Borough steps up on climate challenge

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Last Updated: 29 Sep 2020 7:53am

Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council has unveiled plans to kick-start a 10-year process of reducing carbon emissions and tackling climate change.

The package of measures focuses on cutting the council’s own carbon footprint and supporting residents and businesses in taking action across the borough. Areas of focus include reducing car pollution, protecting biodiversity, creating more energy efficient homes and increasing recycling rates. The council has set a target for Tonbridge and Malling to be carbon neutral by 2030.

The £250,000 project was informed by a public consultation, launched earlier this year which attracted input from individuals, organisations and interest groups. The final proposals will be reviewed by the council’s advisory board on environmental issues on Monday 5 October, prior to consideration by cabinet members on 14 October.

The measures encompass transport, housing, waste, biodiversity and council operations. Examples include:

Transport

  • Installing electric vehicle charging points in council-owned car parks
  • Working with Kent County Council to identify benefits of the current 20mph trial in Tonbridge and initiatives to encourage walking and cycling
  • Implementing measures to encourage taxi drivers to switch to low emission cars
  • Campaigns to cut idling stationery vehicles
  • Improving public information to encourage use of public transport
  • Solar powered parking ticket machines

Housing

  • Promoting clean energy sources, such as Solar Together, which offers group buying discounts for solar panels
  • Improving the energy efficiency of homes and implementing new regulations to reduce the carbon emissions of new houses by up to 80 per cent
  • Increased emphasis on development which encourages walking, cycling and use of public transport
  • Grants and incentives to reduce the number of poorly insulated homes

Waste and recycling

  • Increase the amount of household waste which is recycled to 50 per cent
  • Work with other councils and the Kent Resource Partnership to cut the use of plastic
  • Maintain current targets of sending virtually no household waste to landfill
  • Develop information campaigns to help households recycle more of their waste

Biodiversity

  • Supporting county-wide tree planting initiatives to boost overall tree numbers
  • Develop a tree charter to support woodland management
  • Expanding wildflower meadows at Leybourne Lakes Country Park

The council will also be launching a range of measures to reduce its own emissions. A study is being commissioned to measure its current carbon footprint and identify ways to reduce it. Steps already identified include enabling more staff to work remotely to reduce car travel, switching council energy supplies to renewable sources, cutting the use of paper and moving to digital storage of records.

Cllr Robin Betts, lead cabinet member for the environment, said: “I would like to thank everyone who contributed to our consultation and helped shape this crucial area of policy. As the Covid-19 pandemic has shown, we can radically change how we deliver our services and that same spirit of innovation must now be applied to the even greater challenge we face in cutting our carbon emissions and protecting the planet.

“The measures in this first stage of our strategy are challenging but realistic. They signal our intent to commit to a decade of more ambitious change in which we must all act together to tackle the climate emergency and safeguard the environment for future generations.”