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WECA: Polluting website

WECA: Polluting website

Image: West of England Combined Authority

High-res images of metro mayor Dan Norris on the Weca website are harming the environment, South Gloucestershire Conservatives claim.

In one of the more unusual political attacks, the Tories are calling on Labour’s regional mayor to reevaluate his “digital self-promotion” after revealing the West of England Combined Authority’s (Weca’s) website is one of the highest carbon generators of its kind in the country.

South Gloucestershire Council Conservative cabinet member for corporate resources Cllr Ben Burton told a meeting of full council that the amount of data used to load a website was directly comparable to the carbon output produced each time it was visited.

He said the Weca site produced 6.57g of CO2 whenever it was loaded, making it “dirtier” than 96 per cent of other UK local authority websites and more than 17 times as impactful on the environment as the council’s website.

And this was “almost entirely down to the reels of high-resolution portrait pictures of the mayor… and quite often photos of him and his dog,” Cllr Burton said.

Citing statistics from the Government Digital Service at the meeting in Yate leisure centre on Wednesday, September 22, the cabinet member said the amount of carbon dioxide Weca’s website produced over a year equated to boiling enough water for more than 100,000 cups of tea.

He said the mayor should reconsider his “quest for visibility” and review how the website was managed to lessen the environmental impact.

“These figures make for damning reading,” Cllr Burton said.

“The worst performing website in our region and one of the worst in the UK as a whole is Weca.

“Based on the amount of carbon it produces a year, it would require somewhere in the region of 36 trees – an orchard – to absorb the environmental impact.

“Looking at the facts, the main reason for this is almost entirely due to the need for visitors to use a large amount of data to download high resolution portraits of mayor Dan Norris each time the site is visited

“So I urge Mayor Norris to place the climate emergency above photos of him, and quite often photos of him and his dog.”

He said South Gloucestershire Council was leading by example and that its website created only 0.37g of carbon per visit, cleaner than 76 per cent of other local authorities.

Mr Norris declined to comment.

A brand new Weca website is going live on September 30 having been planned for some time.

Words: Adam Postans, Local Democracy Reporter

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