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We can make a difference

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Farnham Voice by Councillor John Neale. Published in the Farnham Herald on 3 October 2019.

In a recent meeting, our councillors all agreed to pass a motion on the climate emergency. This is a significant response to similar initiatives being taken in councils across Britain and the wider world. 

It follows on from climate emergency motions passed in our partner councils in Waverley and Surrey, so we can anticipate positive changes in the future throughout the county. 

At our council meeting, we were joined by a number of residents who were hoping to see us debating climate change.

They were pleasantly surprised that we were tackling this issue and applauded our motion. 

This subject has certainly gained greater exposure as a result of the Swedish student Greta Thunberg raising the profile. 

So, what does this all mean for our town and our council? You will have seen other articles in last week’s paper and on the Farnham Town Council website covering the subject, including more detail about our motion. 

First, we need to understand the roles being played by the different levels of government, both local and central. 

The town council is the first tier of local government and so our ability to have a direct impact is small. 

We are users of energy in our buildings and vehicles, so there are certainly things we can do ourselves, extending steps we have been taking for several years to reduce our carbon footprint – such as the use of electric and gas-powered vehicles. 

Farnham, will over the next few months, be developing an action plan defining what we can contribute at our local level. 

Most impact can be made by the borough and county councils, and essentially by central government. 

All local authorities will be expecting government to take the lead and, where action is appropriate at local levels, provide the necessary means, incentives and resources. This includes initiatives relating to energy efficiency in buildings, waste and recycling systems, and changes to vehicles and transportation. 

Probably the biggest role we can take as a town council is to help our community to take steps to address the problems. 

We will invite you to assist us to map out actions we can all take individually and then we will help to promote and explain these measures. 

We should all be looking at the way we run our everyday lives: can we reduce our car usage by walking, cycling, car sharing, using public transport? How can we reduce the amount of energy we use in our homes? 

As the town council, we are already working on plans to improve our town centre, working with Waverley and Surrey councils with a view to prioritising people over cars. 

Solutions to long-standing problems are not easy and we may all have to compromise in some ways if we are to bring about changes that will create a brighter, prosperous Farnham while safeguarding the environment. 

By Councillor John Neale, Leader, Farnham Town Council  Published in the Farnham Herald on 3 October 2019

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