Somerset’s joint Climate Emergency Strategy was published by Somerset County Council in November 2020. This Strategy has been taken forward into the new Somerset County and can be found on our Strategies page.
You can track the trend in carbon emissions under Somerset Council through the Somerset Trends website.
Climate Emergency Fund
Somerset County Council’s £1 million Climate Emergency Community Fund was launched in 2020 to encourage community projects that share the Council’s vision of working towards a climate-resilient Somerset.
Find a project near you and see the full list of funded projects.
Read about some of the projects below
Timberscombe’s new plan for biodiversity and carbon management:
A survey of the biodiversity habitats within the parish of Timberscombe has been carried out, after £5100 from the Somerset Climate Emergency Community Fund was awarded to enable this piece of ecological research.
The Timberscombe Biodiversity Project has allowed a record of every plant and wildlife habitat in the parish to be created, from wetland and grassland, through to built-up areas and broad-leaved woodland
Aerial photographs followed by on-the-ground fieldwork and relating the findings to the UK Habitat Classification system.
Now, the parish has a defined set of actions based on their specific habitat types, which allow them to protect and improve biodiversity and improve carbon management within their part of Somerset. These actions include ways of protecting stored carbon so it does not make its way into the atmosphere
- Increasing the amount of broad-leaved/mixed woodland in Timberscombe
- Reducing or stopping the re-seeding of grasslands
- Reducing sheep stocking density
- Maintaining hedgerows through the centuries-old practice of “hedge laying” encourages natural growth and creates a living fence
Good Vibe Veg
This innovative project has already begun supplying vegetables to a local farm shop and to local people, reaping the benefits of “low carbon miles” local produce. Reducing our carbon footprint is not just about tackling the threat posed by climate change, it’s also about making the environment a better place – for people and for nature. With a real emphasis on “local food,” this model of small-scale, sustainable agriculture allows farmers and growers to make a reasonable living by growing quality, fresh, healthy food for and with their local community.
For more information on Facebook.
Pedal for the Planet
Pedal for the Planet aims to encourage the local community to get cycling more often and more safely – for healthier people and a healthier plant! This innovative, community and volunteer-led project for Muchelney and Kingsbury Episcope Parishes on the Somerset Levels have already put on a fantastic programme of cycling workshops and activities for all ages and abilities. And as well as repairing bikes, the scheme offers beginners’ bike safety and care workshops, providing local people with sustainable and eco-friendly transport.
Quote from a parent who attended the Road Skills Course
“My son absolutely loved it and we were so pleased that he could learn some new skills in a safe environment as the roads can be quite dangerous. It’s really important to us that the kids enjoy cycling, not just because it’s fun and keeps them healthy but it’s one way that we easily cut our carbon footprint”
Solar power for village hub
In the village of Stoke St Gregory near Taunton, the community has clubbed together to purchase The Royal Oak pub and convert it into a hub complete with a village shop, café, pub and other community facilities
Stoke St Gregory Parish Council submitted a successful bid to the Somerset Climate Emergency Fund so that the new solar panels could be placed on the roof of The Royal Oak to reduce the carbon footprint of the enterprise, and save money on energy bills. The money saved will be reinvested in community initiatives
The Royal Oak is owned by Heat of the Village, a Community Benefit society that has turned the venue into a vibrant social and commercial centre for the village and surrounding community. The Heart of the Village has also taken other steps to make sure the Royal Oak keeps a low carbon footprint such as selling local produce to reduce food miles.
Friends of Longrun Meadow
At the end of last month, a project fund certificate was presented to the Friends of Longrun Meadow Chair, Helen Lawy on behalf of Somerset County Council. This was confirming a grant in excess of £16k awarded to the Longrun Meadow group, who together with Comeytrowe Park, Longrun Meadow, Netherclay Community Woodland and Victoria Park have worked together on the bid. They have made management changes to the open spaces which will help to mitigate climate change. They have been enabled and supported by Somerset West and Taunton District Council.
Helen said: “We have resorted to existing and ancient hedgerows, planted new lines of hedges and lowered the canopy to create ecotones (transition areas between two biological communities, where two communities meet and integrate) at the margins of wooded areas. We have begun to develop a mosaic of habitats through changes in grassland management and structural management of the edges and margins of hedgerows providing connectivity between habitats. We are creating new signage which will inform local park users and the wider communities about the importance of hedgerow and grassland management.”
Otterhead Hydro-Electricity Turbine Project
A new hydroelectric turbine will provide clean power to a Forest School near Taunton, replacing a noisy and polluting diesel generator at the site which is part of the Otterhead Estate. Work is now underway and once complete the new turbine will deliver significant savings and provide a useful teaching tool by restoring an important heritage feature – water was originally used at Otterhead to power a mill. The new sustainable power source will also allow the Coach House buildings to be used to host a much wider range of community events such as meetings, performances and celebrations.
Stogumber Outdoor Learning Shelter
Built on the Beacon Field, opposite the Village Hall and Stogumber Primary School, the shelter is ideally situated to be used and enjoyed by the local community and visitors to the parish. The newly erected shelter is available for the whole community to use in all weather for a wide range of Environmentally-inspired and educational activities. Made from resilient, natural materials and sustainable timber, the shelter requires minimal upkeep and no additional energy input post-construction. The shelter acts as a hub to be used by the whole community for small groups to learn about ecology, biodiversity and carbon capture as well as offering an inspirational outdoor space to respond to nature through creative arts. It’s part of the village’s commitment to mitigating the effects of climate change through experience and education, with the aim of encouraging behavioural and lifestyle changes.
