Lib Dems call for Dacorum Borough Council to do more for climate emergency

The leader of Dacorum Borough Council says there is a coherent action plan to deliver the council’s objectives

Friday, 5th November 2021, 1:08 pm
Updated Friday, 5th November 2021, 1:10 pm

Liberal Democrat councillors in Dacorum are calling on the council to do more for the climate emergency.

Cllr Adrian England says Dacorum's Environment Committee witnessed a missed opportunity on Tuesday, November 2.

The councillors say the Dacorum Borough Council Climate Report - in the context of an emergency district borough councillors have recognised for 27 months – is desperately lacking on measurable actual Carbon reduction by this Council.

The image has been used for illustrative purposes

They have questioned why what they believe is the most important part of the report - questioning what is being done about insulating social housing - was relegated to an appendix.

It says that by 2030 only 90 per cent of the target will have been done.

But the leader of Dacorum Borough Council, Cllr Andrew Williams says there is a coherent action plan to deliver the council’s objectives.

Liberal Democrat Environment spokesperson Cllr England said: “This plan does not say nearly enough about what will be done in the next five years.

"Aiming for only 90 per cent by 2030 on “fabric first” is failure of itself. And as for not introducing climate-friendly heating until after 2030?

"There must be a commitment to introduce non-fossil-fuel heating where some high-profile larger buildings can be heated to reduce carbon emissions.

"The report says it recognises the urgency: Dacorum Borough Council declared a Climate Emergency in 2019 following the release of the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report which announced that we have until 2030 to limit warming to 1.5C or face catastrophic circumstances.

"We surely could have started insulating some of our poorest-insulated housing in 2019/20 and 2020/21? There has been no programme to do so at all.

"Even worse, a stock condition survey has not yet been done, when it could and should have been started in 2019."

Officers pointed out that climate-action at scale requires substantial funding by the Government, and that many of Dacorum’s buildings may need to be rebuilt for the council to reach net-zero.

Cllr Andrew Williams, council leader, said: "Councillor England is mistaken - there is a coherent action plan to deliver the council’s objectives and the High Level Actions element of the report sets out the overall objectives rather than the full detail.

"The report makes it clear that the details will be published in due course but the council will meet its Climate and Ecological Emergency pledges.

"Our 10,500 council homes are on average much more energy efficient than both owner occupied homes and those of the private rented sector – this reflects the work already done by the council over the past few years.

"We’re working towards our net carbon zero target by retro-fitting energy saving measures to our existing housing stock. We aim to have 90 per cent of council homes with a B energy rating by 2030, which will have the benefit of reducing energy costs for tenants as well.

"Consequently the insulation work is additional to that which we have already done. The report indicates that the total cost of decarbonising our council homes will cost between £150 -180 million – a level of investment which will be on top of the money we spend on the management and maintenance of our homes.

"The improvements will be made as quickly as the budget and resources will allow. The insulation programme is already underway but with a cost in excess of £50 million.

"As part of our programme, non-fossil fuel heating will be included. As an example, Government has made £450 million available for air source heat pumps – this equals 90,000 installations.

"The country overall does not have the capacity to deliver more than 50 - 60,000 each year. It is not clear at this stage if heat pumps are the best solution as we need to understand more about developments in hydrogen technology, which is quickly becoming more likely as an affordable green solution.

"The council has drawn up an action plan for meeting its target for being net zero carbon by 2030 for those assets and services applied in its overall service delivery.

"These are set out in the report. The strategy and report also looks at the role the council will play in partnership with local people, businesses and – crucially – government to deliver the national aim of net zero carbon by 2050.

"Yesterday’s launch of the Dacorum Climate Action Network will be a key part of this work. Around 100 attendees came to the very first hybrid Dacorum Climate Action Network (Dacorum CAN) event to find out more about what local action is happening, what they can do to help stop climate change and how they can get involved in local projects."

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He said: “We welcome the Dacorum Climate Action Network, the commitments now coming through in 2022/23 to staffing, the £100k bid to get some EVs.

"There is a target to reach 63 per cent recycling in 2025, which would be a big step forward, but Lib Dem led Three Rivers have been at this level for years. However, overall the plan does not show delivery."