An ambitious strategy to make Kent carbon neutral goes out to public consultation today (Tuesday).
The strategy’s vision is that by 2050 the county will have reduced emissions to zero, eliminating poor air quality, reducing fuel poverty and delivering an affordable, clean and secure energy supply for Kent and Medway.
Kent and Medway continue to grow, and by 2031 there could be 180,000 new homes and nearly 400,000 extra people.
The strategy looks at the link between the supply of energy for housing, industry and transport and air quality, recognising that reducing emissions from the former will lead to improvements in the latter.
As such, priorities in the draft strategy are about ensuring that future growth in planning and development demonstrably helps the county mitigate climate change.
This includes tackling poor air quality; reducing carbon emissions; and ensuring a sustainable, secure and affordable energy supply, alongside supporting electric vehicles and promoting walking, cycling and public transport.
KCC’s deputy cabinet member for the environment Michael Payne said: “The challenge of balancing the pressures of development against the impact on our environment and health has been recognised for many years.
“Different sectors are already taking action to reduce their impact on the environment, but our evidence shows that this activity with our partners needs to be better joined up, as well as expanded and accelerated.
“Kent and Medway face some important challenges including some areas with poor air quality and levels of fuel poverty.
“The increasing number of severe weather events such as flooding, water shortages and rising temperatures must also be taken into consideration.
“I fully support this strategy and whilst KCC’s own endeavours are essential, close partnership with our colleagues in Medway and working across organisations, sectors and geographical areas will be imperative in order to achieve the collective gain.
“By working with businesses and communities, we can protect both our health and the environment. Now is the time to act together.”
Cllr Jane Chitty, Medway Council’s Portfolio Holder for Planning, Economic Growth and Regulation, said: “We are pleased to be working with our partners at Kent County Council to help mitigate climate change and address carbon emissions.
“We are committed to addressing the issues that impact on our residents’ health and wellbeing. We already have an air quality action plan in place.
“Through our Local Plan we are working with developers to ensure that energy efficiency is built into any new developments. This is an important step to tackle fuel poverty and reduce carbon emissions.
“Medway already has guidance in place for developers to highlight their responsibility to help improve air quality through a variety of measures including installing charging points for electric vehicles and planting hedgerows and trees.
“We will continue to encourage residents to use public transport, walk and cycle where possible to help further protect our local environment.
“We look forward to working with colleagues and partners at KCC and other organisations to deliver the aspirations of the draft Energy and Low Emissions Strategy.”
The consultation closes on September 23. To take part visit www.kent.gov.uk/energyandlowemissionsconsultation