Alliance councillor secures Green New Deal motion to tackle climate crisis at a local level.
Alliance councillor Patrick Brown has successfully passed a motion which aims to help address the climate emergency at a local level by reducing emissions and building a more sustainable environment across the district.
Speaking after the council meeting, Cllr Brown said: “There is no doubt we are in the midst of a climate crisis. Whilst the bulk of the responsibility lies with world leaders, we must all play our part.
Newry Mourne and Down Council has already led on these issues by declaring a climate emergency, establishing a climate change and sustainability working group, supporting divestment of pension funds from fossil fuels and championing a tree planting and biodiversity strategy. But more can still be done.
“Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic has shown us all the increased importance of green space and a clean environment. The introduction of this motion will allow us to tackle climate change, whilst also protecting and prioritising our local areas so that our communities can benefit from them.”
This Green New Deal motion will see the implementation of a wide range of proposals. This includes a commitment to fund a new park project and allotment space in each District Electoral Area.
Additionally, it will tackle littering with the installation of Council-owned recycling bins and by trialling a campaign of printing customer’s licence plates on takeaway bags to discourage unauthorised disposal.
Finally, in an attempt to lower the Council’s carbon footprint, steps will be taken to replace current fleet of vehicles with electric/hydrogen powered ones, increase the amount of charging points in Council-owned car parks, and invest in renewable energy developments.
These propositions will be underpinned by a Climate Change Emergency Plan, taking into account all of these points, reflecting the recommendations of the Nuclear Free Local Authorities Group, and embedding these throughout the Council’s new Local Development Plan.
Cllr. Brown added: “The pandemic has highlighted the importance of green space for activities, staying fit and improving mental health.
“Whilst the district has some fantastic outdoor spaces, we can always deliver more, especially in urban centres. Additionally, allotments are growing in popularity and I want Council to consider the benefits of encouraging people to grow their own food.
“Not only will it be fresh and truly local, but the recreational value of keeping a garden and being outside can be hugely positive for people’s wellbeing, especially in lockdown.
“This motion also allows us to focus on reducing the problem of littering, which is a serious issue faced in every DEA. I feel that there should be a recycling bin in every park, playground or sports pitch in order to help people reduce their waste when out and about in the district.
“Also, in an attempt to discourage littering and increase enforcement, I strongly feel Council should consider innovative ideas, such as partnering with local drive throughs to print car licence plates on packaging, in the hope that drivers will think twice before throwing their rubbish out of the window.”
Cllr. Brown added: “It is not enough to just commit to carbon neutrality within new builds, we also have to review how to improve the standard of existing properties through the likes of improved insulation, the installation of solar panels and renewable heating systems.
“Moreover, Newry, Mourne and Down Council should aim to lower its carbon footprint on the road with investment in a fleet of electric or hybrid vehicles, which will also lead to significant long-term savings.”