We must do all we can to protect our planet | Burnley Council leader Afrasiab Anwar column

The home game against Arsenal was my first since the start of the pandemic.

It was a disappointing result, but it felt good to be back at Turf Moor.

Despite the score line there were two positives for me, firstly the debut of Maxwel Cornet and how it lifted everyone in the stadium, and secondly the positive response from the supporters to the players taking the knee.

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Speaking of football, the weekend also witnessed the world's first Game Zero as part of the Great Big Green Week.

Burnley Council leader Afrasiab Anwar

The match between Tottenham and Chelsea aiming to become the first fixture to achieve Net Zero.

Various emission cutting measures were introduced including running team coaches on biofuel, using cartons rather than plastic bottles, encouraging fans to use public

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transport and serving sustainably sourced food.

A commendable effort in raising awareness of the climate crisis.

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Burnley Council is also marking the week by looking at the measures we have taken to reduce our carbon footprint in recent years.

The council declared a climate emergency in July 2019 and six months later drew up its first climate strategy.

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Our strategy aims to identify and maximise the things that are under our control in order to minimise their impact on the environment.

We continue to support tree planting across the borough and as part of our Rethinking Parks Programme formerly frequently mown grassland are now managed as wildflower meadows, creating valuable new habitat for wildlife.

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A special mention for our Parks team who lead the way with electric bikes for staff, electric powered horticultural machinery and electric equipment.

The council also operate a number of electric vehicles with plans to expand the fleet as petrol or diesel vehicles come up for renewal and we will continue to work with Lancashire County Council to invest in more public electric car charge points.

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Officers are also working with private hire operators to encourage them to move from diesel to zero emission vehicles.

There are a number of other wide-ranging initiatives we are delivering on from improving the energy efficiency of buildings to reducing the use of single use plastics.

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Our approach has been to make sure climate change and environmental impact is built into the work of every unit in the council and is a strategic priority for every member of the executive.

We are delighted that through Lancashire Enterprise Partnership the Zero Carbon Tour will pass through Burnley at Towneley Hall in October as it makes its way to COP26 in Glasgow.

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A great opportunity for Lancashire and Burnley businesses to showcase low carbon technologies.

On a personal note, I have been taking part in Beat the Street with my daughter and it is a great excuse to leave the car at home and either walk or cycle for short journeys.

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This reduces our carbon footprint, allows us to discover the beauty on our doorstep and keeps us fit and healthy.

The situation is escalating at pace and we don’t pretend to believe that we can save the planet as a council, but we must do all we can to protect the world we live in for future generations.

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As a colleague quite rightly pointed out ‘what use are other strategic priorities if we don’t have a planet’.