Ice cream van licensing in carbon neutral plans
Ice cream vans have appeared on a list of things that need to change if Staffordshire Moorlands District Council is to meet its climate change targets, but they won’t be “quick wins” according to experts.
For many, ice cream vans are a quintessentially British symbol marking the arrival of summer, but some have criticised the vehicles saying they release dangerous levels of carbon dioxide and “cough diesel all over innocent kiddies”.
This week, the district council released the minutes of a meeting held at the end of last year for the newly formed Climate Change Sub-Committee to approve.
Details were released of the council’s plans to go carbon neutral by 2030, which included, among many other things, tackling “cars idling outside schools”, “solar panels on council buildings” and “ice cream van licensing”.
Biddulph West Labour Coun Nigel Yates, who sits on the committee, explained: “One of the things on the long list is to electrify ice cream vans. Generally speaking, they run on diesel — there is a diesel generator in the engine that produces electricity that powers up the fridge, the freezer and the Mr Whippy machine.
“They’re attracting innocent kiddies just to cough diesel all over them while they’re eating ice cream.
“We want to try and take these things off the roads but we also need to understand that they’re big businesses and big investments for the people who run them; there needs to be a degree of pragmatism about this.
“But this is not the most critical thing at this moment in time. There are a lot of quick wins that we can have at the climate change sub-committee, and this is not one of those quick wins.”
Coun Yates added: “As soon as possible, we need to legislate against idling cars and vans, whether that legislation comes nationally or through local by-laws. There are going to be grey areas like ice cream vans, of course. If you go to California, they are actually way ahead of us on this subject. In San Francisco, it’s an offence to have a parked car with its engine running — it comes with a sizeable fine.”
Some councils have already established stringent rules for ice cream vans, including Westminster City Council that banned trading in Royal Park areas and Camden Council, which announced in April last year that it would install “no ice cream trading” signs in 40 streets and would issue fines to anyone who broke the law.
Ice cream sellers in London are also banned from staying in the same location for more than 15 minutes, as part of an attempt to reduce carbon emissions.
Setting up the sub-committee to deal with such issues followed pressure on the council last year from campaign groups to declare a “climate emergency”.
Staffordshire Moorlands Climate Action Group also lobbied for the district to make five promises last summer that demonstrated its commitment to going carbon neutral. One of these was to set up a cross-party group, which it did in September.
Mike Jones, vice chair of the climate action group and chair of the local Green Party, had some input into the sub-committee’s terms of reference as a local campaigner. Speaking to the Chronicle, he emphasised the need for “joined up thinking” when it comes to tackling climate change.
“We all need to come together to solve these problems. An example of that is with tree planting — the county council has influence there — and the district and town councils are keen to improve planting, we just need to decide who is going to take the lead on it.
“With climate change, councillors don’t necessarily know exactly what they need to do — from what I understand there is very little guidance coming from the Local Government Association. It’s good that people are taking the issue seriously, it just needs joining up.”
Mr Jones added: “At the climate action group, we do lots of different work in different areas. On Saturday, 22nd February, at the Foxlowe Centre in Leek, we are launching our water refills scheme so that people can just take a water bottle and fill it up rather than buying a new one each time.”
Mr Jones said that those interested in becoming involved with Staffordshire Moorlands Climate Action group should contact it by searching for the group on social media.