Protesters showed their frustration at a council meeting last week over a civic leader who failed to implement a climate strategy set two years ago.

About 20 residents, including members of St John’s Eco-Church and students from Royal Holloway University, showed up to the Environment and Sustainability Committee of Runnymede City Council, where the plan was pushed back to the month next.

The delay is blamed on the coronavirus pandemic.

Read more: Three Surrey councils still haven’t declared a climate emergency a year after others did

Teal Martin, a resident of Egham, said: “We want our board to have a clear strategy in place. They have been talking about it for two years. I don’t feel like they’re giving it the urgency it deserves.

“It’s great for residents to take action on their own, and we should be doing it, but it’s about scale. It is the board that has a say in what is stipulated in terms of new construction.

Councilor Isabel Mullins (RIRG, Egham Town) said it was great to see the people there “on fire with enthusiasm and hope”.

Councilor Robert King (Lab & Co-op, Egham Hythe), introduced the motion in October 2019 to set a goal to make the borough council carbon neutral by 2025 and the entire borough of ‘by 2030.

This was agreed to by the whole board, and by May 2020 it was supposed to have a costed action plan to achieve these goals.

It is only this month, after some restructuring, that interviews are held for the new post of climate change manager on the board.

More than a quarter (28%) of carbon emissions in Surrey come from housing, and Cllr King has said he wants a review of all of Runnymede’s housing stock.

“This is where we could make a big change,” he said. “You are looking for Class D energy performance on those buildings from the 1960s / 70s with old window frames and inadequate insulation. “

“Time is running out and we are not seeing any substantial progress. We want it to happen now, not six months or a year later. Our patience is running out.

Environment committee chair Marisa Heath (Con, Englefield Green East) said the main drafting of the strategy has been busy with Covid-19.

She admitted that the 2019 targets were now unrealistic, “unless the government invests hundreds of billions of pounds.”

She said: “We are all waiting for COP26 [United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow at the end of the month] holding his breath. “



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“What we’re struggling with is getting the data. We need to know all of our emissions and what reductions are needed.

“It’s not like we haven’t done anything. We changed our stance and became anti-Heathrow expansion, unless all the environmental impact was completely mitigated, and we were very proactive in responding to all major consultations.

One of the ideas for the upcoming strategy will be a station-to-university automobile club, which could be rolled out across the borough in an attempt to encourage households to switch to a car.

A final draft is expected to be approved in December, but Cllr Heath said she was doing all she could to get it done in time for the next environment committee meeting on November 17.

Runnymede Borough Council is receiving a £ 2.4million government grant that fuel-poor households – those who spend at least 10% of their annual income on heat – can apply to return their more energy efficient homes. The work is to be completed by March 2022.

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