Barnsley’s ambition to beat Government targets to help fight climate change

A new strategy will be developed with the objective of putting the whole of Barnsley ahead of the Government’s target of becoming carbon neutral by 2050 under ambitious plans announced by council leader Sir Steve Houghton.

By Paul Whitehouse
Friday, 26th July 2019, 3:09 pm
Updated Monday, 19th August 2019, 12:39 pm

It is accepted the scheme will bring costs but Sir Steve told councillors is was a practical alternative to declaring climate change emergencies.

He told a meeting of Barnsley Council the aim was to make both the authority and the borough carbon neutral and said: “The council takes the whole green agenda very seriously.

“It is no good declaring emergences, it doesn’t help anything. We need a forward programme. We will do that.

“The challenge will be money, these things are not free and we will have to pay for that.

“We will make a commitment for a strategy to beat Government targets and to spend money on it,” he said.

A recent ‘scrutiny’ meeting of councillors has been given details of the work already in progress towards cutting the council’s contribution towards pollution, including the introduction of electric vehicles to the authority’s fleet.

However, the council’s activities only account for a tiny proportion of all air pollution in the borough so a bigger challenge will be to drive changes beyond that.

Sir Steve was responding to a motion put forward by Coun Peter Fielding that the council should stop the building of housing, schools or play areas at locations deemed air quality management area, where pollution was regarded as a problem.

Coun Fielding’s motion would have involved revisiting the council’s Local Plan – adopted months ago after years of preparation – and Sir Steve told him: “You are asking us to do things quite simply that we cannot.”

Coun Fielding said only one site earmarked for homes in the Local Plan would be affected, expected to produce between 100 and 150 homes, with half of them in the air quality management area.

Plans to develop the site, close to the M1 off South Road, is becoming an increasing source of friction, with Coun Fielding objecting to the proposals.

Although the land is earmarked in the Local Plan, no planning permission has yet been granted.

Two council houses would have to be demolished to give access to the site, with tenants moved out already by Berneslai Homes, said Coun Fielding.

The council has argued that the development would lead to more homes going into council housing stock.