels.