District Council publishes its Climate Action Plan
Following consultation to which Transition Town Lewes contributed last year, Lewes District Council has launched its climate change and sustainability strategy and action plan to reach net zero carbon and full climate resilience by 2030. So what’s worth noting in the plan? We take a look.
You may remember last autumn we urged everyone to look at and comment on Lewes District Council’s Climate Change and Sustainability Strategy Framework. The feedback to that framework has been used to help create its final strategy and action plan – a blueprint for getting the council (and as far as possible, the whole district) to reach net zero carbon emissions and be fully resilient to the impacts of climate change by 2030.
You can download the strategy & action plan, and supporting documents at the LDC website here.
The document is very readable and we recommend you review it yourself (and let us know what you think in the comments below). But here are a few things that stood out for us:
1 It’s ambitious and holistic
LDC’s plan has the all-encompassing approach to climate and environmental action that often seems frustratingly lacking at national government level. Its strategy looks (albeit at different levels of detail) at energy and buildings to agriculture and biodiversity, water, waste, transport, air quality, and community wealth. What’s more, it has outlined goals for 2030 for all these areas – giving a clear direction of travel for everyone involved.
2 Net zero goals for the council and the district are two different things
We applaud LDC’s commitment for the council itself to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2030 (and that includes through its own housing stock). It has the same ‘net zero by 2030’ ambition for the district as a whole, but that pathway is likely to be much more challenging and complex. However, we like that the report pulls no punches in saying how urgent the need to act now is – and the huge amount of work that lies ahead for all of us.
3 It stresses the need for partnership
LDC emphasises throughout that the strategy cannot be delivered by the council alone. Everywhere in the plan there is an emphasis on partnerships and acknowledgement of the work that community groups and local enterprises across the district are doing, such as a number of projects to get rural villages off oil and onto clean energy.
There is also much mention of training for staff, which hopefully means the whole project genuinely permeates the whole council – even if there’s a future change in administration.
4 It illustrates a clear pathway to net zero carbon emissions
The District Pathway to Net Zero (see image below) shows Lewes starting with 458,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide being emitted now, and how it could be reduced by 68% by 2030. Meeting this pathway demands unprecedented action: at least 200 megawatts of renewable energy will need to be installed. Domestic and other buildings will have to be taken off gas and oil. It’s intended that remaining emissions will be absorbed by planting woodland and other nature and energy projects.
The council’s own pathway is more detailed and controllable. By 2025 it hopes to have reduced emissions by 60% by putting solar panels on all suitable buildings and making a 25% saving on diesel. By 2030 it’s planned that LDC’s whole transport fleet will be zero carbon, including refuse vehicles.
5 It tackles transport as far as it can
Road transport is the source of 35% of Lewes’ emissions. LDC can’t directly influence this as highways are mainly the responsibility of the county council. However, LDC does plan to work with East Sussex County Council to provide active (e.g. cycling and walking) and low-carbon travel options across the whole district in a much more joined-up way than at present. Also notable is its support for hydrogen-powered buses, including the development of hydrogen fuelling hubs – in line with the Greater Brighton area’s ambition to be a leader in hydrogen fuel technology.
6 It wants us to reduce our meat and dairy consumption by 20%
This is a bold target for a district council to define. But they complement this with goals to support greater local food growing using regenerative farming methods and to make locally-growth food more accessible.
The consultants do some modelling on what a 20% reduction of meat and dairy would mean: less beef, and trees planted on some of the grassland. Land for both crops and livestock is currently a net emitter of greenhouses gases, but there is potential for it to be an absorber, thus counterbalancing other emissions.
7 It’s keen to ensure a just labour market
Moving to a low-carbon economy swiftly relies on demonstrating to people that doing so can support livelihoods – rather than threaten them. So, we welcome LDC’s commitment to support local small and medium sized businesses (including for its own £7.5m a year procurement of goods and services) and its focus on jobs and training in areas such as green energy and clean technologies. Creating skills and employment opportunities in all areas of the strategy – from energy to food growing to biodiversity – will be essential.
8 A good start – and a reasonable blueprint
There’s no doubt from reading the strategy that some parts are more developed than others and there is still a lot of fleshing out to do. And post-Covid 19, the funding to achieve some elements is uncertain.
But the plan is clear in high-level terms as to what the council wants to achieve by 2030. Therefore community groups like Transition Town Lewes and its supporters can focus on what they can do to help reach these goals. We’ve got a plan – let’s get to work.
What do you think of Lewes District Council’s Climate Change and Sustainability Strategy? Let us know in the comments below.