Council's 2050 climate targets will slip

Coun Colin DavieCoun Colin Davie
Coun Colin Davie
Lincolnshire County Council’s environment chief has said 2050 targets for the UK to be carbon neutral will slip as energy demands rise.

Councillor Colin Davie, the executive portfolio holder for environment and the economy at the authority, has told Local Democracy Reporters that in order to keep energy costs as low as possible, he believed the UK would have to use “anything that is readily available”.

This includes mining for and using more coal power, similar to moves by China and Germany.

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The majority of councils in Lincolnshire have declared a climate emergency and set themselves targets to be carbon neutral by 2030 or 2050.

However, Councillor Davie said: “It’s quite clear to me coal is going to have to be part of the energy mix for the short term.”

He warned that with the energy price cap set to rise by £5,000 some would struggle to survive.

“In the longer term, I don’t think it should be, but ultimately I’m more concerned about my elderly residents on low incomes, who are worried about turning the heating on this winter than I am about the green movement at the moment.

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“We’ve got to secure the energy supply so people are not scared to turn the heating on.

“If people die in their homes this winter because they’re too scared to switch their central heating on then that is a disgrace, it’s a travesty, and it’s a failure of governments and political parties across all parties that will not be forgiven by the British people.”

He said the situation would have to be reviewed, but added that he was clear that the county council would continue to make Lincolnshire “as sustainable and green as possible”.

This included investing in green technologies, encouraging district councils to promote zero carbon house building and supporting residents and landlords in investing in eco-friendly home upgrades.

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Councillor Davie said there were challenging times ahead for people on low incomes due to rising energy costs and political instability.

He said successive governments “of all colours” had “simply failed the British public on energy”.

“They haven’t planned, they haven’t invested, they haven’t built the infrastructure. So rising energy costs, which we should have been protected from,… are now absolutely under the whims of other people.”

He said there needed to be a balanced energy mix including solar, nuclear, wind, but that the current infrastructure was disconnected and “not secure”.

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And he warned it was only going to get worse with reserves from Norway drying up and other countries having to make drastic changes over how much they export.

However, with 17,000 acres of solar farms due to be decided on in the county, he again warned against putting all eggs in one basket and sacrificing valuable farmland for an “intermittent” energy source which did not yet have a battery storage system at the capacity needed.

Many councillors and MPs argue that solar would be better placed on brownfield sites, or by retrofitting existing homes with energy efficient measures.