18 Dec 2015

Stroud District Council first to go carbon neutral

Image by Russ
At a meeting of its environment committee held last night, councillors endorsed a report stating that Stroud District Council has become a carbon neutral council. It is thought to be the first council in Europe to announce that the carbon dioxide emissions from its operations have been outweighed by the reduction in emissions from energy efficiency measures and renewable energy installations it has put in place. The announcement comes just a week after the historic agreement on climate change was reached at the UN Climate Change Conference, in Paris.

Wow!! I was part of a group as a new councillor back in 2006 when we first started talking about this....initially that naive part of me thinking we'd do it in a few of years...then realising that actually there was alot of work involved - not least convincing other councillors that this was a road to take.  Indeed I remember jeers and laughter when I suggested in Council Chamber spending £10 million on renewables and energy efficiency measures for our council housing....well that only made us more determined and task groups, committee reports and many conversations later we moved slowly in the right direction.....before I stood down we were able to put aside £12 million for two years and a further £3 million for following three years. Now some of that has changed but this announcement is great news....yes loads more work to be done but we are building understanding and more in the District to continue to grow this.

The announcements re solar subsidies are deeply depressing - meanwhile the Tory government make commitments to massively subsidise nuclear power dinosaur technology - it makes no sense at all.

Anyway here's Green Party's Councillor Simon Pickering, chair of the committee, in his press release regarding Stroud: “This is a tremendous achievement, which has been delivered through a multi-pronged strategy focused on households, businesses and community buildings, as well as reducing the council’s own operational emissions. We have brought in over £36m investment into county allowing us to create jobs, cut heating bills and, of course, reduce carbon emissions. It’s been a win-win approach to tackling climate change, helping households and stimulating the local economy. Carbon offsetting is a long-established and accepted practice and is usually something associated with multi-national companies. Quite often they’ll do something such as plant trees in another part of the world to offset their carbon footprint. From our perspective we’ve been able to make hands-on improvements in our immediate environment.”

And more of the Stroud District Council press release:
The council’s environmental audit for 2014/15 has revealed that its estimated CO2 emissions from its operations of 2,925 tonnes have been outweighed by the 3,275.6 tonnes saved by its environmental initiatives. As part of keeping its own house in order, council buildings have seen significant solar panel arrays installed, lighting upgrades, and insulation and air tightness improvements. On top of these has been a programme of behavioural change encouraging staff to become more energy efficient. Village and community halls have also received funding to make them environmentally friendly and businesses across the district have also taken part in initiatives to help them reduce their emissions.

However, the greatest contribution by far comes from the council’s work with households which has contributed to 75% of the carbon savings. The council was instrumental in setting up and supporting the Gloucestershire Warm and Well Partnership. Working with Severn Wye Energy Agency, its advice and support to households on energy efficiency projects saved 2,468.6 tonnes of CO2.  It has helped thousands of households across the district with support and guided them to funding initiatives towards energy efficiency improvements and renewable energy measures such as ground source heat pumps, air source heat pumps, solar panels and solar heating. At the same time the council has been instrumental in establishing a network of registered installers to carry out installations to ensure that supply could meet the demand for work.

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