Ipswich and Colchester among top 10 most climate-friendly councils
- Credit: Archant
Ipswich and Colchester have been going green this year switching to electric vehicles and planting more trees – as a new league table ranks them in the top 10 climate-friendly councils in the country.
New research by Friends of the Earth, which looks at renewable energy, public transport, lift-sharing, energy efficiency at home, waste recycling, and woodland cover, sees both Colchester and Ipswich given a performance score of 84% alongside West Suffolk.
This puts the two towns above Norwich, with 80%, East Suffolk with 76%, Babergh with 60%, and Mid Suffolk sits even further down the table with just 52%.
Why did Ipswich perform so well?
According to the report 4% of Ipswich is woodland, 33% of commuter journeys are made by public transport, cycling or walking, 40% of homes are well insulated and 38% of household waste is reused, recycled or composted.
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But the research shows that the town needs to do much better on increasing its tree cover and increasing its waste recycling.
Phil Smart, Ipswich Borough Council's (IBC) environment and transport portfolio-holder, said: "IBC declared a climate emergency this year and is channelling resources into improving our own environmental performance as well as working with partners to improve our position still further.
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"We are improving our vehicle fleet and switching to electric vehicles where possible. We are investing in further energy saving projects and are developing an action plan to highlight further areas of work.
"While we compare favourably with other towns, we are still a long way from 'carbon neutrality' and this will require the Government to act in policy areas outside the council's control."
Meanwhile Andy Patmore, the branch coordinator for the Ipswich Green Party, says he is surprised that Ipswich scored so well.
He said: "We have issues with air pollution, mainly due to congestion. The priority in Ipswich seems to be the car over walking, cycling or public transport.
"The council rebuilt Crown Street Car Park and advertise it as being convenient for shoppers rather than encouraging people to use the park and ride or public transport.
"We are also blessed in Ipswich with several fantastic parks and these need to be maintained. There are however areas where more trees could be added. In one area near the college, trees have (or are due to be) removed for motorcycle parking."
So how does Colchester compare?
Last July, Colchester Borough Council became one of the first local authorities in the region to declare a Climate Emergency.
The report shows that 8% of the town is woodland, 32% of commuter journeys are made by public transport, cycling or walking , 47% of homes are well insulated and a huge 55% of household waste is reused, recycled or composted.
In particular, the town needs to improve on its tree coverage, as doubling its tree coverage would help reduce emissions.
Mark Cory, the leader of Colchester Borough Council, said: "I'm delighted, but not surprised, that Colchester ranks so close to the top of the Friends of the Earth league table.
"It reflects extremely well on our efforts and aspirations to address concerns and issues across the environmental spectrum.
"The environment is our number-one priority. That is why we were one of the first in the region to declare a Climate Emergency. But we also recognise there is much more to do.
"This council can be rightly proud of its environmental record, through its efforts to reduce carbon emissions, minimise waste, improve air quality and develop sustainable and renewable sources of energy that are helping communities become more resilient to climate change."
Meanwhile in West Suffolk - which also ranked highly in the league table - a high 14% of the area is woodland, just 20% of commuter journeys are made by public transport, cycling and walking.
The report by Friends of the Earth also revealed the councils not doing so well include Mid Suffolk, Babergh, Southend and Tendring.