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Climate emergency to be declared in West Suffolk after cabinet agrees to recommend motion to council and sets up task force

Council chiefs have recommended that a climate emergency be declared in West Suffolk and have set up a task force to help tackle it.

West Suffolk Council's cabinet agreed to recommend the move last night.

The new task force was also agreed and the terms of reference set out with an aim to find practical solutions to environmental problems in the district and looking at what actions would be needed for the council to be net-zero carbon by 2030.

West Suffolk House
West Suffolk House

Cllr John Griffiths, council leader, said that the council had to 'act quickly' to protect the environment and that residents in West Suffolk wanted to see 'actions and deeds and not just words'.

“I have been very clear that this must be looked at using the latest evidence so that we can take further meaningful and achievable action that will make a real difference," he said.

"To make sure we are as effective as we can be, we have to understand what will work, what is achievable, how much it will cost and how soon we can implement it.

"This effects everyone which is why the task force will be cross party and report to Cabinet so their findings can be looked at as quickly as possible."

He added: “West Suffolk already has a good reputation for protecting the environment and reducing our impact on climate change. We have for example the largest solar farm of its kind owned by a council in the UK and are a national leader in helping businesses reduce their impact by installing solar panels on their roofs as well as on our own premises.

Cllr Max Clarke
Cllr Max Clarke

"The steps we have taken have had a purpose, been practical and have had meaningful benefits. The task force, I am sure, will build on this excellent work.”

West Suffolk Council has already made moves to protect and enhance the environment, including investing funds into a solar farm and renewable energy projects.

It is also delivering a strong pipeline of roof mounted solar PV installation projects, generating carbon dioxide savings of around 1,000 tonnes.

Cllr Max Clarke spoke at last night's meeting.

Today he said he wanted to see biodiversity and clean air added to the council's list of priorities.

"I want to see a park and ride implemented in Bury St Edmunds to free the town up of cars and clear the air in the middle of town," he said.

"We're working on a no idling policy and a park and ride would sort that out straight away."

He added that he has been working on a bee and butterfly garden to 'retain wild areas' and 'encourage wildlife'.

"I'm looking forward to working with everybody else of the task force and I'm excited for what is to come," he said.

"This is for our residents and their children. That's what it's all about - it's not about politics.

"It is a genuine concern for the future of our residents."

The task force will gather and review evidence, appraise options and make its first report back to cabinet in autumn. A further report is expected in early 2020.

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