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WCA Newsroom

Read the latest news from WCA and our members here. We welcome contributions to the site. Please click on the 'contribute' button to send us your news for consideration.

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The fantastic Climate Emergency UK organisation released their analysis of council climate action across the country in October 2023.

This gives an objective measure of how each council in the UK compares with others, and more importantly gives a detailed breakdown of the scores and the evidence on which they are based.

So for the Wiltshire scorecard , you can scroll down to the table of Questions, click the down arrow on the right next to a section you are interested in, then for each question you can click on the 'how is this marked' button to reveal a link to the actual data used to score the question.

So for example, question 4.9 under Governance and Finance, concerning climate awareness training, reveals that as of February 2023, only 43 managers, including just 17 out of 102 (16%) of senior managers (tiers 1-3), had attended the full 1-day climate awareness training session. Also a couple of 1-hour briefings were provided for cabinet members, committee chairs and other councillors, which was attended by some. Recordings of all sessions were made available to all the intended audience afterwards. However the uptake and tracking of delivery was not sufficient to award a mark for this item.

We encourage you to browse the results and follow up where you can help to improve the scores in future. This will be discussed at our general meeting on 1-November - please join if you would like to help follow things up!

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When Net Zero means Not Net Zero

Have you ever wondered if companies’ net-zero targets hold water? It seems many may not. An authoritative analysis this week found that the climate goals set by 25 of the world’s biggest firms, including Amazon, IKEA and Volkswagen Group, can’t be taken at face value. 

The report by NewClimate Institute , a Germany-based non-profit, compared the firms’ pledges with their actions and found they will, on average, cut their emissions by 40 per cent rather than the 100 per cent you’d expect. (Our explainer here unpacks how the “net” bit works.)

To read the rest of the article click HERE

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To gain a much deeper understanding of the ways that companies are managing and reporting on their environmental emissions WCA's Business Engagement Group formed a team of volunteer ‘citizen researchers’ and developed an assessment methodology to evaluate the policy, targets and reported mitigation actions across 50 member-nominated local organisations. Learn more.

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Every day the UN observes Earth Day, and this year the theme is 'Invest in our Planet' - financially and in every way.

For individuals financial investments include bank accounts and any pension funds. Friends of the Earth has some suggestions here. And if you can invest in retrofit, making your house as efficient as it can be before next winter - a better investment financially than ever now as energy prices are not likely to fall much in the forseeable future.

Its also worth taking time to look at the IPCC WG3 report that has recently been published - summary here . And watch the UN Secretary General comments at the launch - very strong words. Then look at the UK government's recently announced energy strategy which does not seem to match up to this - could you urgently ask your MP about this?

But even without savings there is a lot citizens can do without waiting for governments: everyone needs to act now, as well as pushing governments and businesses to do more. Credible research for C40 cities says that citizens have primary influence over 25% of emissions savings needed by 2030, not even counting the home energy consumed or number of children (which has an enormous impact over time). Have a look at The Jump - an inspirational campaign launching nationally from a great Bristol-based team based on this research to engage the key 35% of citizens who want to do more and have a substantial proportion of the power. Sign up and share - and think about how and where we might promote it in Wiltshire?

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When Net Zero means Not Net Zero

Have you ever wondered if companies’ net-zero targets hold water? It seems many may not. An authoritative analysis this week found that the climate goals set by 25 of the world’s biggest firms, including Amazon, IKEA and Volkswagen Group, can’t be taken at face value. 

The report by NewClimate Institute , a Germany-based non-profit, compared the firms’ pledges with their actions and found they will, on average, cut their emissions by 40 per cent rather than the 100 per cent you’d expect. (Our explainer here unpacks how the “net” bit works.)

To read the rest of the article click HERE

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COP-out 26

This is an extended version of the article which appeared in the WCA newsletter in December 2021, with additional contributions from Nick Murry and Andrew Nicholson and extra photos from Nick Murry

Read Full Article Here

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WCA Newsletter #9

In this newsletter we cover the following items:

  • COP 26 – Progress or just Blah Blah Blah?

