Hastings council’s bid to make town carbon neutral by 2030

Members of Hastings and Rye Green Party gathering signatures on their open letter. SUS-190602-131542001
Members of Hastings and Rye Green Party gathering signatures on their open letter. SUS-190602-131542001

Almost 1,000 individuals, organisations and businesses have signed an open letter calling on Hastings Borough Council to declare a climate emergency.

The initiative, launched by Hastings and Rye Green Party, demands that the council take immediate steps to reduce carbon emissions, with a view to making the town carbon neutral by 2030. Volunteers have been holding street stalls around Hastings and St Leonards asking people to sign up to the letter to the council.

In October 2018, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned that the world only has 12 years to take effective action on climate change if it is to limit global warming to 1.5C. Many towns and cities around the UK have already declared a climate emergency, including London, Bristol, Scarborough, Kirklees and Brighton.

Individuals, as well as organisations and businesses including John Bray and Son, Ore Women’s Institute, the Jenny Lind, Transition Town Hastings and Energise Sussex Coast, have already signed the letter to the council. Any individual, group or business wanting to sign the letter can find it at tinyurl.com/hastingsclimate.

Hastings Green Party spokesperson Julia Hilton said: “Limiting global warming to 1.5C must be at the forefront of all decision-making from now on. We need a citizens’ assembly in Hastings to generate local ideas for combating climate breakdown and to devise a path to achieving community-wide carbon-neutrality by 2030. We hope the council will take the lead in bringing this about.”

Peter Chowney, leader of the council, will put forward a motion at the full council meeting on February 13, setting a target for Hastings to become carbon neutral by 2030, or 2050 at the very latest.

The motion includes proposals to:

• Establish an ongoing Climate Change working group (as a panel of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee), which will scrutinise the council’s policies and actions to make sure it takes into account the climate change impact of everything it does;

• Develop a procurement policy that reduces its carbon emissions, procuring locally where possible, prioritising goods and services that are less dependent on fossil carbon, and prioritising companies who are taking steps to reduce their impact on climate change;

• Use whatever powers and influence it has, taking advantage of any new powers as they are made available to it by central government, to aim to make Hastings carbon neutral by 2030, or by 2050 at the latest, aiming for the borough to become energy self-sufficient through local sustainable energy generation, and call on East Sussex County Council to adopt a parallel commitment for Hastings;

• Press ahead with a programme of sustainable energy generation on council-owned and other land and buildings, investigating every viable council-owned site, as well as other sites, aiming towards supplying 30 per cent of the town’s electricity by 2030;

• Use the current review of the Local Plan to introduce policy requirements that new buildings should meet the most rigorous possible energy efficiency standards, include electric vehicle charging points in new housing and commercial developments, minimise the impacts of climate change (for example, by making sure contribution to flooding is minimised) and include solar arrays or other sustainable energy generation wherever possible;

• Ensure council land is maintained in a way that maximises species diversity and mitigates species extinction;

• Encourage existing supermarkets to install EV charging points, lobby ESCC to take up existing government grants to install on-street EV charging points, and press for a properly co-ordinated national EV charging network;

• Include an evaluation of climate change implications in all reports to council committees;

• Build on its existing single-use plastic policy by not only eliminating single-use plastics in council buildings, but also at festivals and events held on council land. It will also strongly encourage local businesses to cut back on their use of single-use plastics;

• Use s.106 funding and planning conditions (and any available future powers) to continue the development of an off-road walking and cycling network as specified in the council’s Local Plan;

• Appoint a member-level ‘Climate Change Champion’ to oversee the implementation of the above commitments and monitor the progress of the council’s progress towards doing all it can to make Hastings a carbon-neutral town;

• Work with voluntary, statutory and community organisations in the borough wherever it can to achieve the above commitments;

• Maximise the resources the council dedicates to combatting climate change when national government restores council finding to a sustainable level.