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West Norfolk Council climate strategy 'not ambitious enough', opposition members claim

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Borough council chiefs have outlined their plans to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2035 or sooner – but opposition members claim the proposals lack ambition.

West Norfolk Council's emissions reduction strategy and action plan 2021-24 was outlined at a cabinet meeting yesterday.

The strategy includes reduced gas consumption, the electrification of the council’s vehicle fleet and a tree-planting programme, among several other measures.

The plan’s second phase will seek to influence the rest of the borough but the strategy states the council will first get its “own house in order”.

Independent councillor Alexandra Kemp said the strategy was “a start” but “nowhere near ambitious enough”.

She said the borough must have sustainably-produced energy and greener transport, including an improved ferry from West Lynn.

Paul Kunes (50771260)
Paul Kunes (50771260)

She added: “And also the railway from Hunstanton. I’ve got the timetable from 1969, when it closed… There were ten services a day from Hunstanton to Lynn.”

Green councillor Michael de Whalley said the council must look beyond its own emissions as an organisation.

He said: “If we concentrate on our own corporate emissions to become carbon neutral by 2035, by this time the district will have emitted twice its eight million tonne carbon budget, if we remain at 2019 emission rates.”

He added: “This council was a true community leader during the Covid crisis.

“We didn’t concentrate merely on our own infection control, saying it was a job for the NHS.

“We must do the same as we did for the Covid crisis in this climate and ecological emergency.”

Mr de Whalley called for “full public consultation” of the strategy, which would be “well worth the potential cost and delay”.

But Conservative environment portfolio holder Paul Kunes said of him: “He turns round and says ‘This is an absolute emergency, we’ve got to do something now,’ and then he says he wants to delay ..

“Either this is an emergency or it isn’t … You can’t have it both ways.”

The exchanges follow the council's vote to formally declare a climate emergency earlier this month.

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