Cheshire East Council has reported 'positive progress' with its ambition to become carbon neutral in its operations by 2025, and in influencing residents and businesses across the borough to take action to reduce their emissions.
At a cabinet meeting on Tuesday, 4th May, members were presented with a report detailing progress to date against the carbon neutral action plan – which was agreed in May 2019.
In the past twelve months, Cheshire East has:
● Planted around 15,000 trees across the borough, working in partnership with The Mersey Forest through the Trees for Climate programme, along with support from Cheshire Wildlife Trust. This included the involvement of children with tree-planting on school sites and planting to complement new infrastructure projects such as the Congleton Link Road;
● Progressed development of the North West's first green hydrogen refuelling station, to pilot, initially, the use of two bin trucks powered with hydrogen;
● Bought green energy from an accredited electricity supplier;
● Secured funding from central government totalling almost £2.5 million, which will be used to install solar panels and improve the energy efficiency of council buildings, leisure centres and depots all over the borough; and
● Increased the use of electric vehicles across services.
Whilst the council says it has made a good start, there is still a lot work to be done, and it has other projects in the development stage to make a significant impact on their target to reduce carbon emissions.
Councillor Nick Mannion, retiring cabinet member for environment and regeneration and chair of the new economy and growth committee, said: "Our new corporate plan sets out our vision to be an open, fair and green council, and we are committed to taking action to combat climate change.
"The government has set a target that requires the UK to be net zero by 2050. We want to take action sooner because every tonne of carbon saved will reduce the impact of climate change on our communities and businesses, protecting the future of our borough. That is why we are striving for an even more challenging target of becoming carbon neutral in our operations by 2025.
"As well as the projects detailed in the cabinet report, we are also putting processes in place across the organisation to ensure that carbon emissions are understood by all. This includes empowering our staff, through training and other engagement activities, to think about and reduce their emissions, and ensuring that carbon considerations are included as part of the business planning and procurement process."
Councillor Mick Warren, retiring cabinet member for communities and chair of the new environment and communities committee, said: "It's pleasing to see that over the last year, real benefits have been achieved while laying the groundwork for continued carbon reduction.
"We recognise that our actions alone are not enough to have the impact on the climate emergency that is needed over the next few years. That is why we are working with town and parish councils, schools and other local groups across the borough to support them to both understand their carbon emissions, and why it's so important to take steps to reduce them."
The council is not just focused on its own emissions, but continues to tackle the climate emergency through carbon reduction across the borough, including through planning and transport strategies, improving energy efficiency in buildings, and helping businesses and individuals to save energy and save money.