South Shropshire Climate Action Plan's new report will be presented at its online conference on Saturday, May 22 – it contains a plan to bridge the gulf between the intent to decarbonise and making it happen.
South Shropshire is a deeply rural area of hills and valleys, heath, peat bogs and farmland, an area of about 600 square miles. It has two market towns of 10,000 people, and five towns with less than 5,000 inhabitants. It has a greater diversity of geology than any equivalent area, one of the longest road networks in the UK and little public transport.
However, South Shropshire has a resourceful population and the report, written and produced by many volunteers, offers a detailed action plan to achieve Net Zero by 2030, majoring in four main themes: land and biodiversity, energy and buildings, transport and communities and education.
The report shows how food, farming and biodiversity must be considered together rather than separately. It claims that transport is currently responsible for 37 per cent of south Shropshire’s CO2 emissions but this figure can be hugely reduced with a proper, integrated public transport system and more active travel.
The report also said that in terms of domestic energy, there are many old houses in the area that will need extensive retrofitting, but new housing continues to be built powered by fossil fuels making the challenge even greater.
The report says that whatever the target date for achieving net zero, be it 2030 or 2050, this current decade – the 2020s – is absolutely crucial.
South Shropshire MP Philip Dunne, chair of the Environmental Audit Committee, said: "I commend South Shropshire Climate Action for their diligence in producing this report, and for continuing to raise the importance of addressing our impact on the environment and what more we can do to preserve and improve it.
"As the UK looks forward to hosting COP26 later this year, the timing of this report by South Shropshire Climate Action could not be better. Just as the Government seeks to engage local communities to play a pivotal role in the UK’s ‘net-zero by 2050’ target, this report represents one of the first constituency-wide attempts to interpret national policy into a local context.
"The comprehensive Climate Action Plan is testament to the dedication of this wide-ranging local action group to developing a plan towards achieving net-zero in South Shropshire.
"While the findings and recommendations will need further work to identify routes to agree and implement, they provide an invaluable starting point for policy-makers, schools, businesses and community groups to begin to scope solutions. This plan should also act as an example for other constituencies to follow.
"I will be presenting the Action Plan to Rt Hon Alok Sharma MP, president of COP26 at the earliest opportunity and I look forward to the virtual launch event on Saturday, May 22."
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