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Friends of the Earth rate Mid Suffolk and South Norfolk councils in climate survey

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A Friends of the Earth climate survey puts the performance of the area’s two district councils in the bottom half of 359 local authorities in England and Wales.

South Norfolk registered a 60 per cent ‘climate-friendly’ score and Mid Suffolk 52 per cent.

The best performing council in the survey – Wiltshire – scored 92 per cent, while West Suffolk made the top 20 with a rating of 84 per cent.

Extinction Rebellion. Picture by Mecha Morton.
Extinction Rebellion. Picture by Mecha Morton.

The group assessed councils on categories including renewable energy, public transport, lift-sharing, energy efficiency at home, waste recycling and tree cover.

John Matthissen, one of 12 Green Party councillors on Mid Suffolk, said the findings of the report were disappointing. “It is not for want of the Green Party trying,” he said. “Mid Suffolk is undoubtedly further down the list than it ought to be.”

Cllr Matthissen blamed the public transport score on years of cuts in scheduled bus services by Suffolk County Council.

“It is extremely difficult if you live in the villages to hold down a job or college place without a scheduled service every couple of hours or so,” he said. “The alternative is car use.”

Instead of investing in retail and commercial properties outside the districts, as Mid Suffolk and Babergh Councils had jointly done, the councils should have copied West Suffolk and put money into a solar energy development, he added.

A Mid Suffolk spokesman said the council was ranked about average, but recognised its responsibilities and was committed to doing more.

A number of environmental initiatives the council was taking were outside the FoE’s criteria.

He added: “We are fully committed to Suffolk’s county-wide ambition to becoming carbon neutral by 2030 and have set up a joint environment and climate change taskforce, to address the biodiversity and climate challenge we face.”

South Norfolk cabinet member Keith Kiddie said: “The council takes environmental issues very seriously and we work continuously to protect the environment.

“Our recycling rates are increasing as we add more materials that can be put in your green bins and we are supporting the use of electric vehicles by adding charging points to our car parks.

“The council has extended our conservation areas, supported the planting of new hedgerows across the district and we will soon be opening a new country park in Costessey.”

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