COUNCIL leader Cllr Russ Bowden says scrapping the local plan would ‘miss the point entirely’ after being urged to do so by the Greens.

Warrington and Halton Green Party welcomed the recent declaration of a climate emergency by the Labour-run council, as well as a commitment to become carbon neutral by 2030.

However, it is calling on elected representatives to enact measures which will have a ‘more immediate impact’ – while hitting out at the proposals set out in the draft local plan.

Deputy leader Lyndsay McAteer said: “Clearly, plans to build 19,000 homes, with over 7,000 of these on green belt land, will have a significant effect on carbon emissions, air pollution and associated quality of life.

“Cancelling the local plan would be huge move in the right direction.

“Warrington’s housing needs could be met by building on brownfield sites.

“Green spaces need to be protected.

“A council that says one thing and does the opposite cannot expect to be treated as champions of the environment.”

Former parliamentary candidate Ms McAteer also accused the authority of ‘not telling the whole story’.

“After the vote to declare a climate emergency last month, the council said that it would report back in December with an action plan,” she said.

“A six-month hiatus does not sound like it’s an emergency to me.

“Why isn’t there more immediate action?

Warrington Borough Council needs to get its act together and start walking the walk on green issues instead of blowing hot air.”

But the comments have sparked a response from council leader Cllr Bowden (LAB – Birchwood).

He claims the Green Party is, as usual, offering ‘sound bites’ while being ‘weak on accuracy and any practical detail’.

“These comments ignore the purpose of the climate emergency declaration and don’t even acknowledge the great strides that have already been made by the council,” he said.

“Our recent purchase of solar farms will see Warrington as the first 100 per cent self-generating and supplying council in the UK.

“This comes on top of other investments in green energy projects – met with silence by the Greens – and the ambition of LTP4 to drive a modal shift in transport behaviour.

“The local plan is rightly targeted on driving the new homes that Warrington needs.

“Undersupply has seen average house prices increase by 59 per cent in just four years.

“These are the homes that Warrington people need to achieve their ambitions and potential here in our town.

“Scrapping the local plan misses the point entirely.

“Perhaps they can decide on their alternative and explain it to those wanting affordable homes here in Warrington?”

Cllr Bowden also says it is ‘entirely false’ to claim that housing targets could be met completely by developing brownfield sites.

He added: “The council has completed extensive work to identify sites and will lead by example with its own housing company and in the assembly of land, such as in the Southern Gateway.

“These will maximise the use of brownfield and urban infill, including high-density schemes, but it is still not enough to meet the housing targets driven by the Government.

“That is why we have no alternative but to look at green field sites and green belt release and we do this as a last resort.”