Wigan Green chief's doubts over environmental masterplan

A leading Wigan environmental campaigner has cast doubts on the region's attempts to go green ahead of a major summit.
Wigan and Leigh Green Party chairman Will PattersonWigan and Leigh Green Party chairman Will Patterson
Wigan and Leigh Green Party chairman Will Patterson

Will Patterson, chair of the Wigan and Leigh Green Party, attended a listening event in the borough organised by the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA).

Similar discussion events are being held around the 10 boroughs before next week’s Green Summit, a high-profile event for the region’s elected mayor Andy Burnham.

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Having listened to experts discuss with a select audience of Wigan residents some of the challenges ahead to build a sustainable and low-carbon future, Mr Patterson said he is not entirely convinced whether what has been made public so far is up to the scale of the issue facing Greater Manchester.

He said: “It seemed more of an academic exercise than anything formal.

“The researchers gave us some information and then there were a set of thought experiments.

“It was interesting talking to people and bouncing ideas off each other about how we can change our lives and what difference we can make but there wasn’t that much policy mentioned.

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“The ambition is to develop an environmental charter for Greater Manchester but this event was about personal action rather than policy direction.

“That doesn’t fill me with that much confidence.

“Obviously we need to make lifestyle changes ourselves but surely the whole point of getting the combined authority involved is to set policy.

“The charter should be setting out what the combined authority approach is, not what people will do.

“At the moment that’s not very reassuring.”

The Green Summit on March 21 is the biggest event so far in Mr Burnham’s drive to make Greater Manchester a low-carbon hub and one of the most environmentally-friendly city-regions in Europe.

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Consultation events have been taking place across the area before a host of environmental experts, interest groups, partner agencies, academics and local people all join Mr Burnham in

Manchester for a day of headline speakers, workshops, question and answer panels and other activities.

The GMCA was approached for more information about what happened at the Wigan listening event but it had not responded by the time the paper went to press.