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Council combats negative effects of climate change
Southend-on-Sea City Council has been working on some exciting strategies and projects over the past year to help combat the negative effects of climate change.
With cold alerts and snow covering many parts of the east of England, it may seem like the wrong time to be discussing the effects of heat stress on our city, but work is ongoing all year round to ensure the city is prepared when summer and extreme heat eventually return.
Evidence shows that one of the obvious impacts of climate change is hotter summers along with more frequent droughts and heat waves. This was evident when Southend experienced one of its hottest and driest summers ever this year with temperatures reaching a staggering 40C (104F).
These unprecedented temperatures had a negative impact on public health, productivity, wellbeing, air and water quality and other urban systems. All of this is collectively known as ‘heat stress’.
Cllr Carole Mulroney, cabinet member for environment culture and tourism, said: “It may seem like the wrong time to be discussing the dangers of heat stress, but this is such an important issue and work is ongoing all year round.
“We have produced a heat stress strategy which fed into the Southend Local Plan to ensure our city planners can reduce heat stress risk and ensure our city is climate resilient and adaptable to prepare and recover from future shocks such as heat waves or flooding. As climate change increases the frequency, severity, and duration of heat events, it’s essential that our city planners begin adapting infrastructure now.”
Several successful projects have also been completed over the past year to support the aim of enhancing the city centre, reduce the risk of flooding and mitigate against the effects of heat stress thanks to a European co-funded project called Cool Towns.
Through the Cool Towns project, the council installed the first ever green wall at Earls Hall Primary School, to help the school raise awareness about climate change to their pupils. This further inspired the school to implement a green roof on their Forest Friends outdoor base.
Cool Towns also saw the successful installation of two greening projects in the city centre at York Road and London Road which saw the installation of a total of nine trees with sustainable drainage capabilities.
Successful delivery of the two pilot sites on the High Street during the project period would help the city centre to reduce the risk of flooding and mitigate against the effects of heat stress through evapotranspiration – measurably cooling the air.
The results of the Cool Towns project were celebrated at a conference in October in Ostend, Belgium, where over 100 participants attended including partners from the UK.
Jo Gay, head of climate change for Southend-on-Sea City Council, said: “I am delighted with the success of the Cool Towns projects, and we hope to work with other schools as it’s a fantastic way of engaging with children and getting them interested in the environment and how to help protect it. We look forward to more projects like this in the future, not just in schools but with other organisations too, and we are happy to work with others to further our aim of making Southend a Green City.
“We know that prioritising the climate change programme across carbon mitigation and climate adaptation engagement benefits our city socially, economically as well as environmentally. A true win-win for all who live in, work in and visit Southend-on-Sea.”
To find out more about what the council is doing and hear first-hand the latest climate news, projects and schemes across the city, and to sign up to the council’s new green e-newsletter, visit: www.southendclimateaction.co.uk.
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