Cabinet councillors have today (9 July) agreed a revised timetable and format for next steps in developing Lewes District Council’s climate change and sustainability strategy.
In July 2019, the council declared a Climate Emergency with a headline target of becoming a fully resilient and net-zero council by 2030 and supporting Lewes district towards achieving the same goal.
Since then, the council has been working hard to progress actions to tackle the Climate Emergency including developing a sustainability and climate change framework that focuses on engaging with our communities.
Plans for the climate change and sustainability strategy were delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic and government lockdown in March. The full strategy is now scheduled to return to Cabinet after a programme of stakeholder engagement that will run from August to October.
Councillor Matthew Bird, Cabinet Member for Sustainability, said: “I think we can build on positive changes in sustainability behaviour and lifestyle that have come about during the lockdown, as painful and as challenging as that period has been.
“Few cars have meant improved air quality, as well as more interest and opportunities for walking and cycling.
“Biodiversity has flourished and people have noticed the richness of birdsong and wildflowers. Opportunities for local food businesses have increased though the lockdown.
“Local resilience through communities pulling together has shown what can be possible and give me considerable cause for optimism.
“I believe we will now have a stronger plan that is owned by all our communities and will relate better to these changes, and benefit from opinions and attitudes that may have changed as a result of the crisis.”
The engagement framework sets out seven strategic action areas that stakeholders will be able to have their say on and form the basis for facilitated discussion. The areas are the energy and the built environment, sustainable transport and air quality, biodiversity, agriculture and food, reducing waste, water, circular economy and community wealth.
Councillor Bird added: “This will be a community owned strategy with the views of local people central to the work that shapes it.
“We will also seek expert advice from our Sustainability Expert Panel and Community Climate Forum. We will engage our business communities, town and parish councils and it will be open to challenge and feedback from any other interested party.
“I’m certain a net carbon neutral district by 2030 is achievable if we all work together with the same urgency with which we have tackled the pandemic locally.”