Sandwell to launch consultation on climate change

Sandwell Council is to publish its Climate Change Strategy and an Air Quality Action Plan in the New Year. The council will start an eight-week consultation period on 20 January for people to give their views and ideas on how emissions can be reduced.

Councillor Wasim Ali, cabinet member for resources and core services, said the consultation was the start of plans to ensure that the borough was carbon neutral by 2040. He said: “We are committed to reducing people’s exposure to poor quality air and to improve health levels in the borough. “Air pollution is associated with adverse health impacts and early deaths and it is vital we work to improve the situation. It is a sad fact that poor air quality impacts on vulnerable individuals such as children and older people. “We need an integrated approach to tackling air quality and climate change as the emissions that pollute our air and warm the planet have common sources – from vehicles, buildings, power generation and industry." A Climate Change Working Group has been set up to improve upon emissions of 4.6 tonnes per person in Sandwell, which have been reducing in recent years but are still above the regional average.

Councillor Ali said the council has been working to reduce emissions through more energy efficient housing, better heating systems, LED street lighting and moving to hybrid vehicles, encouraging more recycling and planting trees for every reception child starting school. He said climate change had been identified by the World Health Organisation as the number one priority for public health this century, so the ‘do nothing’ option was not sustainable.

Under the Sandwell Air Quality Action Plan, officers would work on ways to reduce nitrogen dioxide concentrations at 'hot spot' locations and encourage taxi operators to reduce emissions from vehicles. The council is also working on ways to promote better public transport, walking, cycling and encourage people to switch to low or zero emission cars.

Officers also point out that the major improvements to Birchley Island at Junction 2 of the M5 and the Wednesbury-Brierley Hill Midland Metro line would bring substantial improvement. Other suggested actions include promoting car sharing and developing travel plans for businesses, hospitals and schools.

Throughout the eight-week consultation period, people will be able to provide their views through an online questionnaire and the council will also be holding events in each of the six towns. Details of events will be announced in the New Year. The consultation starts on 20 January and you will be able to have your say at www.sandwell.gov.uk/consultation A report on the consultation will be discussed at the council's Cabinet meeting on 8 January.

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