|Member’s Carbon Neutral Cornwall Newsletter
This is my first Member’s Carbon Neutral Cornwall newsletter which I hope you will find useful and interesting. I would like this newsletter to give you a flavour of what we are doing in striving towards carbon neutrality by 2030, as set out in the Cornwall Council Action Plan, and some information about what you and your communities can do as well.
The Council has a direct role in making changes to Council services and the responsibilities within our direct control for example our buildings, highways and waste, but the Council only accounts for 5% of carbon emissions in Cornwall so we have to influence and work with others to help reduce the other 95% of emissions. We can’t do this on our own and we need the hive mind of Cornwall to help.
Taking forward our immediate three priority projects
Phase one of the delivery of the Forest for Cornwall programme, the Whole-House Retrofit pilot, and production of a Climate Change Development Plan Document (DPD) were considered key early priority areas of the Cornwall Council Carbon Neutral Cornwall Action Plan. Please see an update on the progress for each of the projects below.
Forest for Cornwall: Since Cabinet unanimously approved the Climate Change Action Plan in July the Forest for Cornwall Team have been working on identifying sites across Cornwall that will be suitable for a variety of tree types and have been inundated with offers of land and volunteers. We will be planting the first set of trees as part of the Forest for Cornwall at a special event on 29 November as part of National Tree Week. You can read more about the Forest for Cornwall Programme on our website
Whole House Retrofit Programme: Work is underway to secure funding for the Whole House Retrofit pilot project from the Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS). A Cabinet report has also been submitted for approval of the proposals, with or without the match funding from BEIS. The programme will retrofit 100 social houses for residents in fuel poverty with innovative energy efficiency solutions.
Climate Change Planning Development Plan Document (DPD): Work has commenced on a Climate Change Development Plan Document (DPD) which will provide policy for requiring future development in Cornwall to be more energy efficient; the use of renewables; and managing coastal change and flood areas. A DPD is a statutory planning document that, upon adoption, will form part of the Cornwall Local Plan. The Local Plan and any adopted DPDs form the strategic policy against which Neighbourhood Development Plans are developed and would provide a sound planning policy background to deliver part of the Council’s response to climate change in Cornwall. The production of DPDs is governed by a set of national Regulations and is subject to an independent examination process by a Government appointed Inspector. This statutory process heavily influences the timescale of production, requiring three separate consultation periods of six weeks each during the production phase and a timeline for these events will be published shortly. If you weren’t able to attend the recent All Member Briefing about the DPD, you can watch the webcast archive here
Climate Change and Carbon Neutral Cornwall
Our Carbon Neutral Cornwall core team will be fully in place by the New Year. The new team is headed by Steve Ford, Head of Strategy and Delivery, who has recently been appointed as Head of Environmental Growth and will begin this role in January next year. As a result of his new appointment the function of the core Carbon Neutral Cornwall team will also move to the Environment Service and will be working closely with Environment Service colleagues as we move in to the implementation phase of the Carbon Neutral Cornwall Action Plan.
Leading the way
Our Climate Change Action Plan to tackle the climate emergency has been praised as being at the forefront of the UK’s response to the climate emergency and an exemplar for other organisations, in both the public and private sectors. The Forestry Commission has praised our Forest for Cornwall programme. The environmental journalism website DeSmog UK has identified Cornwall Council as having committed more funding to taking action on climate change than any other council and for having the most detailed spending plans for the years ahead.
We have been asked to attend and present at several national events including a Clean Local Growth Innovation event in October, the IPCC Conference in November and the Energy Catapult Workshop in December.
The Municipal Journal (MJ) has also recently published an article that you may be interested in: Cornwall Council will help other authorities tackle the climate emergency
Supporting schools and young people
Cornwall Council welcomes the passion shown by young people and is keen to work with them to create a collective Cornish voice to lobby parliament on the climate emergency. All secondary schools have collectively declared a climate emergency and have signed up to the Green Charter and we are now encouraging all primary schools to sign up as well.
At the end of last month we supported the Cornwall Schools Eco-conference which was attended by over 160 secondary school students. The event was the first ever schools environmental conference and I took part in a panel of guest speakers answering questions from the students. I was interested to learn that the student’s top priorities for tackling climate change are planting trees, plastic-free schools, increasing student knowledge and switching to renewables.
Making Carbon Neutral Cornwall business as usual
There are a number of areas of the Council’s work that directly or indirectly impact our climate. One of the first steps we have taken is to ensure that our climate is not negatively impacted by the decisions the Council makes.
As a result, we have developed a decision making tool that supports our existing Comprehensive Impact Assessments to show the environmental and social implications of the proposed decisions.
An example of how the Decision Wheel is Applied
The decision wheel was successfully piloted in a number of the reports considered at the Cabinet meeting in September and will continue to be embedded across other decision making forums. Our action plan sets out many of the steps we need to take to become a carbon neutral Council, and clearly shows that every one of us has a role to play in achieving our ambition. The Carbon Neutral Cornwall team will be speaking to our managers about this and how it should be reflected in future service plans.
Making a personal difference
There are things we can all do ourselves every day at home, in our leisure time and at work to help reduce carbon emissions and our carbon footprint.
At home we can turn our heating down, use low energy lightbulbs and not leave lights on if no one is in the room. We can also turn electrical equipment off completely and not leave them on stand-by.
You can use the WWF carbon calculator to assess your own carbon footprint.
As a plastic free Council our Green Champions network has ‘blossomed’ since last year and over 80 officers are now supporting us to consider ways Council employees can lead more sustainable working lives. Our Paperless Challenge has already saved over 102,000 pages which is equivalent to roughly six trees. We have shared some top tips with our staff on how to be more paper light at work through our Be Green – Keep it on the screen initiative. Our Facilities Management team are also looking at introducing additional recycling points across all of our offices so our staff will all be able to also recycle milk bottles and other plastic pots, tubs and trays as well as cans, tins and glass. Our A to Z of recycling gives details of what to do with over 220 different items – and the list is growing.
You can keep up to date with what the Council is doing towards Carbon Neutral Cornwall on our website www.cornwall.gov.uk/climatechange which we are looking at developing further soon. If you are asked how people in your communities can keep up to date with our work around climate change, please let them know they can sign up to receive news by email
If you have any questions or would like further information about climate change and Carbon Neutral Cornwall you can email the Climate Change team on firstname.lastname@example.org
In my next newsletter I hope to be able to let you know about our developing plans for a new website, a panel of special advisors, and further engagement through a Team Cornwall stakeholder group covering all sectors including faith, farming, business, Members, town and parish councils and environmental sciences.
Kind regards, Edwina
Cllr Edwina Hannaford
Cabinet Member for Climate Change and Neighbourhoods
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Phone: 07717203725 or 01503 264160