South Somerset Environment Strategy gets adopted following Full Council approval

| District

Children, climate change campaign groups and local communities are among those who have played a role in creating a new Environment Strategy for South Somerset which has now been formally approved.

The strategy, which was signed off at a South Somerset District Council meeting last week, sets out both the immediate actions and long-term goals for the district to achieve a significant reduction in SSDC’s carbon emissions

It promotes the development and adoption of a sustainable environment, economy and communities within South Somerset and helps to develop a strategy that will achieve a significant reduction in SSDC’s carbon emissions.

Pupils from local schools, local interest groups and representative of national climate change campaign groups met with district councillors and council officers to help develop the strategy.

The objective is to achieve our aim of caring for and enhancing our natural environment and to adapt and mitigate the effects of climate change.

Within the strategy, four priority outcomes have been identified which help SSDC will deliver its aims. The four priority outcomes are:

  • To reduce our reliance on fossil fuels
  • To reduce emissions
  • To minimise waste and increase recycling;
  • To offset carbon emissions

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 was agreed at Full Council?

Full Council resolved to approve and adopt the new South Somerset Environment Strategy. Members also agreed to approve the identified intermediate actions and next steps that are detailed in the strategy.

Speaking following the adoption of the South Somerset Environment Strategy, Councillor Sarah Dyke, portfolio holder for Environment, said: “I’m really pleased that we can now move forward with an Environment Strategy that clearly shows that South Somerset District Council is committed to tackling Climate Change and achieving a significant reduction in its carbon emissions. We recognise that this is only the start of what can be achieved, but the Strategy lays the foundations for moving forward and making positive change in the district.

“Funds have been made available by the authority to action some of 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.”

You can view the adopted strategy online on our website at www.southsomerset.gov.uk/EnvironmentStrategy.

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 26 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.

We also commit to 18 actions that will help to enable change through others. 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.

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