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March councillor leading climate change group

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A March councillor is heading a group of rural leaders launching a new network to promote the voice of the countryside in the climate change debate.

Cambridgeshire County Council leader Steve Count, who is also a Fenland District Councillor for March, is heading a cross-party group of 21 councils from every region in England.

A letter published today by the group – the Countryside Climate Network – warns that rural communities are at the frontline of feeling the effects of climate change and that the countryside offers far more than a place to plant millions of trees to offset carbon emissions.

Steve Count.
Steve Count.

The group aims to ensure that the voice of rural knowledge and experience on climate action is listened to in Westminster and Coun Count warns that rural areas face unfair barriers to decarbonise, including lower budgets and funding rules which favour urban concentrations but may have less overall carbon reduction.

The group wants the Government’s delayed £100bn infrastructure fund to support the ambitions of rural areas and the opportunities our countryside and green infrastructure can provide.

The new network has been established by UK100, a network of local leaders that campaigns on climate change. The 21 councils represent 14.3 million people in total, a quarter of the population and two fifths of England by area.

Coun Count said: “From Cornwall to County Durham we have decided to take a stand. We’re frustrated that climate solutions and green recovery packages haven’t found the right balance, largely missing the rural voice.

“It can be hard to meet our sustainable ambitions when urban areas have no need to fund essential bus services to remote communities or invest in broadband because the market doesn’t reach isolated areas.

“These examples of typical rural disadvantages add up, combined with a funding gap in rural areas twice that of our urban counterparts, meaning our stretched resources are diminished, making the challenge of funding sustainable solutions even harder.

“We need a green recovery that works for the two thirds that live outside the most urban cities and towns.

“However, rural communities face unfair barriers in trying to decarbonise – it is harder to attract funding for projects which don’t fit traditional cost benefit analyses, which favour urban concentrations yet may have less overall carbon reduction impact.”

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