An ambitious plan to help the region recover from the economic impact of Covid-19 while making it a greener and healthier place to live and work, has been given the go-ahead.
The blueprint - WM2041: A Programme for Implementing an Environmental Recovery - was approved by the WMCA board today (Friday 5 June) coinciding with United Nations’ World Environment Day.
The plan for a green recovery builds on an existing commitment #WM2041 to make the West Midlands carbon neutral by 2041.
The strategy sets out how the West Midlands can rebuild its economy in a way that drives green and inclusive growth, so that all the region’s diverse communities and its environment can benefit from the post-Covid-19 recovery.
The paper sets out a range of initiatives from small-scale through to potentially region-wide and complex schemes, that will be implemented over different timescales but starting now.
• retrofitting old and cold homes to make them more energy efficient and help tackle fuel poverty
• accelerating the transition of the region’s automotive industry to electric vehicles
• rolling out charging infrastructure for electric vehicles at scale
• announcing a green innovation challenge for SMEs to find solutions for some of our climate change challenges
• supporting the growth of green neighbourhoods and natural capital; and
• active transport initiatives, for example pop-up cycle lanes and widened pavements.
Mayor of the West Midlands, Andy Street, said: “The region’s economic recovery from Coronavirus must be green and inclusive, and #WM2041 helps give clear direction of how to achieve this.
“We now need to come together as a region – including businesses, communities, and local authorities - to make this plan happen and help build a stronger, greener and more inclusive recovery for everyone in the region.”
Approval of the blueprint by the WMCA Board will also help support the delivery of the Government’s national target to be carbon neutral by 2050 while ensuring no one is left behind.
Lily Eaves from Coventry is a member of the Young Combined Authority, which is a board of more than 30 young people which makes active change for young people in the region. She said: “The Young Combined Authority has been really supportive of the work on #WM2041.
“We are really pleased to see that it is now moving to a point where there is focus on delivery and action as part of a green and inclusive recovery from COVID-19.
“As young people, we see addressing climate change as important for our future that should involve all communities and create opportunities for people in the region.”
Following today’s approval work will start next week on the projects.
Cllr Ian Courts, WMCA portfolio lead for environment and leader of Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council said: “The climate crisis has not gone away, and climate change continues to be one of the biggest threats to environment and society.
“While the COVID-19 pandemic has been hugely disruptive and challenging for many of us it has given us a moment to pause and reflect on what kind of future we want in the West Midlands and what ‘prosperity’ means in not just economic but also social and environmental terms.
“That’s why this ambitious plan has been drawn up, which would benefit the region on a huge scale.”