Climate change is one of the most significant issues facing the world today. The effects are being felt already. In the UK 2019 was the 11th warmest year on record, with the top 10 warmest all having occurred since 2002.
In a special report of the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the United Nations highlights the need to take immediate action to limit the increase in average global temperatures to a 1.5°C threshold. Even an increase of half a degree beyond this will drastically worsen the risk of drought, floods, extreme heat and poverty.
The challenge of climate change is a global issue, but everyone needs to play their part. This is why the five Somerset local authorities have each declared or recognised a Climate Emergency.
In 2019, the Somerset local authorities (Somerset County Council, Mendip District Council, Sedgemoor District Council, Somerset West and Taunton Council, and South Somerset District Council) all passed resolutions to declare or recognise ‘A Climate Emergency’ and have since agreed to collaborate to produce and deliver an ambitious, joint Climate Emergency Strategy for Somerset.
The strategy will identify ways that Somerset might work to together towards being carbon neutral by 2030 and adapt to predicted climate change impacts.
Current C02 emissions in Somerset
You can find out on the Somerset Trends website how we are doing in Somerset with historic and recent C02 emissions, otherwise known as greenhouse gases. There are both natural and human sources of carbon dioxide emissions. Natural sources include decomposition, ocean release and respiration. Human sources come from activities like cement production, deforestation as well as the burning of fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas.
Due to human activities, the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide has been rising extensively since the Industrial Revolution.
In 2017 a total of 3285 kt (kilotons) of CO2 were emitted in Somerset from industrial, domestic and transport-related sources. For context, a kiloton of carbon is emitted by 200 average cars in 1 year. In fact, the majority of emissions in Somerset derive from the transport sector – 46.7%, compared to 29.5% from industry and 23.8% from the domestic sector.
Free Climate Emergency webinar – 13 May 2020
Frome Town Council is holding a free seminar for town and parish councils to share ideas on tackling the climate emergency and to explore opportunities.
The Zoom online event will be held on Wednesday, 13 May from 11am to 1pm
Join them for an inspiring and proactive session, learning and sharing ideas on how to take action against climate change.
Find out about the pioneering work Frome Town Council has been doing to become more sustainable, reduce carbon and reduce waste.
They’ll be discussing the barriers that local councils face and working together to try and find solutions. You can also find out about success stories and ask questions. A summary presentation with information and links will be circulated to all participants after the event.
A Framework document has been produced by the five local authorities to start the conversation with communities, interest groups, businesses and others, which will help shape the future Climate Emergency Strategy.
We want everyone in Somerset to feel a sense of ownership of the Strategy and that they have been able to contribute to the resulting actions. Aiming to reduce carbon emissions in the county and make Somerset a County resilient to the inevitable effects of Climate Change.
This Framework document provides some high-level detail explaining what we might do to address the most important issues and this consultation is your first opportunity to have your say in whether you think we have got this right.
Get involved - our questionnaire
Over 5,000 people took part in our recent online survey and 625 people attended the drop-in events that took place in January and February 2020.
The next step will be to produce a draft Climate Emergency Strategy, which will be ready to view in July 2020.
The Climate Emergency Business Summit
Representatives from more than 100 businesses came together this week to discuss how Somerset’s business community can help tackle climate change.
The Climate Emergency Business Summit was part of the cross-council work to develop a Climate Emergency Strategy for the county, aiming to identify ways for Somerset to work towards being carbon neutral by 2030 and adapt to predicted climate change impacts.
Hosted by Somerset County Council on behalf of all the county’s local authorities, the sold-out event at Taunton Rugby Club heard presentations from local business leaders about how they are addressing the issues of carbon reduction, sustainability and climate change.
Key speakers included Richard Clothier, Managing Director, Wyke Farms; Verity Sparks, Managing Director of Taunton-based Sparks and Daughters; and Paul Coombs, Vice President of Facilities, at Leonardo UK in Yeovil.
In this video all three speakers tells us about how they have become more sustainable
Your questions answered
In 2019, the five Somerset Local Authorities – Mendip District Council, Sedgemoor District Council, Somerset County Council, Somerset West and Taunton Council and South Somerset District Council – passed resolutions to declare or recognise ‘Climate Emergencies’ and have since agreed to collaborate to produce and deliver an ambitious, joint Climate Emergency Strategy for the county of Somerset.
