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Doubts over District Council's decarbonisation plans

November 13, 2021 8:48 AM
By Cllr Vilnis Vesma

One of the first things an organisation can do when it sets a 'net zero' carbon emissions goal is work out, at least approximately, a year-by-year forward budget for emissions (based usually on a high-level action plan). This both cements its commitment and provides a way to gauge progress. In a formal question to the District Council's Cabinet on 11 November I asked whether Forest of Dean District Council (FoDDC) would set such a budget in relation to its own operational emissions. The responsible Cabinet member gave a rambling 300-word "answer" which can be paraphrased as "No" (his reason being that various factors "[make] potential year-on-year estimates very inaccurate").

The formal answer claimed that FoDDC is "showing leadership" while at the same time admitting that it only reports its office gas consumption on a quarterly basis. Which, given that they also don't do anything with the data, could be why they did not realise that something went wrong with the heating in 2018 and it has been running wastefully ever since then. Some leadership!

The Cabinet has also been fond of mentioning that decarbonisation will be costly and that they'll be seeking grants towards the cost. Fair enough, but as I pointed out to the Cabinet, if FoDDC wants to lead by example to encourage others, that has got to mean doing things that other organisations can do as well. That implies limiting itself to sources of finance that others have access to. That point, at least, they conceded.