County council announces commission and tree project to tackle climate change

PUBLISHED: 08:12 09 October 2019 | UPDATED: 11:50 09 October 2019

County Hall, the home of Essex County Council.

County Hall, the home of Essex County Council.

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Two major environmental actions have been announced by the leader of Essex County Council.

Councillor David Finch announced on Tuesday that an independent cross-party commission on climate change had been initiated under the 'Essex Climate Change Action Plan', whose members and field experts would meet later this year.

The commission's initial budget of £250,000 will fund and support initiatives such as CO2 and waste reductions, sustainable transport promotion and work fighting climate change.

"We need to do more to make a difference," said Cllr Finch, as he introduced the commission.

An additional million pound plan called the 'Essex Forest Initiative' will see 375,000 trees planted across the county over the next five years. These are equivalent to 210 football pitches and will capture 60,000 tonnes of carbon.

Cllr Finch said: "The time has come to actively demonstrate our commitment to climate change. Enough talking has been done, in order to have a future, we must act in the present, and the Essex Forest Initiative is an immediate, tangible way in which we can show commitment to reducing our carbon footprint."

The county council also announced its new cabinet member for environment and climate change action, who will work within the Essex Climate Change Commission. Cllr Simon Walsh will be in charge of facilitating and promoting walking, cycling and public transport, supporting the greening of town centres and contributing to carbon footprint reduction. He will also aim for zero avoidable waste by 2050 and consider procurement rules changes to ensure sustainable practices of suppliers.

Cllr Walsh highlighted the importance of the issue and the need for a multi-stakeholder strategy approach.

He said: "Tackling climate change is everyone's responsibility and we must play our part in tackling the biggest threat of the modern day.

"By working with employees, partners, businesses, residents and communities, we will build a greener future for the county."

The county council said it is already taking several steps to minimise the climate change threats, such as replacing streetlights with low energy LED bulbs, supporting residents to buy cheaper solar panels through a dedicated scheme, investing £50million a year in bus transport and converting dozens of buses in lower emissions ones.

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