Each declaration is slightly different, but all aspire to achieving the same end point – carbon neutrality and ensuring that we are adapted to the effects of climate change within each administrative area.
These declarations came in response to a recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report which highlighted the importance of taking immediate action to limit global warming.
Somerset’s five councils have agreed that action needs to be taken and this work needs to be conducted in collaboration with our partners, communities and local people. The Councils have come together to produce the Somerset Climate Emergency Framework which will identify ways to make Somerset carbon neutral by 2030 and ways to “deliver a Somerset that is resilient against the impacts of Climate Change”, in the longer term. Here are answers to some of the questions you may have about what Somerset is doing to address the issues of Climate Change and the approach we are taking to achieve our goals:
What is the Somerset Climate Emergency Framework?
The framework is intended to spark a vital conversation with our communities, interest groups, businesses, other relevant stakeholders and the citizens of Somerset to help us develop a robust Climate Emergency Strategy and to identify the actions that we need to take to make Somerset carbon neutral and ultimately resilient to the impacts of Climate Change
The framework provides some high-level detail about the approach we are taking, explaining what actions may be required to address the various issues that have been identified to mitigate against or adopt for the impacts of Climate Change.
It is essential that the detailed Climate Emergency Strategy and action plans derived from it are informed by having listened to our communities and having heard from them what they feel are the priority actions that need to be taken by the Councils, by the wider public sector, our businesses and communities to tackle the impacts of Climate Change. We know there is already a significant amount of activity across Somerset and we are keen to hear about and promote those initiatives, projects and actions which are underway, or planned
The aim is to ensure that final Climate Emergency Strategy produced by this work will not simply be a document for the 5 Councils of Somerset but that it will be recognised and owned by everyone in Somerset and be regarded as Somerset’s collective and definitive response to the Climate Emergency.
Why are you taking this action?
The tangible impacts of climate change will be particularly visible in Somerset. Due to the topography of the region, rising sea levels will significantly impact coastal flooding in low-lying regions such as the Somerset Levels and Moors.
Coastal communities are likely to become more vulnerable to coastal erosion and shoreline retreat.
Additionally, temperatures are likely to increase in excess of the global average. Even if the global temperature increase is limited to 2°C, Somerset is likely to experience temperature change higher than this according to the latest projections.
This increases risk to drought, heatwaves, water stress and pressures to existing water infrastructure, which can become major issues disproportionately impacting those most vulnerable in society.
Ensuring local businesses are prepared for these projected climatic changes is important to consider for Somerset, particularly due to the prevalence of small-medium sized enterprises in the region. There was £147 million loss of income due to 13/14 floods and much of this was due to road diversions as opposed to the direct impact of flooding.
What areas will the Strategy focus on?
The Climate Emergency Strategy will identify ways in which Somerset can work towards being carbon neutral by 2030. As well as working to reduce emissions, the Strategy will identify the adaptations required to ensure Somerset is resilient to predicted environmental changes induced by climate change including increased temperatures, extreme weather events and sea level rise.
Climate change is and will increasingly impact every aspect of society. To make the task of identifying what we need to do more manageable, work has been separated into nine areas of focus:
- Built Environment (the places where people live and work)
- Farming and Food
- Industry, Business and Supply Chain
- Natural Environment
- Waste and Resource Management
- Communications and Engagement
The impacts of Climate Change on Public health are an important aspect of the strategy and is being considered by all workstreams. This will be a priority focus with public health experts contributing to project research, development and implementation.
Global heating will have some mixed effects on the health of people in Somerset. Warmer temperatures in the winter should reduce the risks to health from cold, falls on ice and seasonal illness such as flu. More summer heatwaves, however, will have harmful effects on older people, especially those with respiratory illness and in poorly-ventilated housing. Flooding will tend to increase, and this is known to have serious impacts on the mental health of those who are affected, especially if they have to leave their homes. Ticks may become more widespread in the countryside and so make Lyme disease more of a problem.
The biggest health impacts could actually come from the changes we will have to make in response to the climate emergency. For instance, less car-based travel and more active commuting on foot or cycle could provide health benefits in air quality, exercise and social contact.
