Taking a leading role in addressing the climate emergency
Friday 12 March 2021
Telford & Wrekin Council’s carbon emissions fell by more than a third in the year after it declared a climate emergency in the borough.
Emissions from the local authority’s operations in 2019/20 fell by 36% compared to the previous year.
A report to be presented to a meeting of Telford & Wrekin Council’s Cabinet on Thursday 18 March says the reductions have been achieved through a wide range of measures. These include a fall in electricity use through the installation of solar panels and LED lighting on Council buildings. The replacement of the borough’s streetlights to LEDs (currently 99% complete) alone led to a reduction of nearly seven-and-a-half thousand tonnes of resultant carbon dioxide since April 2017.
Figures for the current financial year are expected to show further reductions. The move to home working as a result of the coronavirus pandemic led to a significant fall in the level of printing (a reduction of than 300,000 pages per month), business mileage claimed (a fall of nearly 50% in April 2020 compared to the previous April) and energy use (a fall of 43% alone at one of its buildings - Addenbrooke House). This year also saw the launch of ‘Telford and Wrekin Climate Change Fund’ offering grants to help local organisations reduce their carbon footprint, the ‘Trees4TW’ campaign as part of National Tree Week giving away 8,600 free trees to residents, businesses and organisations and the start of work to install solar panels at The Place theatre in Oakengates; the first of eight such installations on council premises.
Plans for the next financial year include a £1.37m grant-funded scheme to fit heat pumps and improved insulation in Council Leisure Centres, retrofitting council buildings and temporary housing and measures to deliver a 30% reduction in business travel. The council plans to improve cycling and walking routes, complete the Newport Innovation Park (Ni-Park) with electric vehicle charging points and solar panels and install electric vehicle charging points not limited to council car parks.
To help capture carbon dioxide, Telford & Wrekin Council plans to enhance, restore and create heathland, species-rich grassland, wetland habitats and woodland. This includes a commitment to plant additional trees on council land and create a community forest with a tree planted for every child starting in reception on an annual basis (currently 2,513 children).
It will also deliver new ways to educate and encourage people to get involved in tackling climate change. This will include interactive paving in Southwater that uses the power of walking to charge up smart benches or electronic signs and a free ‘Green Festival’ event in Telford Town Park due in the autumn.
Councillor Carolyn Healy, Telford & Wrekin Council’s cabinet member for visitor economy, historic and natural environment and climate change, said: “It’s nothing new for Telford & Wrekin Council to be tackling climate change. We have been committed to reducing our carbon footprint for the last decade. We were one of the first local authorities in the UK to own and operate a solar farm. This and other initiatives led to our reducing emissions by 44% between 2005 and 2018.
“We know from the findings of our recent residents’ survey how concerned our residents are about climate change. Nearly two years ago we declared a climate emergency in Telford and Wrekin. Last year we published our first action plan to become carbon neutral by 2030. I am pleased with the progress we are making. We are not just talking about it, we are doing something about it.
“However, we can’t do it alone, this is a collective effort. As part of that, we established a Telford and Wrekin Borough Climate Change Partnership which involves a total of 33 organisations. Locally, there is only so much we can achieve together. We must now lobby the Government for more support, including more financial support for local authorities and policy changes to help us achieve carbon neutrality.”
Read the Cabinet report here