Experts help shape zero-carbon plan

A team of experts is helping Cherwell District Council with an ambitious plan to slash its carbon emissions.

Published: Tuesday, 7th January 2020

In July last year, Cherwell councillors unanimously declared a climate emergency, as have more than two thirds of UK local authorities. The council has reduced its carbon emissions by nearly a third (32 per cent) since 2008 and is now stepping up these efforts in order to hit net zero by 2030.

As well as hiring Bioregional and Aether – two local expert consultancies – the council is redeploying existing staff to help scale up action. One officer team is being set up to cut the council’s own carbon emissions; another is being formed to influence other local organisations to cut their environmental footprint as well. 

Cllr Dan Sames, Cherwell’s lead member for clean and green, said: “The council has been leading on measures to tackle climate change for many years and we have a strong track record in reducing CO2 emissions. We are committed to continuing to take action to address the climate emergency facing us.

“All of our services will need to take action to reduce their emissions. The council’s offices and leisure centres, its fleets and its housing policies, are some of the areas we are prioritising.

“This expert support from Bioregional and Aether will support our efforts and identify further measures that we can take to address the issue. We will also be calling on Government to make further powers and resources available to us to accelerate this work.”

The pledge to make the council carbon neutral by 2030 encompasses both the energy that the council consumes, and the fuel used by the vehicles which deliver services to residents. 

In the past ten years, the biggest reductions in Cherwell’s carbon footprint have come from its fleet of vehicles and fuel use, and the electricity and gas consumption at leisure centres. This has been achieved by reducing energy use, installing a range of energy efficiency technologies, by installing solar panels and biomass boilers in its buildings.

The Government is currently running consultations on plans for the Future Homes Standard and the non-domestic Private Rented Sector Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards. Cherwell will use its responses to these to ask for further powers and funding to influence the fuel efficiency of local housing.

Work is also underway to look at how future planning policy documents could be used to drive up the energy efficiency of future housing developments.

The endorsement of a climate emergency report at yesterday’s executive meeting (6 January) will allow work to continue apace.

Read the full report online here.