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Hampshire County Council climate change plans 'must go further'

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PLANS by Hampshire County Council to tackle climate change must be more ambitious to bring about real change, an opposition councillor has warned.

This week, the Conservative administration published its first annual report of progress to reduce carbon emissions and what HCC is doing to tackle climate change, writes David George of the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

But while Tories praised the document's "excellent" commitments, Liberal Democrats said the council needs to push harder to meet the 2050 carbon neutral target – especially when it comes to recycling.

Liberal Democrats said HCC needs to push harder to meet the 2050 carbon neutral target
Liberal Democrats said HCC needs to push harder to meet the 2050 carbon neutral target

Lib Dem spokesperson for economy, transport and environment, Cllr Martin Tod, said: "There is a lack of clarity and ambition on sustainability and tackling the climate emergency.

"The difference between the 2017 and 2021 climate strategies is that a few words have been added, and the word sustainability has been removed.

"We need a clearer ambition on recycling not just for carbon reasons, but because of the circular economy and other pressures that recycling has the potential to relieve.

"The statistics for Hampshire recycling rates once again show we had the worst rate of any disposal authority, and the second worst for residual waste. On both these metrics, Hampshire is unacceptably poor."

Latest figures published by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) show that from April 2019 to March 2020, 364,000 tonnes of collected waste was not sent for recycling – the sixth highest of all local authorities in England.

But HCC leader Cllr Keith Mans, from Brockenhurst, said of the council’s report: "This is an excellent record of the depth and breadth of our commitment to meeting the targets we have set – to be carbon neutral by 2050 and to be prepared for a two degrees rise in temperature.

"I am delighted to see that tremendous progress is being made, particularly in embedding climate change into the DNA of almost everything that we do.

"I fully understand that there is still a long way to go. That said, this is a great start to that journey."

In the report, HCC highlighted that more than 1,250 trees have been planted in the past 12 months, and that funding has been secured for the installation of 50 on-street residential electric vehicle charge points in Winchester and Eastleigh, with plans to expand the scheme.

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