A detailed action plan for how St Helens Borough Council will play its part in the fight against climate change has been approved by Cabinet
The Climate Action Plan sets out an initial list of 134 activities that will help the Borough to achieve its ambitious target of net zero carbon by 2040 - cutting emissions as close to zero as possible and achieving a balance between the amount of greenhouse gases emitted and removed from the atmosphere.
Examples include decarbonising the council fleet, moving to low energy lighting and heating, increasing recycling, and embedding climate change as one of the key drivers for growth and investment in the borough.
Among the actions, the plan commits to:
· Invest £4.5m to improve cycling and pedestrian routes across the borough
· Introduce additional ULEV, electric and hydrogen vehicles to the council fleet
· Deliver an Electric Vehicle (EV) charging and infrastructure strategy, presented at the same cabinet meeting
· Promote waste minimisation and closed loop recycling
· Plant more trees, in adding to the 500 planted in the last couple of years
· Ensure new developments maximise walking, cycling and public transport movement
· Support schools to retrofit buildings with low carbon technologies
In 2019 the council declared a climate emergency in recognition of the threat posed by rising temperatures across the world, and the borough wide net zero target was set. In November 2021, the council published a pathway strategy outlining its strategic approach to how this target would be met, followed now by its action plan.
Over the past 12 months, significant progress has been made in reducing emissions and laying the foundations for more sizeable future reductions:
· All electricity used by the council is generated from 100 per cent renewable sources
· Receipt of the UK's first hydrogen powered refuse collection vehicle
· The borough's first Cycle Optimised Protected Signals scheme, which paves the way for integrated walking and cycling infrastructure across the borough.
· A detailed project development for a St Helens Heat Network to utilise waste heat energy to heat town centre redevelopment and benefit the wider community.
· Approval of a new waste strategy that promotes the circular economy
· Implementing carbon reduction strategies for key regeneration projects including Parkside and Earlestown and St Helens town centre masterplans.
Councillor Andy Bowden, St Helens borough Council's Cabinet Member for Environmental Services and Climate Change, said: "With our initial climate actions defined, the pathway to realise our carbon reduction goals is set. This ambitious plan will evolve and grow in the coming years, building on the pioneering work we've done since the climate emergency declaration.
"But with the council responsible for as little as three per cent of the borough's total emissions, while we can and will lead by example, we must also foster a meaningful and sustainable shift in industry and infrastructure, and in how we live, work and travel - we cannot do this alone.
"And while the impact of climate change is a very real concern, we can embrace the challenges it presents as opportunities to enhance our communities, deliver our services differently and adopt new technologies, in turn helping to create jobs and new skills, supporting the council's wider priorities and its plans for growth and regeneration."
Councillor Mancyia Uddin, the council's Climate Change Champion, added:
"The climate is changing and time is very much against us. The risks are immediate and existential, and we're already seeing the impacts in our borough. In the past 12 months alone, we've seen extreme weather events linked to flooding, storm damage and record high temperatures.
"These have led to the closure of parks, the flooding of people's homes, and the temporary cessation of services, with significant cost and disruption to the council and to residents.
"I am pleased to see the progress the council has made and will continue to make on tackling the climate emergency. We are working with our partners to make our Borough a cleaner, greener, place for all."