Climate change strategy
We've agreed a new strategy that sets out how we will address local climate change issues over the coming decade.
We declared a climate and ecological emergency in 2019 which committed us to achieving net-zero carbon status by 2030 and to protecting and enhancing our local biodiversity.
As part of this commitment, the we have approved a new strategy, the Climate Crisis Strategy 2021-30 [1.17MB]. This sets a clear direction for tackling climate change and its key priorities. We've allocated £1million to support climate change projects over the next three years.
The strategy themes and priorities
The effects and impacts of climate change cross all aspects of society, economy and environment. To understand the local priorities the Climate Change Working Group identified a number of key themes covering all related aspects of climate change. Within the themes the group identified a number of priorities that support the delivery of the overall strategy and action plan.
The key themes and priorities of the strategy are:
- energy use
- planning and development
- council assets and operations
- natural environment
- adapting to climate change
We must reduce our impact on the world's natural resources, with a focus on fair and sustainable consumption and production and reuse or re-purposing where possible. We need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions caused by the production of goods and services and manage carefully the waste we produce. Of local concern is air quality and the need to make improvements particularly in identified areas like the Saffron Walden AQMA.
- Protect our natural resources
- Improve air quality
- Waste: Reduce, reuse and recycle
- Water: Reduce consumption, protect water resources from pollution
- Reduce use of single use plastics
- Sustainable food
By reducing energy use we can limit the level of carbon emissions in the environment. The burning of fossil fuels for energy releases carbon emissions and other greenhouse gases playing a significant role in climate change.
- Increase local renewable energy generation
- Increase the energy efficiency of homes and offices
- Improve energy efficient infrastructure
- Improved broadband in rural areas for homes and businesses
Planning and development
Making new and existing homes and buildings energy efficient will play a major role in reducing the district's carbon emissions. The new communities we create or those we improve need to support sustainable living that reduces the need for travel, improves health and protects biodiversity. By 2040 the Council must build over 10,590 new homes, and the locations for these can be found in the new Local Plan.
- Zero carbon buildings
- Reduce energy use in existing buildings by retrofitting energy efficiency measures
- Reduce water consumption in buildings through rainwater harvesting and grey water recycling
- Low energy and low waste construction practices
- New development built with Sustainable Urban Drainage Schemes
- Spatial planning to discourage private car use
- Nature based approach to design to incorporate green infrastructure requirements
Sustainable transport not only delivers carbon neutrality but has other positive outcomes, including health, well-being and socio-economic benefits for people and for businesses. By its nature, transport is a cross-boundary issue and so how we work with others to organise transport solutions is critical in reducing our carbon emissions.
- Prioritise walking and cycling
- Improve air quality
- Increase cycle network with separated cycle lanes
- Grow electric vehicle charging network and infrastructure
- Promote accessible rights of way
- Improve digital connectivity to reduce work travel demand
Council assets and operations
As an organisation committed to addressing climate change and providing a leadership role we need to reduce our carbon emissions and the energy that we use, prioritise renewable energy sources and manage our services in a sustainable way.
- Zero carbon emissions across estate
- Tree planting on council owned land
- Electrify the authority's fleet and pilot hydrogen fleet vehicles
- Introduce carbon offsetting of emissions
Protecting the natural environment is a priority that not only deliver benefits for climate change but will also impact positively on the physical and emotional health and wellbeing of residents.
- Improve biodiversity
- Improve air quality
- Protect and improve water quality
- River catchment improvements for flood resilience and habitat
- Increased rural and urban tree planting
Adapting to climate change
The weather records of recent years evidence the increase in heat, drought, storm events, intensity of rainfall and flooding. Residents, communities, businesses and the natural environment need support to being able to adapt to these changes.
- Support Communities to build resilience
- Ensure flood alleviation for communities that flood
- No new homes in flood plains
- Improve drought and heat resilience in the district
- Maintain Council Emergency Plan and Parish Emergency Plans
- Prevent the impacts of climate change disproportionately harming the most vulnerable
Now that the strategy has been approved, an action plan with projects to implement the strategy is being progressed. We'll publish regular updates on the action plan when we can.