Environmental campaigners criticise Chesterfield council for 'disbanding' climate working group
Environmental campaigners have criticised Chesterfield Borough Council for their decision to ‘disband’ their climate working group.
Transition Chesterfield has called on the local authority to ‘be more ambitious’ with their plans to tackle climate change, after the group has been ‘temporarily paused’ according to the borough council.
It comes after the local authority set up the group in 2019, when they declared a climate emergency and a climate action plan was also developed.
Chesterfield Borough Council justified the decision to disperse the group, as they say they aim to work with ‘more members’ of the community so ‘everyone can have their say’ on how climate change is tackled.
Environmental campaigners said while the action plan was a ‘step forward’ it focused mainly on council buildings and activities.
A spokesperson for Transition Chesterfield added: “We believe the council has the powers to be more ambitious and should at the very least communicate better with residents about the nature of the climate emergency and how they can get more involved themselves.
"We urge the council to raise its sights and engage widely with the community and take actions to reduce carbon emissions across the borough.
"This is not only essential for our planet but will benefit Chesterfield enormously.”
Campaigners have called for the local authority to use its plan to make all new housing more energy efficient, support home owners and landlords to improve insulation levels and lobby for a ‘comprehensive bus service’.
Improvements to make walking and cycling safer in the town along with meetings between residents and businesses were also part of the group’s suggestions.
Chair of Chesterfield Lib Dems councillor Tom Snowdon echoed criticisms of the council for breaking up the climate working group, arguing the decision would prevent locals from sharing their opinions.
He added: “Given this growing crisis it was very disappointing to see that the Labour led Borough Council have disbanded the Climate Change Working Group, limiting the input of local people.
"Increasing damage is being done to the environment as we slide towards a climate catastrophe.
"The government must push for a rapid increase in renewable energy capacity before it’s too late.”
Councillor Amanda Serjeant, deputy leader of Chesterfield Borough Council said: “The Climate Change Working Group was vital to the creation of our first Climate Change Action Plan – and we thank them for their valuable contribution.
“Our aim in pausing the Climate Change Working Group is to move from engaging with individuals to working with more members of the local community, so that everyone can have their say on how we collectively tackle climate change in Chesterfield.
“We’ve committed more than £15m to our action plan and have already made significant progress including reducing our energy usage, switching to a renewable energy supply, improving insulation in social housing, supporting energy efficiency improvements in the private housing sector and making sure climate change is a key consideration in all of the council’s policies and decisions.
“There is still lots to do but we believe this plan will be complete by 2023.
"We will then look to develop our next action plan which will help us realise our target of becoming a carbon neutral organisation by 2030 at the latest, and to be a carbon neutral borough by 2050 at the latest.”