  • Wiltshire Council climate strategy – what next?

  • Planning for the next WCA demo

  • Diary Dates - What's coming up

  • Valentines campaign

  • WCA AGM plans, and organisational changes

  • Incinerator latest – Westbury appeal

  • Skills, experience & project sharing survey

  • Topic Groups news

  • Local Groups roundup

  • Photos of our beautiful county

 Read the NEWSLETTER HERE

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Chippenham Council fund battle against the Westbury incinerator

Chippenham Town Council last night (25th November)  voted to give financial support (only £1k initially) to Westbury Town Council’s legal challenge against Wiltshire Council re the Incinerator – this came after a letter asking other town and parish councils for money!  This is unprecedented as from an environmental point of view – lower tier councils working together against the principal authority on an environmental issue!  More news on this issue to follow!

Sam Baker (who used to live in Wiltshire) Walks from London to COP 26

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www.walk2cop26.com

 

My son, Sam Baker, has organised a walk from London, Stepney to Glasgow to raise awareness about global warming, and to gather information on the way about what people are doing about it.

 

Six of them started this  walk on the 7th October and plan to finish 507 miles later on the 1st November, walking 20 plus miles every day. They reached halfway at Bradford on the 19th October, on schedule,  after 255 miles walking and all is going well. They have had most constructive meetings with environmental groups en route,  gathering information on action being taken by local authorities, industry, charities, schools, and environmental groups. Two things stand out: there is a growing realisation that we must do something about global warming  to compensate for  damage we have done  to the environment, and that we must work together in all sorts of ways to achieve net zero. The Climate Change message should be at the heart of every organisation, home, and individual and we all need be involved, to talk about it and listen for solutions which can be spread around the globe.

 

Our family has lived in Wiltshire since the 60s, and my mother, aged 107, still lives in Salisbury.  Sam and his family were frequent visitors to our home in Chirton near Devizes and no doubt was infected with his love of the environment by that lovely rural area !

 

There are ways you can get involved: you can follow the walk on Twitter and Facebook but most importantly you can join walkers all over the world on the 31st October and, by walking, plant trees and seeds. Open www.walk2COP26.com  Click on “Walk with Us” and follow the instructions !.

Click here for the link to a short update recording with our initial insights and an update. 

David Baker - WCA Member

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Wiltshire Council Draft Climate Strategy and Green&Blue Infrastructure -

Your Support and Comments Needed - Deadline Sunday 17-Oct!

 

After seeking feedback on discussion documents earlier in the year, Wiltshire Council has created a draft Climate Strategy document. It is quite short and readable, explaining the main areas they will address, and says that detailed delivery plans will be developed afterwards.

If you would like to see the council take faster and more urgent action to help us aim for net zero by 2030, please sign our petition herePlease get your friends to sign as well. If we get 5,000 signatures, they have to debate it at the next full Council meeting.

The council are seeking feedback on the strategy document until 17-Oct. WCA has consulted with members and produced a guide to responding as well as our own WCA response (15 pages).

 

Responses from individuals and member groups are very important too, and you may have some other ideas, so do please have a look. Do first check the previously answered questions first and see what the response is, but do say if you don't think it is adequate.

More details from WCA here

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The important Green and Blue Infrastructure Strategy consultation is running concurrently with the Climate Strategy consultation and also needs your comments.

 

Please see our guide: 

A busy person’s fairly short guide to the Green and Blue Infrastructure Strategy for Wiltshire - “Our Natural Environment Plan”.

See also the WCA response (16 pages).

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Ask Your MP: Strengthen Environment Bill; and Protect Ancient Woodlands

 

The Environment Bill is returning to the House of Commons for what could be final revisions. Now is a crucial time to ask your MP to support proposed amendments to strengthen this bill.

