MAKING Cheshire West carbon neutral by 2045 would require ‘radical change beyond anything currently envisaged’, the council’s chief executive claims.

Members of Cheshire West and Chester Council set the ambitious target last May as they declared a climate emergency.

But a new report from council chief Andrew Lewis suggests that target will not be met unless efforts are dramatically stepped up – although he does suggest the council itself could become carbon neutral by 2030.

The report, which will be discussed at next week’s full council meeting, says: “There is currently no feasible and deliverable set of national and local actions which would be sufficient to deliver carbon neutrality on this timetable [by 2045].

“Reductions on this scale and timetable would require a radical change in the political, social and economic context, beyond anything currently envisaged by either national or local government.

“This reinforces the importance of continued national advocacy, alongside local action, if the council’s ambitions are to be delivered.”

The report follows seven months’ of work carried out by two groups – a climate emergency taskforce made up of councillors, and an advisory panel of experts led by Mr Lewis.

Cheshire West as a borough pumps out four million tons of carbon a year – giving it the fourth largest carbon footprint of any UK borough, behind only Neath Port Talbot, North Lincolnshire and Birmingham.

Carbon-intensive heavy industry is the biggest contributor to that, but Mr Lewis points out new technology being developed in the area to help tackle the climate emergency – including Tata’s carbon capture project in Northwich – making CWAC’s carbon-free goal ‘both a challenge and an opportunity’.

He added: “CWAC has a significant responsibility to make a contribution to the nation’s carbon reduction objectives.

“There is a strong case for support to be provided to the authority and the region to support industrial decarbonisation.

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“Furthermore, there is a requirement for innovation and the development of new technologies to play a role.

“As a hub of both energy innovation, and the site of the UK’s largest carbon capture and storage project at Tata Chemicals Northwich, the area is well-placed to be at the heart of the development of new technologies to repair the climate and reduce emissions.”