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Climate Emergency Report

Published Tuesday 30 January, 2024
Last updated on Thursday 22 February, 2024

Swale councillors will be updated on the Council's progress towards its Climate and Ecological Emergency targets on Wednesday 31 January.

In 2019 Swale Borough Council passed a motion to declare a Climate and Ecological Emergency to try and expedite action to tackle climate change.

The council set one of the most ambitious targets in the United Kingdom; to be carbon neutral by 2025 and achieve net zero borough wide by 2030.

Many initiatives and actions have been taken and implemented to work towards this goal, but due to a number of national and global obstacles, the council will not be able to achieve their aspirational target.

Some of the initiatives achieved so far include:

  • Installation of solar panels at 72 sites in Swale through the Solar Together scheme
  • Council offices retrofitted to be more energy efficient including improved insulation and windows, and running off 100% renewable electricity
  • Provided over £38,000 worth of grants to green initiatives in the Borough
  • Additional food waste collections rolled out
  • Purchased new, more environmentally friendly, waste vehicles
  • 18 new EV charging points installed in public car parks
  • Planted over 14,000 trees with thousands more to come
  • Swapped their fleet of operational vehicles to fully electric cars and vans
  • Improved cycling infrastructure and campaigns to promote active travel

And much more.

The council remains committed to reducing both their own emissions and leading the Borough’s residents and businesses on their net zero journey.

Some of the reasons the council will not meet the target include:

  • The financial situation facing local authorities and the cost-of-living crisis has limited the council’s options
  • Recent central government announcements, such as pushing back the date of the ban on the sale of new petrol engine cars
  • The removal of the improved energy performance certificate (EPC) requirement for landlords
  • The delay to biodiversity net gain rules for developers, which has hindered progress when councils need strong national leadership and guidance
  • The decision to delay and change the scheme to encourage removal of gas boilers in domestic properties
  • Industry not being able to deliver the infrastructure needed to reduce the council’s waste collection emissions

The council will now review their options and revisit their carbon footprint to help revisit their Action Plan and take a revised version to the Environment Committee for adoption, setting new actions to ensure they maintain momentum.

Cllr Rich Lehmann, chair of the Environment Committee, said:

“We always knew our ambitious target would be challenging to achieve, but we felt we needed to act with urgency as the world faces unprecedented climate change and global warming.

“That is why the voted unanimously to declare a Climate and Ecological Emergency, to fast track our actions and underline the urgency of the situation we find ourselves in.

“Officers across the council have worked incredibly hard towards meeting these goals.

"Although we have not met our aspirational, self-imposed target, we have achieved an incredible amount with our available resources, and should be proud of the progress we have made.

“We will continue to work hard to tackle these issues, but also need the support of the community, whether recycling more, taking public transport or walking where possible, or even something as simple as switching to LED lighting in their own homes.

“If we work together, we can continue our progress towards our net zero goals.”

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