Text of Original Motion:

Motion to be proposed by Councillor Catherine Webber, seconded by Councillor Debby Hallett (Lib Dems)

Council notes that:

  1. a) the recent 2018 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report states that we have just 12 years to act on climate change if global temperature rises are to be kept within the recommended 1.5 degrees Celsius;
  2. b) all governments (national, regional and local) have a duty to limit the negative impacts on climate breakdown, and local governments that recognise this should not wait for their national governments to change their policies. UK county, district and city councils need to commit to aggressive reduction targets and carbon neutrality as quickly as possible;
  3. c) districts are well placed to lead the world in reducing carbon emissions, as their responsibility for planning policiesopens upa range of sustainable transport, buildings and energy opportunities;
  4. d) Council has already shown foresight when it comes to addressing the issue of Climate Change, having signed the Nottingham Declaration on Climate Change in 2007. In 2008, Council agreed a Climate Change Strategy, introduced by Councillor Mary de Vere, which provided the framework for the council to set about reducing the carbon footprint of its own activities and of the local community. Between 2008 and 2013, this council collaborated with the Energy Saving Trust on the development of a strategy to reduce area-wide carbon emissions, as well as with the Carbon Trust, to produce a Carbon Management Plan which sets out how the council planned to reduce energy and fuel use in its own buildings and vehicles. All of this has led toa 30% drop in energy use in ourbuildings through 2018.
  5. e) although the Vale of White Horse District Council is managing to deliver absolute carbon reductions despite the upward pressures on carbon emissions caused by changes in the structure of its operations and services and variability caused by factors such as the weather, it is not delivering the necessary absolute carbon reductions fast enough to meet either the UK’s 2050 80% reduction target or the5 degreeCelsius target.

In light of the above, the Council therefore agrees to:

  1. Join other councils in declaring a Climate Emergency;
  2. Ask the leader to write to the Secretary of State requesting that they provide the necessary powers and resources to make local action on climate change easier;
  3. Request that,in light ofthe recent IPCC report and the latest Vale of White Horse District Council data (published June 2018), officers review the council’s Climate Change Strategy and Carbon Management Plan with the aim of bringing a report to Cabinet in the autumn of 2019, after consideration by Scrutiny. The review should include the option of adopting an early carbon neutral target for the Vale, and proposals for regular reporting to Scrutiny Committee the progress with the strategy and plan;
  4. Ask officers to ensure that as the council’s policies are routinely reviewed, specific consideration is given to how policies, and our related decisions and actions, affect our contribution to climate change, and where necessary, update these policies to reduce our impact wherever possible;
  5. Ask officers to provide the cost and the most appropriate training for members and officers about how to promote carbon neutral policies for future consideration by Cabinet;
  6. Continue to work with partners across the district, county and wider region to

deliver widespread carbon reductions.

2.         Motion to be proposed by Councillor Emily Smith, seconded by Councillor Bob Johnston

Council notes that although Scrutiny Committee and Cabinet have discussed possible route options, this Council has not debated its position in relation to the proposed Oxford to Cambridge Expressway.

Council notes that all possible routes through the government’s chosen corridor will have a direct impact on residents in the Vale of White Horse District and our environment for decades.

Council recognises the benefits of closer working between Oxford and Cambridge Universities, supporting new business in the region and improving access to amenities and services, but on the basis of the evidence currently available does not accept that spending between £4billion to £7billion on a new road is the best way to achieve these aims.

In particular, Council notes:

  • the contradictory nature of the Expressway scheme’s stated aims; a strategic highway for through traffic and freight with limited junctions cannot also be a road serving new housing developments.
  • claims that the Expressway is a solution to congestion and safety on the A34 are misleading. The A34 is not a stated priority for this scheme, and some of the possible routes will bring more traffic through residential areas.
  • insufficient work has been done on the potential of enhanced rail links to deliver better outcomes for passengers, freight, and sustainable economic growth along the corridor
  • the risk the Expressway poses to the viability of East-West Rail has not been assessed
  • there has been no environmental impact assessment of this scheme, which stands to destroy swathes of countryside and valuable ecosystems.
  • that despite the scheme being worked on since 2015 and the devastating impact on our communities, there has been no public consultation
  • that increased road building will inevitably have a serious negative impact on air quality and carbon emissions at a time when all public bodies must seek to use every part of their planning, investment and delivery mechanisms to improve air quality and reduce our carbon emissions.

Therefore, Council resolves to oppose the Oxford to Cambridge Expressway.

Council requests that the leader of the council, at stakeholder meetings they attend with Highways England, Department for Transport and relevant Government ministers:

  1. make clear this council’s opposition to the Expressway
  2. call for greater investment by central government in, and more assessment of, sustainable transport infrastructure options for the Oxford to Cambridge corridor