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Environment Strategy gets approval at District Executive Committee

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South Somerset District Council’s Environment Strategy took a step closer to being formally adopted after it was recommended for approval by Full Council at District Executive Committee.

In May 2019 South Somerset District Council formally recognised a climate and ecological emergency.

Since then, Officers have been working with stakeholder groups to identify interventions that will help to achieve a significant reduction, in the order of 80%, in our carbon emissions. Our ambition is to be carbon neutral across our own operations and land holdings by 2030 at the latest, and ideally by 2023.

The South Somerset Environment Strategy aims to make South Somerset District Council a leading Council in developing and adopting a Green Agenda to promote sustainable environment, economy and communities.

Councillor Val Keitch, Leader of South Somerset District Council, said: “The Environment Strategy sends a clear message that South Somerset District Council is committed to achieving a significant reduction in its carbon emissions and that we recognise that this is only the beginning of what can be achieved. We want to make it clear to the public across South Somerset and beyond that we are a Council that is committed to action, but equally committed to informed action because this is public money that is being spent and we want to make sure our efforts are invested in making that difference where it counts and is wanted.”

Councillor Sarah Dyke, South Somerset District Council’s portfolio holder for Environment, added: “We have conducted a number of engagement events with local, regional and national groups to help us understand the issues that matter most to people. Through this engagement, we have identified a number of interventions that will help to significantly reduce our carbon emissions. We want to make it clear that we can only action what we are responsible for, but we are committed to working with stakeholders to enable positive change throughout the district.

“Funds have been made available by the authority to help action the interventions that are detailed in the strategy and we are excited to be able to start delivering these ambitions, to meet and exceed our targets, whilst exploring what more we can do in the future.”

With the strategy now being close to adoption, you can engage with us and let us know how you would like to be involved in the future. Simply email and let us know what you would like to do, whether it be informed about future projects or prepared to get involved within your community with recycling, reusing, biodiversity, protection species plus much more.

A Somerset Climate Emergency Framework is also being produced countywide by Somerset’s five councils, who have agreed that action needs to be taken and work needs to be conducted in collaboration with our communities. The Councils have come together to produce the Framework that is intended to spark a vital conversation with our communities, interest groups, businesses and other relevant stakeholders to help us build the full Climate Emergency Strategy and the actions that arise from it. The aim is to produce a detailed strategy by July 2020.

You can view the South Somerset Environment Strategy online.

Why has an Environment Strategy been created?

During 2018 and 2019, many Councils across the UK and Governments around the world responded to public calls to take strong and rapid mitigation measures to reduce carbon emissions and have declared climate emergencies.

In May 2019, South Somerset District Council formally recognised a climate and ecological emergency through Full Council and agreed to ‘develop a strategy by the Full Council meeting in the autumn of 2019, that sets ambitious targets to protect the environment and ecology’ to reduce Carbon Emissions; and for a) the district of South Somerset District and b) the Council to become carbon neutral’.

What are the key points within the Environment Strategy?

Our Council Plan identifies the environment as one of our five key areas of focus. We are committed to keeping the beautiful district of South Somerset clean, green, attractive and sustainable. There is much we are already doing around waste, recycling and resource management, the natural environment, the built environment, energy and renewables, travel and transport, but we have developed our plans to tackle climate change in two clear pathways. One of these is to consider our own estate and what actions we can take to become carbon neutral. The second is to consider our responsibilities in respect of the wider geography that comprises the district of South Somerset.

As a priority, by 2030 we commit to achieving a significant reduction, in the order of 80%, in our carbon emissions. Our ambition is to be carbon neutral across our own operations and land holdings by 2030 at the latest, and ideally by 2023, so any residual carbon emissions will need to be offset.

As a Council, we have identified 25 interventions for implementation in a one to two year time frame. These interventions will help us to achieve our priority outcome above. All of these can be found in the Environment Strategy report (8.1).

We also commit to 19 actions that will help to enable change through others (8.2). Thinking about developing our longer-term plans, we have also identified eight possible interventions which will require far more detailed business cases to be put together and appropriate assessments made.

What consultation has been done to date?

During July 2019, we held three engagement activities that was aimed at helping us identify public priorities.

We held a school workshop where 49 children from five local primary schools in South Somerset. Each school was asked to consider one of five themes and come up with some ideas about what they think the ‘Council’ should do in their theme. Three stakeholder workshops were also held with local interest groups and local representatives from regional and national organisations. Additionally, we conducted remote email engagement with Parish, Town and District Councillors as well as SSDC staff. People were invited to consider a number of broad environmental themes and share thoughts and ideas on what the Council could do to address environmental issues.

In September, we held a stakeholder workshop with people who previously attended workshops to review our draft strategy and share views.

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