Concerns Over Water Resilience as CBC Launch Sustainability Plan

A major step forward in making Central Bedfordshire Council (CBC) carbon neutral by 2030 was agreed by Central Bedfordshire Council's Executive Committee on Monday when it recommended next week’s full council meeting adopt a new Sustainability Plan.

Developed jointly by officers and elected members it commits the council to lead by example and by investing in sustainability and encouraging others – residents, businesses and key partners - to do the same.

The plan is CBC's response after councillors unanimously passed a climate action motion in July 2019 and after they carried out an extensive analysis of both the Council's and the local area’s carbon footprints.

“Perfect Time to Launch the Plan”

Cllr Steve Dixon, Executive Member for Transformation and External Partnerships, said, “This document is purposefully a plan rather than a strategy.  It has specific actions, responsibilities and timescales for each opportunity and project area within it. 

“And while we acknowledge the impact of COVID-19, we would argue that with working from home, changed travel patterns and more time spent outdoors the new ‘normal’ now is the perfect time to launch our Sustainability Plan.

“The world has changed but this ambitious plan provides assurance that our long-term vision to be climate-responsive, to grow in a sustainable way and create benefits for local communities and businesses has not. It places sustainability at the heart of what we do.

 "We want everyone to embrace the benefits through sustainable transport, clean green spaces and planning for a sustainable future. Working on the plan has been a priority for us even during the pandemic.”

Water Resilience Concern

The plan had cross-party support during the discussion, including that of  Cllr Alison Graham (Independent, representing Silsoe and Shillington), but at 17:10 on the video above she was concerned that the report mentioned flood risk and water-saving education but had nothing about water resilience. 

Cllr Graham told the meeting, “The South East is the driest part of England. Our own assessment made some years ago now, was for a 70% water deficit in the next 20 years. 70%. Now, I'd just like to refer to Anglian Water's 30-year plan for its whole area, which includes Central Beds, 'Anglian Water's Plan is based on developing forecasts of supply and demand to produce a supply/demand balance over the next decades. In Anglian Water's assessment of need by area, WE are rated red. Red.” 

'Red' rating in 'Water Resources Management Plan 2019' from Anglian Water

Other councillors welcomed the fact that the CBC Sustainability Plan was there to be discussed and improved upon.

Action to date

Since the climate action motion was passed CBC has invested in a tree-planting programme, acquired electric vans for its highways fleet, started trials for innovative sustainable highways technology, awarded a new waste contract to a company committed to reducing carbon emissions from waste collection services and improving recycling rates, continued the roll-out of LED street lighting, and switched its energy suppliers to renewables.

The Council is currently developing a Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan (LCWIP), planning to build two integrated transport hubs at Biggleswade and Flitwick railway stations, looking across its buildings to see where it can install solar panels and creating an online advice centre where residents and businesses can access information on how to live and work more sustainably.

Next Steps

The draft plan will now go to next week’s full council meeting with a recommendation that it should be adopted and implemented.



Source: CBC press release, additional text, Alan Winter