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Council Takes Practical Steps on Path to Help Residents Go Greener

25 May 2021

Earth from space held within a graphic image of hands

Securing £600,000 additional funding to make local homes more energy efficient and moving forward with plans to equip the District with additional EV charging points are just two of the latest achievements in South Hams District Council's ambitious plans to tackle climate change and increase biodiversity. 

In December 2020, Members adopted an updated Climate Change and Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan, which recognised the need to take decisive action now to ensure the District becomes Net Zero by 2050. Ongoing monitoring, with a report every six-months, reassures Councillors and local residents that the aims outlined in this important plan are met. The latest progress will be discussed at the Council's Executive meeting on Thursday 3 June 2021. 

Key areas of progress highlighted in the report to Council include:

  • An additional £600,000 in Green Homes Grants has been secured, which will help improve energy efficiency in 90 more homes across the District. The grants will be used to fund around 90 Air Source Heat Pumps and External Wall Insulation installations. The £600,000 grant is in addition to the £900,000 Green Home Grant funding previously secured and will enable more local homes to benefit from energy- and money-saving improvements.
  • Eight new EV charging bays will be installed in Kingsbridge and Totnes at:
    • North Street, Totnes
    • Steamer Quay, Totnes
    • Lower Union Road, Kingsbridge
    • Duncombe Park, Kingsbridge 
  • Up to £3,000 per Member will be available to support local climate change and biodiversity projects. This is due to be available from June 2021 and is in addition to the existing Members' Locality Fund.
  • The South Hams Climate and Biodiversity Action Fund has been launched on Crowdfunder. This provides match-funding for local projects and is backed by £200,000 funding.
  • A feasibility study has now been commissioned into EV charging, solar and battery storage on Council-owned car parks, exploring the potential for direct energy feed to nearby assets.
  • In response to feedback from the Climate Change and Biodiversity Forum, a survey into local need for shared electric vehicles and bikes is planned.
  • An application has been submitted for funding from the Government's Natural Environment Investment Readiness Grant in partnership with the AONB unit (as lead bidder) and Ambios (Sharpham Estate). 

The success of the Council's approach to climate change and the Community Forum has been highlighted in a case study by the Local Government Association.  The Council has also been invited to present at the Sustainable Earth Conference organised by Plymouth University in June 2021.

The report also notes the Council's 'agile' approach to working has resulted in significant carbon savings since January 2021 of an estimated 300,000 miles of travel, leading to an estimated saving of over 100tCO2e (Tonnes of Carbon Dioxide equivalent).

Cllr Judy Pearce, Leader of South Hams District Council, said: "We are determined to tackle the issues of climate change and biodiversity quickly and efficiently. We're taking direct action to cut our own emissions as an organisation and instigate a District-wide approach to change as well as using our position to apply for any funding that can be fed into community groups who are doing an excellent job with projects on a very local level.

"It's great to see the positive steps we have already taken to achieve our goals set out last year. Whilst switching to green energy is important, we know that reducing energy consumption is also key to achieving Net Zero goals. Insulating homes can make a big difference to emissions, as well as bills, so it's great news that we have the funding to improve insulation for many more local homes. We also know that access to more EV charging points is increasingly important as more car owners switch to electric. With more EV charging points across the District, and more in the pipeline, both local residents and our visitors will find it easier to drive green.

"We know there is still much more to be done to achieve Net Zero but residents can be reassured that our nationally recognised Community Forum is doing a fantastic job of identifying funding, projects and opportunities. I look forward to the next report in six-months, when I hope again to be able to share details of many more projects that take positive action to tackle climate change and improve biodiversity."

Since the Council declared a Climate Change and Biodiversity Emergency in July 2019, officers have continued to work on tasks and projects that will help the District to become Net Zero by 2050. These include reducing the Council's own carbon emissions, continuing to work with partners, including the Devon Climate Emergency Response Group and our Joint Local Plan partners, Plymouth City Council and West Devon Borough Council, and to increase biodiversity by 10% in its green and wooded public habitats by 2025.

Any new opportunities and initiatives will be updated in the continually evolving Action Plan as they arise.

To find out more about the Council's commitment to the Climate Change and Biodiversity Emergency, visit the climate change website.

To find out more about the Green Homes Grants, please visit the council's Reducing Fuel Bills page.

To discover the latest climate change and biodiversity news and opportunities, please sign up for our regular newsletter.

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