News shared by Cllr Lilley ahead of this week’s council budget-setting meeting. Ed
At the Isle of Wight Council’s budget meeting on Wednesday (26th February), Cllr Michael Lilley (Independent Green Councillor and Mayor of Ryde) is putting forward an amendment to the Conservative administration’s budget proposal, to establish under the Capital Scheme proposals a new Isle of Wight Parish and Town Councils’ Green Deal Infrastructure and Working Together Investment Fund.
This £1 Million fund is to provide 50% match-funding to enable Parish and Town Councils to leverage in further investment to develop local environmental projects across the Island.
IW second best performing local authority
This active engagement of Town and Parish Councils in this way supports evidence by Friends of Earth that Isle of Wight is the second best performing local authority area regarding climate change and now with UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Status, will increase IW’s environmental innovation profile to the wider investment world.
Cllr Lilley states,
“My idea is that this fund would enable Parish and Town Councils across the Island to amalgamate resources to develop an economy of scale to meet Biosphere and Climate Emergency commitments already signed up the Isle of Wight Council.
“This would attract funding from a range of national and international sources of Green/Environmental funds. Each IWC Green £ could double or triple.
“The fund will help Parish and Town Councils to support a range of local initiatives such as tree planting, solar energy farms, reducing local fuel poverty, ecological job creation initiatives and develop green tourism.
“This will not only tackle climate change but create high-skilled and well-paid jobs for Islanders.”
Climate Change and Environmental Strategy
2019 was a major green year for the Isle of Wight with obtaining UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Status and IW Council supporting Cllr Lilley and Cllr Steve Hastings’ motion on declaring a climate emergency.
Isle of Wight Council is now finalising a Climate Change and Environment Strategy. A key target for IW Council is to engage with Town and Parish councils to enable them to develop new zero emissions plans for 2030 for services delivered by them and residents and businesses in their local areas.
Ryde Town Council has recently approved a Ryde Place Plan which incorporates the principals of the Biosphere. Already RTC gives an annual grant to local charity Footprint Trust to tackle fuel poverty and funds another charity, Natural Enterprise (Gift to Nature) to manage nature reserves in the heart of Ryde.
Taking £1m from the £12m reserves
Cllr Lilley states further,
“My purpose of further highlighting the green vision through this amendment was to showcase and celebrate what IW Council is already doing within its Climate Emergency Strategy especially in regard to Town and Parish Councils.
“My proposed amendment is building on this wonderful commitment by seeking to accelerate action at local level. Climate change has to grow naturally from the grass-roots of our many diverse local communities.
“It is about Oak trees growing from little acorns. By IW Council being brave and moving £1M from reserves into a local green investment fund will enable local projects and initiatives to grow quicker and respond to the ever increasing effects of climate change that is all around us.
“The local success story of Wight Community Energy provides evidence that Isle of Wight Council’s investment has not only been safe, provided a good return, but it also provided leverage for off-island investment to expand it further.
“At a time of post-Brexit, inward investment is critical and this investment into our natural unique environment not only sends a message to the World that Isle of Wight is a beacon for environmental investment it sends a message to our children and their children that we are investing in their future.”
Creating Green Jobs
A Green Transition for the Isle of Wight – A Sustainable Local Economic Strategy realised through more Green Enterprises and Employment produced by the Greenhouse Think Tank and the Green European Foundation in 2017 stated,
“Delivering the green transition will require significant investment and the desire and leadership to bring about this change in new and existing enterprises. The scale of the challenge will require real leadership and long-term thinking from local government, key businesses, new entrepreneurs, and those enabling the investment, resources and skills needed to be provided.”
This report highlighted how the Isle of Wight could increase employment opportunities significantly with a focus on environmental (green) business opportunities.