Each workstream involves sector and subject-matter experts. They are currently:
- Researching and prioritising key issues
- Developing mitigation and adaptation strategies
- Evaluating costs, benefits and unintended secondary consequences
- Working together where appropriate to consider any synergies, overlaps and to identify any proposed activities which might conflict
What resources are the Councils committing to this work?
The 5 Somerset Councils recognised the importance of this work and have committed significant Officer and Member time and expertise. Where we do not have the expertise internally, we are reaching out to partners and centres of expertise to support us and where appropriate co-funding external support.
What happens now?
The period of consultation on the framework has now come to an end and we have completed the community and business engagement events and online surveys which have gathered feedback to ensure residents, business, partners and interest groups from across the whole of Somerset have had the opportunity to have their say.
The draft Climate Emergency Strategy will be drawn up following the consultation on the Framework document which was carried in January and February. The draft strategy will be published in April and consultation will be carried out in April and May on the strategy. In July 2020 the Adoption of Final Strategy by the five Somerset Local Authorities will be agreed at full council.
Why isn’t there anything happening now about the Climate Emergency?
By bringing many partners, sector experts and community partners together in the workstreams to help shape this strategy has identified that Somerset is already committed to tackling Climate Change. There are already many Council backed, community and business led initiatives already well established in Somerset that will contribute towards the county going carbon neutral by 2030. We have publishing a section of this webpage which describes a number of case studies that show case some of the work that is already happening.
What can I do to contribute towards Somerset’s Climate Emergency?
There are some easy steps you can take towards going carbon neutral such as switching to a low carbon diet, making your home more energy efficient and cutting down on your car journeys or finding more greener forms of transport, minimising and sorting waste. You can find out more about this by going to http://www.imperial.ac.uk/stories/climate-action/
How much funding is going into the Somerset Climate Emergency?
The case studies section shows where individual District Councils and the County Council has already invested funds towards going carbon neutral.
It was also announced in February 2020 that a £1m pot of money will be made available from Somerset County Council for parish and town councils to bid for climate change initiatives. Parish and town councils in Somerset will be able spend the money in ways that will have the greatest impact.
As part of each council declaration each council committed funds for the climate emergency. See the Case Studies section of this page for some of the initiatives.
It was announced in February 2020 that a £1m pot of money will be made available from Somerset County Council for parish and town councils to bid for climate change initiatives. Parish and Town councils in Somerset will be able spend the money in ways that will have the greatest impact.
This fund recognises that gaining commitment to positive action and behaviour change has the greatest chance of success if driven by the local community itself. The fund seeks to enable “ground-up action” and specifically supports Parish and Town Councils and other local action groups plan, deliver and communicate their commitment to making Somerset carbon neutral, sustainable and resilient.
Why are the councils developing a climate emergency strategy – don’t we just need to act?
Climate Change and reducing C02 emissions is a huge task and cannot be tackled by a single organisation or through a single initiative. It requires us all to understand how what we do and how we live our lives impacts on the climate and the carbon we consume and emit and to commit to sustainable lifetime changes in the way we behave if we to have a long-lasting impact and make Somerset resilient to the impacts of Climate Change, over time. If we are serious about this, it requires lots of people to come together to develop ideas at a local level to tackle a very wide range of issues.
It has been recognised that Parish and Town Councils and local community groups will have local knowledge of what is happening and what is required to happen in their communities and will have a significant impact on stimulating ideas and activities, gaining community buy in and in affecting the necessary lifestyle and behaviour changes. It was announced in February 2020 that a £1m pot of money will be made available from Somerset County Council for Parish and Town councils to bid for climate change initiatives. Parish and Town councils in Somerset will be able spend the money in ways that will have the greatest impact.
Some of the ways we can reduce our emissions can happen quite quickly, for example recycling more, while others such as finding greener alternative forms of transport will take time to implement. That is why we need a plan or strategy which will set out exactly how we are going to deliver this together and why we need to be thinking about not just what we must do in the immediate and 5-10 years but over the next 25, 50 and a hundred years..
When will we start to see the benefits of the Climate Emergency Strategy?
