Council a step nearer to becoming carbon neutral

Horsham District Council is set to look at its next steps for tackling climate change and improving the natural environment for the District.

At a meeting of Horsham District Council Cabinet on 24 March, Cabinet Members will be asked to approve its new Carbon Reduction Action Plan for 2022 to 2025 which will represent a major milestone in the Council becoming carbon neutral by 2030.

This new updated plan with its three-year timeframe could see the Council’s direct emissions fall by approximately 60% by 2024/25 from the 2019/20 baseline. The Plan will embed improved understanding of climate change throughout the Council, including projects that will reduce carbon emissions from Council buildings and vehicles, as well as encouraging partnerships with sustainable-focused suppliers to reduce their emissions.

In September 2020, Cabinet approved two targets for the Council to become carbon neutral. One target was to achieve carbon neutrality for its direct emissions by 2030. These are emissions generated from the gas and electricity used in the buildings it operates and from the fuel used in its fleet vehicles. The second was a longer-term target, to reach carbon neutrality for its indirect emissions by 2050. These emissions are from sources such as from its supply chain partners.

At the same meeting Cabinet also approved a short-term action plan which runs until the end of March 2022. The plan focused on actions that have reduced emissions immediately, such as using Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil in all of the Council’s diesel vehicles and installing low energy lighting in two multi-storey car parks. It also laid the foundations for future projects. For example, audits of some of the Council’s operational buildings have identified actions that need to be taken. Many of the actions in the plan have been completed ahead of schedule and all are progressing well.

Our 2022/23 budget includes £1 million expenditure to deliver the new action plan. This includes capital expenditure for installing energy efficiency measures in Council buildings and to replace some of the fleet with electric vehicles. The revenue expenditure was for a two-year part-time environment post to help deliver the Council climate change plans and some consultancy budget for the Property and Facilities team.

This will be an evolving plan that will be reviewed and updated every six months, as new or more detailed projects come forward over the life of the plan. This will also allow the project team to react to any relevant opportunities, such as Government grants. Once a year the review will include an update of the changes to the Council’s carbon emissions.

Horsham District Council Cabinet Member for the Environment and Rural Affairs Cllr James Wright commented:

The adoption of this new plan shows just how seriously we are taking the climate emergency and the need to safeguard our District. If approved by Cabinet, the adoption of this plan will make significant strides in reaching the Council’s carbon neutral targets.

It also acknowledges that whilst much has already been achieved ahead of target, much work is still required to identify how further carbon reductions can be achieved and to reach our carbon neutral targets.