Climate Emergency – Two Years On…

Image credit:  Markus Spiske on Unsplash

In July 2019, Wealden District Council joined other councils across the country in declaring a climate emergency.

In doing so, we committed to becoming a net-zero council, and achieving net-zero carbon emissions for the district by 2050.

Wealden’s first Climate Emergency Plan was published in December 2019, and with it established our starting point for measuring and reducing our emissions. The plan includes actions the Council as an organisation can take, as well as actions to help our residents and local businesses reduce emissions across the district.

Progress

“Since we declared a climate emergency and set our target two years ago, we’ve made some good progress, but we know there is still a long way to go” said Cllr Roy Galley, portfolio holder for Climate Change, Economic Development, Waste Management and HR.

“So far we have mostly focussed on understanding our own operations and emissions, as well as increasing our understanding of the climate emergency. Over the next few years we’ll be widening the scope of our work across the district and expanding the number of EV charge points in our council owned car parks”.

Councillor Galley continues, “Since declaring a climate emergency in Wealden, we have helped residents across the district save over 33,000kg of carbon dioxide by installing solar panels in partnership with Solar Together Sussex. We are looking at how we can improve our housing stock to make our tenants’ lives easier and reduce emissions. This may include increasing insulation, and in some cases replacing heating systems with lower carbon alternatives.

“We are also working with businesses on Diplocks Industrial Estate in Hailsham to reduce their emissions, as well as town and parish councils to see how we can support them in achieving their carbon neutral goals.”

Clarity Sustainability have been appointed to help the Council engage with small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and landlords on the Diplocks industrial estate. Their expertise will help demonstrate the benefits of renewable energy and making energy efficiency improvements to their premises. This project, funded by the Microgeneration Certification Scheme, will serve as a national exemplar of how to engage businesses on an industrial estate on renewables and climate change.

Other activities the Council has undertaken in the last two years to combat climate change include sessions with staff on the benefits of electric vehicles; and working in partnership with the Centre for Sustainable Energy to host an event for town and parish councils.

Future activity

Later on this year carbon literacy training from ‘Climate Guide’ will be rolled out to our elected members and officers to encourage participation in climate change action.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, transport is one of the biggest contributors of emissions in Wealden. To address this, we are working with partners to improve public transport and encourage more active travel.

In addition, to help reduce our emissions from transport, we are looking at where we can put public charging points in our council owned car parks, and carrying our research to switch our fleet vehicles to 100% electric alternatives later this year. In our role as lead authority for the East Sussex Joint Waste Partnership we are also investigating low-carbon alternative waste collection fleet vehicles.

We know how important the climate change agenda is to everyone in the district which is why we now have a dedicated section on the Wealden website. Here you will find our declaration in full, our climate emergency plan, regular priority actions updates, and information on what you can do to help. Access via the button on our homepage or at: 

https://www.wealden.gov.uk/environment-and-pollution/climate-emergency/

Image credit: Markus Spiske on Unsplash

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