There is a lot of activity taking place across Somerset already and some examples are given in the case studies section of the webpage, where you can read about some projects and the benefits from early on. Other initiatives will take time to develop and implement, the reduction in carbon emissions may not happen straight away but take many years to come to fruition. That’s why we need to act now to see net zero carbon emissions by 2030.
If you live in Somerset, you will have an opportunity to ‘Recycle More’ at your doorstep in 2020, 2021 or 2022. The upgraded service will be rolling out across the county in phases from June 2020, starting with most homes in Mendip; then South Somerset in September 2020, then Somerset West (part of Somerset West and Taunton) in June 2021, Sedgemoor in September 2021 and Taunton in February 2022. Even before Recycle More starts rolling out, a new contractor will begin work with a new fleet of collection trucks, and Somerset will switch from landfilling all its rubbish within the county to sending most for resource recovery at a new plant in Avonmouth, pumping energy into the national grid. This will include plastic pots, tubs and trays, small electrical items and household batteries. Collections for black wheelie bin waste will change to every 3 weeks because you will be able to recycle much more at your doorstep. The Somerset Waste Partnership will promote food waste collection to increase take up and a project to recycle more in schools is already underway.
Who is responsible for Somerset’s Climate Emergency?
The Leaders and Chief Executives of the 5 councils in Somerset are ultimately responsible for the development of the Strategy. Each council also has an elected Member with a Portfolio which includes responsibilities around the Environment and or Climate Change who are responsible for making decisions and determining policy and funding to support Somerset’s Climate Emergency. To support this a cross- council, cross party ‘Task and Finish Group of local Councillors’ has been set up to help guide and champion this work.
In addition, to manage, co-ordinate and undertake the detailed work required to develop the Climate Emergency Strategy and action plan, a Strategic Management Group of Senior Officers from each of the 5 Councils, Public Health and the Somerset Waste Partnership has been set up.
What are the current levels of C02 emissions and how will we get them to neutral?
In 2017, a total of 3,285 kt (kilotons) of CO2 were emitted in Somerset from industrial, domestic and transport-related sources. A further 9.5 ktCO2 is emitted from Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF) sources across the county as a whole. For context, a kiloton of CO2 is emitted by 1,736 average newly registered cars in 1 year. In fact, the majority of emissions in Somerset derive from the transport sector – 46.5%, compared to 29.4% from industry, 23.8% from the domestic sector and 0.3% from the LULUCF sector.
The relative contributions of each sector vary by Local Authority: in Sedgemoor, 52.2% of emissions derive from transport (with the majority of these sourced from the M5 motorway), compared to only 36.8% of emissions in Mendip. In Somerset West and Taunton LULUCF accounts for -48.8 ktCO2 per annum (a net sequester), whilst in Mendip LULUCF accounts for 32.9 ktCO2 per annum (a net emission). For this reason, specific analysis of emissions sources within each overall sector is required.
Whilst the dataset used to calculate emissions at a high-level separates data at an overall District level, utilising other sources can provide a more detailed picture of emissions sources in Somerset. For example, using the Energy Performance of Buildings database9, emissions produced by individual houses can be analysed. Work going into further detail will be carried out by the Energy and Built Environment workstreams.
In addition to emissions produced in Somerset, to which the above statistics are relevant, the people, businesses and activities which are ongoing within Somerset have emissions associated with things they consume. This is because not all of the products that we consume in Somerset were produced in Somerset. It is important to not just focus on the emissions produced in Somerset, as otherwise we could end up simply stopping producing the emissions here and export them to somewhere else which would achieve nothing on the global issue of stopping climate change. However, measuring consumption emissions is difficult, with national statistics similar to the above not existing. Calculating emissions produced by industries and businesses in particular is more difficult, primarily due to emissions from their supply chains. Not all emissions have to be disclosed by businesses to the public, so there is a lack of data available online to assess the emissions of individual organisations. The Industry, Business and Supply Chain workstream will work to assess these emissions.
Beyond carbon dioxide emissions, it is important to recognise the need to reduce all greenhouse gas emissions including those from methane, nitrous oxide and f-gases. These other greenhouse gases exist in smaller volumes and have shorter lifespans, but are many times more potent than carbon dioxide. The principal focus of the strategy will be on achieving carbon neutrality, but it is essential that we explore ways to reduce these other greenhouse gases too. However, BEIS local authority emissions statistics do not currently cover non-CO2 emissions, so we will need to identify alternative ways of monitoring progress on these.
