Hastings commits to becoming carbon free by 2030

Environmental campaigners
Environmental campaigners

Borough councillors have committed to making Hastings a carbon neutral town by 2030.

At a meeting on Wednesday (February 13), the Labour-led council agreed for to take on a sweep of new measures aimed at reducing and offsetting the town’s carbon dioxide emissions.

The measures – including investment in sustainable energy across the town – were put forward in a notice of motion from council leader Peter Chowney, seconded by Cllr Maya Evans (Lab – Hollington).

Cllr Evans said: “We are currently facing a climate emergency. An emergency which will impact every person in this room and every person on the planet.

“There is no getting away from it man made climate change is the biggest challenge facing us today.  In the last seven years we have experience the six warmest years on global record. Climate change is already here.

“At this point it is now imperative that the earth does not cross a certain tipping point, beyond which abrupt and irreversible impacts occur, such as increased sea levels and melting ice caps. “What we do in the next 12 years, is perhaps the most crucial few years in human history.”

The measures agreed include: changes to the council’s procurement policies; installing more electric car charging points; a commitment to lobby and work with other organisations, such as East Sussex County Council; and the appointment of a ‘climate change champion’ to oversee the council’s efforts.

The council also plans to continue and expand its programme of sustainable energy generation on its land – aiming provide as much as 30 per cent of the town’s electricity by 2030.

It also will look at changing local planning policies, requiring new buildings to meet the most rigorous possible energy efficiency standards possible.

Through these measures the council aims to make Hastings carbon neutral by 2030.

Cllr Chowney also thanked Julia Hilton, of the Hastings Green Party, for helping to develop the motion.

While the motion won the unanimous support of the council, the Conservative group put forward an amendment hoping to add to the motion. 

The Conservative amendment called on the council to prioritise tree planting over installing renewable energy measures – such as solar panels – on sites  where trees would be the ‘most effective carbon reduction method’.

Conservatives also said their support of the motion excluded the installation of solar panels within Hastings Country Park, as they consider it not to be a ‘viable site’.

Conservative group leader Rob Lee said: “Much of the motion, as is written before us, we agree with. Who could not? I would say, however, I think it could go even further.

“We cannot talk about climate change now without talking about carbon. What is one of the best ways you can offset your carbon? As we all know it is by planting trees.

“Trees are then lungs by which this planet survives. It is one of the greatest tools we have to get ourselves out of this climate crisis.”

The amendment, however, was defeated after being rejected by the Labour group, who disagreed with prioritising tree-planting over renewable energy installation.

Summing up, Cllr Chowney said: “I hope everyone will support this motion. It is the most important motion I have ever seen in front of this council and the most important motion we are ever likely to consider.

“If I just turn to the amendment first. I would be happy if you bring forward an amendment in future about tree planting and environmental management around biodiversity. I just think it is a slightly different issue.

“I don’t want to support it as an  amendment to this motion, mainly because of this thing about prioritising planting over renewable energy installation.”

He added: “This is something we have all got to take seriously. We can’t throw our arms up and leave it to other people we have all got to do our bit.”