One year on - Climate Change Action Plan is driving SLDC's carbon reduction commitments

Last Updated: 13 May 2021

12 May 2021

South Lakeland District Council is leading the way in putting the climate emergency at the heart of everything it does.

While acknowledging there is much challenging work ahead, Councillor Dyan Jones, SLDC's Portfolio Holder for Climate Change and Localism, has hailed the progress made since the launch of our Climate Change Action Plan a year ago.

The plan aims for SLDC as an organisation to be carbon neutral by 2030 and to support a Cumbria-wide target to be the same by 2037.

SLDC was the first authority in Cumbria to declare a climate emergency back in 2019 and continues to lead the way towards carbon neutrality.

Cllr Jones said: "The world will be watching for action as we emerge from Covid. At SLDC, our rhetoric matches our reality. There is no greater compliment than to be copied and as we wait for others to align themselves with us, we are getting on with stuff.

"This is not a plan that is simply nice to have, or a 'let’s see how it goes' notion. For us there is no other business. With a mind-set of there is no business as usual whilst emerging from a pandemic into a politically charged world, we can continue to make a difference, and I am delighted to confirm that SLDC will continue to lead and work collaboratively.

"It isn’t hit and hope. It is getting on with it. That is what counts to achieve real-time outcomes and uphold sustainable prosperity.

"There is no atmosphere of vagueness and promise at SLDC, we are fully committed to getting the job done and we expect others to follow our lead."

SLDC as an authority has seen a continued fall in emissions.

Total scope 1 emissions (all direct emissions from the activities of SLDC or under our control, including fuel combustion on site such as gas boilers, fleet vehicles), and scope 2 emissions (indirect emissions from electricity purchased and used by SLDC – created during the production of the energy) for the financial year 2019/20 were 2,475.5 tonnes of CO2 equivalent. This was a slight fall of 67 tonnes from the previous year.

Electricity emissions had fallen – however this was largely due to the decarbonisation of the grid across the UK. Notwithstanding this our electricity has fallen from the highest carbon-emitting factor to the lowest within eight years. SLDC’s gas emissions have fallen slightly, but our transport remains high.

The council's biggest carbon emitters are waste collection wagons, accounting for nearly half, followed by leisure centres and offices and other buildings.

Cllr Jones added: "At South Lakeland District Council we are well on the way with actions outlined in the Climate Change Action Plan. However, we recognise we are at a point where we expect and rely on action from others too, to reach the ambitious target for the whole of Cumbria.

"Let’s not be under any illusion. It will take investment and support from government, along with the right policies, strategies and funding priorities to get to where the UK needs to be to meet the recently revised targets from government."

Since its launch last year work through the Climate Change Action Plan related to the 2030 target include:

  • Using energy and transport data management system Pilio, which provides up-to-date information and monitors carbon emissions;
  • Investigating opportunities for carbon saving in our business, bin lorry and van fleets;
  • We have solar panels on three of our sites with another three are to follow and are carrying out a full assessment of our buildings to create a road map to zero emissions;
  • Programme of full-day and shorter carbon literacy and climate change training sessions for staff and members;
  • Looking into our carbon offsetting potential (to absorb carbon via land use, land use change and forestry) for improved land management on council-owned land, as well as district wide;
  • Supporting small businesses through part-funding Green Audits with the Green Small Business Scheme and Future Fixers, supporting new starter businesses with climate and efficiency friendly support;
  • The council has signed up to a social value portal which will enable officers simply and effectively to score potential contractors on their carbon-cutting credentials as well as monitor emissions as they progress through the contract.

Activity relating to the 2037 target includes:

  • The council's Climate Community Fund in autumn 2020: This proved to be very popular, with 19 applications bidding for a share of the £20,000 pot;
  • The council commissions Cumbria Action for Sustainability (CAfS) to work with communities in South Lakeland to reduce their carbon emissions, including the Ambleside to Zero project, the CAfS low-carbon knowledge hub and online webinars for residents and businesses exploring low-carbon homes, business events and sharing lessons learned, as well as the Zero Carbon Cumbrian Partnership, which won a £2.5 million National Lottery award to help finance this work;
  • Supporting the pioneering Kendal Citizens Jury, which is now being rolled out across the county;
  • SLDC have identified an existing toolkit called the Greening Campaign which enables Town and Parish Councils to plan and start their own actions within their closer communities. So far Ulverston Town Council, the Cartmel Peninsula under Grange TC and being led by PEAT (Peninsula Environmental Action Together), Staveley and Ings and Duddon Parish Councils have signed up to participate.

Responding to climate change and enhancing biodiversity is one of four priorities in our new Council Plan, informing action across the areas of housing and communities, economy and culture, and health and the environment.