The current levels of C02 Emissions in Somerset in detail can be found here
What funding is available for public sector organisations to reduce carbon emissions?
It was announced in February 2020 that a £1m pot of money will be made available from Somerset County Council for parish and town councils to bid for climate change initiatives. Parish and Town councils in Somerset will be able spend the money in ways that will have the greatest impact.
Public Sector Organisations like schools and Parish Councils can get an interest free loan through a scheme called SALIX – ‘Solving Energy Efficiency Finance in the Public Sector’. The repayments can be made over 5 years and can normally be funded through the costs saved on bills. You can find out more at http://www.salixfinance.co.uk/
Schools in Somerset can apply for SALIX funding through Support Services for Education run by Somerset County Council.
Can community partnerships apply for Climate Change funding?
Community Energy England describes on their website funding opportunities available for community and voluntary groups.
What funding is available for businesses for reducing or offsetting carbon emissions?
The Carbon Trust Green Business Fund supports small to medium sized organisations (SMEs) in providing opportunities to improve energy efficiency and reduce energy costs.
The Government has also developed funding for low carbon industries including carbon capture use and storage
Is there any funding for individuals to reduce their carbon emissions, for example making your home more energy efficient or an electric vehicle?
You may be eligible for a green energy grant for solar PV or renewable heating. There is also the Green Deal which helps you make energy-saving improvements to your home and find the best way to pay for them, which may be a loan or a grant.
You can get a discount on the price of brand new low-emission vehicles through a grant the government gives to vehicle dealerships and manufacturers. This is called a low emission plug in grant If you own an electric vehicle you can obtain a grant to install and electric charging point at your home, through the Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme
Getting our own house in order: what the five councils are doing
Mendip District Council tackles climate change with tree-planting scheme
Work has begun to plant 100 new trees at a Wells beauty spot. A combination of Beech, Hazel, Field Maple and Oak saplings have been planted. The ‘tree whips’ were kindly gifted to the Council by Idverde to mark the company’s 100th year. The green scheme is just one of many planned for 2020. The Council is actively exploring other locations across the district suitable for similar initiatives and are in conversation with experts at The Woodland Trust to determine the most appropriate species of trees and planting schemes to embark on.
Mendip publish first-ever carbon emissions report
The high-level report – the first of its kind ever conducted in the district – assesses the area’s carbon footprint, identifies key sources of emissions, and sets out clear priorities for action and measuring progress. It represents a starting point in the Council’s journey to carbon neutrality, by providing a baseline for future emissions-reduction planning through the district and communities.
Key findings reveal that domestic heat and power consumption account for 25% of the district’s total emissions (220,240 tCO2e). Transport produces 42% of the district’s emissions overall (302,941 tCO2e) with 72% of those emissions (218,872 tCO2e) as a result of on-road transportation. Car ownership increased by 10% between 2009 and 2018. There are currently 65,600 cars registered in Mendip, with just 0.3% of those being Ultra Low Emission Vehicles.
Sedgemoor District Council is replacing 416 street lights in car parks, housing estate walk ways with LED bulbs. This will reduce electricity consumption by 60%. £60,000 has been set aside over 3 years to achieve this objective.
24 of the 30 SDC’s car park ticket machines have been replaced so they are powered by solar and not mains electricity. The remaining six will be replaced over the next 3 years so effectively all machines will be powered by renewable energy
SDC has installed tap aerators in the taps at their main offices Bridgwater House in Bridgwater, to save water. They have also installed LED lights at Bridgwater House to reduce electricity consumption.
Sedgemoor District Council (SDC) has replaced 416 street lights in car parks, housing estate walk ways with LED bulbs. This will reduce electricity consumption by 60%. £60,000 has been set aside over 3 years to achieve this objective.
- Run an electric and a hybrid (electric/petrol) pool car since 2015. The all-electric car has saved 12,569kg carbon in 4 years.
- Encouraged staff to cycle to work, work from home and use technology for meetings, rather than driving.
