Council set to sign green’ declaration

CLIMATE change is set to be accepted as a global problem, and Huntingdonshire will do its bit to mitigate and reduce its effects. President George W Bush may be in denial on the issue, but Huntingdonshire District Council is in no doubt. Council leader, C

CLIMATE change is set to be accepted as a global problem, and Huntingdonshire will do its bit to mitigate and reduce its effects.

President George W Bush may be in denial on the issue, but Huntingdonshire District Council is in no doubt. Council leader, Councillor Ian Bates, and chief executive David Monks have been authorised to sign the "Nottingham Declaration on Climate Change", a move that commits the authority to set an example by using council policies - such as planning and transportation - to reduce greenhouse gases.

The Liberal Democrat opposition had been pressing the Conservative-controlled body to do something effective. And at last month's full council meeting, Councillor Nick Guyatt, cabinet member for environment (who is expected shortly to resign his seat to avoid the greenhouse effects of journeys between his home in Stibbington and his new home in Luxembourg) promised to exceed their wildest expectations with a new environmental policy for the council.

Although publication of the policy has been delayed until early next year, HDC's cabinet unanimously agreed last week to formally adopting the declaration.

"It's a small step on a long journey towards environmental sustainability for Huntingdonshire and mitigating the effects of climate change in this country and internationally," he said. "It has been a great embarrassment to me that neither the regional assembly nor this council has signed."

Cllr Guyatt's two principal worries for the district and region both relate to water - there is either too little or too much.

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Low-lying Cambridgeshire is at serious risk of reverting to its fenland heritage if sea levels rise, he believes. But there is a risk of inadequate drinking water for all the new homes planned for the area.

"If we don't start to do something now, it will be to our eternal shame and discredit in 50 years' time when our grandchildren and great-grandchildren ask why they are living in a swamp and in poverty."

Expect, therefore, to see investment in green areas, such as Paxton Pits and the Great Fen between Huntingdon and Peterborough, where new crops are likely to include materials such as thatching reed and natural fuels for "biomass generators" and alternatives to petrol and diesel.

HDC plans to set an example that it hopes local industry will follow, including ensuring that its new headquarters building meets the latest and most exacting standards for energy efficiency.

Huntingdonshire folk already recycle more of their waste (55 per cent and rising) than any other district in the country.

INFORMATION: The Nottingham Declaration can can be found at: www.est.org.uk/housingbuildings/localauthorities/NottinghamDeclaration

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