Essex climate commission warns homes at risk of flooding could double without action

The chief executive of Essex County Council (ECC) has pledged to make sure it remains accountable in ensuring green recommendations happen.

His promise comes after the commission’s latest presentation on a potential land use and green infrastructure climate action programme warned that the number of residential properties at significant flood risk could double without action.

The Essex Climate Action Commission is recommending a series of measures. These include ensuring that 100 farmland in Essex adopts sustainable land stewardship practices by 2050 and 30 per cent of all land in Essex. This is to enhance biodiversity and the natural environment by creating Natural Green Infrastructure by 2040.

Where schemes are developed to increase their flood resilience, 75 per cent of the schemes developed by 2050 are to include integrated water management and natural flood management techniques.

The commission also talks about aiming towards greening 30 per cent of towns, villages and new developments through increased greenspace creation, naturalising existing green space, greening the public realm and developing sustainable drainage systems

Rob Wise, environment adviser for the NFU who sits on the commission, said that it is hoping that through piloting schemes there can be a more rapid uptake of sustainable farming methods, even though that over time it  may see a shift of some land being turned over to carbon friendly natural green space use.

Mr Wise said: “It is all about increasing the productivity of farming itself to use less inputs and therefore be more carbon friendly in the first place and also working with agroecological processes and being conscious about the technologies we use to make sure that they have win-win prospects for both climate change and the environment.

“So that is what we mean by sustainable land stewardship. I don’t think that there is really a farmer left these days that wouldn’t in their heart of hearts agree that trying to get to a point where all of their land is farmed using these principles is a good idea.”

The recommendations are to build on recommendations already published on transport and energy.

Gavin Jones, ECC’s chief executive, said: “ I’m particularly going to be thinking about this issue around accountability for targets.

“The last thing I want to see happen is a brilliant piece of work that all of you contributed to and then just sitting on a shelf somewhere.

“This has got to be live and has got to make the different generational change that you’re talking about.

“So I’ll be taking that back – particularly in terms of how do we create a system-wide accountability so that we are accountable to the public and accountable to each other for actually making this a reality.”

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Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter