Mid Sussex District Council ‘not complacent’ on climate change

A Green councillor has called on Mid Sussex District Council to ‘demonstrate more ambition and a sense of urgency’ in the fight to reduce carbon emissions.

Tuesday, 5th October 2021, 10:38 am
Mid Sussex District Council offices at The Oaklands, Haywards Heath. Pic Steve Robards SR1521476 SUS-150809-224918001

Anne Eves, who represents Burgess Hill – Leylands, spoke after a motion tabled at a full council meeting last week was amended by Conservative councillor Pete Bradbury.

The motion wanted the council to intensify its efforts to reduce carbon emissions throughout the district.

It also included calls to help residents reduce their own carbon footprints, and for the council to play its part in the national effort to achieve net zero by 2035.

The motion was tabled by the Paul Brown (Green, High Weald), seconded by Ms Eves and added to by Janice Henwood (Lib Dem, Burgess Hill – Franklands).

But Mr Bradbury (Con, Cuckfield) said he was concerned that the motion ‘almost carries with it the implication that this council isn’t doing very much in its work on climate change’.

He said: “I really think it’s quite important that the residents of Mid Sussex understand the important work and the investment that this council is already making in this area and will continue to do so.”

He then tabled an amendment which essentially left things as they were – with the Sustainable Economy Working Group continuing its work to develop a strategy ‘that will include tangible and measurable actions’ to protect the environment.

Mr Bradbury’s amendment said the vision of the strategy should be: “A vibrant district that is attractive, resilient and innovative that balances social wellbeing, environmental protection and sustainable economic growth.”

This idea was described as ‘motherhood and apple pie’ by Mr Brown.

When asked about long-awaited projects such as electric vehicle charging, and food waste collection, John Belsey, cabinet member for environment & service delivery, said: “Between 2021 and 2022 we will see a lot of progress. We are making very positive progress in a number of really significant areas.

“We’re not complacent with where we are. We aspire to do more.”

Leader Jonathan Ash-Edwards said the council needed to focus on ‘tangible action’ which it could deliver rather than ‘going round in circles’.

He added: “It is a fact that carbon emissions have fallen by more than one quarter in Mid Sussex over the last decade. Of course more needs to be done but that is a significant reduction at a time when our economy has grown as well.”

In a statement issued after the meeting, Ms Eves said the Green Party did not think the council was ‘doing enough already’.

She added: “Assertions [in the amendment] that our district has a lower per capita carbon footprint than the national average only apply because we have no heavy industry here.

“We need to demonstrate more ambition and a sense of urgency.”