Last week,CrawleyCouncil adopted its Corporate Climate Change Strategy. The strategy will support our long-term vision to be a carbon-neutral council and town by 2050. This is a challenging target but necessary to show community leadership. We have already been reducing the council’s carbon footprint.
Since 2003/04, our business car mileage has fallen by 81,000 miles per year. Town hall water consumption was reduced by 17% between 2006 and 2008. We have made significant reductions in electricity and gas usage, with our electricity requirement being assisted by motion sensitive lighting that only comes on when people are present. It is said that for some politicians this can work the other way around with the lights going out on entry to the corridors.
We should not underestimate the contribution of the Fastway guided bus system. The project attracted criticism during its development but now carries more than four million passengers each year. This represents a significant shift away from the motor car and is the result of strong partnership working with West Sussex County Council and other local authorities.
Crawley is a product of the new town concept which was far-sighted and had sustainability in mind before many people used the term. Our neighbourhoods were built on the principle of locally accessible core facilities including shops, community centres and recreational provision. Further growth of our town will carry forward these ideas with new neighbourhoods supported by local facilities and a strong transport infrastructure.
The climate change agenda has benefited from efforts to make the arguments more accessible and understandable. An Inconvenient Truth was produced by Al Gore, 45th Vice President of theUnited States. This film was screened for all councillors and its compelling and graphic portrayal of the threat posed by climate change must surely spur us on to protect our planet for future generations.
An early task for the council will be to undertake an audit to assess our current carbon footprint. Using this baselineinformation, we will implement our strategy around a number of key areas. These include consumption and sustainability of energy; travel, working practices, water and waste efficiency; biodiversity; planning and adaptation. We intend to mainstream our climate change efforts across the council’s functions.
A recent example of our approach was the introduction of glass recycling using the red-top bins. We now have access to improved recyclables separation technology meaning that we have not had to add a further bin to our doorsteps. It is vital that we continue to raise our recycling rate. In the film, Lost In Space, it is suggested that humanity acted too late to introduce recycling technology. This meant that government lied to school children about how well the Earth’s resources were being conserved. We would prefer our recycling efforts to be real and timely.
In another creative piece of work, we are working with other local authorities in the Gatwick Diamond economic sub-region to secure renewable sources of woodchip fuel. This would support decentralised heating systems in new development and is but one demonstration of our commitment to a sustainable future.
Councillor Bob Lanze, Leader of Crawley Borough Council
8th December 2008