Reading’s £34 million plan to cut emissions to zero

Reading's £34 million plan to cut emissions to zero

Reading Borough Council has already saved millions and cut emissions by more than £10 million

Artists impression of the platform at Green Park Station
Artists impression of the platform at Green Park Station (Image: Reading Borough Council)

An ambitious, £34 million plan to cut carbon emissions to zero has been announced by council bosses in Reading.

Reading Borough Council is set to approve the plan, which includes major spending on a new railway station, renewable energy sources and a new food waste service.

The authority is likely to approve its budget at a meeting on Tuesday, February 25.

It includes more initiatives across the borough to further reduce greenhouse gas emmissions.

The biggest spend is the £18 million Green Park Station in South Reading.

There is also another £11 million for the South Reading Mass Rapid Transit, which is providing a series of new bus lanes along the A33.

Other measures in Reading include:

  • £4.5m for renewable energy (across three years from 2020/21)
  • £2.55 million for energy saving measures (across three years from 2020/21)
  • £1.49 million for a new doorstep food waste collection service (in 2020/21)
  • £1.19 million for retro-fitting the bus fleet to lower emission standards (across two years from 2019/20)
  • £258,000 for LED streetlighting (across two years from 2019/20, which will complete a a total investment of £9.8 million which began in 2016)
  • £250,000 for electric vehicle charging points (across two years from 2020/21)
  • £150,000 for tree planting programmes (across three years from 2020/21), which the council says is more than double the current budget for tree planting

The authority declared a climate emergency in February 2019, and since then has carried out a number of measures to reduce its emmissions.

These include:

  • A full upgrade of street lighting assets to LED, cutting energy consumption by 54 per cent in 2018/1
  • A refurbishment of Reading Town Hall including roof insulation, switching to LED lights and upgrading the heating system.
  • Installed double glazing, insulated doors, solar panels and new showers at council-owned homes.

£9 million on highway maintenance

The authority is also proposing spending £9 million on road repairs over the next three years.

The investment will see improvements for cyclists and pedestrians.

A budget of nearly £6 million has been put forward to modernise the council’s vehicle fleets and increased the number of electric vehicles.

What is a climate emergency?

Emissions from car exhaust
The current target is to reduce carbon emissions by 80% (compared to 1990 levels) by 2050.

A national climate emergency has been declared by the UK Parliament, reports the BBC

MPs are calling on the government to make changes that include setting a new target of reaching net zero emissions before 2050.

The current target is to reduce carbon emissions by 80% (compared to 1990 levels) by 2050.

In Scotland, a climate change emergency had already been declared – and targets are being set to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero by 2045.

Dozens of local areas around the UK have also said there is a climate emergency – but what does the term mean?

There’s no single definition, but many areas say they want to be carbon-neutral by 2030.

Why declare an emergency?

The United Nations says we could have just 11 years left to limit a climate change catastrophe.

Bristol councillor Carla Denyer first put forward the idea of a local area declaring a climate emergency and in November the city council passed the motion.

“We are acknowledging we are in an emergency situation,” she told Radio 1 Newsbeat – speaking before the UK and Scottish governments made their pledges.

“Reading council is leading by example and has already cut its own carbon footprint by nearly two-thirds since 2008″

Council leader Jason Brock said: “The council’s proposed budget outlines a huge £34 million capital investment over the two years  since we declared a climate emergency.

“It delivers on the commitment we made as a council last year to target a net zero carbon Reading by 2030.

“This £34 million investment is only part of this story though.

“There are a whole host of major council projects which sit outside of this budget envelope – across offices, housing, transport, leisure and waste, for example – all of which will contribute significantly to further reducing emissions in Reading.

“Reading council is leading by example and has already cut its own carbon footprint by nearly two-thirds since 2008.

“As a town, we are the ninth best out of 400 local authority areas in the whole country in terms of cuts in emissions.

“Our proposed budget not only builds on that success, it accelerates us towards a net-zero carbon Reading in less than 10 years.

“It’s an ambitious target, but one which we are determined to invest in to achieve.“

The council’s report can be found here

Written by Editor

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