For full details and an easy way to email your MP about protectng ancient woodlands, see this Woodland Trust campaign .

And do please support Friends of the Earth - Environment Bill Asks too!

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Solar Farms​ - Urgent Supporting Comments Needed!

 

Solar farms are the most important way Wiltshire can capture renewable energy. When well-sited on low-quality agricultural land and surrounded by trees, they increase biodiversity value compared to grazing pasture, and wildflowers can grow between the rows of panels.

Three new 50MW peak capacity farms are currently up for planning consideration. Please see our information and links to comment forms and consider submitting supportive comments.

 

Surveys show majority support but comments to date on the planning applications are mainly from a minority of objectors. One application has already been re-submitted with many panels removed, due to complaints that they woud be visible from certain angles, and this substantially reduces its capacity to provide power in the peak morning and evening periods.

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Listen to the latest updates about Swindon and Wiltshire with Glynis Hales

Click HERE to see all the shows 

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National Planning Policy Framework and National Model Design Code: Consultation proposals - Closing Date 27th MARCH

“Don’t forget to respond to the National Planning Policy Framework and National Model Design Code: consultation, which closes at 11.45pm on 27 March 2021.  This is an opportunity to let the Govt. know that climate change mitigation and adaptation needs to be a key priority and properly aligned with Climate Change Act/ national net zero target.”

The Town and Country Planning Association has a good guide to responding. They suggest that the current proposal "is currently underwhelming in relation to climate change" and that even a short response to say this would be helpful.

 

Please respond online.  For any enquiries about the consultation please

contact: PlanningPolicyConsultation@communities.gov.uk

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Wiltshire Pension Fund responsible investment survey: deadline 19 March

The Wiltshire Pension Fund is carrying out a survey of members on their attitudes towards "responsible investing" including the extent to which climate change should be taken into account. The Fund manages the pensions of a wide range of organisations, as well as Wiltshire and Swindon Councils and Salisbury City Council. These include many schools, academies and colleges, Wiltshire Fire and Police services, and housing associations - ie a good slice of the public sector. The deadline is 19 March. If you are a member of the Wiltshire LGPS (paying in, deferred or pensioner) please complete the survey here and pass it on to anyone else you know who is a member. While some of us have received an email about this, it doesn't seem to have reached all members. The Wiltshire Fund has made some progress in divestment from fossil fuels, but still has 2% of the fund invested in fossil fuels. Please help the Committee to divest completely by making your views known." 

Please complete the survey here and pass it on to anyone else you know who is a member.

WCA's first Annual General Meeting - 30th January 2030

Here is the video of our first AGM held on 30th Jan 21 where many of our member groups provide an update of their plans for 2021

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Rural attitudes to climate change – equipping UK rural councillors to engage with their communities

Policies for a low carbon future present rural communities with unique challenges and opportunities, in particular in terms of transport, work and the way that land is used.

We wanted to understand how to engage with UK rural citizens in ways that are meaningful and relevant to them, so we dived into our Britain Talks Climate research to draw out relevant insights and recommendations for this group.

Click HERE to view this very helpful report

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WCA Youth Conference with WC Councillors Monday 22nd February  - Watch the video here

Congratulation to the WCA Youth group - they did so well. Here is the video of  the excellent meeting. So many superb statements, poems and artwork presented by young people

Wiltshire Climate Summit, hosted by Danny Kruger MP - Morning Session

WCA Question Time meeting with John Glen MP and Richard Clewer - 22nd Jan 2021

Here is the video of the meeting we held on 22 Jan 21 with John Glen MP and Richard Clewer deputy leader of Wiltshire Council - Thanks to all who took part.

For those who would like to download the slides used during the meeting please click HERE

Members meeting 6th January 2021 - notes and slides

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What a great meeting - It was great to see about 40 members join this meeting with so many positive suggestions for the way forward.

You can view the slides used at the meeting using this LINK

The notes from the meeting will be added HERE shortly.

