Reading Borough Council (RBC) declared a climate emergency in February this year, committing to a carbon neutral town by 2030.

The council announced its latest efforts to turn the town carbon neutral at its most recent Strategic Environment, Planning and Transport committee.

These include recruiting a new strategy chief, new policies and upgrading schools and other buildings.

Is the council doing enough to tackle the climate emergency?

RBC leader Jason Brock defended the authority’s record on climate change at a recent Policy committee meeting after receiving criticism from Green and Lib Dem councillors.

Net carbon emissions in the Reading local authority area have reduced by around 48 per cent in the last ten years but climate-friendly measures have not gone far enough, according to some opposition members.

Discussing the council’s latest budget proposals, Lib Dem councillor Ricky Duveen said: “If we are serious about tackling the climate emergency, we need to be seen to be doing things and not waiting for another six months before things are put in motion.

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“We not doing enough to project what we are doing on climate change.”

Green Party councillor Rob White added: “Changes to the council’s budget on a scale to tackle the climate emergency aren’t apparent.”

He bemoaned the fact the council’s draft budget did not include an analysis of the environmental implications despite a promise to include one in every council report.

Cllr Brock responded: “Some colleagues on the opposition need to get real.

“This council is one of the very best performing councils in terms of its environmental commitments and in terms of the reduction of the carbon footprint in Reading.”

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Reading ranks in the top 25 in the country for reducing carbon emissions in the last ten years but Friends of the Earth described its performance as “poor”.

Here are ten things the council is currently doing tackle climate change and achieve its emergency target.

1. New head of climate change strategy

A new head of climate change role has been created at Reading Borough Council (RBC) alongside a new revenue budget.

The head of Climate Strategy post has been created to provide a senior strategic lead for climate change work across the council’s services.

Peter Moore has been recruited to the role.

2. School upgrades

LED lighting is being updated at schools, and more are planned. Funding has also been allocated over the next five years for mechanical, electrical and insulation improvements.

St Michael’s Primary School and Phoenix College have received funding from the Department for Education for major energy efficiency works.

3. Electric vehicle charging points

Fifteen electric vehicle charging points have been placed on lampposts around the town.

The chargers have been installed on Coventry Road, Filey Road, Manchester Road, St Bartholomews Road, East Street, Anstey Road, Caversham Road and Wantage Road.

4. Town hall refurbishment

The town hall refurbishment is set to be complete in March 2020, when the final part of the project – upgrading the heating system – will be delivered.

RBC has already upgraded the lighting to LED and added roof insulation.

5. LED street-lighting

Upgrades to street lighting across the town are almost complete has so far reduced street-light energy consumption by 54 per cent in the last five years.

6. Solar Panels

Reading Community Energy Society – a collaboration between the council, community members and Energy4All – is installing more solar panels on several buildings in the town.

Four thousand solar panels are currently planned.


Salix is a government-funded organisation which provides interest-free funding for the public sector to reduce their energy costs.

Councils bid for government funding to install solar panels on the council’s estate, such as council housing, the civic offices and libraries.

The government then gets a share of the income generated from the solar panels.

Over one hundred individual projects have been delivered in Reading through the SALIX funding programme which has saved an estimated 27,862 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions.

8. Fully electric building depot building

Major refurbishment work has begun at the council depot site at Bennet Road.

The development of the electric-only building, incorporating renewable energy technologies, is underway.

The transformation to an all-electric building will mean there will be no need to heat oil to heat the Darwin Close building, which is due to become empty in April 2020.

This will save 23,000 litres of Kerosene (heating oil) per year.

9.Updates to council housing

The council is updating its housing stock, which includes installing double glazing, insulated doors, upgraded insulation and solar panels.

RBC is also working to ensure all its new build properties are energy efficient.

10. New strategies and policies

RBC is currently updating many of its strategies.

The first to be adopted (on November 4) is the new local plan, a blueprint for planning decisions.

The planning inspector-approved plan includes a requirement for all new major developments to be developed to zero carbon standards.

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Other strategies and policies being developed include:

  • A new Reading Climate Change Strategy (RCCS) – to be launched in April 2020. The timetable has been brought forward by six months due to the climate emergency declaration.
  • The council’s fourth and “biggest ever” local transport plan (LTP). A draft plan is currently being developed following consultation over the summer. The plan is expected be finalised by the end of 2020 following a second consultation in Spring.
  • A new housing strategy, which seeks to reduce the carbon footprint of housing while preparing for a changing climate – expected sometime next year.
  • A biodiversity action plan which aims to protect, conserve and enhance Reading’s diversity of wildlife – Also to be published in 2020.