21st Oct, 2019

Solihull Council worst on record for commitment to reducing carbon emissions according to Green MEP

Sarah Mason 23rd Sep, 2019 Updated: 23rd Sep, 2019

SOLIHULL Council has been named as having the worst record on commitment to reducing carbon emissions and transitioning to a zero-carbon economy in the West Midlands region, according to a survey by a Green MEP.

Ellie Chowns, Green MEP for the West Midlands, released a table of 14 unitary, metropolitan and county councils throughout the region and rated them on a number of green initiatives.

The table, compiled by her team, examines several factors, including the declaration of climate emergency, divestment of fossil fuels and whether there is a strategy in place to transition to zero-carbon.

It saw Solihull Council come bottom.

It is not the first time the council has come under fire for its environment record.

As we reported in July, Friends of the Earth criticised Solihull for failing to declare a climate emergency and adhere to their 33 recommendations for local councils.

ClientEarth, the environmental law charity, criticised Solihull Council earlier this month for its alleged poor sustainable planning record and lack of ambitious targets for air quality, carbon reduction and green space preservation.

Dr Chowns visited Solihull Council last month and pressed it to increase a commitment to climate change.

She said: “Solihull’s record on climate change is dismal. They are wasting the opportunities that come with a green transition.

“As I said in August, we need concrete action from every level of power to tackle the climate crisis.

“Across the West Midlands region people are waking up to the crisis and doing exactly that, but we need it from every council.

“In Solihull we need investment in public transport, energy efficient homes to be built and green spaces protected.

“The council must step up to the challenge, for the sake of its residents and indeed the planet. There is a massive task ahead.”

Responding to the criticism from ClientEarth earlier this month Councillor Andy Mackiewicz, cabinet member for climate change, planning and housing said: “Our Draft Local Plan, currently being reviewed, already contains objectives and policies on mitigating and adapting to climate change, and this is part of a series of actions taken by the council over a number of years to reduce CO2 and contribute to the protection of our environment.

“For over five years we have recognised the imperative of having in place a policy framework for Solihull to address environmental concerns.

“This can be evidenced by the expansion of our Wildlife Ways programme (which improve biodiversity and cycling infrastructure), our continuing success with Green Flag parks and a more recent approval to allow Solihull Community Housing (the borough’s housing association) to build passive heated homes that reduce heating costs by up to 90 per cent.

“With the above and other policies in place, e.g. Clean Air Strategy, the council remains committed to recognising the need for jobs and homes with a determination to ensure this is not at the expense of the very environment that is so important to our residents.”

Solihull Council has yet to declare a climate emergency or set targets for net zero emissions – while other council’s have acted in recent months.

The full results can be seen at https://westmidlands.greenparty.org.uk/climate-change-league-table/.

The Observer has contacted the Council for a comment on this table and figures.

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