The Assembly was held virtually over two weekends in March and brought together over 40, randomly selected, demographically representative, people living in the county borough to deliberate the very important question: “What should we do in Blaenau Gwent to tackle the climate crisis in a way that is fair and improves living standards for everyone?”
The Climate Assembly adopted five recommendations relating to transport, housing and green space, which achieved over 80% support. These recommendations were written by the Assembly members themselves and informed by presentations from climate change experts.
You can view the recommendations and the report in full here
This report was drafted by Cynnal Cymru and the Electoral Reform Society Cymru, two of the organising partners of the Blaenau Gwent Climate Assembly.
In September last year the Council officially declared a Climate Emergency in Blaenau Gwent. Next week, all borough councillors will have the opportunity to hear from Blaenau Gwent Climate Assembly members about their recommendations and consider how they can take this agenda forward.
The Blaenau Gwent Public Services Board, which brings together organisations including the council, health, housing, police and the voluntary sector, have committed to giving a written response to these recommendations at their next meeting in July. This reflects Public Services Board partners’ long-term commitment to Blaenau Gwent playing its full part in taking action to achieve Wales’s target for Net Zero emissions by 2050.
Cllr Dai Davies, the Council’s Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Regeneration & the Economic Development, will be leading the briefing. He says:
“We are absolutely committed as a Council to working with a wide range of partners to do whatever we can to respond locally to this global issue. We recognise the huge challenges that are ahead of us all in trying to protect our environment for the well-being of our future generations. This is why as a Local Authority we declared a Climate Emergency and already started to act through our Decarbonisation Plan. This plan sees us take a more strategic approach towards achieving carbon neutrality by prioritising work in a number of key areas of our operations which, with some changes, can make a significant contribution towards our carbon neutral aim.
“The people at the Climate Assembly were equally passionate about our environment and their recommendations will help to focus our minds even further and tells us what they think is key to tackling this issue. Thank you to everyone who took part for your time.”
The report will also be presented to the Blaenau Gwent Public Services Board, as working with regional partners is key to addressing environmental issues.
Sarah Hopkins, Director, Cynnal Cymru – Sustain Wales, says:
“The transition to net zero will mean changes to people’s lives so it is vital that communities understand and participate in this journey. Tackling the climate crisis, provides an opportunity to address existing inequalities in Wales and improve lives for everyone. It is really encouraging to see the commitment of Blaenau Gwent Council, the wider PSB and the Housing Associations to listening and responding to the recommendations from the Assembly.
“We hope that other regions in Wales will also adopt similar processes to inform decarbonisation action plans.”
Steve Cranston, Foundational Economy Lead at United Welsh Housing says:
“We are delighted to have been involved in Wales first climate assembly. It shows it is possible to bring a representative sample of people together – and address one of the toughest challenges facing us all – the climate crisis. The Climate Assembly process is one that is respectful of different opinions and builds trust. The top 5 recommendations had overwhelming 80% support from members. This gives these recommendations a weight and credibility that is hard to ignore.
“The process of working together across housing associations, the local authority, civil society organisations and citizens has been a positive one where relationships have been strengthened and trust built.
“The four housing associations who supported the Climate Assembly – Linc Cymru, Melin Homes, Tai Calon and United Welsh – are working on developing a coordinated response to the recommendations. In the key areas of housing retrofit and new build the recommendations will help shape our future priorities.”
The Blaenau Gwent Climate Assembly was organised by housing associations United Welsh; Linc Cymru Melin Homes and Tai Calon in partnership with sustainable development charity Cynnal Cymru, Blaenau Gwent Council and ERS Cymru.
The 5 recommendations are:
- Establish an affordable, integrated road & rail transport system accessible throughout BG. A one ticket system that links to bus, rail & cycle schemes – inclusivity for purchasing of tickets (digital or paper). Accessible all hours with safety via lighting, CCTV and to keep maintained.
- Establish & improve a safe, easily maintainable infrastructure for walkers & cyclists, for either recreational or work purposes, with access to the public transport network. Including lighting & CCTV & storage for bikes.
- Retrofit Train local tradespeople, create qualifications and upskill local businesses, involve FE colleges and local Universities, future proof it and provide the right courses to enable them to do the work in all green construction.
Green Space and Nature
- Implement a programme of woodland preservation and reforestation of BG, using the right tree in the right place for the right reason, increasing opportunities for jobs, biodiversity and connecting woodlands. Making sure the skills are available so we can create green jobs, e.g. saw milling and timber framed housing.
Housing New Build
- Ensure that all new build properties are built using the latest sustainable technologies (e.g. Glanffrwd development as a template), employing local builders and providing a variety of accommodation types appropriate for all inc. homeless/single occupancy up to large families.