Can Leighton ditch the car and become a low carbon town?

Could this be the scene at the top of multi-storey car park in West Street, if Leighton Buzzard residents ditch the car
Could this be the scene at the top of multi-storey car park in West Street, if Leighton Buzzard residents ditch the car

On the international stage China and the USA have just ratified the Paris Climate Change Agreement, but closer to home there are moves for Leighton Buzzard to become a low carbon town.

A public meeting on ‘Our Energy Future’ has been called for September 22 at 7.45pm at All Saints Church.

The meeting will be addressed by a RSPB policy officer who will report on how the UK intends to meet its climate commitments through renewable and low carbon energy which does not harm wildlife, as well as by a member of TRICE (Tring Community Energy) who will give ideas of what can be achieved locally to move away from our reliance on fossil fuels.

Leighton Linslade Christian Ecology Group (LLCEG) and South Beds Friends of the Earth (FoE) have joined forces to organise the event which follows on from a screening of the climate change film This Changes Everything hosted by the Library Theatre in August.

The film was watched by over 80 people who stayed on afterwards to quiz a panel of experts on climate change and renewable energy technologies.

The RSPB, which has recently erected a wind turbine at their headquarters in Sandy, have publicly stated that “Climate change is one of the greatest long-term threats to wildlife. We must act now to avoid the worst impacts on wildlife and people.”

They recently published a detailed report on how the UK can meet its climate change targets of 80% cuts in emissions through renewables such as wind power, solar, tidal etc.

Ken Barry, of South Beds FoE, said: “The UK was the first country to pass a Climate Change Act to cut emissions by 80% from 1990 levels by 2050.

“To reach this virtually all our electricity has to be low carbon by 2030 which means we need to make huge changes very fast in our electricity production. As well as preserving the planet for our grandchildren it is a huge chance for the UK to create its own energy rather than relying on the Middle East or Russia and could easily be responsible for 400,000 jobs by 2020.”

“The meeting on 22nd September is a great chance to hear both the national and local opportunities and a chance for Leighton Buzzard to lead the way and become a low carbon town.”

Esther Clarke, of the LLCE, said: “We are becoming frustrated with our government’s dithering over a policies to implement the Climate Change Act, so we’ve decided it is time for grass-roots action to reduce our carbon footprints and embrace local and community renewable energy projects.

“There is so much knowledge and expertise within our town that we are confident we can really get this project off the ground, especially if our local councillors step forward and back us.”

Leighton Buzzard has the largest electricity storage facility of its type in Europe at Woodman Close, a wind turbine in Heath and Reach that provides electricity directly into the town’s grid for about 1,200 homes per year and a solar farm on the edge of Eggington also providing energy for 1,200 homes.

TRICE are a Community Benefit Society which aims to install renewable energy sources at buildings in Tring, financed by selling shares to investors (4). They are part of Tring in Transition (TINT) who are taking action to build local resilience against external shocks such as recessions, commodity price rises and climate change .

They encourage stronger social networks and a more robust local supply chain via vibrant local commerce.

Tring is the world’s 51st transition town – where communities get together and take the first steps from a wasteful, oil and car dependent consumer society to a safer, more responsible and happier one.