- Adopted a transport strategy with a focus on encouraging more sustainable transport including cycling and walking – The Bridgwater Way.
- SDC was the first Council in Somerset to adopt a single use plastic policy
- SCC has set up five internal groups looking at practical measures that it, as a large organisation can take to reduce carbon emissions. These are green travel, the staff canteen, recycling and waste, tree planting and thorough review of all policies, strategies and procedures to see if we can improve or include any climate change actions.
Somerset County Council
Somerset County Council (SCC) is making energy efficiency improvements to its buildings. The improvements are to make heating and lighting more energy efficient. This has included replacing boilers with more energy efficient ones, installing heating controls, draught stripping, installation of solar photovoltaic (PV) and energy efficient lighting and controls.
More than half of streetlights in Somerset have now been upgraded with low-energy Light Emitting Diode (LED) technology. That means a 30 per cent reduction in energy consumption – more than 600,000 kilowatt hours – for the County Council streetlights, and a saving of £770,000 on energy bills in three years, as well as 3,276 tonnes taken off the carbon footprint. The Council is responsible for around 60,000 ‘illuminated assets’, including signs and bollards as well as streetlights. More than 30,000 have now been upgraded to the brighter and more efficient LEDs. Any broken or faulty streetlight that has reached its end of serviceable life is now upgraded to LED as standard; this will include any forthcoming planned programme of replacing the older technology.
SCC has introduced educational programmes, such as the ‘Watt’s On?’ Energy Awareness campaign, so that staff understand how to reduce their energy consumption at work.
The Carbon Management Board has been established to consider ways that SCC can become Carbon neutral by 2030.
Reducing flood risk
Co-Adapt involves working with stakeholders to reduce flood risk and better adapt to climate change in Somerset. Projects include: adjusting water management structures within the Somerset Levels to more nature-based management systems; working with communities in Porlock Vale to reduce flood risk; and installing natural flood management systems in 3 zones within the Culm Catchment area in the Blackdown Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).
Encouraging people to cycle
SCC is developing Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plans (LCWIPs), for Taunton, Bridgwater and Yeovil. The plans will identify priorities for investment to create effective cycling networks for these towns.
It was announced in February 2020 that a £1m pot of money will be made available from Somerset County Council for parish and town councils to bid for climate change initiatives. Parish and town councils in Somerset will be able spend the money in ways that will have the greatest impact.
South Somerset District Council
The Great Parish Tree Giveaway and tree planting
Sixty parish councils in South Somerset have been invited to sign up to receive 50 free trees. Planting a tree is a carbon sink, drawing already emitted CO2 and storing it in growth, leaves and fruit. South Somerset District Council (SSDC) are using cell-grown trees instead of bare root trees as they are much stronger as a plant and are able to be planted over a much larger planting period. Parish councils, in association with local landowners, can plant as woodland copse, gap-fill hedges or can put single trees to grow at strategic locations.
SSDC participated in the Big Climate Fight back which saw 380 trees planted at Ham Hill Country Park. The trees were purchased from the Wee Tree nursery in Wellington. A mix of Oak, Silver Birch, Beech and Field Maple was planted by countryside rangers and dozens of volunteers.
Battery Energy Storage Site
SSDC’s Battery Energy Storage site (BESS) – is at the cutting edge of renewable energy technology and is set to be expanded to its maximum capacity by developing another 5MW with SSDC Opium Power Ltd This will help produce and store more clean and renewable energy, which will in turn provide essential support to the National Grid. The batteries provide an innovative way to help balance power demand as they can store renewable energy that would otherwise be wasted.
Yeovil Innovation Centre Expansion
With funding from the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership (HotSW LEP) and South Somerset District Council (SSDC), the Yeovil Innovation Centre expanded during 2019. 92.5% of all the building materials and construction waste were recycled. The building itself is constructed from modern building materials in the form of clay porotherm blocks and render, solar shaded windows and passive airflows. Solar panels will be installed in the future.
Water refill points
SSDC will be working with Wessex Water to provide two new water refill points in Yeovil’s town centre to reduce reliance on single-use plastics. If this proves successful the scheme will be widened to other locations. Additionally, a rainwater capture system is being set up at Yeovil Recreation Centre so it can be used for watering the site.
