Council approves plans for change of pace on climate change action
28 Sep 2023
West Suffolk Council is picking up the pace on climate change actions following approval at full Council on Tuesday 26 September for a new Environment and Sustainability action plan and the go-ahead to establish a £1 million Decarbonisation Initiatives Fund.
This follows a report which showed that while the council was on track to meet its commitment to be carbon neutral by 2030 it needed to accelerate schemes in order to stay on target. The new approach introduces a range of initiatives to help people and businesses do more to save money and reduce their own climate change impacts.
At the same Council meeting, it was agreed to establish a Decarbonisation Initiatives Fund to support communities and third-parties reduce their net power consumption. The first call on this fund will be for parish and town councils to upgrade their remaining streetlights to LED in order to obtain the environmental benefits. More information will be sent out to eligible councils about the grants in October.
One of the priorities of the new administration is finding ways to support communities and businesses to help them be more environmentally friendly. This is in recognition that tackling climate change cannot be done by one organisation alone but that everyone has a part to play.
The recommendations were made by a working party of members from across the council which was set up immediately after the elections to review the council’s climate change action plan and make proposals on a change of pace.
Cllr Cliff Waterman, Leader of the Council said: “These decisions will help us engage our communities and businesses and push on with the job of fighting climate change. We are all affected by this crisis and we all have to play our part. The working party made up of members from across the council has led by example by working in new ways to reduce their own emissions. The comprehensive action plan we have now adopted creates more opportunities for individuals, communities and businesses to do the same.
‘Where we can, we will be looking to deliver initiatives or pilots where traditionally it would not be our responsibility. One of these is to look at a reverse vending pilot in West Suffolk, to help us increase recycling and reduce waste, while we await long overdue government legislation. And I look forward to working with third party organisations to support decarbonisation projects with the new fund they can apply to which will help reduce their power use and find savings.”
The recommendations include a new action plan building on the consistent progress being made towards carbon net zero on the council’s own activities and highlights some specific opportunities:
- Businesses to be supported to meet the challenge of increasing utility costs and reduce carbon emissions through a business plan to increase the scope of the Solar for Business scheme which installs fully funded PV systems on organisations' roofs.
- Housing to be helped to become more energy efficient by ensuring the Housing Strategy addresses environmental performance, by investigating further support for the current Warm Homes Suffolk scheme and by using the opportunities in the emerging Local Plan to enhance the performance of new homes, including a minimum biodiversity net gain.
- Effort on reducing waste, increasing recycling of what waste is left, promoting local food production and increasing biodiversity to be engaged through communications campaigns
- Council activities to come under tighter environmental focus. Decisions councillors are asked to make will be assessed for environmental impact, and paperless working and the use of virtual or hybrid meeting will continue.
- Council’s role in leading on renewable energy to be expanded to investigate opportunities in wind and hydrogen energy sources.