Council forges ahead with environmental commitments


East Cambridgeshire District Council is continuing to show its dedication to the environment by approving their second annual Environmental and Climate Change Strategy Action Plan.

The plan, which was unanimously approved at last night’s Operational Services Committee, includes the Council’s top 20 commitments for 2021/2022.

The Action Plan focuses on what the Council can do to mitigate climate change and seek to boost the natural environment in the district, with new measures for this year including new tree planting, energy efficiency improvements to buildings and reducing emissions from our waste vehicles.

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the Council has reached many of its targets set out in its first action plan adopted in June 2020, including making the switch to a 100 percent renewable energy electricity from 1st October 2020, changing all Council owned street and car park lights to LED lights and the adoption of two Supplementary Planning Documents for the natural environment and climate change.

Councillor Anna Bailey, leader of East Cambridgeshire District Council, said: “Since declaring a climate emergency back in October of 2019, this Council has made tremendous strides to protect the environment and reduce carbon emissions and I am incredibly proud of the progress we have made despite a large majority of time since this being dominated by our COVID-19 response.

“But despite the pandemic, the Council has continued to work tirelessly to deliver the actions set out in last year’s Action Plan and I am thrilled to have made such valuable progress over the past year.

“However, we must not rest on our laurels and now is the time to step up our approach, go further and achieve more. I’m therefore delighted we have agreed our new top 20 commitments for the coming year. 

“Protecting the environment and reducing carbon emissions is a real team effort and by pulling together, we have the opportunity to make a real difference and achieve a cleaner, greener East Cambridgeshire.”

Councillor David Ambrose Smith, Chairman of the Operational Services Committee, said: “Firstly, I would like to thank all residents who continue to get involved with the Council’s Ideas Forum by submitting your suggestions on what the Council could do to tackle climate change.

“We have all seen just how much of a positive impact the environment can have on not only our physical health but out mental health too and I am so pleased to see so many people getting involved in such an important matter.”

Councillor Julia Huffer, Member Champion for Waste and Recycling, as well as Climate Change and the Natural Environment, said: “The approval of our second Environment and Climate Change Strategy Action Plan is a testament to all of the hard work that has been undertaken so far and a reaffirmation of our commitment to the environment.

“We have carried out a great amount of work over the past year and I am really looking forward to continuing our efforts and making tangible changes in the next twelve months.”

A list of 20 commitments for the upcoming year have been detailed within the report, this includes to:

  • Over £1m to spend on energy efficiency improvements to at least 100 homes in the district, plus £100,000 to improve the energy efficiency of ECDC’s main office building, The Grange
  • implement new grass cutting and wildflower management arrangements in suitable locations, to help support greater biodiversity
  • adopt a new Cycling and Walking Strategy for East Cambridgeshire and use that strategy as the basis for influencing change, bidding for funds and for negotiation with developers
  • create a new tree-based maze in the district by running a competition with children to design the maze, and then planting out the winning maze design in a suitable location
  • Set up an orchard planting programme, whereby ECDC will offer free fruit trees to community groups, schools or parish councils
  • develop a preliminary ‘nature recovery strategy’ for East Cambridgeshire, to feed into Cambridgeshire wide nature recovery actions and frameworks
  • Reduce emissions from our waste collection vehicles by reconfiguring the routes the vehicles take to reduce the miles they have to travel, saving fuel, emissions and money

You can find the full list of commitments on the East Cambridgeshire District Council’s website (page 43 of Appendix A).