'Actions not words' on environment says council leader

Cllr Ryan Fuller is the leader of Huntingdonshire District Council.

Cllr Ryan Fuller is the leader of Huntingdonshire District Council. - Credit: hdc

The start of a new year is often a chance for people to make new resolutions or set out hopes or aspirations for things they would like to achieve over the next 12 months.

After a little too much overindulgence over the Christmas period, getting out and moving more could be one such resolution. If you plan to get some more physical exercise, then chances are you will visit one of our district’s parks and open spaces.

Unlike any New Year’s resolution, our environmental record and commitment to our parks and opens spaces is longstanding.

We have a track record of delivering a sustainable approach in response to the environmental challenges that we all face, by focusing on actions that make a difference to our community and which enables Huntingdonshire to be a good place to live and work, with a good start in life and a place to enjoy good health. 

Pride of Place was established in 2018 as a key council priority and as the guardian of 1,534 hectares of green space, 42.8 hectares of woodlands and a managed tree canopy of 400 hectares we protect and manage our natural environment every day. 

We have successfully planted pictorial wildflower meadows with an equivalent footprint of five and a half Wembley stadiums, helping to double nature and increase biodiversity. We have already assigned over £2.5m of investment in our green spaces, such as at Hinchingbrooke Country Park and Paxton Pits.

Last March, Berman Park, which was named after three suggested names were put to a public vote, officially opened in St Ives and, for those who haven’t explored it yet, it is located between the One Leisure St Ives indoor facility and the River Great Ouse joining the Thicket path.

The park in St Ives was named after Henry and Joan Berman.

The park in St Ives was named after Henry and Joan Berman. - Credit: HUNTS POST

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Hinchingbrooke Country Park, Paxton Pits Nature Reserve and Priory Park all received prestigious Green Flag Award status for the third successive year and came after we won the Love Parks Network Award in February.

We are also one of the co-founding partners for the Great Fen project which has been running since 2001 and is aiming to reconnect two ancient fen habitats, Woodwalton Fen and Holme Fen National Nature Reserves, to create 3,700 hectares of fen landscape between Huntingdon and Peterborough.

We were not required to do any of these things as none of them represent statutory services or commitments; but those projects, the likes of which you will not find in many of our neighbouring council areas, represent what it means to live in Huntingdonshire.

Our commitment to the environment also goes beyond parks and open spaces.

Our waste services are in the top quartile in the country, with a very high recycling rate of 60 per cent - which has been achieved through education, communication and direct intervention when required. 

To influence development, our 2019 Local Plan to 2036 set out green infrastructure priorities and eight key policies which better shape our future environment for the benefit of nature and the reduction of carbon emissions.

At a full council meeting last month, we also adopted the aspiration of a net carbon zero Huntingdonshire by 2040, as well as the cross-party developed OxCam Arc environmental principles.

The agreed set of environmental principles and the adoption of the aspiration of a net carbon zero Huntingdonshire by 2040 will form the basis for HDC to renew the Environment and Climate Strategy – centred on achieving an environmentally-friendly recovery and future for the district. 

To inform our priorities in developing this strategy, we will be putting on a series of climate conversations with residents and organisations so you can have your say in how we develop our strategy over the years to come so keep an eye out for those over the next few months.

I am proud that HDC has an excellent and longstanding record of improving our environment and reducing our impact – a record that speaks for itself and ably demonstrates our ‘actions not words’ approach. This is one resolution that will not be broken.