Street light upgrades kick-start Wakefield Council carbon neutral pledge

Street lights in the district are being made more energy efficient.
Street lights in the district are being made more energy efficient.

Improvements to street lighting have kick-started Wakefield Council's attempts to eventually become carbon neutral.

The local authority has promised to effectively eradicate its carbon footprint by 2030, after declaring a climate emergency earlier this year.

County Hall staff are currently putting together a plan on how this can be achieved, and their ideas will be put before the council in December.

In a presentation to councillors at a scrutiny committee on Monday, council officer Mark Hooton said that more cash would be needed to help make the promise a reality.

Mr Hooton, who is the council's team leader for housing policy and energy, said that it would be impossible to eliminate all emissions from the council's work, but that ways could be found to ensure those are offset.

He said: "There will be resource implications for the council, so we have to consider that.

"It will be challenging, but we need to be ambitious and set our ambitions from the start.

"One key project that's already in line is street lighting. The council is upgrading our street lights to make them all more energy efficient."

Councillors were told that local schools and children will be engaged with the plan, off the back of widespread climate change protests by youngsters across the world.

Coun Rowley, who is currently chairing the council's environmental scrutiny committee, said: "I read recently that around 84 per cent of young people are asking for more information.

"Teachers are pleading to be given more guidance on this themselves so they can relay that. This is a learning process for us all.

"That is something that we have to talk to the schools about."

But Liberal Democrat councillor Tom Gordon said that housebuilding on the green belt undermined the authority's dedication to being environmentally friendly.

He said: "As a young person I'm obviously really interested to see housing built, because I'm struggling to get onto the property ladder.

"But in Knottingley we're having 2,500 homes built, many of which will be on green belt land.

"That to me seems a bit counter-intuitive, that we're declaring a climate emergency while at the same time destroying green belt land."

In response, Mr Hooton said: "I think it's always a balancing act with economic growth.

"The local plan does set strict boundaries in terms of the amount of green belt land that can be released for housebuilding.

"While it's not always possible to stop development on the green belt, it is tightly controlled."

Local Democracy Reporting Service