If proper measures to cut emissions and tackle climate change aren’t included in Swindon Borough Council’s updated local plan it could be taken to court.

That’s the thrust of a letter sent to Euclid Street, and scores of other local authorities, by lawyers acting for the environmental charity Client Earth.

Bosses at the council say they are taking climate change seriously, and are in discussion with experts on how to improve buildings.

The charity has written to all the councils in the country going through the process of updating their local plans – documents that set out where development should take place, areas to be protected, and standards for building and construction.

Client Earth told the borough council: “Put your area on a credible path to achieving net zero emissions by setting robust carbon reduction targets and integrating them throughout your local pan.

“This step is required by law, with the consequence that any plan that fails to demonstrate consistency with robust local targets will be unlawful and at risk of legal challenge.”

It added: “Local authorities have a crucial role to play in ensuring that the UK meets its net zero target.

"A steadily growing number have declared climate emergencies and local net zero targets, with cross-party support.”

Labour councillor Jane Milner-Barry is keen to see the Conservative administration comply, saying: “It is required by central government that the local plan makes real achievable provision to cut emissions. The new plan has removed some specific references to that. The council really has to step up on this.”

The cabinet member for corporate services and organisational excellence Keith Williams said the authority was doing just that.

“We are taking climate change very seriously.

"We have had a briefing on what local authorities can do from One Planet, run by a consultant from Royal Wootton Bassett.

"We are working with the Natural Environment Research Council here in Swindon and are talking to the Passivhaus Trust, which is advising us on social housing stock and cutting energy use by up to 90 per cent. We’re doing a lot on this.”

John Palmer director of policy at the trust said: “I’m in Swindon in October to speak to the borough council.

"We’re seeing a lot of local authorities who want to do more than they are told on climate change and emissions by central government.”