News release from 10/03/2022

Council’s ‘Being Green to our Core’ strategy receives national accolade

South Cambridgeshire District Council has been recognised for its work to tackle climate change, with a Silver accolade at the 2022 Public Sector Transformation Awards.

The award for the Council’s ‘Being Green to our Core’ programme of work comes in the Green Public Service category at the annual Improvement and Efficiency Social Enterprise (iESE) awards.

(Pictured above after accepting the award on the Council's behalf are Climate and Environment Project Officer Eleanor Haines and Cllr Pippa Heylings). 

Taking place yesterday in Westminster, the awards celebrated the most innovative practices in local public services and this year attracted 261 award nominations from 81 different public sector organisations in 12 categories.

The Green Public Service category recognises best practice in helping the environment and improving sustainability both within an organisation and its surrounding community. In 2021, the Council was awarded a certificate of excellence in the same category.

The Council’s Green to our Core programme is supported by its Zero Carbon Strategy (adopted in May 2020) and Doubling Nature Strategy (adopted in February 2021) and employs a multi-level approach to tackling climate change impact throughout the entire Council. It is embedded in its rolling five-year Business Plan and supported by over £4.7 million spent in 2020-21, funded by business rates retained from renewable energy developments.  

Highlights of the Council’s approach include:

  • Greening South Cambridgeshire Hall – the Council’s headquarters at Cambourne is nearing completion of a £1.8M energy efficiency retrofit to include a ground source heat pump, solar carport, upgraded lighting and other elements. The package will reduce the building’s primary energy demand by at least 56% and halve carbon emissions.  As electricity is decarbonised, the building's emissions should drop by 75% of previous levels by 2030 and 90% by 2050. 

  • Pioneering electric bin lorries – as lead authority for the Greater Cambridge Shared Waste Service, the Council was one of the first in the UK to adopt a fully electric refuse collection vehicle in 2020. Two more are due to come into service shortly, and the Council is also developing a solar farm to power the lorries. Its shared waste depot in Waterbeach is already partly powered by solar panels. 

  • Upgrading 1,800 street lights with low energy bulbs - this project, which as well as reducing carbon emissions will also reduce light pollution and energy bills, is also almost complete.

  • Zero Carbon Communities Grant - since launching in 2019, £314,415 has been allocated to 51 different community groups to support carbon reduction projects including setting up E-Bike schemes, installing infra-red heating panels in community buildings, holding sustainable food festivals, tree planting, energy efficient lighting and waste reduction. The programme also provides free energy surveys for community buildings and holds monthly community networking sessions and an annual Climate and Environment fortnight of events.

  • Tree planting – the Three Free Trees scheme in 2020 saw 54 parishes in the district plant a total of 162 trees and in 2021 the Six Free Trees scheme saw a further 227 planted.  

  • Innovative planning – in preparing a new Greater Cambridge Local Plan to set out planning policies across South Cambridgeshire and the City of Cambridge for the next 20 years, the Council is looking to support the transition to net zero with plans which include requiring all new homes and non-residential buildings to be net zero for all energy used and located to reduce the need for car ownership and to promote sustainable travel instead.

Cllr Pippa Heylings, Chair of South Cambridgeshire District Council’s Climate and Environment Advisory Committee, who is also a Board Member on the Local Nature Partnership and the Lead on the LGA’s national cross-party Climate Change Task Group, said: “We’re very honoured to receive this recognition for our work in building a greener public service for our residents. Like many councils, we are transforming our operations to meet the challenges of the climate ​and nature emergency, both nationally and locally. 

“Our ‘Being Green to our Core’ strategy is at the heart of this transformation and is ​driving a radical restructure of our Council and how we deliver its services. ​We are convinced that delivering a ‘Green Public Service’ can provide huge benefits for our ​residents' health and wellbeing as well as improving our area: through new ​developments being closer to jobs, services ​and public transport, warmer homes which are cheaper to run, new jobs in green tech and building retrofit, more trees and accessible green spaces and better air quality.”

Find out more about what the Council is doing to tackle climate change in South Cambridgeshire.