Climate action and what we are doing
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These are some of the initiatives we have been working on since declaring a climate emergency in 2018.
We have installed a solar photovoltaic (PV) renewable energy system on the roof of our Coleford office building. The system also includes some battery storage so that excess generated electricity can be stored and used at times outside of peak sunlight hours.
The system will:
- Reduce the amount of electricity the Council consumes through the national grid by providing an on-site source of power generation
- Contribute to meeting the need for renewable energy generation in the district and therefore reduce pressure on the national grid
- Save the Council money by reducing its energy bills
The system was partly funded through a grant from the Government’s Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme and forms part of our plans to decarbonise the offices. The project also includes energy efficiency measures such as replacing existing lighting with LEDs, with the total reduction in greenhouse gas emissions estimated to be 37,510kg CO2e per year. This equates to 2.9% of the Council’s total annual greenhouse gas emissions.
We have been reducing the energy consumption of our offices, resulting in a significant decrease in our greenhouse gas emissions since 2013. In 2020 to 2021, the total electricity consumption of all our buildings totalled 243,290 kWh, which is a 65% reduction from 2010 to 2011. This currently equates to 56,721 kg CO2e, which was 3% of the Council’s total 2020/21 emissions.
In August 2019 we switched our electricity supply to West Mercia Energy’s green tariff.
In early 2023 there will be an opportunity to bid for the installation of solar panels on some of our properties as part of our ambition to make our buildings more sustainable. Where possible, we are keen to include local companies in tender opportunities when procuring goods, services and works, in order to support local and regional economic growth. Businesses interested in receiving notifications about this and other procurement opportunities from Forest of Dean District Council, including those from our Publica Group partners, are invited to register their details on the Council’s portal.
Support for community energy
We are a delivery partner in the Europe wide AURORA project. This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 101036418.
The AURORA project, Forest Energy Community Initiative aims to help promote the concept of community owned renewable energy generation and locally this will happen through funding solar PV panels on buildings using a community share issue. An app will also be produced to help local residents better understand and target reductions in their carbon footprint, relating to personal energy use from transport and home electricity and heating. As well as our AURORA Forest of Dean website, you can also get regular information by signing up to our newsletter.
Energy efficient homes
The 'Warm and Well' initiative offers energy efficiency advice to householders and also administers grant funding on behalf of local authorities and other funders. Warm and Well is managed by Severn Wye Energy Agency on behalf seven local authorities including Forest of Dean District Council. Between April and December 2022, the scheme has delivered estimated lifetime carbon savings of 1145t.
We enabled the development of 200 affordable homes in 2022. Consisting of 35 social rented homes, 115 affordable rented homes and 50 shared ownership homes. All of which were rated highly on energy efficiency, achieving Energy Performance Certificate rating B. This means that they are more energy efficient, which will help residents achieve lower energy bills.
The Retrofit Centre is a collaboration between regional local councils, including Forest of Dean District Council and aims to support people to be able to make informed choices when making changes to their home so that they can benefit from energy savings and take more control of the climate inside their homes, all while making a positive contribution to the climate.
As part of our project to consider a possible Biosphere status for the district, we have consulted with local residents using the arts as a way to heighten engagement. We are currently working with Gloucestershire College to create branding for the project.
We are helping to promote ‘The Robin’, a bespoke minibus service, which is running in a southern area of the Forest of Dean. The service is designed specifically to provide transport links from close to people’s homes to:
- locations for onward travel, for example, to connect with the fixed route bus network; or
- to services at times when there is no other transport option.
The service will improve connections between rural areas which often have infrequent or no fixed routes available, increasing access to services and the wider transport network of our county, expanding access to employment, education, healthcare and shopping.
Electric vehicle charging points
In December 2020 we had a study funded by South West Energy Hub carried out to assess the feasibility of installing electric vehicle charging points in council owned car parks. The charge points would support the use and facilitate the uptake of electric vehicles by people living and travelling in the district. With emissions from transport accounting for 38% of the district’s total emissions from energy. The Government is planning to end the sale of new petrol/diesel cars and vans by 2030, the transition to electric vehicles will be one part of decarbonising transport in the district. We are commencing a round of new financial assessments relating to the feasibility of these proposals.
You can download the full feasibility study report here:
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A site survey for the installation of an electric vehicle charging point in the Council office staff car park has also been undertaken. Installing a charge point will enable the Street Wardens to trial an electric van and will support the move to electric vehicles for the Council’s operations.
We received 249 responses to our survey on walking and cycling in the district. The press release has more details of the results and who took part. We will use the results to aid targeted feasibility studies for new cycle and walkways in the district, the development of the new Local Plan and inform Government funding applications.
We held a trial of a self-charging hybrid vehicle in December 2019. Since then we have changed one of our pool cars to a hybrid.
The move to a hybrid pool car:
- lowers our carbon emissions
- works towards the 2030 carbon neutral commitment
- makes lease cost savings and helps to combat local air pollution
Our leased pool cars contributed 2,204 kg CO2 towards our total carbon emissions in 2020/21. Switching to a hybrid will save 711 kg CO2 in carbon emissions and £329 per year in lease costs.
We worked with the Mayor of Coleford and Coleford Town Council to prepare a template that can be used by businesses, schools and the local community to reduce their use of single use plastics. We hope that other towns will also be able to use this template.
We have asked local supermarkets in Coleford, Cinderford, Newent and Lydney what they can do to reduce unnecessary plastic packaging in their stores.
Governance and finance
Every Cabinet, Council or Committee report includes climate implications as it is part of reporting approach. We are also trialling an 'Impact Assessment Tool', which means that the wider climate, sustainability and social value implications of decision making are taken into account. The tool will guide the development of projects and policies by ensuring issues such as greenhouse gases emissions, sustainable transport and opportunities for ecological enhancement and sustainable food production are taken into account. This should stimulate thinking and in some cases lead to improvements in what or how something is done. Reports will then include the assessment produced by the tool to inform decisions.
Our 2022-23 community grants include sustainable community food as a priority and we have funded local growing groups to buy materials and equipment.
We are also supporting groups via our Community Builder team grant fund, helping two local groups to develop their growing spaces.
We are working with the Forest Voluntary Action Forum to start mapping local food growing so we can better understand what is happening locally, learn how to support the community better and develop a strategic plan in the district. This plan will look at what land is available for food growing locally.