Our next meeting is our AGM on 30th January - do register for the meeting using this LINK

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Wiltshire Council Climate Task Group - Part 2 of the report now been published.

The WCA have received the following E mail from Wiltshire Council:

 

Wiltshire Council’s Global Warming & Climate Emergency task group has published on the Wiltshire Council website its second report – covering the theme of planning. As you were one of the many people who supported the task group by providing expert advice and evidence I am sending you a link to the document. Also published is the response of the council’s Executive to the task groups first report which looked at transport, air quality and energy.

 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the council is currently operating streamlined Overview and Scrutiny arrangements, allowing officers to focus on supporting Wiltshire communities during the ongoing restrictions. The Environment Select Committee is therefore next scheduled to meet on 13 January 2021 and will consider the two published reports. The council welcomes public participation at meetings of its committee and arrangements for engaging in this meeting will be set out in the meeting agenda, to be published on 5 January 2021.

Read the REPORT HERE

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Govt's 10 Point Plan for Green Industrial Revolution

The Prime Minister’s 10-point vision for the UK’s transition to Net Zero emissions has been welcomed by many, including the Uk’s independent Committee on Climate Change, although it has been criticised by others as lacking ambition in key areas (e.g. see: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/nov/17/the-key-areas-of-boris-johnsons-green-industrial-revolution ). On the face of it, there is a lot in it to welcome and it is the most significant Govt. commitment so far, in the run up to next year’s COP26 Climate Summit in Glasgow.  However, it’s clear that despite (mostly) being an important step in the right direction, much more will need to be done to reach our net-zero emissions and nature recovery targets (including strengthening the targets themselves in terms of nature recovery).  Moreover, the Government’s ‘2050’ target is still a major obstacle to driving action, and nearer term targets, like the one announced for the phase out of fossil fuel vehicles by 2030, are urgently needed.  Importantly, at a local level, lots will need to be delivered via or with the cooperation of local authorities, and we (WCA) need to make sure Wiltshire Council steps up to the mark.

Nick Murry, WCA 03/12/20

Click HERE to read the plan

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Salisbury People Friendly Streets - Your help is needed

Here is a piece written by some members of the WCA Transport group  explaining the history of Salisbury People Friendly Streets, what has happened and how you can help to ensure it is not a project that is totally abandoned.

Click HERE to see the article

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Responding to the Planning White Paper

Next Thursday (29th October) at 23:45 a consultation on the future of planning closes. If the Government's proposals are enacted they would represent a fundamental assault on people's right to influence how development takes place in their community. Not only that but they would focus most housing in rural areas, served by big new access roads with little or no sustainable transport. They would drive up car use and carbon emissions and create large, socially isolated, dormitory developments which undermine people's health and well-being. 

Click HERE for more information

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WCA Newsletter No5

Time for another WCA newsletter already, because things are moving fast in Wiltshire, and there's a lot to catch up on – especially news regarding the A303 Stonehenge Tunnel and the proposed Westbury Waste Incinerator, and the council u-turn on People Friendly Streets in Salisbury. Our Youth Group and various Topic Groups have also been busy, we will have special guest speaker presentations at our December members' general meeting, and we are planning an online AGM in January at which we will also plan how to mark the 2nd anniversary of Wiltshire's Climate Emergency Declaration in February.
 
On top of all that, Wiltshire Council has just unveiled its draft Local Plan revision, which will shape planning decisions for the next decade.
 
Lots happening, so please read on ….....

