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East Suffolk to battle climate change

27 July 2019

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East Suffolk Council has voted unanimously to step up its positive work on environmental issues to help fight climate change.

At its Full Council meeting on Wednesday 24 July, the Council recognised there was a good record of taking action on environmental issues across east Suffolk.

However, it has joined other local authorities in recognising the fact there is a climate emergency – and committed itself to doing more to reduce its own carbon emissions and to encourage communities to help fight climate change.

The motion was tabled by Cllr Rachel Smith-Lyte, Ward Councillor for Melton.

Speaking after the meeting, Cllr James Mallinder, East Suffolk’s Cabinet Member with responsibility for the Environment, said:

“Although East Suffolk is a new Council, we do have a good record in this area, under the auspices of Suffolk Coastal and Waveney District Councils, of working with our communities to fight pollution, cut waste and reduce our carbon footprints.

However, this motion recognises the fact that we are facing an extraordinary problem and need to step up a gear to make sure we play our part in the global fight against climate change.

East Suffolk Council cannot solve this issue ourselves, but we can be part of the solution. We can also help create the right environment for this work to be carried out, by working with our partners and also encouraging people in our communities across East Suffolk to do their bit to help in this battle.

I believe this is somewhere where small changes can make big differences. If all our communities - individuals, businesses and town and parish councils - join with us in making these changes, we can make a massive impact on our fragile environment.

Taking positive action on environmental issues is not just about the plants and grass outside, it is about what we do in our homes and how our businesses work to reduce waste and pollution. We need to take a practical, common-sense approach to this issue and build it into our Business Plan for the future, so it becomes part of our core business at the Council.”

What next?

  • The Council is commissioning an independent review of its progress to-date which will identify opportunities for further work to reduce carbon emissions which will feed into an action plan that will help us monitor progress towards meeting this challenging new target.      
  • The Council will be setting up a cross-party member task group to consider the results of that independent review and to recommend future priorities for action on climate change, building on the progress that has already been achieved.
  • The Council will continue to work with its partners across the county to ensure a coordinated approach, joint working in areas where we can deliver more by working together and to ensure a strong voice to influence and encourage others to act.

What have we achieved already?

  • We have moved to new more energy efficient council offices in Melton and Lowestoft which are more compact, well insulated and utilise renewable energy sources including air-source heat pumps at East Suffolk House and solar PV at Riverside.
  • We have helped businesses and residents to reduce their energy bills through free advice and improvement grants
  • We are refurbishing our leisure facilities building in renewable energy generation
  • We have been running campaigns across the district to improve air quality and reduce plastic waste and littering.

The Motion unanimously agreed by Full Council is:

“This Council pledges to:

  1. Declare a Climate Emergency.
  2. Set up a Cross Party Task Group, commencing by October 2019, to investigate ways to cut East Suffolk Council’s carbon and harmful emissions on a spend to save basis, with ambition to make East Suffolk Council (including all buildings and services) carbon neutral by 2030.  The Cross Party Task Group will report on their progress on a quarterly basis.
  3. To work with Suffolk County Council and other partners across the county and region, including the LEP and the Public Sector Leaders, towards the aspiration of making the county of Suffolk carbon neutral by 2030.
  4. To work with Government to a) deliver its 25 year Environmental Plan and b) increase the powers and resources available to local authorities in order to make the 2030 target easier to achieve.”