Environment and Climate Change Action Plan: Our 20 Commitments for 2022/23
We have set a long-term vision to deliver net zero carbon emissions for the Council’s operations and, in partnership with all stakeholders, for East Cambridgeshire as a whole, with clear and demonstrable progress towards that target year-on-year.
At the same time, we will support our communities and East Cambridgeshire’s biodiversity and environmental assets to adapt and flourish as our climate changes.
To help move one step towards that vision and building on the commitments and achievements of last year, the Council commits in its latest Environmental Plan June 2022 to the following set of top 20 actions for the period June 2022 to June 2023:
- ECDC to achieve, as an organisation, Investors in the Environment (iiE) accreditation Bronze award in 2022, and work towards achieving Silver award in 2023 (with the top accreditation of Green award sometime after June 2023).
- Support 5-10 schools seeking to achieve national eco-schools accreditation, by subsidising their first year of subscription fees and providing wider support and advice throughout the accreditation process.
- Establish an annual East Cambridgeshire green awards scheme, which recognises those local residents, communities and businesses that have demonstrated a clear commitment to improving the local environment in the district.
- Install photovoltaic (PV) solar panels on ECDC's E-Space North office building by the end of 2022, aiming to generate at least half of the buildings electricity needs over a full year, and selling any excess at peak generating times to the national grid. In parallel, investigate further opportunities for additional PV panel installation on ECDC's land and buildings, with a particular target being the roof space of The Hive Leisure Centre.
- Target a 20% reduction in ECDC's paper use over 2022/23, compared with a pre-covid baseline of 2017 to 2019 average of 1.07m sheets per annum; and establish more ambitious medium and longer term paper reduction targets by June 2023.
- Invest in one or more of ECDC's public toilets, through potential measures such as efficient (low energy) hand driers and solar panels for heating water.
- In respect of our fleet vehicles (for example, waste and recycling lorries, parks and open spaces maintenance vehicles and vehicles used by Palace Green Homes), investigate the potential of low carbon fuel, such as HVO, and work towards implementing if practical to do so.
- Palace Green Homes commit to replace all future contracts for site plant in preference for equipment powered by alternative means rather than using 100% diesel or petrol fuels. This may include the use of HVO diesel replacement fuel or full/hybrid electrically powered vehicles where appropriate but preference will be for static plant where site conditions allow. The selection of plant will be reviewed at the outset of the construction phase of each project and selected to meet the specific build requirements of the site development proposals. Selection will assess and favour the lowest operational carbon footprint possible.
- Prepare a Travel Plan for the Council which aims to reduce car use to and from the Council's offices, both in terms of staff commuting as well as business related travel, and explore opportunities to offer incentives to staff to take up low carbon modes of transport.
- Help improve the energy efficiency of existing housing stock in the district, in particular through:
- successfully implementing around £1.75m in home energy efficiency improvements, funding which has been awarded from the LAD3/HUG national funding stream;
- in partnership with Cambridgeshire Energy Retrofit Partnership (CERP), establish a framework of contractors that can undertake grant-funded and privately-funded retrofit schemes;
- establish with CERP a suite of communications (including a bespoke website) to assist residents in understanding the retrofit options available and access to potential contractors; and
- undertake further research to understand more fully from an East Cambridgeshire perspective the options and cost implications of achieving Government targets for 2035 and 2050 in relation to reducing carbon emissions from domestic dwellings.
- Working with the East Cambridgeshire Partnership Forum and East Cambs CAN, help launch a new environment based website which will:
- Promote local action for climate and the environment;
- Provide a central hub for all local environment related resources and services;
- Update local people about events, campaigns and successes.
- Working with Ely Cycling Campaign and other groups to update and expand help and advice in relation to cycling opportunities, cycle parking and upcoming cycle infrastructure proposals across East Cambridgeshire.
- As well as targeting the delivery of the planned 24 Electric Vehicle Charge (EVC) points in three ECDC car parks by the end of September 2022 (see Action 12 from 2021/22), support the provision of additional EVC points throughout the district through increased advice and support, as well as ensuring (when it is the Council's duty to do so) district wide compliance of the new Part S Building Regulations (Infrastructure for the Charging of Electric Vehicles) and the Electric Vehicles (Smart Charge Points) Regulations 2021, both of which come into force in June 2022 and should lead to widespread public and private EVC points becoming available of a standardised and smart operating nature.
- Continue to facilitate the East Cambridgeshire Partnership Forum (see Action 18 from 2021/22), including investigating the potential of setting up a regular climate cafe whereby anyone with an interest in discussing ideas and actions to help address climate or natural environment issues can get together, hopefully leading to new and exciting actions on the ground.
- Utilising funding from the recently launched £2m East Cambridgeshire Growth and Infrastructure Fund, establish a grant scheme for natural environment capital projects that deliver long lasting nature benefits in the district.
- Help to facilitate a natural environment youth engagement programme which, for example, could seek to pair up youth clubs (and any other youth-based organisations or networks) with local wildlife reserves or nature recovery programmes, encouraging those of a youth age to engage with their local environment, learn new skills and take pride in where they live.
- Rerun the successful East Cambridgeshire Create an Orchard Programme, which targets the creation of at least 26 Orchards (East Cambs COP26) across East Cambridgeshire, whereby ECDC encourages and helps the creation of new (or renewed) orchards by community groups, Parish Councils or schools. ECDC to provide free fruit trees, stakes and other essential equipment to establish the orchard (land, planting and maintenance provided by the group, council or school).
- Establish a policy and implementation framework for locally delivering biodiversity net gain, a mechanism whereby new development must provide a biodiversity net gain from their development, either on-site or through nature improvements off-site.
- Work with Natural Cambridgeshire Local Nature Partnership, including a continued contribution to its running costs, aiming to develop and deliver the following:
- Commence the longer term aim of having a community-led local nature recovery plan for every town and parish council in East Cambridgeshire.
- Nature Recovery Now! - help the LNP develop a Community Climate and Nature Champions programme (working with other willing district councils in Cambridgeshire) to recruit and train local people to enable them to lead nature recovery projects where they live.
- Seek funding for community nature recovery grants, including seed corn monies.
- Establish, and map, the priority landscapes for nature recovery in East Cambridgeshire (such as the Wicken Fen Vision area), and, working in partnership with others, commence a long term programme of increasing awareness and understanding (and ultimately take up) amongst landowners and farmers within those priority landscapes of the various subsidy and grant schemes available that will assist with nature recovery and climate change adaptation, whilst also maintaining a working and productive farming landscape, including Environmental Land Management Schemes (ELMs), opportunities from Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG), forestry grants (in appropriate locations only) and water quality schemes.