Significant and rapid progress in tackling the Climate and Ecological Emergencies has been made by Bath & North East Somerset Council over the past year.
A report to cabinet, on Thursday 9th March, sets out in detail the action taken by the council to reduce emissions, improve green infrastructure and restore nature and outlines its next steps to meet its ambitions.
The latest Government data shows there’s been a 44% decrease in carbon emissions across the district since 2015 and, by adopting new technology and switching to renewable energy, the council has cut its own emissions by 68% over the past twelve years.
The annual report also highlights the considerable progress being made in renewable energy generation which has risen by 6.54 MW across the district in the past year. Achieved through combined efforts across the community to install solar panels, including the council installing more solar panels on its buildings, schools and businesses doing the same either privately or by working in partnership with Bath and West Community Energy.
Progress has also been helped by the success of the West of England Combined Authority Solar Together scheme which the council helped promote to residents. It enables homeowners to club together to reduce the cost of installing solar PV panels. As a result, capacity on homes and businesses across the district has doubled since 2019.
The council is also supporting the delivery of a pipeline of new renewable energy projects but is warning the potential to connect new supplies is being impacted by grid constraints.
Councillor Sarah Warren, deputy leader and cabinet member for Climate and Sustainable Travel said: “This is a very encouraging report, detailing a whole raft of measures we’ve taken to reduce carbon emissions and support nature’s recovery. It’s particularly pleasing to see progress being made on the delivery of renewable energy. It’s crucial to meeting our net zero targets and will also help residents and businesses reduce their energy costs. However, with take-up rapidly expanding, the National Grid, Ofgem and the government need to address grid capacity issues as a matter of urgency.”
As well as adopting significant updates to transport and planning policies to make sure that future development drives down carbon emissions and supports nature, the council has been investing across the area. Over the past year the council has invested millions of pounds decarbonising its buildings, reducing transport emissions and creating and improving green infrastructure to provide habitats for threatened species, including:
- Building the new Two Rivers Primary School in Keynsham to Passivhaus low energy design standard.
- Installing new equipment to use the thermal spa water at the Roman Baths to provide carbon-neutral heat to the Baths Complex and Clore Learning Centre.
- Improving walking and cycling facilities.
- Installing more EV charging points.
- Extending the range of the e-scooter trial.
- Using new low carbon methods to repair roads.
- Sowing three new areas of wildflower meadows as part of the Bathscape.
- Supporting nature and biodiversity at Haycombe Cemetery.
- Planting thousands of trees across the district.
Over the coming year the council will also continue to collaborate with communities, partners and local, regional and national government to help deliver its targets. Over half of parish councils have either declared climate emergencies or have already acted to benefit the climate and natural environment, and initiatives such as the Climate and Biodiversity Festival have showcased the positive work taking place across our communities.
Detailed action plans have been drawn up to support the area meet the carbon neutral and nature positive 2030 targets.
Councillor Warren added: “We are making headway on cutting carbon emissions, but there is much, much more work to do. By reviewing our Climate Emergency Action Plan each year, we can measure our performance and ensure we focus our efforts on key areas.
“I’m delighted we’ve now also developed at Ecological Action Plan, the first since we declared an Ecological Emergency in 2020. It will provide us a framework to achieve our goal of becoming nature positive. It contains forty- five separate actions to deliver nature recovery from working positively with farmers to share good practice and improve biodiversity, to ensuring we consider the potential impacts on nature of all council decisions.”
You can find out more about B&NES Council's Energy at Home Scheme or call the team on 0800 038 5680 for ways to save energy.