Going Through the Motions? Manchester City Council and Climate Change

A Liberal Democrat motion at July 11th’s full Council, calling on Manchester City Council to be “more sustainable,” was  radically amended by Labour councillors before being passed. The LibDem councillor who proposed the motion,  Victor Chamberlain (Chorlton) has described the new motion as  “complacent” . Is the new motion, proposed by Labour councillor Nigel Murphy, better or worse? MCFly investigates.

Food and Meat-Free Mondays
Libdem Motion: To adopt Meat-Free Mondays in all of the Council’s catering and services.

Labour Amendments: This council congratulates Manchester Fayre on its national ‘Food For Life’ award for their meat-free Monday scheme in schools, and notes with despair Michael Gove, Secretary for Education, decision to exempt Academy Schools from the National Nutritional guidelines which has been condemned by Jamie Oliver and Children’s Food Campaign and we will invite Jamie Oliver to address the Council on this issue.
MCFly thinks: Labour have decided to side-step that entire proposal and invoke council project Manchester Fayre which failed to expand beyond one primary school in Chorlton despite the costs and calories adding up in support of a low-carbon menu. So, with that in mind ‘despair’ seems a strong word and they could probably do more about school menus without bringing Jaime Oliver’s boyish charms into it.

Libdem Motion: To encourage stronger regulations to stop supermarkets from throwing away edible fruit and vegetables because the food does not look perfect and to work with Manchester supermarkets to tackle this problem.
Labour Amendments: The support been given by the City Council to FareShare, an organisation that collects over-supplied food from supermarkets and redistributes it to community groups in need and recognises the work being undertaken by them to divert fruit and vegetables from New Smithfield market and redistribute to community groups.
MCFly thinks: So that’s a “no” to stronger regulation then…
Biodiversity and Bees
Libdem Motion: To create a Bee Action Plan to create natural habitats in public open spaces.

Labour Amendment: the Biodiversity Action Plan 2012-6 continues to build on the work already undertaken to ensure biodiversity is sensitively managed across the City. The plan includes actions on increasing green spaces through sustainable development and providing advice and training to promote wildlife friendly gardening across the City.

MCFly thinks: Fair point and our biodiversity reporter Dave Bishop has dissected the Biodiversity Plan and concluded that it “is a good plan which says all the right things, but the big, big question is: will it be implemented? Does it map out a way forward, or is it just a box ticking exercise?” That remains to be seen.

Green Energy and Fracking

Libdem Motion: To switch to a renewable energy tariff for all its buildings and services so that all the electricity consumed comes from a ‘Green’ and sustainable source. To declare itself a ‘Fracking-Free Zone.’ To continue to be a Nuclear-Free City.

Labour Amendment: The energy for its entire portfolio including schools, as well as for all of its street lighting is from a green tariff.

Manchester City Council is committed to acting to mitigate the impact of climate change, in line with the objectives of the Climate Change Act, and section 19 of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 (amended by Planning Act 2008) and calls on the Chief Executive to implemented[sic] a policy that supports the Friends of the Earth campaign that would ensures that planning permission will not be given for test drilling or extraction of shale gas (fracking) unless reasonable scientific doubt as to any adverse impacts can be excluded; the proposal is environmentally acceptable, or it can be made so by planning conditions or obligations.

MCFly thinks: Fair enough about the green tariff but the size of that second sentence on fracking (7 lines long!) alone tells us that the council is hoping for a little wiggle room if fracking opportunities ever make it to Manchester. It certainly reads as a lot more hesitant that ‘no fracking’…

Cycling, Public Transport and Speed Limits

LibDem Motion: To fully acknowledge the impact Manchester International Airport has on the carbon emissions in the City by ensuring the full impact of the airport (including flights) is included in Climate Change strategies. The Council should aim for all flights from Manchester Airport to at least be carbon offset. To set a target of 20% of journeys under 5 miles being made by bike by 2020.

That it will fund campaigns to promote cycling as a healthy and sustainable mode of transport.
To introduce a default speed limit of 20mph in all residential areas for the benefit of people walking and cycling. To provide free on-road cycle training for adults and children. To support better integration of cycling and public transport in particular through the provision of a cycle carriage on off-peak Metrolink trams and longer distance bus services.

Labour Amendments: The council welcomes the Cycling Strategy approved by Executive on 30th May and supports the Cycling Manifesto developed by Friends of the Earth. The council supports the introduction of 20mph speed limits in residential areas and is currently investigating how to achieve this within financial constraints. The council support for better integration of all transport modes, including cycling and public transport.

MCFly says: So that’s a “no” to anything that would seriously impinge on the airport, no to cycling targets (see here for a dissection of how targets can be met even if cycling levels fall), funding for cycling training and putting pressure on the Metrolink to allow bikes on during off-peak hours…

All in all, there are various suggestions put forward by Cllr Chamberlain which were ignored and sidelined. Namely, the meat-free Mondays, cycling targets and free training, getting bikes on the trams during off-peak hours, legislation to cut food waste in supermarkets as well as the suggestion that the airport be included in the city’s carbon targets. The motion has gone from one with some practical suggestions the council could take up to a motion which effectively says the council should continue as usual. That’s it is already doing lots of make Manchester sustainable and doesn’t need any further suggestions thankyouverymuch.

Here’s what Councillor Chamberlain had to say:
“I am really glad that the motion helped the Council have a frank and detailed discussions about these issues and allow the council to re-affirm its commitment to being at the forefront of dealing with climate change. However, I am disappointed about the significant amendments that were put forward which meant the motion was not at radical or ambitious at the one I put forward on behalf of the LibDems. I guess that is just one of those things and I hope the motion has helped the council take more steps towards fighting climate change in some way.
Cllr Nigel Murphy, Executive Member for the Environment, and also put forward the amendments to the motion replied to our questions as follows

Do you think that the motion Labour put forward is as ambitious and radical as the one proposed by LibDem councillor Chamberlain?

“We’ve taken a realistic and measured approach to this issue, encouraging Manchester residents to engage with the debate. With regards to meat free Mondays, we always believe it’s better to encourage rather than to impose change among Manchester residents.”

Why is the council not willing to take a more robust stance on banning fracking outright?

“We have been working closely with Friends of the Earth on this issue, meaning Manchester is now one of the first authorities in the country to pass a motion on fracking. We believe that the measures put in place by this motion are more forceful than simply putting a blanket ‘no’ in place, as it’s important to make sure that there’s a full debate about this issue. Until the industry can ensure that fracking causes no harm to the environment, this practice will not take place in Manchester.”

Arwa Aburawa

UPDATE: Here’s what Manchester Friends of the Earth sent us (15th July 2012)
“MFOE is pleased that the council is supporting the campaign against fracking and is following the precautionary principle. Evidence is growing of the risks fracking poses to our water supplies, air quality and climate change – and communities across the North West are saying we don’t want fracking here. We hope other councils across the region will follow Manchester’s lead and implement precautionary policies on fracking”UPDATE: Here’s what Manchester Friends of the Earth sent us (15th July 2012)

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About manchesterclimatemonthly

Was print format from 2012 to 13. Now web only. All things climate and resilience in (Greater) Manchester.
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1 Response to Going Through the Motions? Manchester City Council and Climate Change

  1. So, basically nothing was achieved, steady state business as usual. Their Biodiversity Action Plan is meaningless, because they have ignored Manchester and even Bury residents to build on green spaces. There is an every declining amount of biodiversity to protect.

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