THE public will be asked to comment on West Berkshire’s new plan to tackle the climate crisis, without having seen the draft strategy. 

After declaring a climate emergency in July, West Berkshire Council is drawing up a detailed plan on how to get the district to carbon neutral by 2030. 

The new environment strategy is still being put together, and a ‘late-ish’ confidential draft will be sent to councillors on the environment advisory group (EAG) next week. 

The following week, on October 28, members of the public can attend the council’s climate conference: an opportunity for local people to get involved with the plan to get to carbon neutral. 

Those who attend the conference will be invited to give their views on the strategy, as well as the conference itself. However, the strategy won’t be made public until the middle of November. 

Councillor Carolyne Culver (Green, Ridgeway) said: “Surely you’ll share that strategy with them so they can comment on it, rather than just give a blank sheet of paper and say, ‘please tell us what you think of the conference and give us some ideas’?

“Because if they then give you ideas and you know you’ve already got a draft strategy, how do you marry those two together?”

Read more: Full details of the climate conference

Cllr Culver was asking Cllr Steve Ardagh-Walter (Con, Thatcham Colthrop & Crookham), the lead member for the environment, about the strategy at a meeting of the executive on October 17.  

Cllr Ardagh-Walter said he wanted to hear the views of the conference attendees before putting the strategy out for public consultation. 

He said: “That input will be collated by officers and condensed into an updated version of the strategy by around the middle of November, and that version, including conference attendee feedback, will be what goes to public consultation for a six-week period.

“There is a successive process of gathering input, grouping and collating it. Obviously, attendees will be told about this process and they will then be able to see and additionally comment on the formal document around about two weeks later.”

At least 300 people are expected to attend the climate conference, which runs from 10am until 4pm at Newbury College. Tickets are available on the council’s website

Richard Benyon, the MP for Newbury, will open the conference, while the keynote speaker is Tom Heap, the rural affairs correspondent for BBC News and presenter on Countryfile.