Barnet Council's opposition group has slammed the authority’s latest environmental campaign as generating "yet more hot air".

The Labour-run council this week launched BarNET ZERO, a new borough-wide campaign to help Barnet become one of London’s most sustainable boroughs.

It says the campaign was designed to bring residents, communities, and businesses together, through advice, information and support.

Councillor Daniel Thomas, leader of the Conservative Group, said the council had set itself a target to be 'net zero' by 2030 while under Conservative control, and he welcomed Labour - which took control after May's local elections - continuing with this.

But he took aim at plans for residents to discuss suggestions in the first ‘Citizens Assembly’ and ‘Young People’s Assembly’ in February.

Cllr Thomas continued: “Many of the net zero workstreams were started by the Conservatives, but the so called 'citizens assembly' will be an expensive talking shop generating yet more hot air. We believe the money should be spent on something tangible instead, such as planting more trees or fixing the many potholes across the borough.”

The campaign follows the Labour council announcing a climate emergency at last year’s Annual General Meeting.

Conservative councillors voted the subsequent motion to declare a climate emergency down on the grounds that “the borough was already pursuing green policies”.

The campaign’s goal is to lower the volume of carbon the borough emits to equal, or below, the volume it removes from the atmosphere. The borough produces 1.76 million tonnes of carbon emissions annually.

In May 2022, the council also set the target of becoming a Net Zero borough no later than 2042.

In response to Cllr Thomas’ comments, the council's environment and climate change committee chair Cllr Alan Schneiderman said: “Our vision is more ambitious than the last Conservative council, who refused to declare a climate emergency in Barnet.

"We want to go further and faster, the net-zero target for the council is just one part of this. What we need to do is put even more focus on achieving net-zero in the borough as a whole, and under the Conservatives that target was 2050 – we have brought it forward to 2042.

“I cannot believe the Conservatives would speak about residents’ views as ‘hot air’. You cannot address the climate emergency in the Borough without working with local people, and the Citizens Assembly is key to this because we are all on the same journey to net-zero – it’s not just the council on its own. We are already planting more trees and filling more potholes – achieving net-zero in partnership with local people is equally important.”

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