The bold and ambitious plan to create a cleaner and greener Wigan

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Multi-million pound investments in the walking and cycling network, the installation of 1,500 solar panels and the introduction of a new ultra-low emission big wagon fleet are some of the steps taken by Wigan Council as it gears up its response to climate change.

These are on top of a £250k annual climate change fund which was announced last week in a bid to support council initiatives to reduce its carbon footprint and create a cleaner, greener environment.

After declaring a climate emergency last July, council bosses are keen to make serious commitments for a more sustainable borough but measures have already been taken.

In a bid to see a carbon reduction, investment in street lighting infrastructure has removed 3,400 tonnes of carbon per year and teams have installed 1,500 solar panels on properties within our housing stock helping to reduce the impacts of fuel poverty.

A 20-strong fleet of ultra-low emission big wagons have also just arrived after an investment of £3m, in conjunction with a further £5m cash injection to make sure the council’s vehicle fleet is air quality compliant.

Commenting on progress, Coun Paul Prescott, cabinet member for the environment, said: “As a council we want to be leading the way in our approach to dealing with Climate Change and making sure we meet this challenge head on.

“The impact of climate change is real and is already causing serious issues across the world so it’s essential we are proactive and show the level of commitment that is required.

“While we have made some good progress, there is a still long way to go and I am confident we can deliver the ambitions set out and ensure we pass on a cleaner and greener version of our borough onto the next generation.”

In a bid to encourage more sustainable travel, a £2m investment has been injected into walking and cycle routes with the opening of ‘Muddy Mile’ down the Bridgewater Canal happening last summer as part of the first Bee Network cycling scheme.

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 in total for motorists to take advantage of.

Promoting a circular economy will also be a central part of the efforts to become more environmentally-friendly with the council looking to reduce waste and promote recycling, so the borough is recycling 65% of the municipal waste by 2030.

Scrapping fees for bulky waste collections is hoped to boost recycling rates across the borough with an extra collection team also being funded.

Last year Wigan Council was recognised as the top plastic recycler in the country with over 9,000 tonnes of plastics captured through our brown waste stream and then recycled.

Last month, a pledge to plant one million trees across the borough by the end of 2030 was unveiled which will see the borough’s tree canopy effectively double from 18% to 36%.

2020 is poised to be a milestone year in the council’s environmental journey with the inaugural Climate Change Conference scheduled for June where the climate change strategy will be formally launched, while the latest Eco-Schools Conference is planned for the autumn with the inclusion of the borough’s young people vital to the progress we make.