Bid to create carbon neutral borough launched

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Last Updated: 02 Mar 2020 9:31am

Residents and businesses across Tonbridge and Malling are being invited to help shape plans to combat climate change.

A consultation launched today by Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council is seeking views on a 10-year strategy to reduce carbon emissions, cut pollution and protect the environment.

The draft strategy, which highlights the council’s ‘pivotal role’ in leading change and promoting more sustainable approaches for homes and businesses, also sets out the scale of the challenge. Quoting Tyndall Centre research, it says the borough’s carbon emissions need to reduce significantly from present levels to hit global targets for keeping temperature rises below two degrees Centigrade.

Government figures show that Tonbridge and Malling’s biggest source of carbon emissions is transport which accounts for approximately 450 kilotonnes a year. Domestic energy releases nearly 250 kilotonnes and industry around 150 kilotonnes.

The council has published an action plan alongside its strategy to kick-start a drive to become a carbon neutral borough by 2030. The proposals being put forward cover areas such as home building, transport, recycling, energy conservation and air quality. Action plan ideas include:

  • Policy – commission research to map the existing carbon footprint of the borough  and develop a programme of activities to reduce emissions; develop new policy-making approaches which embed climate change and biodiversity in council decision-making
  • Transport – work with Kent County Council to ensure that planning permissions promote sustainable development and transport links; develop campaigns to crack down on drivers who leave car engines idling; support take-up of electric vehicles by expanding the network of charging points
  • Housing and energy – launch campaigns to help residents and landlords insulate homes; support group purchasing schemes to reduce the cost for home-owners to install solar panels
  • Biodiversity – develop a Tree Charter for the borough and wildflower meadows; promote public awareness of environmental issues through 20 public events at council-owned parks and public spaces

The council’s recently introduced household collections of waste have already seen a sharp increase in recycling rates across the borough, passing 50% for the first time. Non-recyclable material is incinerated and food waste processed to generate electricity for residents’ homes. These and other measures mean no rubbish from Tonbridge and Malling is sent to land-fill sites.

The action plan also commits the council to reducing its own carbon emissions by switching to electric vehicles, using more energy efficient technology, reducing use of paper and converting car park ticket machines to solar power.

The climate change strategy is being championed by Cllr Robin Betts, the council’s lead cabinet member for environmental issues who owns a dairy farm and cheese making business powered by solar and wind energy. Launching the consultation, Cllr Betts said: “No one organisation can achieve the ambitious target we have set but working in partnership at a national and regional level, we can make a massive difference in the borough’s carbon emissions. My message to anyone who wants to support our goals is to get involved, respond to our consultation and help make Tonbridge and Malling a cleaner, greener borough.”