South Lakeland climate change action is making a difference

Last Updated: 4 August 2022

4 August 2022

Climate change action is making a difference in achieving carbon neutrality goals in South Lakeland.

South Lakeland District Council declared a Climate Emergency in 2019 and since then the authority has been using its Climate Change Action Plan to work towards its targets of:

  • a carbon neutral council by 2030
  • a carbon neutral South Lakeland district by 2037.

Through work to reduce its emissions, capital projects and work in the community, progress has been made towards both targets and SLDC is encouraged by the action taking place across the district.

Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from South Lakeland District Council as an organisation have more than halved from 5,259 tonnes in 2010 to 2,476 tonnes in 2019/20 and a further decrease of 15 per cent was seen in 2020/21 to 2,097 tonnes.

Councillor Dyan Jones, Portfolio Holder for Climate Action and Biodiversity, said: “Since South Lakeland District Council declared a climate emergency in 2019, our commitment to the importance of mitigation and adaptation continues.

“An important element of how we reduce our impact on the environment, support our economy and proactively come together is at the heart of our climate action plan - an action plan that was created following public meetings across the district.

“Challenge and opportunity is core to delivering and supporting others to do more together. To think globally, act locally. I am delighted to see action with others turning possibility into reality.

“Thank you to all those who are engaged in making South Lakeland the best place to live, work and play.”

Some successes and on-going work are detailed below:

Buildings

Buildings and energy represent a large proportion of the emissions across the district and SLDC’s own operations. The council’s progress in reducing emissions has come from its work to reduce emissions in its buildings:

  • Recent development of South Lakeland House, which has reduced emissions through using modern building fabrics and has a green roof.
  • Delivered a series of energy-efficiency measures in council buildings such as insulation, LED lighting and draught proofing.
  • Invested in PV arrays on three of its buildings; South Lakeland House (10 per cent of energy usage), Mintworks (eight per cent of energy usage) and Town View Fields Hostel (three per cent of energy usage).
  • Developed a decarbonisation plan for the council’s corporate estate.

In addition, work to reduce emissions from buildings across the district includes:

  • Supporting the Cumbria Action for Sustainability (CAfS) Cold to Cosy project, which delivers energy efficiency measures and advice to residents.
  • Funding CAfS to deliver the Solar Made Easy and Big Solar Co-op projects aimed at increasing renewable energy generation on domestic and commercial buildings.
  • Being a member on the Cumbrian consortium for the LAD2 project to deliver a series of energy-efficiency measures to residents vulnerable to fuel poverty.

Transport

Transport emissions are a large part of the district’s overall footprint. The Cumbria Carbon baseline report found that South Lakeland had the largest transport emissions of any Cumbrian district, totalling over 250 KT Co2e. The council is taking steps to reduce these emissions by:

  • committing to decarbonising its operational fleet by 2030. Work has begun by the purchase of its first electric vehicle in 2022.
  • Supporting Active Travel in the district through its Active Travel group and supporting Cumbria County Council’s Local Cycling and Walking Improvement Plan for Kendal and Ulverston.
  • Bid successfully to the SOSCI (Scaling on Street Charging Infrastructure) EV charging infrastructure scheme. As a result SLDC is installing 24 22kW chargers into its car parks including South Lakeland House and Library Road in Kendal, Red Bank Road in Grasmere and Buxton Place in Ulverston. These charge points will go live later this year and will be available for public use.
  • The council is also a member of a Cumbria-wide EV infrastructure group, which aims to turbo-boost Cumbria’s Electric Vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure.

Green Economy

The role of business and the economy in the district is pivotal and enabling a transition to a green economy is at the forefront of SLDC’s climate action. The council has:

  • Focused on support for businesses to become low carbon, training for businesses and business owners and supporting organisations in reducing their carbon intensity from their energy.
  • Launched a partnership with consultancy Green Small Business. This gives local businesses the chance to get subsidised environmental advice and 12 months of Green Small Business certification. SLDC is aiming for 20 new businesses to sign up in 2022/23.
  • Subsidised the Purposeful Business Start-up Programme: Future Fixers. The programme gives people the skills and knowledge to run a green, ethical enterprise. The council’s backing means the usual £495 fee is cut to £60 for South Lakeland residents. Thirty-eight businesses have graduated from Future Fixers’ Purposeful Business Start-up Programme.
  • Through a funding agreement with CAfS offered advice to more than 22 communities in energy-efficiency projects, delivered a range of workshops, advice and training to businesses, started a Carbon Footprint Calculator for businesses and held a green business support day in Ambleside.
  • The 2022/23 funding agreement with CAfS is focused on green business support with one-to-one support on offer for small or medium-sized businesses.

Biodiversity

South Lakeland District Council is committed to a review of how its activities can protect and enhance local and global biodiversity while at the same time delivering services, housing and climate change protection to the residents of the district and working with local authorities and other strategic partners in Cumbria and elsewhere to jointly address this issue.

Action SLDC has taken to protect and enhance biodiversity includes:

  • Being an active member on Cumbria Local Nature Recovery Strategy (LNRS) pilot. The purpose of the LNRS is to restore and link up habitats so that species can thrive, and agree the best places to help nature recover, plant trees and woodland, restore peatland, mitigate flood and fire risk, and create green spaces for local people to enjoy.
  • Protecting local biodiversity through the council’s land and woodland management. In 2018 SLDC commissioned Cumbria Woodlands to compile Woodland Management Plans for its main wooded sites in the Grange, Kendal and Windermere areas to enable works to improve the structure of the woodlands.
  • The council has also been facilitating the work of nine “Friends of” groups at its various parks, highlighting how vital community partnerships are for protecting and enhancing biodiversity across the district. Groups such as the Friends of Noble’s Rest, Friends of Lightburn Park, Friends of Fletcher Park, Ambleside Action for a Future and Kendal Conservation Volunteers have carried out vital work to protect and enhance biodiversity such as planting bulbs, wildflower meadows, trees and bog areas in SLDC parks.
  • Launched a Biodiversity Community Toolkit to enable and encourage more community biodiversity action and give best practice advice on how work on council land can be the most beneficial to the natural environment and wildlife.

Community

Working with partners in the community is a key aspect of SLDC’s climate change and biodiversity action as an organisation. Two examples are:

  • Launched and carried out the Climate Community Fund. This £20,000 fund was launched in autumn 2020 and sought South Lakeland projects that addressed climate change through measures to reduce carbon, enhance biodiversity to support carbon offsetting measures, addressed community behaviour change and consumption habits or promoted community/domestic energy efficiency. The fund was oversubscribed with some excellent local projects such as Friends of Noble’s Rest, Light Up Lives and Gill Banks Community Group receiving a share of the fund.
  • Funded and managed the Greening Campaign, a toolkit designed to take parish or town councils through steps to help households reduce their carbon footprint. Most have now finished and have received their estimated carbon saving for the community. Carrying out phase 1 of the campaign has led to another local green group being set up in one area (Duddon), and PEAT in Grange are building upon the campaign with their own projects.

More details and information about SLDC’s climate change and biodiversity work and policies are available on the council’s website at www.southlakeland.gov.uk