Revamped Haymarket Bus Station and bike hire scheme among Leicester's new low carbon pledges
Within the next year the people of Leicester will be able to use inter-operating bus tickets, be consulted on a new local flood risk management strategy and be one step closer to enjoying both a bike hire scheme and a refurbished bus station.
That is the vision set out in a new low carbon city action plan, launched today.
The plan – entitled Climate Change: Leicester's Programme of Action - sees more than 40 organisations from the private, public and voluntary sector come together to lay out ways to make Leicester a low carbon city.
It consists of 80 pledges the partnership hopes will be fulfilled in the next 12 months, which will help Leicester meet its ambitious target of a 50 per cent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by 2025 from the baseline year 1990.
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The action plan was launched today by Deputy City Mayor Rory Palmer, who admitted it is “in large part aspirational”.
Explaining the idea, Mr Palmer told This is Leicestershire: “Leicester has a very strong track record over the last 20 years or so of driving forward sustainable and environmental projects.
“It’s my determination that we take that forward to the next generation – we need to reduce climate change and the city’s carbon footprint.
“We want to make it clear that it’s not just about what one organisation can do – it’s not about what the council can do or what businesses can do, it’s about recognising that if we are going to turn Leicester into a low carbon city, we have got to work together and see all sectors taking action.”
The pledges include completing a programme of solar PV installations on council properties, so tenants can benefit from the government’s Feed In tariff; continuing to improve the insulation of homes under the Hot Lofts programme; and installing 10 charging points for electric vehicles in and around Leicester as part of the Plugged in Places project.
The partnership also vows to ensure the city's 11 new BSF schools are all low carbon buildings, and to launch Saffron Zero, a new project that aims to create a carbon neutral community in an area of the busy city estate.
Under the plan 48 per cent of all household waste will be recycled, and there will be a new green space in the city, Jubilee Square.
In addition to the pledges, the plan also lays out key milestones the partnership hopes to achieve by 2015.
Turning to plans for Haymarket Bus Station, laid out in pledge 28, Mr Palmer explained £300,000 is being dedicated this year to refurbishing and expanding it.
“Our bid to the Government for £5 million earlier this year was rejected so we have to rethink things,” he said. “Therefore we’ve allocated this money to make a plan to talk to businesses and the bus station.”
Mr Palmer explained there will be a consultation on the refurbishment early next year.
The newly launched action plan also includes a pledge to work with the three main bus companies in Leicester to provide inter-operator ticketing that will allow passengers to use bus services run by different operators with the same ticket.
The partnership has also vowed to develop the business case for a city-wide bike hire scheme.
“I think it would be a really interesting and exciting addition to Leicester’s transport offer,” said Mr Palmer.
“But we cannot just dive in and say ‘we will have a bike hire scheme like London’, you cannot just buy one off the shelf. We need to understand where people would like to go and how they would use it.”
The Deputy City Mayor added: “Over the past few months we have been running a survey and questionnaire, the results of which we’re reading through at the moment.
“We’ve got to get it right and understand the areas of the city that people would want to travel to”.
Mr Palmer also explained he hoped to involve private companies in the scheme, much like the one in London which is sponsored by Barclays.
Turning to pledge 59, to “consult publicly to develop a local flood risk management strategy for the city”, Mr Palmer said: “Flood planning has become a much bigger part of our plans due to climate change and floods.
“We do have some flood hotspots in Leicester that could be at risk. We take that very seriously.
“It’s worth saying that last year the chair of the Environment Agency met with our team because we are seen as an example of national best practice.”
Mr Palmer said he hopes a public consultation will take place later this year.
The partnership is also committed to securing additional funding from central government to carry out the work required by the flood risk management strategy.
Asked about the likelihood of securing such funding, Mr Palmer said: “Having seen the work our teams have done so far, it’s incredibly professional. Without sounding too confident, I would hope the Government will recognise that”.
The Deputy Mayor acknowledged the plan is ambitious. “It is in large part aspirational,” he said.
“It’s setting out a vision; it’s about saying ‘this is what we want to do as a city’. We will have to battle to get our share of the funding, but it’s what we hope to achieve.”
He later added: “It’s an ambitious plan, there’s no doubt about that, but it should be ambitious because we want Leicester to lead the way.
“There are 80 pledges and the vast majority will be not fully delivered but on their way this year.”
To read the plan in full, click here.