L-R: Juliet Oxborrow from Lewes Climate Hub, Chris Rowland from OVESCo, Cllr Matthew Bird, Lead Cabinet Member for Sustainability at Lewes District Council
Cabinet councillors at Lewes District Council have welcomed the steps being taken by the authority that will enable the council to become carbon net zero by 2030 and support the wider district in doing the same.
The annual update report coincides with COP26, the most vital UN Climate Conference to date, and shows encouraging reductions on carbon emissions and importantly the establishment of key strategic and local partnerships.
Anaylysis has shown that the council's emissions have reduced by 15% on the 2018/19 baseline, while the district's carbon footprint has reduced by 5.2% for the two years from 2019 to 2021. An 11.4% reduction in carbon emissions has also been recorded from the council's vehicles.
Councillor Matthew Bird, Cabinet Member for Sustainability, said: "Ensuring that we do as much as possible to engage with the community and collaborate with key partners is the most important thing to me. When we declared the climate emergency in 2019 the first thing we did was meet with key local sustainability experts and take their advice on the actions we were proposing and what else we should be doing. Climate change considerations are implicit in all our decision making, whether that is about reducing emissions or progressing climate resilience.
"We set out our ambition in the first year of our administration and now we are delivering that in partnership with the district."
Key actions have included: sustainable modular housing, work to decarbonise the council's housing stock, expanding wildflower areas and tree planting, adoption of a biodiversity strategy, setting up a climate action forum, partnering on Ouse Valley CARES, supporting a community solar farm, producing climate planning notes, development of a community food growing policy, trialling low carbon waste collection vehicles, expanding natural flooding work, progressing coastal protection work, supporting the Newhaven Flood Alleviation project, developing an electric vehicle charging points proposal, GIS woodland opportunity mapping, adoption of a community wealth building strategy, alternative financing for climate action projects, pledging to investigate the launch of a climate bond within 18 months of COP26 and signing the UK100's "Net Zero Pledge."
Councillor Bird added: "There is clearly much to do but in Lewes district I'm very proud that we have established a clear, achievable and ambitious roadmap to carbon net zero."
The council has progressed regional and local projects working with partners, including the decarbonising of social housing with the Greater Brighton Economic Board and the University of Brighton, Hydrogen Sussex, Ouse Valley CARES project with the South Downs National Park and the Universities of Brighton and Sussex, alternative financing with the University of Sussex, the Local Nature Partnership, the Living Coast, Sussex Wildlife Trust, the Environment Agency, as well as neighbouring local authorities and community groups, such as Seaford Environmental Alliance and Lewes Climate Hub.
The Climate Change and Sustainability Strategy and action plan was approved by Cabinet in February 2021, as a result of the Climate Emergency Declaration made at Full Council in July 2019
Lewes District Climate Change and Sustainability Strategy