Climate change is the single biggest environmental problem facing society today.
The scale of the challenges ahead for us all is unprecedented. We must all take urgent action now if the worst case scenarios of climate change are to be avoided.
Tackling the issue head on requires collective action by every community, business and public service.
Neath Port Talbot Council takes its own role in this very seriously and welcomes the announcement made by the Welsh Government in April declaring a climate emergency across Wales, highlighting the magnitude and significance of the latest evidence base and issuing a call for rapid and decisive action.
Earlier today, councillors endorsed a “Decarbonisation and Renewable Energy Strategy” which sets out how the Council will lead by example and do its fair share to reduce the carbon footprint of its own operations. It also sets a proactive agenda for the Council in its roles as community leader, landowner, employer, regulatory body and service provider so that we can work in partnership with other public and private sector organisations as well as joining forces with local residents to deliver the step change required.
Much progress has already been made.
Neath Port Talbot already leads the way in Wales with the highest total installed renewable energy capacity of any of the 22 local authority areas. Moves to introduce more electric vehicles into the Council’s own fleet and proposals to vastly increase and improve the EV charging infrastructure available to the public in the County Borough are being considered and the Council is delivering well on commitments made previously to reduce the consumption of energy, water and carbon emissions within in its own buildings.
We have also put climate change at the forefront of our thinking on economic development and regeneration. Neath Port Talbot has taken the lead on the Homes as Power Stations project as part of the Swansea Bay City Deal which aims to deliver smart, low carbon energy-efficient homes across the region and only this week, the Council’s Cabinet agreed to submit new City Deal proposals that builds upon the diverse environmental technology research and development base already present in the County Borough including the Flexible Integrated Energy Systems (FLEXIS) project, SPECIFIC and the University of South Wales Hydrogen Research Centre in Baglan.
But whilst a lot has been done, there is a lot still left to do if we are to meet the kind of expectations required.
The Strategy agreed today outlines a number of key areas that we will be looking at in detail over the period ahead including:
- Public transport & active travel (integrating bus, rail and other forms of transport as well as looking to encourage low emission taxi vehicle take up).
- Further investment in energy efficient street lighting upgrades.
- Increased use of real time air quality monitoring and modelling to allow new and more responsive approaches to air quality hotspots in Neath Port Talbot.
- Providing more opportunities for the Council’s own workforce to work flexibly, car share where possible and use greener methods of transport).
- Increasing awareness of climate change amongst local businesses, community groups and residents and empowering them to make their own contributions to tackling the problem.
- Creating a NPT Climate Change Working Group involving key partners and citizen representation to share approaches, information and best practice.
As a Council, we remain determined to embrace the task ahead and help influence those areas of local life where we can make the most impact when it comes to decarbonisation and climate change.
Councillor Annette Wingrave
Cabinet Member for Regeneration & Sustainable Development