An independent commission is calling for an approach to environment issues which cuts across political boundaries.
The Commission on Environmental Sustainability set up by the Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson, in July 2013 has carried out a review of what is needed to support Liverpool as a sustainable city when resources will be in scarcer supply and when quality of place will be a key factor in determining economic development.
In its report, the Commission argues that “local political boundaries must be put aside in the interests of the whole region” and that the Mayor should seek a commitment from local political leaders for a single unified vision for an environmentally sustainable city region.
And they are also urging that a Northern Commission on Environmental Sustainability be established.
Professor Nigel Weatherill, Vice Chancellor and Chief Executive of Liverpool John Moores University, who chaired the commission said: “The commission has listened to comments, views and ideas on what is required to ensure that Liverpool is environmentally sustainable into the future. It is clear from our work that the city faces many challenges.
“Our recommendations range from those that could be implemented immediately to those that will need further work and consideration. However, what was very clear was the enthusiasm and commitment of many across the city to address these issues.”
Among the other recommendations made by the Commission are:
• Options for a municipal or city-wide energy company should be considered
• A Director of Environment Sustainability for the city be appointed
• The Combined Authority and Merseytravel should begin the process to take back control of the bus network
• Measures be taken to improve safety for cycling
• The Mayor should work with community leaders, education leaders and health professionals to raise awareness of environmental sustainability issues
• The universities and colleges should be tasked to develop an International Research Centre for Environmental Sustainable Cities
• A digital vision be created for Liverpool that can become the platform to help deliver a smart, green city
• A ‘Meanwhile Use’ be established for plots of land which could be used for community growing, play areas or exercise areas while they are waiting to be developed.
• There should be a green corridor strategy including pedestrianising areas in the Knowledge Zone
• A waste strategy that cuts across political boundaries and recognises waste as a valuable resource should be developed urgently
• There should be a review of waste collection to improve recycling rates and improve cleanliness at a reduced cost
The Commission received views from young people, school students, businesses, public sector, third sector, community and faith groups, experts and individuals at a number of meetings with views also being submitted in writing. It also looked at good practice in cities in the UK and wider afield.
Professor Weatherill added: “Whilst we do not underestimate the size of the challenges that we have proposed through our recommendations, we are clear that the position of doing nothing and rolling existing practices forward on a day to day basis is not an option. We can look at other cities in the UK and around the world and assess what they are doing, but the immediate priority is to look at ourselves and ask what actions are we taking to ensure the environmental sustainability of the city for the future.”
Mayor Anderson said: “We are facing huge challenges on environmental issues and how as a city we can adapt to meet them and thrive in the future.
“There is no doubt that we have to change if we are to be environmentally sustainable and the commission’s report has set out a series of recommendations which point the way forward.
“I very much welcome this report. Its findings are challenging but if we are to create in the words of the report, “a happy healthy clean city for current citizens and future generations”, then we have to take action – and, indeed we are already involved with a number of initiatives which will take that agenda forward.
“We will be giving very serious consideration to what is being suggested in the report and I thank Professor Weatherill and the other Commission members for their valuable work.”
The members of the Commission were:
• Professor Nigel Weatherill (Commission Chairman), Vice Chancellor and Chief Executive of Liverpool John Moores University
• Garry Banks, Director of Arup Liverpool
• Professor Helen Carty DL Retired Radiologist and Professor of Paediatric Radiology, University of Liverpool
• Iain Goldrein QC LLD FRSA, Visiting Professor [the Sir Jack Jacob Chair in Litigation] Nottingham Law School
• Phil Leigh, Diocese of Liverpool and Chair of Faiths4change
• Professor Malcolm Press, Pro Vice Chancellor of the University of Birmingham