A CAMPAIGN group focusing on the next ‘green industrial revolution’ held its first meeting in Coventry.
Coventry for a Green New Deal is a new alliance of ecology campaigners, socialists and the co-operative movement, who hope to form policies on transforming the local economy in Coventry to support a ‘green transition.’
Colin Knight, Coventry City Council’s transport director, spoke at length to the meeting held at the Methodist Central Hall about the city’s plans to meet targets of net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
He noted the council’s efforts to use energy efficient street lighting and introduce electric vehicle charging.
Mr Knight also focused on the successful heating of The Wave water park via the Heatline heat exchange system, which pipes hot water from council’s waste incinerator in Whitley to warm the new swimming pool, which opened in October on New Union Street.
Mr Knight promised an increase in the number of electric car recharging points from 133 to 215 by March 2020.
Also shown as a move to lower emissions in Coventry was the roll-out of 10 electric buses operated by National Express.
In early 2019 the bus firm won £2.2million of Government funding for the electric ultra-low emission buses, which will run on routes the council has identified as air quality hotspots.
The bus depot on Ford Street is to be fitted with 10 rapid chargers, connected to solar panels.
Mr Knight also hopes the council will bring in EV charging centres that offer the services of traditional petrol stations, with snacks, coffee and toilets.
The forthcoming consultation on the possibility of a ‘very light rail’ is also a focus for the campaigners.
The council this week announced it is looking to form a partnership with companies and universities to build an autonomous battery-powered tram network, running from the city centre to the hospital in Walsgrave.
Other green ambitions for Coventry include schemes to support low income families to reduce energy bills, the construction of a 175,000 tonne capacity recycling plant in the West Midlands, and ambitions to plant a tree for every Coventry citizen.
At the meeting, the president of the Coventry Trades Union Council Jane Nellist pressed for methods of ‘consolidation, nationalisation, and democratisation of energy and transport’.
She argued this would allow better planning of the local economy, while urging the council to take the new Climate Change Strategy into Coventry communities to start a ‘huge conversation’ about a climate friendly economy.
Workshops on food, transport, energy, social justice and internationalism were convened, and the meeting took the decision to let the groups set up working parties, in addition to the monthly meeting of a Green New Deal steering group.
The next meeting of the Green New Deal Coventry group will take place in the New Year, to be chaired by Hilary Wainwright, who worked in the Greater London Council’s Popular Planning Unit under Ken Livingstone in the 1980s.