Plotting Wigan Borough’s journey to becoming carbon neutral by 2038

image of a forest

Wigan Council has reaffirmed its commitment to achieving carbon neutral status by 2038 or sooner with plans to create a cleaner, greener borough.

The wide-ranging measures will not only mitigate against the impacts of climate change but create new environments that residents can enjoy.

Following on from declaring a climate change emergency in 2019, the council’s Climate Change Strategy sets out key targets such as promoting walking and cycling routes, investing in the green economy and pioneering large-scale tree-planting schemes.

Coun Paul Prescott, Wigan Council’s cabinet member for environment, said: “We recognise the urgent and significant environmental challenges faced by not just Wigan Borough but around the world, and we want to be at the forefront of positive change.

“Our strategy sets out how we will tackle these obstacles. We remain committed to working with partners and with our residents to ensure a cleaner, greener and healthier borough for future generations.

“The next few years will be an exciting time as we continue to accelerate our plans. The time for change is now, doing nothing is not an option.”

It will see the council supporting schools, residents and communities to promote green living through the next stage of the Deal 2030.

Partnership working with  Greater Manchester neighbours will be crucial in developing a number of regional strategies, including the Greater Manchester Clean Air Plan.

While steps forward have already been taken, Wigan Council recognises that more needs to be done in tackling a climate crisis which faces us all.

Data already shows there has been considerable progress when it comes to cutting carbon emissions in the borough.

In 2018, total CO2 emissions stood at 1,283 kilo tonnes of CO2 (ktCO2) which is a reduction of 2.28% from the previous year 2017 and a reduction of 35% from 2005.

Wigan’s emissions reductions between 2017 and 2018 are second in Greater Manchester with a reduction on 2.62% in CO2 emissions.

Encouraging more sustainable travel will be a key component of the green ambitions.

The council has supplied £2m for walking and cycle routes with the opening of ‘Muddy Mile’ down the Bridgewater Canal regarded as a milestone marker last summer as part of the first Bee Network cycling scheme.

Counters at popular walking and cycling routes have recorded encouraging numbers in July and August with over 30,000 cyclists using Wallgate and Saddle Junction and more than 40,000 walkers heading down Victoria Street and Smithy Brook Road.

A further 30 twin electric vehicle charging points are to be installed within the borough in the coming year which will bring the total to 48.

The council has previously pledged to plant one million trees by the end of 2030 and there is an exciting update on the project to be announced in the next two months as planting accelerates before next spring.

And the authority is keen to lead from the front and ensure its own operations tie in with the aims of the strategy.

These aspirations received a welcome boost last month as the authority was successful in a funding bid for a rooftop solar panel scheme at Makerfield Depot.

The installation of solar panels will generate sufficient renewable electricity to power the full operations, thus reducing our carbon footprint and delivering significant savings with all excessive electricity stored and used to charge our electric fleet.

The importance of education in the fight against climate change also cannot be ignored and the development of the strategy vows to ensure young peoples’ voices are heard.

The council’s Eco Schools Conference programme will provide an important platform, empowering young residents to play a key role in the plans.

Finally, working alongside Community Wealth Building principles – announced last month – the council will look to work closer with local businesses and supply chains that are more environmentally minded and open to adopting zero carbon technologies.