Somerset’s joint Climate Emergency Strategy was published by the former Somerset County Council in November 2020. This Strategy has been taken forward into the new Somerset Council and you can read more on our Strategy 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 done, 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. This was done using aerial photographs followed by on-the-ground fieldwork and relating the findings to the UK Habitat Classification system.
The parish now has a defined set of actions based on their specific habitat types. This allows 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 and 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 focus 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 view the Good Vibe Veg Facebook page.
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 planet. This volunteer-led project for Muchelney and Kingsbury Episcope Parishes on the Somerset Levels has already put on cycling workshops and activities for all ages and abilities. As well as repairing bikes, the scheme offers beginners’ bike safety and care workshops. This helps to provide 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
You can read more on the Pedal For The Planet Facebook page.
Solar power for village hub
In the village of Stoke St Gregory near Taunton, the community has worked 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. This was so that 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 Heart 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
A project fund certificate was presented to the Friends of Longrun Meadow Chair, Helen Lawy on behalf of the former Somerset County Council. This was confirming a grant in excess of £16,000 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 were enabled and supported by the former Somerset West and Taunton Council.
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 Hydroelectricity Turbine Project
A new hydroelectric turbine will provide clean power to a Forest School near Taunton. It will replace 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.
You can read more on the Otterhead Estate Facebook page.
Stogumber Outdoor Learning Shelter
Built on the Beacon Field, opposite the Village Hall and Stogumber Primary School, the shelter is planned to be used and enjoyed by the local community and visitors to the parish. The newly built 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. It also offers 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 gates, resting areas, signage, walking guides and plant ID labels. The walk was created by a passionate group of volunteers known as the Chedzoy Fair Share Project Team. It was funded by the former Somerset County Council’s Climate Emergency Community Fund.
Curry Rivel Parish Council Projects
Curry Rivel Parish Council is working on two projects which will help benefit the villagers and environment, thanks to the former Somerset County Council’s Climate Emergency Fund.
The first project is to investigate initiatives to provide sustainable heating and power generation in Curry Rivel. The council has already invested in a thermal imaging camera that local residents can use to track heat loss from their homes in winter. You can read more about the Curry Rivel Heating Initiatives project.
The second is looking at the possibility 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. You can read more about the Curry Rivel Cycle Footpath.
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 forming 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.
You can read more on the Visit Dulverton Facebook page.
A new electric wheelchair-accessible car coming to Watchet
Watchet Town Council applied to the former Somerset County Council’s Climate Emergency Fund, as lead partner with Sampford Brett and Bicknoller Parish Councils, 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. It 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), and provide transport for disabled and disadvantaged members of the Watchet community. The application was successful and included funding for a co-ordinator of the new and the existing community car run by Watchet Drives. The town council has now purchased and insured the vehicle.
Carbon Literacy Project
The former 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 council officers and extended the offer of training to the former county and district councillors.
County Hall energy efficiency works
Preparatory works outside and underneath B Block, County Hall are being delivered by Willmott Dixon. The work will result in this building being far more energy efficient. It 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.
The Co-Adapt Project (2019 to 2023)
The Co-Adapt project (2019 to 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.
You can read more on the Co-Adapt webpage.
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. This is through 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’ and ‘Slow the flow’ measures). This is to improve adaptive capacity to the water-related effects of climate change.
- The active participation of end-users (such as 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
, the former
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)
The Riverlands project at Porlock Vale – 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
Connecting the Culm – 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.