Uttlesford climate change plan goes back to the drawing board

A man on a bike in a cycle lane; Inset: Councillor Louise Pepper, Uttlesford District Council

Councillors sent the Uttlesford Climate Change Action Plan, headed up by Louise Pepper (inset), back to the drawing board on Tuesday - Credit: Will Durrant/Uttlesford District Council/Archant

Uttlesford's green leaders must redraft their plan to tackle a climate emergency.

Councillor Louise Pepper, who is responsible for the environment at Uttlesford District Council, faced questions over the district's Climate Change Action Plan at a Scrutiny Committee meeting on Tuesday, November 23.

Committee members asked Cllr Pepper and her team to redraft the report because of its "over-ambitious" targets.

But Cllr Pepper defended the council's ambitions.

She said: "Sometimes, I don't sleep at night thinking about my children's future.

"We will carry on pushing and carry on building, doing everything we can as a council to raise awareness and make changes."

Cllr Pepper said her officers have three priorities.

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They want to curb the environmental impact of surface transport, which accounts for 70 percent of carbon emissions in the district.

Work is underway on an Uttlesford cycling and walking plan, which will be piloted in Saffron Walden.

Domestic energy accounts for 18pc of emissions, and the council has received a £250,000 grant which will be spent retrofitting lower income families' homes.

Work is also underway to boost biodiversity in Uttlesford following a summer ecology survey, which received 572 responses from members of the public.

These are three out of 37 "actions" in the report, which the committee said was an "over-ambitious" number.

Uttlesford District Council's offices in Saffron Walden. Picture: Will Durrant

Councillors debated the Climate Change Action Plan at the London Road offices in Saffron Walden. Picture: Will Durrant - Credit: Archant

The report adds that just £10,000 from the council's £1 million climate fund has been spent to date.

But Cllr Pepper said more has been spent in total thanks to extra grant funding not included in the original pot.

Scrutiny councillors said the "end goals" in the report need more clarity, despite positive "first milestones".

Cllr Vere Isham said: "It seems to be taking an enormous amount of time to be in the same place as before."

He added: "Prioritise it.

"I think it might just need a re-representation of all the points in a different format."

Cllr Neil Gregory, Scrutiny Committee chair, said: "As a resident and as a representative of residents, I am disappointed.

"This is a C-, possibly a C."

The committee recommended that the team re-drafts the report before the cabinet debates the ideas.

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