Chedzoy Nature Walk
Around the village of Chedzoy in the Somerset Levels is a 3.2km nature walk with five distinctly different habitats, each has been created with plants and trees carefully selected for the properties they bring to the environment. Along the route, you will find more than 100 different species of plants and trees, easy access fates, resting areas, signage, walking guides and plant ID labels. The walk was created y a passionate group of volunteers known as the Chedzoy Fair Share Project Team and funded by the Somerset County Council’s – Climate Emergency Community Fund
Information about the Chedzoy Nature Walk and Guides
Curry Rivel Parish Council Projects
Curry Rivel Parish Council is working on two projects which will help benefit the villagers and environment, thanks to Somerset County Council’s Climate Emergency Fund
The first project is to investigate initiatives to provide sustainable heating and power generation in Currey Rivel. The council has already invested in a thermal imaging camera that local residents can use to track heat loss from their homes in winder. Read more here
The second is looking at the feasibility of creating a new cycle/footpath between Curry Rivel and Huish Episcopi. The existing footpath between the two villages is quite narrow and overgrown and as such residents are inclined to take the car when travelling from one village to the other rather than walk or cycle. Read more here
Dulverton traders go plastic free
Traders in the Exmoor market town of Dulverton have unveiled new jute and paper bags for their customers in a bid to become more eco-friendly and move away from using plastic bags
The bags feature Dulverton’s new branding including the logo with an artistic impression of an Exmoor stag form the letter D.
This means the initiative will not only benefit the environment, but it will raise the profile of the town’s shops and businesses too.
A new electric wheelchair accessible car coming to Watchet
Watchet Town Council applied to the Somerset County Council Climate Emergency Fund as lead partner with Sampford Brett and Bicknoller Parish Councils and Watchet Drives and BickLifts Community Car Schemes for funding for a community electric car. A proposal was drafted for a wheelchair-accessible electric community car that could be shared between parishes and would show how community transport could be operated at a lower cover per mileage, produce far less carbon emissions (event on full life cycle analysis), be Covid-safe and provide transport for disabled and disadvantaged members of the Watchet community. The application was successful and included funding for a coordinator of the new and the existing community car run by Watchet Drives. The Town Council have now purchased and insured the vehicle which is sown here with the Village Agent about to board.
Carbon Literacy Project
Somerset County Council commissioned ClimateGuide to run a series of free, accredited Carbon Literacy training days for Parish and Town Councils. This training was being funded through the Climate Emergency Community Fund to help Town and Parish councils take their own actions on climate change, and was a huge success.
They also ran similar training for their own Somerset County Council officers and extended the offer of training to County and District Councillors.
County Hall energy efficiency works
Below are some images showing the start of site preparatory works outside and underneath B Block, County Hall being delivered by Willmott Dixon. The work will result in this building being far more energy efficient and will also meet a number of the Government’s Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme measures.
The Council successfully bid for a £4.1m grant from the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme, provided by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). The works at B Block, County Hall involve replacing all the windows, roof and wall insulation, putting in energy-efficient heating and air circulation systems, and increasing the number of solar panels. These works will take place in stages as each of the eight elevations of B Block is completed over the coming months.
The Co-Adapt Project (2019-2023)
The Co-Adapt project (2019-2023) involves 12 partners spanning 4 countries; the UK, France, the Netherlands and Belgium. The partner organisations are working across international borders to share knowledge and experience.
Co-Adapt – Climate Adaptation Through Co-creation – Just another WordPress site (co-adapt-water.eu)
The areas covered are all facing similar climate consequences of flooding and drought and are running local projects to adapt to the Climate Emergency.
Co-Adapt has received a total of €7 million from the Interreg 2 Seas funding programme – a European Territorial Cooperation Programme. The Programme is part-financed by the European Regional Development Fund.
New solutions need to be developed and applied to improve resilience. In the context of reduced public financing, better, more robust and cost-effective measures are needed. In response, Co-Adapt’s unique contribution is a strong focus on the co-creation of nature-based and natural process solutions, in the framework of adaptation pathways – three pillars supporting each other to deliver highly durable results.
- Co-Adapt will develop, test and roll out approaches to the co-creation of ‘Natural Process Solutions’ (including ‘Natural Flood Management’ / ‘Slow the flow’ measures) to improve adaptive capacity to the water-related effects of climate change
- The active participation of end-users (i.e. at-risk communities, and landowners) will be sought. We call this ‘co-creation’.
- An Adaptive Pathways Approach will be trialled – this is a technique to better plan for uncertainty in a cost-effective way, that was pioneered in the design of the Thames Barrier, and major coastal defences in The Netherlands.
Within Co-adapt there are three projects improving climate change adaptation in Somerset:
- Adapting the Levels (led by: SCC, FWAG SW, SWT)
https://www.adaptingthelevels.com/ – Adapting The Levels is a partnership project dedicated to empowering those who live and work on the Somerset Levels to take action on Climate Adaptation.
- Porlock Vale Riverlands (led by: National Trust)
https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/bossington/features/riverlands-porlock-vale-streams-project – Working with European partners to restore natural processes that build a more resilient catchment, develop better habitat, mitigate the impacts of climate change and provide benefits for people and nature. This is a part of the National Trust’s wider ‘Riverlands’ initiative.
- Connecting the Culm (Devon and Somerset – led by: Blackdown Hills AONB)
https://connectingtheculm.com/ – Working with nature and local communities, we aim to make the river better for wildlife and people, and more resilient to flood and drought. We want to collaborate with those living in the River Culm catchment to help solve the river’s problems. As a part of this, we will use proven nature-based solutions that provide many other benefits too.