CREATING five new solar farms, planting more than 250,000 trees and setting up a green bank — these are just some of the proposals set to be made a reality after councillors approved Wokingham borough's climate action plan.

According to a report outlining the actions the council will take, millions of pounds of spending is planned to support the authority’s ambition to reach carbon neutrality in the borough by 2030 following a climate emergency declaration in July last year.

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Eight key priorities have been identified as part of the plan, with commitments laid out in the proposals including developing five solar farms, building new roads and planting 250,000 trees across the borough.

Councillors agreed to go ahead with the action plan and Gregor Murray, Wokingham Borough Council’s (WBC) environment boss, said: “This is just the start of a long process where we will look to take the lead in making Wokingham borough carbon neutral.”

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The councillor continued: “While we are implementing projects of our own, which will make a dent in our carbon footprint, a key part of this will be changing behaviours – so we are asking our residents to come on this journey with us to help us reach this important goal.

“After their feedback and ideas, we have created a plan which we think will lead us to our goal by 2030.”

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At a meeting on Thursday, January 23, however, councillors from other parties called for the plan to go further.

Liberal Democrats member Sarah Kerr said: “Currently, the document does not contain a carbon budget.

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“This is an estimate of the carbon savings for each of these initiatives. When all added up, will they result in us being a carbon-neutral borough?

“My fear at the moment is that, whilst there are some really great ideas, we’re just scratching the surface.

“Some tough choices will have to be made that aren’t going to be popular if we’re truly serious about this, but I don’t see much evidence of that yet.”

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Figures show the borough’s carbon footprint is net 580.9 kilotons of carbon dioxide — and trends show this figure will be 276 ktCO2 by 2030 at the current rate the borough is cutting emissions.

To reach carbon neutrality, other schemes proposed include sending zero waste to landfill, setting up a green bank to support residents who want to make eco-friendly adjustments to their homes or businesses, and demanding new developments are carbon-neutral.

The £50 million proposals outlined in the action plan proposal include spending £13 million over three years on building new roads and making changes to existing highways to manage congestion.

But Labour councillor Andy Croy took issue with spending proposals such as these, telling the News most of them were “rebadged” commitments the council “has already made”.

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He added: “The only new item requiring additional funding is the solar farms.

“There is is no “jump-start" but a continuation of business as usual and a 'fingers-crossed approach' to the investment of £18 million in solar farms.

“The Tories know the plan cannot make a material impact on our carbon footprint.

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“Putting [carbon reduction] numbers in the plan as it stands will prove the plan is not fit for purpose.

“The Labour Group voted against as we will not be party to this massive Con-trick. Carbon neutrality by 2030? Prove it. They can't.”

Councillors will meet again in July to discuss how the plan is progressing.