City council cuts carbon emissions by a fifth as part of ambitious Climate Emergency plans

Winchester City Council has reduced its carbon emissions by almost a fifth by switching to a green energy supply, as part of its ambitious plans to tackle climate change.

One year on from declaring a Climate Emergency, the council has provided an update on progress towards its goal to become a carbon neutral organisation by 2024 – and a carbon neutral district by 2030. This follows the council issuing a comprehensive action plan in December last year to meet these ambitious targets.

Achievements include switching the energy supply of the civic buildings to a green tariff in April – a year earlier than initially planned - which will going forward reduce the council’s carbon emissions by almost a fifth (19 per cent) annually – equating to a reduction of around 770 tonnes of CO2e saved.

Plans to further cut building emissions across the district include promoting the use of renewable energy. The latest example is installing top of the range solar panels on the Winchester Sport & Leisure Centre – part of a package of measures that will make the building one of the greenest of its kind in the UK. The panels on the new leisure building will include 849 square meters of photovoltaic panels that can generate at least 140,000 kilowatts of green energy a year. The system is also able to feed back energy into the grid if excess power is generated.

Ahead of World Environment Day, the council has also announced it will work with five Parish Councils to join up to the ‘Greening Campaign’ – this will help local communities to identify ways that residents can come together to cut carbon emissions at a grassroots level. The areas will help to test ideas that could then be introduced across the district. 

Additional work to deliver a carbon neutral district by 2030 includes developing a new Local Plan to guide low carbon development over the next decade and beyond, and progressing the Movement Strategy in partnership with Hampshire County Council to provide low carbon travel options. 

Cabinet Lead, Cllr Paula Ferguson, said:

“When we declared a Climate Emergency a year ago, we meant it and I’m proud of the work we’ve done to reduce the council’s carbon emissions and those of the district during the last year.

“We’ve recently cut the council’s carbon emissions by nearly a fifth by switching to renewable energy for all council property, committed to spending £10m over the next decade to retrofit our housing stock to make it more energy and water efficient, started work on a new ‘Park and Stride’ at Bar End, agreed a network of electric vehicle charging points across the district, and planted over 500 trees.

“Supporting local people through the COVID-19 outbreak has had to be our primary focus recently, but it also presents great opportunities to recover in a low carbon way. One way we are doing this is working with Hampshire County Council to accelerate the delivery of socially-distanced walking and cycling options, and we want to support businesses to recover in a more sustainable way such as increasing the use of technology.

“Tackling COVID-19 challenges continues to be our immediate focus, but the climate emergency remains a critical priority. We’ve made good progress over the last 12 months, setting ambitious targets on carbon reduction and taking action to make this happen. We can all help on this journey to improve our quality of life now, and for future generations. The positive changes to how we live our lives made recently prove what can be achieved and we're keen to drive forward ways to get more people from across the district involved in our ambitious carbon reduction work over the coming months.”

Carbon reduction programme highlights includes:

  •       A comprehensive Carbon Neutrality Reduction Plan – https://www.winchester.gov.uk/climate-change-and-energy/climate-emergency-what-we-are-doing-now/carbon-neutrality-action-plan
  •        Green electricity supplied for city council’s operational buildings
  •        A plan to install 32 electric charge points across the district including ‘fast’ chargers
  •        Park & Ride expansion at east Winchester Bar End later this year
  •        Solar panels installed at Winchester Sport and Leisure Centre and at the city council’s depot in Winnall
  •        500+ trees planted in 2019-20 including community planting events
  •        Developing a Biodiversity Action Plan including the creation of new wildflower areas
  •        A Climate Emergency conference planned for later this year – to mobilise people together across the district - including a Schools Climate Parliament to engage young people
  •       Introduction of a new household glass recycling service from September 2019
  •        Changes to parking and access to our towns and villages to improve air quality

For more information on the Parish Council Greening Initiative including how to express an interest in taking part, please contact: sustainability@winchester.gov.uk