After declaring a ‘climate emergency’ at the end of last year, the Forest Council is moving forward with plans to reduce its carbon emissions.

In line with recommendations from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), councillors declared the aim of achieving carbon neutrality for the council and the district by 2030, taking into account both production and consumption emissions.

Cllr Tim Gwilliam, leader of the council, said: “After we announced our plans it became clear that this wasn’t going to be easy, quick or straightforward. However, our council really wants to achieve this and I believe, the Forest of Dean, with all its links to the environment, its natural beauty and the communities’ love of those things make it the perfect place to lead the way.

“Beginning the journey towards carbon neutrality, work has now begun with Cole- ford Town Council on a template that can be used by businesses, schools and the local community to reduce reliance on ‘single use plastics’.

“Once working, we hope that other towns could use this template, too. Plastics are petroleum products, so the fewer we use and throw away, the less carbon is burnt.

“This week I’ve written to the mayors and mayoress of our four towns to see if they’ll join me in asking supermarkets in Coleford, Cinderford, Newent and Lydney about their plans for carbon reduction and changes towards friendlier packaging.

“I’d like those supermarkets to use the Forest as a trial area for a serious reduction in unnecessary plastic packaging used in their stores.

“In addition to this, in the year ahead the council will be reviewing its own energy supply, opportunities for renewable energy generation, exploring electric vehicle charging and solar panelling on all its own developments, amongst other things to reduce its carbon usage.”

Cllr Chris McFarling, cabinet member for environment, added: “In many ways declaring a ‘climate emergency’ was the easy part and now the council is beginning to turn the wheel toward the aims of that motion. We absolutely must make use of renewable energy to reduce our carbon footprint and save us money. It’s a win-win solution both now and in the long-term.”

“We hope that the supermarket and local community initiatives, alongside real changes in and around the council offices in Coleford, can be a real catalyst for change,” Cllr Gwilliam added, “making the most of what may be a difficult task – and a huge opportunity.”

In December the council declared the emergency and noted the IPCC warning that enormous harm would result from a two degree centigrade rise in global warming compared with the Paris Agreement’s limit of a one and a half degree increase.