News release from 21/05/2020

Council adopts Zero Carbon Strategy for South Cambridgeshire

Council adopts Zero Carbon Strategy for South Cambridgeshire

The first ever Zero Carbon Strategy for South Cambridgeshire pledges to lead a green local economic recovery out of lockdown and reduce the Council’s carbon emissions by at least 75% by 2030. 

The ambitious plan, agreed unanimously by the District Council, sets out how the authority will meet its climate change goals and support residents and businesses to do the same. The strategy was approved at the Full Council meeting today (Thursday, 21 May).

Councillor Pippa Heylings behind the solar panels at our Waterbeach depot

Chair of the Council’s Climate and Environment Advisory Committee, Cllr Pippa Heylings (pictured - above) said: “With COVID-19 having a huge impact on people’s lives, our priority is to lead the transition to low carbon living across South Cambridgeshire and strengthen the district’s resilience to any future health and environmental crises.”

Under the Zero Carbon Strategy, the Council will support the district to halve its carbon emissions in the next 10 years and reduce them completely by 2050. Alongside this, the Council aims to deliver a reduction of at least 45% of its own carbon emissions by 2025 and at least 75% by 2030.

CO2 emissions in South Cambridgeshire totalled 1,255,000 tonnes in 2017, according to the most recent available Government data. One of the Council’s top four business plan priorities remains being ‘green to the core’.

Leading by example, the Council pledges to reduce its own carbon footprint by finding innovative and environmentally friendly ways to deliver its services. It will also work closely with local partners and use its wider circles of influence to encourage others to adopt its high ambitions at scale.

Measures highlighted in the Council’s strategy include:

  • Replacing its entire shared waste fleet of bin collection vehicles with electric or hydrogen trucks;
  • Carrying out a major review of its 5,300 council homes to plan the next steps in cutting emissions to zero over the next three decades;
  • Drafting a bold new joint Local Plan which will have the zero carbon and environmental targets as central to planning policy;
  • Supporting businesses to improve their energy efficiency and reduce costs by making it easier to access advice and funding, particularly for those hardest hit by the COVID-19 crisis;
  • Working with developers to ensure new homes and their construction are as carbon-friendly as possible and supporting existing homeowners to make their properties more energy-efficient;
  • Carrying out green refits at Council premises, including a solar carport and a ground source heating system at its Cambourne headquarters.
  • Continuing its recycling focus, to include minimising waste in its own operations, working with eco-friendly partners to promote food waste, repair and refill schemes, and creating a resource toolkit for communities to use at their events.

A large farmer's field with 2 white wind turbines in it

Cllr Heylings said; “Given the world’s unfolding environmental crisis and the scientific links between climate change, ecological breakdown and pandemics, the Council’s Zero Carbon Strategy is a crucial step in tackling global challenges locally.

“As we emerge from the lockdown, we have a stark choice between a high- or a low-carbon emissions stimulus package. This is why we need our Zero Carbon Strategy to guide decision-making. COVID-19 has had a terrible impact. We know that climate change will be worse and we are already starting to feel this through the increased frequency of storms, flooding and heatwaves; as well as problems with water scarcity and air pollution.

“We have limited time to act and we need to tackle all these crises at the same time through a green economic recovery that lifts up communities and businesses in ways that slash carbon emissions, generate new green jobs, improve public health and increase our resilience. As a Council, we have a significant role to play here.”

Council leader, Cllr Bridget Smith, said: “Climate change remains the biggest threat to the future of our world, even more so than COVID-19 or even any future pandemics.

“Having a really aspirational Zero Carbon Strategy will help us to maintain the improved air quality we now have, to keep people walking and cycling more and hopefully to help us rebuild our economy to be fit for a really low carbon future.”

You can read a copy of the Zero Carbon strategy that was agreed at today’s Full Council meeting.