Shropshire Council joins network on climate change
A group of rural councils, including Shropshire, are demanding support to tackle climate change
Members of the new Countryside Climate Network are calling for funding packages such as the delayed £100 billion infrastructure strategy to be targeted at rural as well as urban areas.
The network, which will promote the voice of the countryside in the climate change debate, has written to the Government warning that rural communities are at the front line of feeling the effects of climate change.
Signatories include Councillor Dean Carroll, Shropshire Council's portfolio holder for adult social care, public health and climate change.
The cross-party group, which involves 21 councils from every region in England, says that “the countryside offers far more than a place to plant millions of trees to offset carbon emissions".
The group aims “to ensure that the voice of rural knowledge and experience on climate action is listened to in Westminster” and its new chairman Councillor Steve Count, leader of Cambridgeshire Council warns that rural areas face “unfair barriers to decarbonise” including lower budgets and funding rules which favour urban concentrations but may have less overall carbon reduction.
The new network has been established by UK100, a network of local leaders that campaigns on climate change. The 21 councils represent 14.3 million people in total, a quarter of the population and two-fifths of England by area.
|Councillor Count said: “From Cornwall to County Durham we have decided to take a stand. We’re frustrated that climate solutions and green recovery packages haven’t found the right balance, largely missing the rural voice.
“It can be hard to meet our sustainable ambitions when urban areas have no need to fund essential bus services to remote communities or invest in broadband because the market doesn’t reach isolated areas. These examples of typical rural disadvantages add up, combined with a funding gap in rural areas twice that of our urban counterparts, means our stretched resources are diminished making the challenge of funding sustainable solutions even harder.
“We need a green recovery that works for the two thirds that live outside the most urban cities and towns.
“However, rural communities face unfair barriers in trying to decarbonise – it is harder to attract funding for projects which don’t fit traditional cost benefit analyses, which favour urban concentrations yet may have less overall carbon reduction impact.”
Polly Billington, director of UK100, said: “Climate change affects every area and every person, and rural towns and villages can be more vulnerable to the impacts, such as extreme weather. Countryside councils are well placed to tackle climate change and meet the needs and ambitions of their communities for economic recovery and better health and well being, with innovative solutions along with the democratic legitimacy to deliver lasting change.”
The group points out that rural areas can be more vulnerable to extreme weather events such as the devastating floods last winter. The number of extreme weather events has doubled since 1980.
Agriculture, land use and peatlands account for 12 per cent of overall UK emissions, while agriculture is responsible for 88 per cent of ammonia gas emissions which combine with other pollutants to form fine particulate matter air pollution, which is harmful to health.
At the same time, rural areas are home to many of the potential solutions to climate change.