In This Issue

  • Diary Dates for December/January

  • Local Plan will shape vital decade

  • Stonehenge “Tunnel Vision”

  • Other road news – good and bad

  • Salisbury People Friendly Streets U-turn

  • Incinerator Decision due in January

  • Wilts Council Climate Strategy update

  • Youth Involvement

  • Topic Group Updates Energy, Engagement & Land Use 

  • Shout outs for help

 Read the NEWSLETTER HERE

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WCA Newsletter No4

In this newsletter we cover the following items:

  • Forthcoming Meetings - Dates & Links

  • Roads to Ruin – An opinion piece. Wiltshire Council's new roads policies are incompatible with its Climate Emergency aims

  • Transport Topic Group - info and next meeting date

  • Other Topic Groups – How WCA is moving forward, with groups covering   Energy, Economy, Land Use & Management, Waste & Recycling, and Outreach

  • New Creative Writing Team – WCA reaches out to the local press

  • WCA Youth Workshop with Wiltshire Council – Young people get their say  

  • Engaging with MPs - We need your help!

  • Opposing the Governments Planning System - How the present system works – Public Inquiries and Appeals - The Government's proposals and the WCA response

  • Wiltshire Council Gags Questioners – Row leads to complaint

  • Why Soil Matters - An invitation from Climate Friendly Bradford on Avon

 Read the NEWSLETTER HERE

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WCA Respond to the Planning White Paper

The planning White Paper has the potential to significantly impact on this country's ability to reduce carbon emissions. Here is the letter which has been sent to the Secretaries of State in response. Thanks to Dr Nick Murry for researching the white paper and preparing the well crafted response. You read the letter HERE

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Notes from WCA member's meeting and Ellen Gale's talk - 7th October 20

We had a great meeting on 7th October where the main theme was about engagement. 29 members attended and we had a very interesting and productive meeting.

The notes and and actions can be seen on the following link.

Here is the video of Ellen's excellent talk on "The Business Case for Environmentalism"

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WCA Newsletter No3

In this newsletter we cover the following items:

  • WCA & Wiltshire Council Recovery Plan Zoom Conference 

  • Proposed WCA Youth & Wiltshire Council Zoom Conference

  • Next WCA Members zoom meeting

  • New Topic Groups & how to join

  • Latest news on the Westbury incinerator

  • Questioning Wiltshire Council – Keeping up the pressure

  • Government plans to 'reform' the planning system

  • The Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill

  • Other forthcoming local events throughout Wiltshire

 Read the NEWSLETTER HERE

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Local Charity - Avon Needs Trees (ANT)

Local charity Avon Needs Trees (ANT) is celebrating its first land purchase at Hazeland near Calne this Sunday, and has plans to create new, permanent woodland in the River Avon catchment.  The 34 acres purchased at Hazeland will be followed by another 20 acres at Seend, near Melksham, if funding can be raised in time.

 

For more information, or to donate or get involved, please contact Nick Murry nick.murry@wiltshireclimatealliance.co.uk who is an ANT Trustee.

Read more on their website HERE or on write ups by Wiltshire Gazette & Herald, Wiltshire Times and BBC Radio Wiltshire.

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Carbon Brief's article - Wind and solar are 30-50% cheaper than thought, admits UK government

Electricity generated from wind and solar is 30-50% cheaper than previously thought, according to newly published UK government figures.

The new estimates of the “levelised cost” of electricity, published this week by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), show that renewables are much cheaper than expected in the previous iteration of the report, published in 2016.

Read MORE about it HERE

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Natural Capital Commitee - Interim response to the 25 Year Environment Plan Progress Report & advice on a green economic recovery

The Government-appointed Natural Capital Committee’s 2020 Progress Report is unable to provide an assessment of progress, of which there has been very little....not only little evidence of progress, but worrying evidence of declines

Click HERE to read the full report

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Wiltshire Council C19 Recovery Plan - Consultation with WCA Members 14th August 2020 - Report

The workshop took place on 14th August as planned and 49 participants took part. It was very encouraging to see ten Wiltshire Council Officers attend along with five Wiltshire Councillors including the Deputy Leader Cllr. Richard Clewer. The feedback that we have received from those who attended has been very positive indeed.

