Improving air quality to be top of the agenda for Southend environment boss

The councillor responsible for overseeing the environment in Southend has said that improving air quality will be one of the top priorities for 2020 and she is hopeful that the government will recognise the importance of financially supporting environmental improvements.

Southend Council is among hundreds of local authorities to have declared a climate emergency during 2019, setting out an ambitious goal to be carbon neutral by 2030 – which is 20 years ahead of the government’s national target.

One of the biggest challenges in achieving the goal will be improved air quality and Liberal Democrat Councillor Carole Mulroney says she has made it one of her top priorities for the year.

She said: “One of our key priorities is air quality and we will be concentrating on this, but of course the environmental agenda is vast and we need to cover all aspects.

“Planting will be a continuing priority and we hope to be working with local groups and enthusiastic supporters of our green agenda, of which there are many.

“There is a clear will within the administration to make things better for residents, businesses and visitors and the environment plays a massive part in that.

“So all my energies will be towards progressing that, so I hope the new government recognises the need for councils to be supported financially in this and that locally we can all work together and move on.”

Ms Mulroney has been urging the government to give support to councils that have declared a climate emergency after revealing the cost of going carbon neutral by 2030 could be as high as £1.5billion.

The councillor is also overseeing the development of a new tree policy after it was revealed that nearly 3,000 trees were cut down in the past ten years. During the development of the new policy, the council has promised to plant 1,000 saplings at a cost of £300,000.

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Steve Shaw

Local Democracy Reporter