What are we going to do?

Environment and Climate Change Action Plan: Our 20 Commitments for 2021/22

We have set a long-term vision to deliver net zero carbon emissions for the Council’s operations and, in partnership with all stakeholders, for East Cambridgeshire as a whole, with clear and demonstrable progress towards that target year-on-year.
 
At the same time, we will support our communities and East Cambridgeshire’s biodiversity and environmental assets to adapt and flourish as our climate changes. 
 
To help move one step towards that vision and building on the commitments and achievements of last year, the Council commits to the following set of top 20 actions for the period June 2021 to June 2022:
 
1. Develop (including in partnership with East Cambridgeshire Street Scene (ECSS)) a programme of engagement activities with schools, helping to educate young people of the importance of climate change and the natural environment, and what they can do to help.
 
2. Actively participate, and encourage others to participate, in the ‘Queen’s Green Canopy’ initiative, which is a programme of tree planting in winter 2021 and winter 2022. 
 
3. Create a new Queen Elizabeth Jubilee Tree Maze, via: running a competition with children to design the maze; plant out in a suitable location the winning maze design, using a native tree/hedging species (eg hornbeam); educate the benefits of the maze (biodiversity / carbon locking / active lifestyles). 
 
4. Establish an East Cambridgeshire Create an Orchard Programme and target the creation of at least 26 Orchards (East Cambs COP26), whereby ECDC encourages and helps the creation of new (or renewed) orchards by community groups, Parish Councils or schools. ECDC to provide free fruit trees, stakes and other essential equipment to establish the orchard (land, planting and maintenance provided by the group/council/school).
 
5. Implement new grass cutting and wildflower management arrangements in suitable locations, to help support greater biodiversity. 
 
6. Develop a preliminary ‘nature recovery strategy’ for East Cambridgeshire, to feed into Cambridgeshire wide nature recovery actions and frameworks.
 
7. Undertake a series of energy efficiency improvements on The Grange (such as window replacement, loft insulation and LED lighting). In addition, commence a programme of ‘behavioural change’ activities for staff, so as to encourage efficient use of energy with The Grange. Combined, this action should reduce energy use within The Grange.
 
8. Before the end of 2021, report findings of a preliminary investigation into whether ECDC could operate its own renewable energy infrastructure, such as solar panels (PV) over one of its car parks. If feasible, progress implementation, with the target in future years of generating enough renewable energy to match the energy used by ECDC in its buildings, street lights and storage depots.
 
9. Help improve the energy efficiency of existing housing stock in the district, in particular through: (a) direct delivery of over £1m in home energy efficiency improvements to at least 100 homes in the district, comprising of Sanctuary Properties (40 properties), low income private homes (10 properties) and park homes (50 properties) (Note: these improvements are a partnership between ECDC, Sanctuary Properties and the Cambridgeshire Action on Energy Partnership; 
(b) the recruitment of a new ECDC part time Home Energy Advisor to offer advice and support to all residents on home energy and fuel poverty issues; and 
(c) undertaking further research, including with Sanctuary Properties, to gain a deeper understanding of the scale of need and opportunities available to make further future energy efficiency improvements to existing homes in the district.
 
10. In respect of our fleet vehicles (e.g. waste and recycling lorries; parks and open space maintenance vehicles), work with ECTC and ECSS to, as first priority, reconfigure routes and collection rounds with a view to minimising miles travelled. Separately, respond to the new national waste strategy and continue to monitor the emerging electric/low-carbon vehicle market. Ensure any purchase (or lease) of new fleet vehicles, during 2021/22, considers the potential for electric/low-carbon vehicles to become more widely available from 2025 onwards.
 
11. Adopt a new Cycling and Walking Strategy for East Cambridgeshire, and use that strategy as the basis for influencing change, bidding for funds and for negotiation with developers. 
 
12. To progress the delivery of Electric Vehicle Charging Points (EVCPs) across the district, through the direct delivery of new EVCPs in at least one of our public car parks during 2021/22, and through working with the Combined Authority on a county-wide strategy to support the mainstream roll out of EVCPs. 
 
13. Improve the ‘Carbon Impact Assessment’ procedure, developed in coordination with partners and in line with Combined Authority Climate Commission recommendations. This will help demonstrate the carbon implications of the decision being made.
 
14. Encourage and monitor the take up of the newly launched ‘mix and match’ training courses for staff and councillors. The OU recognised and developed courses accommodate a wide range of staff interests and skills, helping to build a base of environment knowledge across the council, no matter what the core duties of that person are. All staff and Members are targeted to have completed at least one such course by end 2021.
 
15. Continue to embed a greater culture of home working (to reduce commuting) and less business travel (e.g. for site visits), taking advantage of lessons learnt during the COVID-19 lockdown, with the aim of encouraging staff to undertake less, and more coordinated, site visits and meeting attendance. Target 20% reduction in business miles from pre-pandemic levels.
 
16. Active role in encouraging / lobbying for the highest energy efficiency standards in new development, as part of: 
  • the new ‘spatial strategy’ for the Oxford-Cambridge Arc; 
  • the proposed new national Building Regulations and ‘Future Homes Standard’; 
  • the new planning system being introduced via the Planning White Paper; 
  • any emerging Neighbourhood Plan that Parish Councils produce; and 
  • any future development schemes by Palace Green Homes / Community Land Trusts (CLTs) in the district. 
17. Work proactively with the Combined Authority, seeking to implement as many as reasonably practical of the Climate Change Independent Commission recommendations (due Sept 2021). 
 
18. Further develop the recently established East Cambridgeshire Partnership Forum, with the aim of the Forum to help devise actions and targets to reduce carbon emissions and boost the natural environment collectively across the East Cambridgeshire area. Potentially establish a non-ECDC website as a base for information and actions. 
 
19. Continue to prepare an annual ECDC Environment Plan, setting out the latest ‘carbon footprint’ of the Council, a series of annual actions, and a longer-term target to reduce ECDC’s net emissions by 20-33% (by 2025); 66-80% (by 2030); 100% (by 2035); and achieve a truly net zero carbon organisation by 2040.
 
20. Work with Palace Green Homes (PGH), the Council's commercial property and development company, assisting it to implement its recently adopted Sustainability Policy; and, for all its future major development proposals (i.e. developments of 10 homes or more, which don’t already have planning consent as at 1 June 2021), achieve the Local Nature Partnership’s ‘Working with Nature Charter Mark’