(Photograph taken in December 2019)
Work towards East Cambridgeshire District Council’s vision of its operations reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2050 or earlier is already providing green shoots.
Following the welcome approval of the Environment and Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan in June, the Council’s Operational Services committee were presented with an update on the progress so far against the Council’s top 20 actions for 2020/2021.
Three months into the plan, there are many actions that are already in full-force. Most notably, making the switch to a 100 percent renewable energy green tariff electricity contract from 1st October 2020. What is more, energy assessments on Council buildings, such as The Grange and E-Space North, are planned for the autumn to identify additional measures to reduce energy consumption and potentially utilise renewable energy sources.
The council has also changed most of its street and car park lights to LED, with the remaining few to be replaced by the end of 2020.
Progress has been made towards cutting carbon emissions through the reduction of staff business travel. Although this action was accelerated as a result of COVID-19, the council will continue to keep the levels of staff business mileage low to cut carbon emissions. Part of this includes fostering a culture of homeworking.
Plans are also underway to transform some of the council’s own land assets into more biodiversity rich areas. Assessments are currently taking place to pinpoint areas where tree and meadow planting can commence during the 2020/21 planting season.
A new Natural Environment Supplementary Planning Document (SPD), which includes advice on policy requirements relating to issues such as: 'net gain' in biodiversity through development proposals, protection of existing nature sites, protection and provision of trees will be recommended for adoption at the Council’s Finance and Assets Committee on the 24th September.
At the same meeting, the Council will be asked to approve for consultation, a further SPD relating to Climate Change, which seeks to ensure developers play their part and help address the climate emergency when planning their development schemes.
Cllr David Ambrose Smith, Chairman of the Operational Services Committee at East Cambridgeshire District Council, said:
“The Council has made significant progress in just three months towards achieving its top 20 goals on its action plan, but we are very aware that we have more to do.
“We are committed to working with residents, local organisations, parishes, the County Council, the Combined Authority and central Government so that together, we can be successful in tackling climate change and boosting the natural environment.
“We will review our progress and targets every year, and update the Environment Plan every June.”
East Cambridgeshire District Council is working with a variety of partners to utilise available funding to improve existing cycling and walking infrastructure. It is also assessing the findings of the bus, cycle, walk review undertaken earlier this year, to help lobby for further funding to increase and enhance bus, cycling and walking infrastructure in the district.