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Executive Leader Cllr Brenda Warrington

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Councillor Brenda Warrington, Executive Leader of Tameside Council

Natural Beauty and Clean Air: Our Plans for Tameside's Environment

Thursday, 13 June 2019

At last month’s meeting of Full Council I said that one of our priorities for the rest of the year would be protecting Tameside’s natural environment. Nestled between the hustle and bustle of Greater Manchester and the serenity and greenspace of the Peak District National Park, Tameside’s unique location provides us with both outstanding natural beauty, and challenges to protecting and preserving it.

Seven months ago we organised the first ever Tameside Green Summit, bringing together residents, businesses and climate experts to discuss how to protect our shared environment and commit to real action. I’m delighted to say that we’re now starting to make good on the pledges we made there, including reducing our carbon footprint by better management and retrofitting of council-owned buildings where possible, and switching our corporate energy contract over to a green supplier. We also set a goal to plant 4,500 trees throughout Tameside in 2019, and with less than half of the year gone we’ve not only met that target but exceeded it by over 1,115.

We’ve also taken the first steps to combat the scourge of micro-plastic pollution in the borough by launching our “Refill” scheme. The principle is simple; businesses throughout Tameside can sign up to become a “Refill station”, offering free tap water to any residents that want it. As well as increasing the availability of quality drinking water, the scheme helps to prevent plastic waste by encouraging people to carry reusable water bottles instead of buying single-use ones. The list of businesses in Tameside that have signed up to the Refill scheme can be found on our website here, and I would encourage you all to take part. Such small changes in lifestyle and consumption, if done by enough people, can make a big difference in our fight to tackle waste and pollution.

It’s particularly important to note this progress as next week is Clean Air Week, the UK’s largest air pollution awareness campaign, and an issue of massive significance for Tameside and Greater Manchester as a whole. While the chimneys and smoke stacks of the Industrial Revolution are a faded memory, vehicle emissions have replaced them as the greatest polluters of our air. Air pollution is believed to contribute to the deaths of 1,200 people a year in Greater Manchester through heart disease, lung cancer, stroke and other ailments, and across Europe it is estimated to cause more extra deaths a year than tobacco smoking.

For the past few years in Greater Manchester we’ve been giving a lot of thought into how best to make sure that our air is safe to breathe. The proposals to combat air pollution, produced by the ten local authorities in Greater Manchester, Transport for Greater Manchester and the Mayor Andy Burnham, include; spending £116 million upgrading the city region’s vehicle fleet over the next 4 years, creating the largest clear air zone in the country outside of London, and trebling the size of our electric vehicle charging network. Before we start putting these plans into reality, we want to get your views on them. The public consultation on the GM Clean Air Plan, which runs until the end of the month, is on the Clean Air GM website here. If you want to make sure that the voice of Tameside’s residents and businesses is heard, please visit the consultation and give your views before 30th June.

Despite the great work that we’ve done so far, we know that there is still a lot more to do.  It is my hope that we can use our successes in Tameside and the increased awareness during Clean Air Week as a call to action. Not just to educate ourselves on what we can do as individuals, but also on the power of collective action and what we should be demanding from the government. Let’s make sure that future generations can enjoy the outstanding natural beauty that Tameside has to offer.

 

Posted by: Executive Leader


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