STEVENSTON environmental groups are welcoming North Ayrshire Council’s announcement of a climate emergency, but they suspect the council does not realise how far it needs to go to effectively tackle the issue.

Jean Frew, Chair of the Stevenston Local Nature Reserves Steering Group told the Herald: “In order to plant their share of the three billion trees suggested in the recent report by the committee on Climate Change, North Ayrshire would need to plant almost one million trees every three years.

“However, NAC’s current climate strategy document mentions nothing about tree planting.

“The word ‘tree’ doesn’t even appear in the document. This demonstrates how far North Ayrshire Council are from where they need to be to deliver on their rhetoric.”

Iain Hamlin, secretary of Friends of Stevenston, said: “It’s not just trees that store carbon and mitigate climate change, grasslands and other wild, vegetated areas are also carbon sinks and are a central part of tackling global warming.

“However, the preservation and expansion of these wild areas is not part of the council’s current climate strategy. Indeed, the council effectively oversees the systematic destruction of North Ayrshire’s carbon sink by allowing – and sometimes encouraging – the destruction of our wild areas.

“In Stevenston alone, numerous wild areas have either been approved for built development by the council or look set to be.

“For example, the wild High Road grasslands have succumbed to successive council developments over the past few years; the council are still doing what they can to promote built development on the wild green space at Kerelaw; and the Ardeer Peninsula, the most important environmental asset in the county, is under active consideration by the council for built development, despite vast areas of more suitable development land being present elsewhere nearby.

“The council boast about reductions in carbon emissions via improved lighting and insulation.

“However, they ignore how much carbon storage they lose every year from approving the destruction of North Ayrshire’s wild areas.

“NAC has historically been so regressive on this issue that Joe Cullinane would need to lead a revolution in the council if there is to be any hope of preserving and expanding our wild areas and taking the requisite action to tackle climate change.”