Budget cuts will not alter Edinburgh Council plans to tackle climate change

EDINBURGH City Council will press ahead with “ambitious” proposals to tackle climate change despite being forced to cut £31m in next year’s budget.
Council plans include removing 'the need of petrol/diesel vehicles in the city'.Council plans include removing 'the need of petrol/diesel vehicles in the city'.
Council plans include removing 'the need of petrol/diesel vehicles in the city'.

Council officers will draw up a “comprehensive plan to deliver a change in approach” to how the authority improves its sustainability. The council’s corporate policy and strategy committee agreed to endorse recommendations made in a sustainability audit by Professor Andy Kerr from Edinburgh’s Centre for Carbon Innovation, one of two approaches put forward.

The recommendations to be taken forward include developing “an ambitious long-term city strategy and action plan”, including setting “iconic targets” such as a mobility strategy that “removes the need for petrol/diesel vehicles in the city by 2030”.

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The “ambitious agenda” will include “third party investment and radical new partnerships with external partners to drive change”. But Conservatives called for more information and expectations before agreeing to a defined strategy being tabled in May.

Despite some scepticism, the council insists that it will continue to be ambitious, despite the economic constraints.

Council leader Cllr Adam McVey, said: “I think the time-scale and the amount we are trying to cram into that is ambitious and I hope we are able to hit that timeline. I think this is a subject that merits that level of attention.

“The council has been working across all streams of work to try and embed sustainability in everything that we do. What I think this option is doing is trying to drive that deeper into the organisation across service areas and across our partnerships.”

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He added: “This will be challenging to deliver and it will be challenging to get the detail. We spent a lot of time in the budget discussion talking about the ambition and why it was important, even in a challenging financial context, to not allow that to rob us of our ambition as a city or let that be an excuse to steer us off course.

“This gives us a way forward which I think is helpful. In May, I look forward to the detail and scrutinising how we are going to take this forward.”

Green councillor Chas Booth called for more details before pressing ahead with the strategy, and added: “Professor Kerr’s report makes clear that what he is urging us as a council to address is sustainability in all its forms – environmental sustainability, economic and social sustainability. It’s not just about tackling climate change, although that is the vital issue of our time - it’s about ensuring that this organisation is really future-focused.

The council aims to work with expert partners to progress and develop a sustainability and climate change action plan.

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Environment convener, Cllr Lesley Macinnes, said: “What this report represents is a direction of travel. We know that there’s an enormous amount to be done.

“There is no way in which we can create an absolutely tied-down blueprint for this before we take the first step. The first step is recognising the scale of the issue and the direction of travel for this organisation.”