Bucks Council climate change strategy given failing score in new report

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The council finished in the bottom 40% of local authorities

New scorecards assessing local authorities on their climate change strategy gave Bucks Council a failing score.

Data compiled by Climate Emergency UK, an not-for-profit environmental group, gave Bucks Council a score of 35%, below the 50% pass rate.

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Out of all councils in the UK, Bucks Council came 113th, the full table and ranking criteria can be found online here.

Bucks CouncilBucks Council
Bucks Council

Climate Emergency UK (CE UK) used 28 questions to assess all the climate action plans published online by UK councils after 2015 and before 20 September 2021.

Councils were rated on whether the climate actions are costed, if the projects are assigned to specific teams.

CE UK analysed whether the actions have a clear goal and if local residents are being engaged with climate action.

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Contributors asked does the Plan include strategies to decarbonise waste, and does the plan cover areas such as re-skilling the workforce.

Other factors investigated included: climate education, governance and funding for climate action.

Councillor Peter Strachan said: “Any study or article that shines a light on climate change and encourages more action by governments and individuals is ultimately a good thing and tackling climate change is a top priority for us at Buckinghamshire Council.

"We aren’t party to how the scores were arrived at, but we are certain our climate change and air quality strategy will see us reach our target of net-zero carbon emissions for Buckinghamshire by 2050.

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"We have carefully costed everything out and so we know what we are proposing is both realistic and achievable and we are on track for our earlier milestones such as a reduction of 75% for the Council’s own emissions by 2030.

"Actions we are already taking as part of our climate change and air quality strategy include planting over half a million trees in Buckinghamshire – one for every resident - improving infrastructure for electric vehicles, walking and cycling, generating more renewable energy and improving energy efficiency.

"We have set aside a £5m climate change fund which will be used in a variety of ways to meet the targets on climate change.

"On top of this, we have so far secured around £8m in external funding from government grants and other schemes.

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"Reaching net zero for Buckinghamshire requires everyone in the county to do their bit and make changes to their lifestyles to reduce carbon emissions and we welcome the support of residents, local businesses and partners as we work together to reach net-zero carbon emissions in Buckinghamshire as quickly as we can."

CE UK has only assessed action plans this time, not the actions councils are actually taking to reduce emissions and improve biodiversity.

Isaac Beevor, from CE UK said “This year’s Scorecards are just the start of the process. It has been an important exercise to understand what makes a good council Climate Action Plan and we hope that it will help councils learn from each other and up their game. A good plan will help a local authority deliver effective actions, as well as enabling local residents to know what their council has committed to and so hold the council to account.”

“Local authorities can help to deliver 30% of the cuts in carbon emissions needed to get to net zero, according to the 6th UK Carbon Budget published a year ago, so it is vital that councils do as much as they can. “

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“Councils may be doing good things which aren’t reflected in their Action Plan. That is why next year we will be assessing all councils on what they are actually doing."

Ed Gemmell, councillor for Hazlemere said: "Buckinghamshire Council’s Climate Change Strategy is very weak on real concrete action.

“The vast majority of its 60 so called ‘action’ areas actually requiring further procrastination as they refer to 'exploring', 'establishing', 'reviewing', 'determining', 'monitoring', 'reporting', 'identifying', 'studying', 'endeavouring', 'assessing' and 'investigating'. Only a small number of the actions refer to 'doing'. 'implementing', 'trialling' or 'improving'.”

“In terms of climate change action Buckinghamshire council needs to find another way to prevent the vast number of houses it plans to have built in Bucks destroying the green countryside, causing vast carbon emissions and exposing communities to danger from heat waves and flooding."

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On the Scorecard website you are able to filter the findings by various factors, such as current political control of a council, how urban or rural the authority is and by each question, to see who scored the most in every category.

CE UK says that it hopes this ability to see detailed comparisons across similar councils will help authorities and residents learn from each other about specific climate actions they can undertake.

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