Kirklees to go above and beyond climate plans with new overarching environment strategy

Cllr Will Simpson, Cabinet Member for Culture and Greener Kirklees, with an electric waste collection vehicle

We’re going much further than making Kirklees a carbon neutral borough. That was the message from Councillor Will Simpson, Cabinet Member for Culture and Greener Kirklees, as he announced that Kirklees Council is developing a strategy to tackle all issues negatively impacting the environment in Kirklees.

When asked about Kirklees Council’s action plan to tackle issues around climate, Councillor Simpson gave a detailed update about progress made since the authority decaled a climate emergency in 2019.

He said: “We absolutely share concerns about the consequences of climate change and that’s why we declared a climate emergency in the first place and why we continue to take action to address these impacts so we can reach our ambitious target of being carbon neutral by 2038.

“We recognise that need for urgent action and we do have an action plan, which we refer to as our Phase One Action Plan. I’m proud to say we’ve completed those actions and gone further than them.”

Councillor Simpson highlighted a number of key actions the council has met as part of its Phase One Climate Action Plan:

  • Overachieved against our previous target which was 40 per cent council emissions reduction. We achieved 53.5 per cent a year early.
  • Sourcing 100 per cent of our energy from renewable sources for council buildings and schools which has cut our district carbon usage by 17,250 tonnes a year.
  • Planting tens of thousands of trees each year and are leading the White Rose Forest scheme which is planting seven million in West and North Yorkshire by 2025.
  • Invested £1million in our vehicle fleet to convert to electric and low emission vehicles
  • £1million invested in electric vehicle charging.
  • Converted 97 per cent of our streetlights to LEDs.
  • Launched a retro-fitting pilot which has achieved a 75 per cent carbon saving for the tenants in those properties and is saving them £350 a year on their bills.

In this year’s Budget there is also a further £6million for the next 12 months (a record investment) to continue to green the council fleet and £1million for passivhaus pilots.

The council is now developing its Phase Two Climate Action Plan for Summer 2022, but Councillor Simpson confirmed that the council is going above and beyond just carbon-reduction.

 

He added: “We do know that we need to go further. Everyone needs to go further. The new detailed action plan will define how we as a council continue to work towards our 2038 net-zero carbon target for the district.

“We are also going to deliver a Climate Risk and Vulnerability Assessment to help adapt to the change we already know is locked in by global climate change for the entire borough.

“And, in the next 12 months, we are also going to deliver a comprehensive Environmental Sustainability Strategy. It will not only look at climate, net-zero and adaptation but wider environmental issues as well. This strategy is going to sit at the top tier of council strategies with the highest priority under the Council Plan.

“We must address the climate emergency. We are doing that and it will continue to be a priority but we also need to address the other areas and issues in the environment as well. We can get carbon to net zero and areas will still have environmental issues like poor air quality or ecological and natural decline. We can address carbon, but still be living past our planetary boundaries. If we want a healthy planet, climate and carbon are key but so are the other areas as well.”

The Environmental Sustainability Strategy – being delivered within the next 12 months – will give Kirklees a more comprehensive plan to make the changes needed for a healthier planet. This will include ongoing plans to reduce carbon, but will also tackle other important issues such as air quality, biodiversity, protecting nature and wildlife and more.