Welwyn Hatfield worst in county for addressing climate crisis

The protestors, were trying to highlight the horrors of climate change. Picture: XR East Herts

Extinction Rebellion East Herts during a Halloween protest in Welwyn Garden City. - Credit: XR East Herts

Welwyn Hatfield's climate action plan has been ranked as the worst in Herts by not-for-profit campaigning organisation Climate Emergency UK.

Climate Emergency UK scored 325 plans according to 28 questions grouped into nine categories, including how well councils’ plans would mitigate the impact of climate change locally, whether climate and ecological emergency was integrated into existing policies, community engagement, climate education, scale of emissions targets and commitments to tackle the ecological emergency.

Three Rivers was the best performing council in Herts, with a score of 55 per cent. However, Welwyn Hatfield was languishing at the bottom of the list, with a rating of 28 per cent.

Lib Dem leader Paul Zukowskyi said: "Despite all the bluster and noise from the Conservative administration, Welwyn Hatfield is the worst-performing council in the county.

“This comes as no surprise whatever. Lots of hot air in the council chamber from the Conservative councillors must have only added to the emergency. No substance is the council’s problem."

"Last year at the budget meeting we proposed a cost-neutral programme that would have paid for a senior climate emergency officer to drive matters forward. The Conservatives said such a post wasn’t needed.

Welwyn Hatfield Liberal Democrats councillors Jane Quinton and Paul Zukowskyj.

Cllr Jane Quinton and Cllr Paul Zukowskyj. - Credit: Welwyn Hatfield Liberal Democrats

"We will be proposing a new post again next week, hopefully, this time the Conservatives will listen.

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"I won’t be holding my breath, though, the Conservatives' commitment to addressing the climate emergency has never been worth the paper it was written on.”

However, the council believe that the scoring "does not accurately reflect the progress the council has made" since they declared a climate emergency in June 2019 and mentioned a number of schemes they have initiated to promote energy efficiency and sustainable development.

Cllr Fiona Thomson, Executive Member for Housing and Climate Change, added: "We remain fully committed to tackling the causes and effects of climate change and are in discussion with CE UK regarding the data used in the score.

"We have a climate change strategy (www.welhat.gov.uk/plans-strategies/climate-change-strategy) on which we surveyed our residents to ensure we had the most robust carbon reduction objectives, and this is being continually reviewed.

"The CE UK website states it has only assessed action plans and not the actions councils are actually taking to reduce emissions and improve biodiversity. While we don’t underestimate the challenge of tackling climate change, we are confident we’re making important progress in this area.

Results for Hertfordshire, accessible from the Guardian website:

Authority

Score

Rank

Three Rivers

55%

1

St Albans C&DC

53%

2

Hertfordshire County Council

50%

3

Dacorum

44%

4

Hertsmere

42%

5

Stevenage

38%

6

Watford

36%

7

East Hertfordshire

32%

8

North Hertfordshire

31%

=9

Broxbourne

31%

=9

Welwyn Hatfield

28%

11