Wiltshire Council is a founding member of a newly-launched coalition of 21 councils ‘to ensure that the voice of rural knowledge’ on climate change is heard by government.

In a letter published on June 24, the new Countryside Climate network, a cross-party group, warned that ‘rural communities are at the frontline of feeling the effects of climates’ and the country side offers more than a place to ‘plant millions of trees to offset carbon emissions’.

The 21 councils that signed the letter represent 14.3m people – or 25 per cent of the population and two fifths of England by area

The network brings a voice on climate change for those who live outside major towns and cities, and calls for investment, such as the government’s delayed £100bn infrastructure fund ‘to support the ambitions of rural areas and the opportunities our countryside and green infrastructure can provide’.

Cllr Richard Clewer, cabinet member for climate change, said: “We’re delighted to join the Countryside Climate Network to ensure the important voice of rural councils in heard in the fight against climate change.

“Climate solutions and green recovery packages have largely missed the rural voice, and we need to be properly funded to support our ambitions as a rural county, so we can create opportunities in the Wiltshire countryside and green infrastructure.

“We are seeking to become climate neutral by 2030, but we need investment from government to help us achieve this.

“This is why it’s so important for us to support the Local Government Association’s (LGA) tool to measure our carbon emissions, so we can benchmark our progress against other councils, and keep our residents informed on how we’re doing.”

The council is also working closely with the LGA and the County Councils Network to develop a tool that measures the council’s levels of carbon emissions.

The tool will create a standard, comparable measurement for all councils in the country, which can then be used to baseline carbon emissions and report on them regularly, as Wiltshire seeks to be carbon neutral by 2030.

The trial of this new system is expected to begin later in the summer.

According to Wiltshire Council, one of the greatest challenges for the county is greenhouse gas emissions from roads and residential buildings.

A council spokesman said: “Being a large rural authority makes transport a particular challenge.”

The Countryside Climate network has been established by UK100, a network of local leader that campaign on climate change.

The group is chaired by the leader of Cambridgeshire Council, Cllr Steve Count who warned rural areas face ‘unfair barriers to decarbonise’ including lower budgets and funding rules which favour urban concentrations but may have less overall carbon reduction.