Changes at South Somerset District Building
SSDC has made a commitment to source energy for buildings from renewable sources. They will invest in technology to reduce business mileage. SSDC is and removing all drinks for sale in plastic bottles in the canteen, entertainment venues and vending machines (where no alternative exists they will ensure recycling facilities for those plastics exist at each site).
Somerset West and Taunton Council (SWaT)
SWaT has been encouraging the installation of electric vehicle charging points in communities throughout the district. It has offered all parish and town councils the opportunity to apply for grants of between £500 and £1,500 from a one-off budget of £20k set aside to support community led action to tackle the climate emergency. Grants have so far been awarded to:
Trull Parish Council – £1000
Brushford Parish Hall CIO– £675
Luxborough Field and Village Hall Charity – £970
Green Flags are flying at six of SWaT’s parks and open spaces. The Green Flag Award is a sign to the public that the space boasts the highest possible environmental standards, is beautifully maintained and has excellent visitor facilities. The flags have gone up at Taunton’s Vivary, Victoria and French Weir Parks, and Comeytrowe Park which gained a Community Green Flag Award.
In Wellington flags have been raised at Swains Lane Nature Reserve and Wellington Park, which also received a Green Flag Heritage Award.
SWaT has approved a report detailing long-term solutions to flooding in and around Taunton, bringing protection to residents, businesses, roads and infrastructure. The Taunton Strategic Flood Alleviation Improvements Scheme (TSFAIS) outlines the risks and a number of improvements that when implemented in phases over the next 30-plus years will reduce the current flood risk to existing properties and mitigate against the future impact of climate change. The Council and the Environment Agency have been working in partnership over a number of years to understand the impact of flooding both now and in the future, taking account of how climate change will affect flood levels in the River Tone over the next 100 years. Taunton currently has 1031 properties at risk of flooding in a severe flood event from the River Tone and its tributaries, but the impact of climate change means that will increase to 2548 by the year 2118 if nothing is done.
Parish and Town Councils
Many town and Parish councils are declaring climate emergencies. During 2020 we will be supporting Town and Parish Councils in Somerset so that they can implement strategies of their own. Below is just one example of a Somerset Town Council that has started to do some work to reduce carbon emissions following declaring a Climate Emergency in March 2019.
Bruton Town Council
Bruton Town Council has declared a Climate Emergency and developed a rolling plan to go carbon neutral by 2030.
Bruton Town Council has now adopted a Carbon Neutral by 2030 plan. In the plan the council has pledged to:
- Reduce demand for energy
- Supply energy from renewable resources
- Offset any shortfall between supply and demand, or
- Export any excess renewable energy
And the council’s immediate actions are:
“Take steps to reduce demand for energy used in buildings and manufacturing/business activities. This means considering demand for electricity for lighting and appliances (sometimes also heating and hot water), and demand for heating and hot water (generally supplied by gas fired boilers) Ensure that its electricity supply is on a 100% renewable tariff, and (as far as possible) its gas supply is from less carbon-intensive sources and/or offset (through local carbon sequestration initiatives such as tree-planting, or by using a Gold Standard offset such as those offered by ClimateCare and other offset providers). When considering any future policy or service development take into account the likely impact of that development on emissions and consumption of resources.”
You can download and view the full plan.
To help deliver the plan, Bruton established a Climate and Ecological Emergency Working Group (CEEWG) in December 2019 which is an advisory group to Bruton Town Council. The CEEWG has a number of Members: 6-12 appointed advisors, including 1-3 town councillors and advisors drawn from One Planet Bruton participants. The CEEWG’s role is to advise the Town Council on implementing the ‘Climate Emergency’, assist the council in carrying out the practical work and adoption of Bioregional’s One Planet Living framework.
CEEWG has now adopted a list of activities which you can download and view
Because of the emergency work being carried by all five councils on the coronavirus pandemic the Climate Emergency Strategy work has been delayed. Work on the cross-council draft strategy will commence in again as soon as possible.
The draft strategy was originally scheduled to be published in April, consulted on in April and May, and the final strategy due to go to councils for final approval in July.
This is now clearly not possible so a new timetable will be published on this website as soon as it has been agreed by the five councils.
Use the links below to read the latest news on the Somerset Climate Emergency.