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'Carbon neutral by 2030' part KCC's green pledge to county

Friday 8th October 2021

A decade-long roadmap to cut carbon emissions on Kent County Council’s (KCC) estate has been unveiled, writes Ciaran Duggan.
Maidstone County Hall has ambitiously committed to reach carbon neutrality on its own estate by 2030, which includes 12 districts, excluding Medway.
It comes as Boris Johnson’s UK government is seeking to reduce the harmful effects of fossil fuels and achieve net zero carbon across England by 2050, with a proposed ban on new petrol and diesel cars moved forward to 2030.
Under this, KCC’s Tory administration says it wants to use more electricity to power vehicles, install solar panels on its buildings and plant thousands of new trees.
Cllr Susan Carey (Con), who is KCC’s cabinet member for environment, expressed her optimism about the progress made and said: “We need to get our own house in order.
“No-one is going to listen to us unless we actually do things well ourselves.”
Her comments came yesterday (Sep 30) during a face-to-face meeting involving 10 Conservative cabinet members and senior officers in Sessions House, County Hall, Maidstone.
Under its roadmap, the county council is pledging to expand Kent green spaces by planting 1.5million new trees by 2022.
County Hall chiefs also want to put up solar panels onto 16 large council-owned buildings by 2023 and install electric vehicle (EV) charge points at all of its offices by 2025.
They also hope that 100% of its council-owned petrol and diesel fuel cars will be made electric by 2030.
At yesterday’s meeting, the work undertaken was largely welcomed, but there was scepticism from some cabinet members about how the authority will meet the 2050 target.
Cllr David Brazier (Con), KCC’s cabinet member for transport, said: “How are you going to influence the rest of Kent to act positively towards net zero for the whole of the county and its 1.7million residents?”
Meanwhile, Cllr Clair Bell (Con), KCC’s cabinet member for public health, sought clarity about measures in place to adapt to the current effects of climate change.
Recently, heavy rainfall and thundery showers led to flooding on residential streets and near homes in Forbes Road, Faversham and Albert Road, Deal last August (2021).
In response, Cllr Carey said Kent’s largest authority was looking at ways to reduce climate change effects on residents.
She also encouraged households to get involved in carbon-saving schemes, such as energy saving light bulbs and installing solar panels on roofs.
Cllr Carey said: “Most of the things you can do to get to net zero will save you money, which I think is attractive for most people.”
Other County Hall cabinet members were equally more hopeful about the programme laid out.
Cllr Bryan Sweetland (Con), who is KCC’s cabinet member for communications, described the plan as “first class” and said: “Well done on the work you have done, we are moving at pace with this.”
Going forward, there will be a further report presented to KCC’s Tory cabinet about the proposals at another public meeting on Thursday, October 28.