West Suffolk Council ‘making progress’ on tackling climate change despite increase in emission from last year

West Suffolk Council’s Cabinet discussed its environmental performance report at their meeting on Tuesday, 18 June, and agreed the council was making good progress against its baselines but needed to do more to accelerate the process.

West Suffolk Council’s Environmental Statement for 2022-23 monitors performance against an action plan set in 2019 and against a carbon budget tracking reduction in carbon emissions to net zero by 2030.
It shows that while substantial reductions have been made against baseline years, last year some of those reductions were not as marked.

Cllr Cliff Waterman, Leader of West Suffolk Council said, “This new administration has serious ambitions for sustainability and one of our first actions has been to task a working group to review the current action plan and to make recommendations for early implementation. We won’t take our eye off our own impacts, but we need to engage and encourage residents, businesses and visitors across the district to make more sustainable and environmentally friendly actions too.”

“The past year’s environmental statement shows that as a council, we are environmentally aware, we can account for our own impacts and we are investing in positive areas. That is a very good starting place but a step change is needed to release the power our communities have to make real change, and I look forward to receiving the working group’s report at the end of the summer.”

The West Suffolk Environmental Statement 2022-23 reports the trend in emission reductions against baseline years, and performance compared with the last year.

2022-23 saw the return to pre-Covid working impact council wide efforts to reduce emissions:
• The total emissions the council is directly responsible for in 2022-23 is down 40 per cent compared with the 2010 baseline but was up 1.4 per cent compared with 2021-22.
• Emissions from council owned vehicles were down 0.3 percent compared to 2021-22 and down 9 per cent compared with 2019-20. This includes a seven per cent increase in business travel compared with the past year, which in nonetheless down 66 per cent compared with the 2010 baseline. Public electric vehicle (EV) chargers installed by the council can now support 84 EVs charging at the same time.
• Renewable energy generated was up 135 per cent compared with a 2012 baseline, but down 1 per cent last year, accounted for by solar panels at the former council offices in Mildenhall being removed.
• Office printing is down 29 per cent compared with last year and total waste at West Suffolk House is down 1 per cent compared with 2021-22, and 58 per cent compared with the 2012 baseline.
• The Council has retained six Green Flag national awards for its country parks and open spaces which recognises good environmental practice. It has also planted 454 trees and 1419 whips during 2022-23. (318 trees and 560 hedge plants planted during 2021-22)

Cllr Gerald Kelly, Cabinet member for Governance and Regulatory said, “We are already feeling the impacts of climate change and we must all do more to reduce this threat. We understand that daily life can get in the way of good intentions to do more but even small changes can really help. The benefits can be surprising. For example, the health benefits of walking or cycling as alternatives to short car journeys; lower fuel bills with simple energy efficiency measures, and less wasted food. These lifestyle decisions are very personal and will need willingness to find ways that suit us but ultimately will improve our environment and health. I look forward to sharing examples of the amazing power of our communities as we work towards net zero.”