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Local Nature Partnership Conference

Mersey Forest’s annual Local Nature Partnership Conference in October focussed on local authorities declaring a Climate Emergency and details about the new Environment Land Management scheme.

Andrew Lewis, the Council’s Chief Executive, spoke at the event and explained to the delegates how the work the Council has done so far around the Climate Emergency demonstrates the scale of transformational change required to reach zero-carbon.

He said: “I've been tasked as Chief Executive with bringing a report back to Council in December to identify our trajectory for carbon reduction, and the measures that would be required to get to carbon neutrality.

“Although the UK government sets 2050 as a target date for neutrality, as a Council we’d like to be ahead of the curve and target an earlier date.

“But the forecasts show that the speed of the reduction over the next few years is more important than the neutrality end-point. If we don’t make accelerated change over the next six years, we will already have exceeded the targets set under the international Paris Agreement over that period.”

Whilst recognising that tackling climate change requires action at a national and international level, Andrew was still keen to highlight that the Council will be actively playing its part at a local level and noted that our communities making changes, together with other communities globally, can help change the world.

West Cheshire has the fourth highest emissions of any UK local authority much of which is due to the type of industry in the area. Due to our industrial base, we need to take on a greater local responsibility, and protect jobs by supporting industry to be sustainable into the long-term. Many of our local industries are already committed to this.

Andrew said: “We are now working with experts from the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change research, and with Anthesis, a Green Consultancy, to map out the borough’s carbon emissions and our route to carbon neutrality.”

He went on to explain about the number of areas where the Council and its partners are already leading by example such as having one of the best recycling rates across the country and the fantastic work that The Mersey Forest does and how this has had much wider social health benefits for our communities.

The Council is moving forward with its plans for the future and is currently consulting on a new budget. Part of this focuses on the Climate Emergency and sets aside £15.5 million to support investment in new schemes. Alongside this, environmental sustainability will be embedded in every commitment from the £378 million of capital investment the Council expects to make over the next four years.

Andrew’s closing comments to the conference were: “The benefits of creating a better, lower-carbon place are not limited to climate change. They also deliver our mission to promote the wellbeing of everyone in all our communities.

“A net zero area will have cleaner air, preventing premature deaths and life-limiting conditions, it has warmer homes, it has people buying local, it has a more active population, and it has a thriving green economy creating new investment and employment opportunities.

“That is what we are striving towards. I'm pleased we're all now together on that journey.”

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