Richmond cycling group criticise council’s environment plan

A cycling group in Richmond criticised Richmond Council’s updated Climate Emergency Plan this week.

Richmond Cycling Campaign highlighted the need to further reduce vehicle pollution in the borough, in response to comments made by Richmond Council on Twitter.

The news comes as the council revealed that CO2 emissions generated by the council were reported to be down by 62.7%.

Grattan Hoey, 45, the group’s borough co-ordinator and “Climate Safe Streets Champion” said: “We support Richmond Council’s climate change strategy, including the detailed target setting and tracking.

“There’s been a lot of thought put into it and consultation around the plan, and we welcome the way that the council is seeking to embed this throughout their work. 

“Councillor Neden-Watts has pointed out the links with active travel, air quality and the local plan.

“But we would like to see travel much more embedded in the climate plan. We think that the borough could address emissions reduction much more quickly – and cost effectively – with more initiatives like the Kew cycle lane.”

Liberal Democrat councillor Julia Neden-Watts is the chair of the Richmond Environment Committee which also overlooks culture and sports services.

The council presented the new figures in a meeting on 15 February as part of their updated Climate Emergency Action Plan.

They also record a reduction of 40% in emissions from the borough as a whole, an average decrease of 45% in CO2 emissions per capita.

The council first declared a Climate Emergency in 2019 and have published an annual Action Plan each year since January 2020. 

In their Climate Emergency strategy, they state that they aim to become carbon neutral by 2030 with six key areas to address.

These are carbon neutrality, energy efficiency, waste and plastics and the circular economy, waste management and flood abatement, improving air quality, and green infrastructure and biodiversity.

Neden-Watts said: “I think the group is making a fair point. I’m aware we’re concentrating on the remit of the (climate) committee, so I can see that they feel we’re not focusing on it enough.

“However, the strategy is an overarching plan across the council. A very important point is that we’re implementing active travel through our travel action plan.

“Campaign groups like Richmond Cycling Campaign, are really important to me because they keep us on our toes, they make sure we stay focused on the right points.

“It’s good to have that constructive criticism. As long as comments are fair and balanced, I’m happy.”

According to the council’s Air Quality Action Plan, the borough’s largest source of air pollution is from road transport.

The most recent Air Quality report, published in 2020, states that air pollution in the borough still exceeds legal limits for air quality, however this data does partly pre-date the extension of the Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ).

In a statement on her website, Sarah Olney MP for Richmond Park said: “I was delighted to hear of this smashing success in reducing Richmond’s emissions. I know how much effort the Council has put into home and transport energy efficiency and other climate change initiatives.” 

Featured image credit: Richmond Cycling Campaign

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