Council response to Ely Extinction Rebellion letter

East Cambs Council leader Anna Bailey responds to Ely Extinction Rebellion's letter.

East Cambs Council leader Anna Bailey responds to Ely Extinction Rebellion's letter. - Credit: Archant

East Cambridgeshire District Council welcomes the commitment by Ely Extinction Rebellion to work with us, and we share their view that acting on climate change is a genuine emergency.

We have been anything but ‘inactive’ in relation to our commitment to addressing climate change as the letter states.

In December 2019, we launched our Ideas Forum to gather feedback from residents, local businesses and groups on how we, as a council should work with them to address the climate


We used this feedback to create our Environment and Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan. We delivered the plan that was promised, and our plan was adopted in June 2020. #

Since then we have strived to ensure an immediate start on as many of our top 20 action points as feasibly possible.

Our strategy is deeply important to every single member of this council, which is why our finance and assets committee unanimously approved £100,000 of funding per year to deliver the commitments we have set out.

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And in the last three months alone, we have made great progress towards many of our objectives. The report to the council’s operational services committee sets out clear progress on these actions during this time.

We urge you to read this report as it outlines the considerable steps we have already taken and our plans for the near future, some of which I have highlighted in this response.

The council’s finance and assets committee is due to consider the adoption of a new natural environment supplementary planning document (SPD) by the end of this month.

A draft of climate change SPD, which seeks to ensure that developers play their part and help address the climate emergency in the planning of their development schemes, will also be presented to the committee for approval to go to public consultation.

We’ve taken immediate action as soon as practically possible to address our use of fossil fuels within our offices. We are switching to a 100 percent renewable energy green tariff electricity contract from October 1 2020.

MORE: Extinction Rebellion Ely climate change emergency letter

The council has also changed most of its street and car park lights to LED, with the remaining few to be replaced by the end of 2020.

Progress has been made towards cutting carbon emissions through the reduction of staff business travel. Our plan not only covers actions to mitigate climate change, but also includes measures to boost the natural environment.

And we are working with the Wildlife Trust to help it convert some of our land into areas for meadows and tree planting.

East Cambridgeshire District Council is also working with a variety of partners to utilise available funding to improve our existing cycling and walking infrastructure, including the funding provided by central government during the COVID-19 pandemic.

We are in the process of assessing the findings of the bus, cycle, walk review undertaken earlier this year, to help lobby for further funding to increase and enhance bus, cycling and walking infrastructure in the district.

What is more, we are also pressing our partner organisations to give walking and cycling provision equal consideration ahead of commencing transport infrastructure developments. This is also the case for the dualling of the A10. We as a council expressed to the Combined Authority that safe crossing points for cyclists, walkers and horse riders at junctions are essential and we have urged them to ensure that the proposed segregated cycle route from Cambridge to Ely is an off-road cycle path where there is a separate provision for both pedestrians and cyclists.

MORE: £170,000 could be invested in pedestrian and cycle schemes

We have also expressed the absolute necessity for a safe route for pedestrians and cyclists to cross the A10 at the Witchford Road BP roundabout.

As part of this work, we are also pushing for the Combined Authority to future-proof the A10 and investigate extending the CAM from the north portal into the Ely/Stretham area.

Our work here however must be balanced with the needs of our residents in the surrounding areas. Delays on the A10 are also impacting on other roads in the district, particularly the A142, A1123, B1049 and the B1102.

Traffic counts show that large numbers of vehicles, including HGVs, which would be most appropriately accommodated on the A10, are travelling through small villages on roads which are unsuitable for this volume of traffic.

A dualled A10 will redirect this traffic onto the strategic network and away from these small roads and rural villages. It is my hope that finding a solution for these roads to stop being a rat run will allow those in the area to feel more confident about cycling on these roads.

With regards to the proposed works at Lancaster Way, we would encourage all residents, local businesses and groups, such as Extinction Rebellion, to take part in Cambridgeshire County Council’s consultation on the proposals.

We are making real progress with our plans, but we are aware that we have much more to do. The council acknowledges that our actions need to adapt to the inevitable changes in the climate, as well as mitigating measures.

MORE: ‘Pop-up’ cycle schemes and extra electric car charge points - council outlines plans to tackle climate change emergency

As such, the council has also committed to the creation of a Climate Adaptation Plan over the next 12 months which seeks to address this.

It is our vision that by 2050 the council’s operations will reach net zero carbon emissions, but we will do our utmost to try and achieve this sooner.

We will draft an updated ‘environment plan’ in June 2021 which will set interim targets for 2025 and 2030. These interim targets will be debated at operational services committee in January 2021.

We are working closely with our partners such as the Combined Authority and Cambridgeshire County Council to ensure a joined-up approach in our mission to address climate change.

We are also committed to reaching out to residents and organisations such as Extinction Rebellion so that together, we can make East Cambs a leading area for tackling climate change and for boosting the natural environment.

ANNA BAILEY, East Cambs Council leader