GLASS will be collected from the kerbside outside people’s homes next year, a senior Carmarthenshire councillor has said.
Residents currently have to take their bottles and jars to one of 128 collection centres in the county, which between them have received 5,000 tonnes of glass over the past 10 months.
Cllr Hazel Evans, executive board member for environment, confirmed the new kerbside service for 2022 during a tetchy climate change debate.
The debate related to a motion introduced by Labour opposition leader, Cllr Rob James, who felt that not every effort was being made by the authority to reach its “net zero” target by 2030.
Councillors unanimously declared a climate emergency in February 2019, with the aim of becoming a net zero authority by 2030. This means the council would keep on reducing its greenhouse gas emissions and find ways of offsetting the ones it couldn’t avoid, like heating old council buildings.
An action plan – to be reviewed annually – was published in February 2020.
Cllr James said he felt the council was “dangerously” behind the pace required, and that the net zero target would not be reached unless buildings were retrofitted, lots of trees planted, renewable energy schemes developed, and fleet vehicles replaced with electric ones.
The motion also raised flooding concerns linked to building on green fields and also called on the Dyfed Pension Fund, of which the council is one of several members, to accelerate its move away from fossil fuel investments.
Councillors from the ruling Plaid Cymru-Independent administration criticised Cllr James’s motion, pointing out that officers had focused their efforts on responding to the coronavirus crisis during the past 12 months.
Cllr Cefin Campbell said: “It’s hard to believe his lack of sensitivity and his lack of appreciation for the work of the council over the last year.”
Cllr Campbell, executive board member for communities and rural affairs, said the net zero action plan’s first year had been scrutinised and accepted by a cross-party committee last week with “not a squeak” from Labour members.
He added that hundreds of new trees would be planted on just under nine hectares of land, and that planting enough trees to reach net zero would require five times as much land as the council owned.
Plaid colleagues said council buildings were being retrofitted to make them more energy-efficient, that a further 50 electric vehicle charging points would be installed this year, and that the council would look at the greenest options when replacing its current fleet of refuse lorries.
They also raised concerns about the lack of grid capacity to support council renewable energy schemes.
Labour councillor John James said he did speak at the scrutiny meeting cited by Cllr Campbell, and that local Government couldn’t afford to put climate change on the back-burner.
“The journey is going the wrong way,” he said.
Responding to the green field and flooding concern, council leader Emlyn Dole said developers had to submit environmental impact assessments and sustainable drainage reports with their applications.
Cllr Dole reiterated his call for the Welsh Government to make flooding a strategic national priority, and urged Labour ministers to create a low carbon stimulus package for large-scale renewable energy projects.
Plaid councillor Aled Vaughan-Owen said five Labour councils in Wales didn’t have net zero targets, and that the Welsh Government’s was for 2050 – 20 years later than Carmarthenshire’s.
“Ahead of us is a tidal wave of climate change,” he said.
Branding Cllr James’s motion “cynical and opportunistic”, Cllr Vaughan-Owen said: “This administration understands that it needs to do more – that is set out in its 10-year plan.”
Plaid colleague, Cllr David Jenkins, described the Labour leader’s motion, which was defeated, as “ill-researched, fact-deprived, vacuous and Trump-esque in its nature”.
Labour councillor Kevin Madge said the attacks on Cllr James were “unacceptable”, while his colleague, Cllr Ken Lloyd, wanted to know why agricultural pollution was not part of the debate.
Deputy Labour leader, Cllr Deryk Cundy, said it was the opposition’s job to scrutinise.
He added: “I have found it distasteful to suggest that we are criticising officers.”
Cllr Cundy said the grid capacity constraints – which councils have no control over – were well-known and needed to be addressed otherwise “virtually everything else falls to pieces”.