The suggestions and ideas that came out of the workshop can be seen on the PowerPoint slides that can be downloaded on the link. The report was presented to a meeting of Wiltshire Council's Climate Emergency Task Group on Tuesday 19th August and we are delighted to confirm that some of the suggestions have already been adopted and will result in action being taken. We will monitor progress closely and report back.

A big thank you to all who took part, particularly those who helped to facilitate the workshop

Please feel free to comment in the forum section

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Boris Johnson cries 'nimbyism', but his planning changes will be disastrous

Proposed planning reform due to be announced soon, are set to take control from local planning authorities and the people they represent and hand it to Govt. led zoning commissions, overturning the Town and Country Planning Act, which has successfully guarded against uncontrolled development for decades. The reforms would remove people’s democratic right to have at least some control over the character and appearance of their neighbourhoods. 

According to many commentators, the new system could unleash a development sprawl never before seen in this country, with landowners able to build at will. It will essentially result in the exact opposite of ‘building back greener’ and ‘building back better’, stifling a green and equitable recovery before it’s even begun.

According to the CPRE ‘This surge of appreciation for quality local green spaces is just one indicator of the increased appetite for action to tackle the climate and nature crises head on.” 

People need to write to their MPs as soon as possible.

Further information below:

Guardian article explaining the risks

Another very interesting Guardian Article

CPRE article

WCA Update - 24th July 2020

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In this update we cover the following items:

  • Members Zoom meeting 3rd August

  • Day of Action on 21st July

  • A Green Recovery - WCA workshop with WC on 14th August - how to register

  • Tree Planting

  • Questions to council

 Read all about it HERE

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Cycle questions from WC Task group

Wiltshire Council has asked us if we could gauge opinion on the following questions. Please can you send answers these to Simon bennett by 24th July. Sorry about the short notice

• What would a more cycle friendly Wiltshire look like? How can we make this come about?

• What are the cycling initiatives in Wiltshire / UK / Europe that we should be aware of?

• What is holding back the take up of cycling across the county? How would we break down those barriers?

• How do we better connect our communities with cycle routes?

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Bradford-on-Avon Declares an Ecological Emergency

Bradford on Avon Town Council's Environment Committee today (8th July) added recognition of an EcologicalEmergency to the town's Climate Emergency Declaration of last year, noting that the two issues are linked and must be dealt with together. They resolved to:

  • Review the carbon and ecological footprint and sustainable sourcing of all projects and procurement,

  • Mandate all management and procurement to be consistent with the joint declarations,

  • Issue instructions to its suppliers and contractors to that effect by end of July, and

  • (last but not least) Host a Climate Action Day, with attendance open to all Parish and Town Councils in the (broadly defined) surrounding area.

This is thanks to determined lobbying, but of a receptive Council, by BOA XR and Climate-Friendly BOA. It enables the Council's spending and communications to align better with the twin emergencies. It puts pressure on other Wiltshire local authorities to follow suit. It is so good to see Bradford-on-Avon demonstrating what can be done.

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WCA Newsletter No2

In this newsletter we cover the following items:

  • Day of Action on 21st July

  • A Green Recovery - WCA workshop with WC - Would you like to take part?

  • WCA Survey details

  • Calling All Cyclists!

  • Incinerator Plan Changes

 Read the NEWSLETTER HERE

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UK gives go-ahead to giant windfarm project off Norfolk coast

A good news story(!) amidst government dithering on a green recovery, as a 1.8GW offshore windfarm gets the go ahead off the Norfolk coast.  

“Investments in major clean energy projects like these are great examples of how we can get the economy moving again,” said Hugh McNeal, the chief executive of the industry body.

Let’s hope Wiltshire Council takes note, and puts supportive policies in place to stimulate investment in renewables in Wiltshire.

Read the article HERE

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WCA Newsletter No1

In this newsletter we cover the following items:

  • The WCA Committee

  • Council Watching

  • Evolving a WCA Strategy

  • Pedestrianisation & Cycle Routes

  • Bradford Climate Art Project

 Read the NEWSLETTER HERE

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