The Melton area’s performance on tackling climate change is ‘poor’ according to environmental campaigning group Friends of the Earth.
In a new league table measuring green initiatives promoted by district councils across the UK, the organisation says Melton is near the bottom.
The group say the borough falls well short of the required standards on tree planting, transport pollution, environmentally-friendly housing, recycling and renewable energy.
Melton Council says it recognises it needs to do more and points out that it was already in the process of compiling an action plan after declaring a ‘climate emergency’ in the borough in July.
A statement from Friends of the Earth, reads: “The Melton area’s performance on climate change is poor compared to other local authority areas.
“All local authorities, even the best performing, need to do much more if climate catastrophe is to be averted.
“Melton particularly needs to do much better on improving home insulation, increasing renewable energy, and increasing tree cover.”
Melton’s climate-friendliness performance is rated at 56 per cent in the study, which is well down on the top-rated local authority, Wiltshire, which scores 92 per cent.
The green group assessed councils in different categories, including renewable energy, public transport, lift-sharing, energy efficiency at home, waste recycling, and tree cover to find an overall winner.
Their main criticisms of Melton were as follows:
**Trees - Five per cent of the borough is woodland. The highest proportion in similar areas is 26 per cent. Trees are great at removing carbon from the air around us. Doubling tree cover across the country would help reduce emissions.
**Transport - 20 per cent of commuter journeys are made by public transport, cycling and walking. Melton should aim for 40 per cent by 2030. We need fewer vehicles on the roads – they increase air pollution and are harmful to our health.
**Housing - 30 per cent of Melton homes are well insulated. Poorly insulated homes cost more to run, which is inefficient and contributes to fuel poverty. Melton needs to ensure all homes are properly insulated by 2030.
**Waste - 46 per cent of household waste in the borough is reused, recycled or composted. When this doesn’t happen it may end up burnt, in landfill or even in our waterways and seas. Melton should aim for 70 per cent by 2025 on the path to zero waste.
**Renewable energy - Melton has 24 megawatts of this available. If the area matched the best of similar local council areas it would have 133 MW. We need 100 per cent clean energy from the wind, sun and sea. Electricity can’t come from dirty fuels like coal, oil and gas anymore.
Craig Bennett, chief executive of Friends of the Earth, said: “Creating cleaner and greener places to live means healthier, happier lives.
“It’s why local authorities need to take the lead by adopting ambitious local climate action plans, and who better to help them than communities.”
Melton Council said councillors and officers are formulating a plan of action as a result of the authority declaring a ‘climate emergency’ in the borough three months ago.
The council says it has particular issues to address with its carbon emission levels and is taking steps to make its own vehicles and buildings more environmentally-friendly.
The authority pointed out that it needs support from the community and from business in certain areas, such as public transport, commuting patterns and energy efficiency of housing, but it would use its powers to influence others to be greener.
Cllr John Illingworth, portfolio holder for environment and regulatory services, told the Melton Times: “The Friends of the Earth survey reminds us how big this challenge is and how difficult it will be for Melton Borough Council to secure the required improvements.
“We are determined to get our own house in order but face a bigger challenge in influencing the choices of others.
“I am committed to producing an action plan for the council for adoption early next year.
“Whilst much work has to be done, I am encouraged that we have some positive steps in place such as the scope of our recycling services, improvement of our housing stock and our planning strategy deliberately designed to reduce the need to travel and the length of journeys required.”
The council says it has already taken a number of steps towards lowering carbon emissions in the borough including running a campaign to increase recycling rates by warning residents again contaminating their waste for kerbside collections.
The authority says it has also surveyed a large number of houses to take advantage of the cavity wall insulation grants available for the area.