Wiltshire Council on track to be carbon neutral by 2030
Wiltshire Council has confirmed it is on track to being carbon neutral by 2030, as it updates on its recent progress in response to the climate emergency.
The council has also confirmed that the amount of renewable energy produced on its own estate has trebled in the last year from 550,000 kWh in 2021-22 to 1,745,060 kWh in 2022-23. This helps the council to be more self-sufficient, reducing its overall energy bill and adds more renewables into the electricity system. In addition, council carbon emissions have been reduced below the target for 2022/23 (3750t CO2e). This, and the many programmes and projects under way all contribute to the council being on track to be carbon neutral by the start of the next decade.
The council presented its six-monthly update on its response to the climate emergency at the Cabinet meeting on 10 October and then will do so at Full Council on 17 October. A new Environmental Policy is also being proposed which sets out how the council mitigates its environmental impacts and that too will be brought to Full Council.
Cllr Nick Holder, Cabinet Member for Environment and Climate Change, said:
We are doing everything within our power and grasp to respond positively to the climate emergency and lead from the front locally on this global issue.
I'm delighted that we remain on track to be carbon neutral by 2030. It's important that, as one of the biggest organisations in the county, we are ambassadors for change and hopefully that will inspire others to do as much as they can too.
We remain as ambitious as ever, regularly bidding for Central Government funding to help get innovative projects off the ground that will make a big difference now and long into the future. As ever, this is not a burden we can carry alone - we need individuals, businesses and organisations across the county to continue to step up to the challenge.
Aims relating to carbon, the climate and the natural environment are at the heart of our Business Plan and that will ensure we continue to take big strides forward in tackling this issue.
Here's a summary of the work the council has been doing to support the county to becoming carbon neutral:
- Successfully being allocated £480k funding in August 2023 to scale up delivery of local electric charging points.
- Launching five new Wiltshire Connect bus services, including a flexible on-demand service.
- Working with charity Sustrans to create a toolkit for secondary schools to raise awareness of climate change, air quality and the impact of transport.
- Successful bidding for funding of £978,000 to create new cycling and walking routes in the county.
- Salisbury River Park Project is still on track to complete in April 2024, bringing 650m of new and improved cycling routes, 1,600m of new and improved footpaths, 600 new trees, 2ha of habitat created and biodiversity improved, and increased resilience to climate change.
- Project to retrofit owner-owned homes gather's pace, with between 175 and 210 homes expected to have their energy efficiency improved - procurement planning underway and engagement with potential suppliers taking place.
- Council homes continue to be retrofitted, with 243 measures installed including solar panels and loft/floor insulation.
- The Local Plan, which is being formally consulted on, includes policies designed to ensure new developments during the plan period will support the transition to net zero.
- Wiltshire Design Guide has been drafted and recently was consulted on, which includes 'sustainability and climate resilience' as one of its three golden themes.
- Increasing the awareness of climate change through the planning application process and in the development of local neighbourhood plans.
- Working with housing manufacture Rollalong to deliver high quality affordable homes as sustainably as possible - using modular rather than traditional building methods.
- Successful bid of funding from a £14m Government pot to develop a tailored nature recovery strategy - helping communities map out the action needed in their area to restore nature by working closely with local stakeholders.
- Tree warden scheme launched countywide following successful bid of funding of almost £300k. Tree Wardens will act as local tree champions who help plant, promote and protect trees in appropriate locations in their local area.
- Scheme 2 of Solar Together launched in June - giving people the opportunity to purchase affordable solar technology. Almost 700 Wiltshire residents so far have accepted an offer to have solar technology installed which is made more affordable due to the group-buying element of the initiative.
- Invest in Wiltshire scheme launched which encourages business to apply for grants to expand their enterprises, but they must demonstrate plans to decarbonise.
- 98% of the waste collected for recycling, composting or reuse was managed within the UK. This reduces the carbon impact of waste haulage as this material did not need to be exported from the UK.
- Council's Recycling: Let's Sort It campaign continues to encourage people to recycle as much as they can. The current focus is to help people to recycle as much as possible at the council's Household Recycling Centre sites.
- Formal consultation on the council's Air Quality Action Plan - demonstrating the council's plan to improve air quality in Wiltshire.
Here's a summary of Wiltshire Council's progress to becoming a carbon neutral organisation:
- In 2014-15 Scope 1 emissions (direct emissions from sources owned by Wiltshire Council) and Scope 2 emissions (indirect emissions from purchased sources) were 23,758 tonnes of CO2 equivalent and in 2022/23 were 3,568 tCO2e. This means that council emissions have been reduced below the target for 2022/23 (3750t) ensuring that it is on track to be carbon neutral. Full details are provided in the annual Greenhouse Gas Report published on the council's website at Climate strategy and delivery plans
- The amount of renewable energy produced on the council's own estate has trebled in the last year from 550,000 kWh in 2021-22 to 1,745,060 kWh in 2022-23
- Installing canopies at a leisure centre car park which will generate 248kw and will reduce electricity costs by more than 10%
- Trialling 12 charging stations at a leisure centre for electric vehicles powered from solar panels
- Local highways maintenance contractor using Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil fuel for some of their fleet which produces less CO2 - saving 150 tonnes of CO2e per year, which is a 90% reduction compared to using diesel
- More than 100 members of council staff complete carbon literacy training to help them become more energy efficient in their work and home lives
The report focusses mainly on what has already been delivered in response to the climate emergency. Going forward the council's activity on climate is set out in the Climate Strategy Delivery Plan and Carbon Neutral Council Plan, available on the council's website at Climate strategy and delivery plans. The work includes continuing to develop a strategy for offsetting greenhouse gas emissions, due to be delivered in 2024, and looking at climate risk and resilience and development Adaptation Action Plans in 2024. A key area of work is carbon literacy and embedding climate considerations into all areas of the council's service delivery, procurement and supply chains.
As well as the Business Plan, the council's Climate Strategy informs all the work the council is doing to tackle climate change, covering seven delivery themes: transport; built environment; waste; green economy; energy generation, storage and distribution; natural environment, food and farming; and carbon neutral council. In addition, the council's Green & Blue Infrastructure Strategy is another key plan and both documents are used as frameworks for the council's policies and plans in this area.
More information about Wiltshire's Climate Strategy can be found at Climate strategy and delivery plans.
If people want advice and support on what they can do to make a difference, they should visit https://www.wiltshire.gov.uk/climate-change-individual.
The full climate update can be found at Agenda and draft minutes Cabinet - Tuesday 10 October 2023 10.00 am.