Wokingham Borough Council is planning to spend £17 million on reducing congestion – as part of a bid to tackle climate change – even though the project could result in more cars on the road.

Cllr Gregor Murray, executive member for emissions, admitted "it might result in more car journeys" in Wokingham when he spoke at a council meeting on January 18.

He added: "It will also result in less idling time and less stationary time at traffic jams, so traffic will be able to move through our community with more ease and journey times should be lower. Therefore, emissions should be lower.

"I don’t understand, buy or except the argument that it will incentivise people to drive. I don’t believe the rationale of that."

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Wokingham Borough Council, which has declared a climate emergency, agreed to invest almost £71 million in radically reducing carbon emissions over the next three years.

But several councillors questioned why the Conservative-run council plans to spend £17 million of that money on measures that reduce congestion on busy roads.

Cllr Carl Doran (Labour) said this investment should not be part of the council's strategy to respond to the climate emergency, as it will lead to an increase in emissions.

"A reduction in that congestion will generate more traffic and the carbon impact of this traffic is ongoing and will increase over time," he said.

Cllr Sarah Kerr (Liberal Democrat) said: "Measures to manage congestion will have the opposite effect on reducing carbon emissions.

"They will actually make it easier for people to use their cars and attract more cars onto the transport network.

"Then we will be back to more congestion with more cars and more people relying on those cars."

She added: "It should not be in the climate emergency budget and it doesn't actually tackle carbon emissions."

However, the ruling Conservatives insist the £17 million investment will remain part of their plans to reduce emissions.

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According to council's Climate Emergency Action Plan, in 2017 Wokingham’s overall carbon footprint was 580.9 kilotonnes (kt) of carbon dioxide (Co2) and 44.5 per cent of emissions came from energy use in people’s homes while 31.4 per cent came from transport.

That means Wokingham emitted more carbon into the atmosphere in 2017 than several small countries did in the previous year, including Andorra (469ktCo2), Cayman Islands (546ktCo2) and Belize (568ktCo2), according to figures published by The World Bank.