14 January 2020
Green councillors have blasted a strategy which is currently the subject of a consultation by Norwich City Council. The council’s Draft Envionmental Strategy 2020-25 is set to replace the current environment strategy which has been in place since 2015.
Leader of the Opposition on the council, Green Party councillor Martin Schmierer, said:
“I am appalled by the Draft Environmental Strategy which has been put out by Norwich City Council. It cannot be called a strategy at all as it contains very few targets of any kind and reads as if it had been hastily cobbled together on a Friday afternoon without any forethought.
“Green councillors have for months been told to wait for this strategy as if it were a magic document that would finally present a comprehensive vision for how the council intends to tackle the climate emergency. Instead, what we’ve got is a random hodgepodge of suggestions which would have benefitted from a spellchecker, let alone a rigorous assessment process.”
The draft strategy contains a number of punctuation and spelling errors, such as ‘fossile fules’. An example of the incoherence of the strategy is the fact that it states first of all that it intends to ‘review the objectives of the tree strategy’, then a few pages later says the council hopes to ‘develop a tree strategy’. Green councillors believe such basic errors show that more resource needs to be put into dealing with the climate and biodiversity emergencies and that these threats need to be taken more seriously.
Councillor Schmierer continued, “While there are a few examples of positive actions in this strategy, Norwich must adopt a strong commitment to becoming zero-carbon by 2030, like numerous other councils such as Norfolk County Council, and Ipswich, Colchester and Chelmsford councils. If we do not achieve that target, then Norwich residents could face flooding and lethal heatwaves within a few years – and yet there is no urgency at the council.”
The Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, which has a base at the UEA in Norwich, states that we have to cut citywide emissions by at least 13% year-on-year in Norwich to avoid catastrophic climate change. The city council’s Environmental Strategy does not follow that advice, and includes no indication as to how citywide emissions will be measured. It also makes no mention of two of the most controversial projects currently proposed, namely the Norwich Western Link road and the expansion of Norwich Airport.
Councillor Schmierer concluded, “It’s ridiculous to have a strategy that doesn’t show how its outcomes can be measured and completely ignores the biggest issues. I’m quite terrified by the dangerous approach and naïve attitude shown in this document and I hope that the council will be able to implement a better strategy than the one shown in this draft.”
(1) Norwich City Council’s Draft Environmental Strategy can be found here:https://www.norwich.gov.uk/downloads/file/5584/draft_environmental_strategy_2020-25
(2) The consultation on the strategy can be found here:https://www.norwich.gov.uk/news/article/329/have_your_say_on_our_environmental_strategy